Choosing Your Tank Part 1: Criteria of the Role and Analyzing Popular Choices

Posted: June 13, 2011 by atenthirtyone in Champions

Sparked by some discussion I read on the Internet regarding picking/buying a tank, I decided I would write an article on one of the most important roles in the game: the tank in Summoner’s Rift. This will be at least a two part article, since I will probably write too much for my own good. Anyway, back to tanks. In my opinion, every team should at least have a tank or someone that can fulfill most of a tank’s job throughout a match. A tank should be able to do most of the following:

1. Protect your team – If anyone’s played a RPG or a MMORPG, you basically know what I mean by tanking. Tanks in League of Legends differ a little bit in the sense that you aren’t taking all of the damage for your team because generally you are not fighting scripted NPCs. While, a tank significantly makes Baron easier to kill, a tank should be able to protect your team mates from enemy players. This is usually done through crowd control – stuns, knock backs/ups, snares, slows, taunts, whatever. The point is that the tank can reduce the damage of your team.

2. Initiate – In my opinion, if a champion cannot do this, then they are not a real tank. A tank must be able to control the pace of an incoming team fight. This means that if you are the tank, then you should be able to perform an action that focuses a team fight, preferably in the favor of your team. You don’t need to have an amazing initiate but you must be able to somehow start a fight other than running in face first and eating crowd control.

3. Not dying (fast) – A tank should not die, or rather die fast. If the enemy team decides to attack you then, you should at least die slower than your team’s main targets. While, dead counts don’t look great on the scoreboard, a tank death that gives you a team fight win can lead to a match win. That said, don’t be a martyr for no reason – if you have to die, it better be for a good reason that helps your team win.

4. Be a Threat – This is probably the least important aspect of a tank, but a good tank champion can do this as well. Now, you don’t, and game balance-wise shouldn’t be able to plow through the enemy team with damage. However, you should be able to do something throughout a team fight that makes your opponent commit abilities and time on you – mainly, crowd control. If you can eat an important enemy ability that would endanger your carry and squishies, then mission accomplished. But, you need to make them want to waste time on you first.

5. Good at something besides tanking – Now, this is going to sound a little strange, but I assure you readers, that I will explain this clearly. League of Legends is not only team fights, the two teams will interact with each other beyond the scope of a full 5 v 5 fight. This includes ganking where “unfair” fights occur, as well as the laning phase. There’s also jungling, backdooring, pushing minion waves in a lane, etc where one team is doing something to the other without actual player interaction. The point is that this game is not just about big team fights, there’s various other parts of the game that will affect the outcome of the team fight.

Alright, now here are some of the more popular champions that tend to be placed in the tanking role:

Amumu – Ah, good old Amumu. Probably one of my favorite tanks in this game, and he’s easily one of the best at his job. Between both his single target and aoe channeled stun, he is fantastic at controlling the enemy team into pretty much not doing shit. He’s also quite good at initiating through either  through his Bandage Toss, or a Flash into Curse of the Sad Mummy. If there’s one champion that forces a Tenacity item, it’s Amumu. In addition, his two aoe damaging abilities, Despair (aw yeah percentile damage) and Tantrum allows him to deal consistent amounts of respectable damage to the entire enemy team, while not having to build any DPS items. Amumu’s a bit mediocre at laning, although he can clear minion waves in the mid and late game in seconds. Yet, Amumu is one of the better junglers in the game. Not only can he clear jungle camps quite fast (again with no damage items), he’s fairly solid ganker. His jungling game is a bit weak in terms of dragon and counter-jungling (spoiler alert: he kinda has to start at blue buff), but he easily more than makes up for it. Unless, you have a jungler, it’s quite hard to go wrong with Amumu.

