Tanks are, without a doubt, kings of the current meta in League of Legends. Why is that?
Every team in professional play without a tank is automatically placed at a disadvantage by the casters, and every team in solo queue without a tank usually has a more difficult time overcoming defeat. Tanks, as they stand now, are a necessity to a well-rounded team comp, and some would say that having more tanks make it flat-out easier to win.
That’s arguable, of course, as any team that’s fully composed of damage can definitely win, but they have to do it quickly or without many mistakes (emphasizing lack of mistakes for solo queue in particular). The question is: Are tanks OP?
Well, they are, but not in the way that some people think. If you’re one of those people, we don’t blame you, it’s very easy to think that there would be a problem after seeing something like this:
Hauntzer, TSM’s top laner, took 31 tower shots in the middle of an extended teamfight. He lived, won the teamfight, and won the game. It’s hard not to look at that and say, “Okay, something’s up here,” right? Not necessarily. There’s a lot of things at play in this clip.
For starters: shields. There are item, Lee Sin, and Nautilus shields periodically protecting Hauntzer from turret damage. Shields are in a bit of a rough spot right now, in that they’re kind of OP in their own right. With items like Redemption (which boosts shield power) being the norm for any support and Courage of the Colossus ruling the crowd-control tank lineup, shields are everywhere, and they can be a bit overwhelming. If you’re a marksman, and you finally have that 4th item-Lord Dominik’s Regards-so you can start shredding some tanks… it still takes you 5 auto attacks to get through their shields so you can start damaging their health bars. It can be a bit much.
Secondly, and this is the point we wanted to make, it isn’t actually a problem that Hauntzer has the ability to take this much damage on Nautilus. That’s what tanks are for, right? Soaking up a metric Nexus-load of damage and dishing out crowd control. That being said, we don’t think the fact that this late-game Nautilus tanking this much damage is a bad thing. We don’t think it’s OP. That’s what tanks should do.
Tanks are OP in a different way. Tanks shouldn’t be able to soak up that much damage and deal as much damage as they do in their current state. There has to be a trade-off. Imagine a bot lane where Braum dealt as much damage as a Malzahar support but still built as tanky as a regular Braum? Terrifying, right? Well, that’s basically the state of top lane tanks.
Champions like Nautilus, Maokai, Poppy, Hecarim, and even sometimes Zac have the capabilities of dealing enough damage to blow up (or at least chunk) carries, a capability that should be reserved to the juggernaut-style tanks like Darius and Garen, who lack CC and mobility in compensation for their damage. There’s a reason Nautilus and Maokai are at the top of the charts right now, especially in pro play and it’s because they can survive for incomparable lengths of time while still dealing good, easy, reliable damage. That’s what makes tanks OP.
Don’t get me wrong, tanks need to be able to deal some damage. Otherwise, tank junglers wouldn’t be able to clear camps and tank laners wouldn’t be able to trade in lane. The thing is, if tanks are going to be able to deal good damage, it can’t be so damned easy to land. With Naut and Mao, you point, you click, and the damage comes out. That’s it.
Look at Sion though. He’s extremely tanky, has good survivability, and deals impressive damage. The thing about Sion though is that his damage is unreliable. With the delay on his Q, the projectile speed of his E, and the delay on his W’s detonation: Sion’s damage can be avoided if you outplay him. On the other hand, this also rewards masters of Sion for playing him well after many games of practice. This is what tanks should be, in my opinion. They need to be able to deal some damage, but it cannot be so easy to land.
So are tanks OP? Yes, but it isn’t because they can take 31 tower shots and live. It’s that they can take 31 tower shots, live, and deal easy-bake damage at the same time.
Photo via Riot Games