Gwen is the latest champion joining League of Legends' long roster, now officially out of the PBE and into the live servers.
The Hallowed Seamstress is an AP bruiser with strong dueling potential. She packs a lot of damage in her kit, but it comes with a caveat. Here is our first impression of Riot Games' latest addition to the game, gathered from extensively testing her on the PBE.
Items and combos
Gwen is built for dueling and thrives in the side lanes. However, she has a weak early game and can be bullied out of the lane. This is mainly due to mediocre stats and her dependency on items for scaling.
Gwen's Q is her main source of damage. It scales very well with AP and should be maxed first in most cases. Items such as Rift Maker, Lich Bane, and Nashor's Tooth generally complete her core build. After that, players can either add more damage by building Rabadon's Deathcap and Void Staff or go for defensive items such as Zhonya's Hourglass and Spirit Visage/Dead Man's Plate.
An attack speed focused build is also an option. In that case, max out E first as it provides bonus attack speed, and prioritize Kraken Slayer, followed by Nashor's Tooth and Blade of the Ruined King. Players can skip Sorcerer's Shoes as well and instead go for Berserker's Greaves for additional attack speed.
The most basic combo for Gwen:
- Stack passive to increase number of Q snips
- Dash towards the enemy with E
- Follow up with Q to deal damage
Auto attacking enemies will grant Gwen a stack of passive, and it can go up to a maximum of 4 stacks. For every stack in Gwen's passive, she will add an extra snip on her Q ability, for a total of 6 at max stacks. Without a decent amount of stacks on her passive, her Q damage is lackluster and will barely trouble the enemy. There is a charge time on her Q before she lays out her damage, and like many abilities in the game, players can cancel the charge animation by instantly using E or Flash after using Q.
In a team fight, start with R as it will automatically proc Lethal Tempo or trigger the Conqueror stacks depending on which runes you take. Follow up by E to close the distance to the target. E will also grant bonus attack speed which should be efficiently used to stack her passive by quickly auto-attacking four times.
This sequence will also give you another cast of R and will apply the slow debuff on the target. The slow debuff will buy you enough time to reposition and cast Q, which will now deal maximum damage with a fully stacked passive. You can finish the combo with casting R for the final time. The damage dealt should be enough to take down carries or any squishy target.
To summarize, in teamfights do:
- Cast R
- Close distance with E, giving yourself attack speed buff
- Cast R for the 2nd time, maxing out Passive’s stacks
- Cast Q for 6 snips
- Cast R for the 3rd time
Gwen heavily relies on her combos to maximize damage and struggles against champions that can disrupt that. Fumbling even one step can result in a loss of passive stacks, which will then curb the Q damage. It also affects her ultimate, as attacking the enemy within 8 seconds of using it grants a subsequent cast(up to 3).
One of the major drawbacks of Gwen is that her Q is pretty easy to dodge and even when fully stacked, it’s hard to land all 6 snips unless the target is crowd-controlled in some way.
Conqueror is the most popular way to build Gwen to further increase her healing/sustain. An option is to go for Lethal Tempo for a more bursty build.
The best approach for playing Gwen in the laning phase is to go for short skirmishes instead of plunging all in. This will allow Gwen to use her passive effectively and heal regularly. It's also important to weave auto attacks between her abilities to keep her damage consistent and high.
Playing around jungle ganks is important as it will give Gwen a proper setup to use her abilities effectively.
The mid and late-game is where Gwen shines most. Once her E is fully maxed, the attack speed bonus that it provides has permanent uptime even without any ability haste. This also makes her build path more flexible as she can go for both AP heavy or a more attack-speed oriented build.
She also gets bonus magic resistance and armor from her W depending upon the overall AP. This makes her a nightmare to deal with in the late game, as she can simply cast W to gain a bunch of resistances but has the potential to instantly eliminate squishy targets.
She can efficiently split push, take turrets, and can also duel with most champions. However, she struggles against crowd control and can easily be burst down. Team fights need to be played very carefully as one misstep can lead to instant death due to her being squishy.
How does Gwen fair against meta champions?
Riot Games have listed Gwen as a top laner, and rightfully so. Her kit seems very one-dimensional, which only makes her suitable for solo lanes. Unfortunately, she doesn't stack well against the meta top laners. Champions such as Volibear and Darius are prevalent right now, mainly due to their strong early game. These champions also transition very well into the late game as they can act as a proper frontline for their team.
Gwen, on the other hand, is very squishy and is most effective when playing side lanes. It's easy to burst her down in team fights, and she doesn't provide much apart from high damage. Champions such as Camile and Sylas can provide a similar level split push threat, but unlike Gwen, they also bring utility to the table.
Overall, Gwen feels a bit underwhelming right now. Her damage, although high, doesn't make up for her utility scarce kit. Her early game is also pretty weak, and she gets rolled over by most meta champions. Gwen will likely have a low win rate upon release. She is also not suitable for lower Elo due to her high ceiling.
That being said, Gwen can still hard carry games if executed properly. Players with good mechanical skills, in particular, will thrive on her. With a steep learning curve, it's recommended to use her in normal games before hopping into the ranked queue. She is a high-risk, high reward champion, making her a very volatile pick.