Alistar – Until the popularity of roaming as well as his revamp, he was not a popular tank choice due to his poor damage and farming capability. Alistar is great at disrupting and controlling a team fight. As long as he has Flash, Alistar can even punish over-extenders and initiate. That said, Alistar is not the strongest at initiating, although he can do this task decently. Alistar is also probably the single hardest tank to kill even with five people blowing their entire load of abilities and damage due to the mechanics of his ultimate. The instant break out of crowd control followed by a flat 75% damage reduction shield is simple a nope to death. In addition, Alistar is a great duo laner since he gives a ton of control and fair amount of sustainability to the lane he’s in. That said, unless Alistar is built heavy AP, his damage output is not that great, so put that into consideration when choosing him.

Cho’gath – An extremely strong champion that is brings a lot of bonuses to his team. Cho’gath is a tank champion that is amazing at defending his team. Between the threat of his two aoe crowd abilities that also fair pretty hard, and his deadly true damage ultimate, you better be sure if you want to get close to Cho’gath. However, I find that Cho’gath is not good at using his abilities for offense. This due to the fact that his initiating ability, Rupture’s delay is extremely long and most players are able to dodge it most of the time. As a result, this makes Cho’gath generally a poor initiator. But that’s okay, Cho’gath is still great at everything else does. His ultimate gives him a ton of extra health which means you can afford to build AP and resistances allowing him to be extremely hard to kill, while nuking very hard with his abilities. He also tends to be the victim of misclicks due to his huge hitbox from his ultimate. In fact, if you stand above a max Feast Cho’gath, it may prove to be very difficult for people to click on you. Outside of being a tank, Cho’gath is one of the best laners in the game. He can take either a solo lane and abuse the farm, or duo lane and help his partner win the lane quite well. In addition, Cho’gath is a decent jungler although this requires specialized setups. Simply put, Cho’gath is a very strong defensive tank that is great at laning, and has one of the highest burst damage with his combo of abilities (as a tank).

Dr. Mundo – I’m going to say it now, Dr. Mundo is not a real tank. Yeah, he’s hard to kill… actually, he’s ridiculously hard to kill unless you have an Ignite or a healing debuff. Yeah, he has a great spammable slow through the usage of his Infected Cleavers. But, he’s not a tank. He’s a meatshield that does damage and sits in battle for people to attack him. He’s one of the original bruisers in League of Legends. Now, why do I say this for our lovable Mundo? He can’t protect his team or initiate well.  He simply cannot control the pace of a team fight. That said, he’s a great laner due to his cleaver harassment and probably too good on Twisted Gankline for his own good . But honestly, pick Mundo if you want to be a troll in a lane and your team can afford to have someone who doesn’t die.

Malphite – He’s a solid tank that has one of the best tank initiates in the game. His ultimate is an aoe knock up and stun that has a decent range to it. It does have a little bit of a wind-up time through Malphite somehow hurls himself into the target location, but no real complains to his ultimate at all. Beyond that, Malphite is a bit lacking in other forms of hard crowd control. His Flintstones Wheel (Q) is a good slow that gives you their speed, but there’s many other abilities that do this better. His aoe ability is a good chunk of damage and has a nice debuff to attack speed, but he is a bit lacking in this department. However, Malphite has two aspects of tanking that he excels at besides initiating with his ultimate.  The first is that he is very difficult to kill even for a tank. Due to his passive which is pretty an extra 10% to your total health and his tanking steroid (W) which gives him a crap ton of extra percentage of armor. Oh, his Brutal Strikes active means that you can focus a little more on magic resistance items so it’s actually not useless against mages. Second, he is an anti-physical tank. Like I said earlier, his Brutal Strikes gives him more armor than almost every tank in the game since the bonus scales. Malphite’s Ground Slam also gives an attack speed debuff which is very good against yep, autoattackers. Overall, Malphite is a decent tank that excels in initating and dealing with physical damage dealers. Oh, and he’s alright with laning and can jungle if you really need to… but try to keep him in a duo lane.

Mordekaiser- Re-read Dr. Mundo’s section. Pretty much that, except he does more damage and farms a lot better. However, he has no way to crowd control anyone besides using a Rylai’s.  Huehuehuehue.

Nunu – Nunu’s a bit awkward of a champion to talk about because he usually ends up being a tank, rather than starting out as a tank. When people play Nunu, that is because they want to troll the enemy team through counter-jungling and ridiculously strong ganks in the early game. As a tank, Nunu is more supporty than most champions in today’s article due to simply how most of his abilities work (Blood Boil and Ice Blast). However, his ultimate is really good until the late game for making the enemy team react to you since you force people to blow their crowd control on you or GTFO. Nunu has quite a bit of trouble initiating and does not have any built tankiness beyond being good at running away. If you play Nunu, it’s because you want to be a jungler that gets your team into a great position for the mid and late game by being a troll.

Rammus – The king of ganking tanks. If you see this turtlefuck (named by one of our authors), and you don’t have an escape, you will probably die. Rammu is extremely fast with his Powerball and his taunt basically lasts forever if you are the victim. He is also pretty hard to kill because his W gives him a crap ton of resistances. His ultimate isn’t half bad and it has a really short cooldown. That said, here comes the downsides to Rammus. First, he can’t lane. Nope, he really can’t. You have to jungle with him unless you are willing to have one of the worst laners in a lane. As for jungling, he’s alright but is really weak to counter-jungling. Rammus has an alright initation through the usage of Powerball and Flash, although he relies on overextending enemies and mistakes more than anything else. Like Amumu, you really should jungle with him.

Shen – If anyone is required to learn one tank in this game – it would be Shen. Shen is absolutely one of the best champions that is good at making his tank win. His global ultimate pretty much means that he will be there in seconds to assist his team mate either in a gank or a team fight along with a decent shield. Combine this with his Vorpal Blades, Shen simply can sit in a lane all day and ultimate when his team needs him. Now, this isn’t even talking about how he helps in a team fight. Shen has a great dash ability that not only allows him to travel through walls, but taunt everything in its path. While, it does not have the duration like Rammus’ taunt, it can affect multiple people and has far more range. Shen also gets a discount to his shield if he succeeds in taunting a champion as well. However, even the great Shen is not without his weaknesses. Shen’s late game is pretty piss poor as his Vorpal Blades is based on AP, and his passive scales poorly. In addition, Shen does not have any tanking steroids as his shield does not exactly scale that well either since it’s also based on AP. As for initiations, Shen is more of a defensive tank champion. He usually has trouble dashing in to taunt enemy champions, but he can punish them easily if they try to attack his team. Overall, Shen is a great tank, a solid and sustainable laner that can deny enemy kills through the usage of map awareness and his ultimate.

Singed – There’s a fine line between being a great Singed and a trolly idiot that gets himself killed. Singed is a tank whose mechanics are very different from his peers. Singed has great area denial through the usage of his Poison Trail (Q), which works even better with a Rylai’s, and his two crowd control abilities. His Mega Adhesive is one of the better area slows in the game that can prevent runners or enemies that want to rush in and kill your carry. His Fling is simply amazing at punishing over-extenders. Thanks to his revamped ultimate, Singed now has a steroid that gives him crowd control reduction as well as other nice defensive boosts. He’s also among the fastest in the game when combined with Ghost allowing him to catch enemies and/or run from situations that would be impossible for other champions. In addition, Singed’s passive which converts a portion of mana to health means he can benefit from items that are traditionally for casters. Finally, he can clear minion waves in the mid and late game simply with a quick tab of his poison. Pick Singed if you want a survivable, fast, and controlling tank on your team. He can also act as a decent off tank if he chooses to go more heavy AP.

Next week, I will cover some of the least popular champions that are either picked as tanks and/or can be tanks. We will also go over picking a tank champion that will benefit your team composition the most.

Comments
  1. […] Now, we will take a long at my three champions. I have done analysis on these three champions before so I will write about how I play and feel about them, rather than look at them as champions. They can be found here. […]

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