There is no role in League of Legends more hotly debated than AD carry. Regardless of the level of play, one can find arguments that the role is the strongest in the game at the exact same time others can claim the role is utterly useless.
While the role has had its fair share of growing pains throughout the development of LoL esports in the past half-decade, the best players find a way to succeed time and time again, regardless of shifts in the meta and the relative strength of the role in that context. Consistent damage will always provide value in League of Legends, and therefore, the strength of an AD carry is the ability to navigate the role’s ability to dish out the most damage possible while remaining safe enough to maintain a consistent backline threat.
Here is Inven Global’s ranking of the best AD carries going into the 2021 World Championship:
10. Light (LNG) — 1.67/10
9. Unified (PSG) — 2.00/10
8. Lwx (FPX) — 2.57/10
7. Upset (FNC) — 2.71/10
6. Ghost (DK) — 4.14/10
5. Gumayusi (T1), Ruler (Gen.G) — 4.71/10
Gumayusi has started the majority of T1’s games at the AD carry position this season, and his strengths have been clearly defined within the structure of the team throughout that time. Gumayusi’s relatively unimpressive laning phase is overshadowed by his 5.0 KDA, 65.7% kill participation, and 10.1 CS per minute. Usually, Gumayusi is left to his own devices to further enable the roaming of support Ryu "Keria" Min-seok. After farming up a storm, Gumayusi will join teamfights on hyperscaling picks like Aphelios or Jinx.
Statistically speaking, Ruler is an absolute monster. Similar to Gumayusi, Ruler’s 10.1 CSPM is his sole impressive early game stat, but once he’s able to get going, Gen.G wins the game more often than not. Ruler led the LCK this summer in damage percentage (31.3%) and his 65.1% kill participation paints a vivid picture. Ruler is a strong player, but Gen.G’s lack of dimension nearly requires him to carry the game despite talent in multiple positions on the roster, resulting in an inflation of team-based statistics.
4. Deft (HLE) — 5.14/10
Let’s make something very clear: This is not the Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu we’ve seen headed to previous World Championships. In the past, Deft has underperformed internationally after stellar domestic play, but on Hanwha Life Esports, the veteran marksman struggled to retain his previous form. Deft led the league in deaths amongst AD Carries in the LCK Summer Split with 101, but while his KDA suffered, his damage numbers were still relatively good. Deft was top 3 in both DPM and DMG%.
Deft has never been the most stable laner, but the growing pains of young support Oh "Vsta" Hyo-seong, especially in the context of the 2v2, often put Deft at more of a disadvantage than he can be credited for this summer. Deft and Vsta, as well as the rest of HLE, stepped up in the post-season, but it was still mid laner Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon essentially dragging HLE to Worlds 2021.
If Hanwha Life Esports wants to exceed expectations, Deft won’t just have to return to his previous form, he must surpass it.
3. Teddy (T1) — 6.43/10
Park "Teddy" Jin-seong started only a handful of games across the past few months in favor of Gumayusi, but the veteran sharpshooter certainly made his presence known on Summoner’s Rift. While Gumayusi started most of the LCK Summer Split and the entirety of the LCK Regional Final, it was Teddy who played for most of the Summer Playoffs. Teddy showcased not only an ability to outperform Gumayusi on utility picks like Varus and Ashe, but was able to do more damage with less resources than Gumayusi. In the post-season, Teddy was given more resources than Gumayusi and made the most of them to the tune of a 6.4 KDA and the third highest damage percentage and dpm of all AD carries in the Summer Playoffs.
Seven of the last nine games Gumayusi has started in place of Teddy were against Hanwha Life Esports, so it’s entirely possible that T1 will start Teddy over Gumayusi depending on the matchup and playstyle of teams at Worlds 2021. However, because of Teddy’s wealth of experience, it may be possible that T1 goes entirely for the experienced hand in the AD carry position at an international event.
2. GALA (RNG) — 8.43/10
GALA answered the call of stepping into the shoes of Jian “Uzi” Jihao and played a pivotal part in Royal Never Give Up’s spring title and subsequent MSI 2021 championship. GALA’s statistics throughout the LPL Summer Split and Summer Playoffs are far from impressive, but that has much more to do with RNG’s trajectory as a team this season than a dip in individual performance. RNG got off to a slow start in summer after winning MSI 2021, but went on a tear to qualify for the post-season only to be eliminated in a shocking upset at the hands of LNG Esports.
Ultimately, GALA is the sharpest sword in RNG’s arsenal, but his role is not always one that lends itself to autonomy. Support Shi "Ming" Sen-Ming and jungler Yan "Wei" Yang-Wei remain the catalysts of the squad, while top laner and roster mainstay Li "Xiaohu" Yuan-Hao continues to hold down the role of the squad’s beating heart.
GALA still has the capability to be as spectacular as he was in the finals of the LPL Spring Playoffs and MSI 2021, but whether he will be able to showcase his full ability is dependent on what form RNG shows on the day as a team.
1. Viper (EDG) — 9.71/10
There are no asterisks or team contexts to account for here. Viper is the best AD carry in the world, and it’s damn near inarguable.
For years, EDG mid laner Lee "Scout" Ye-chan was only able to lead the team to success when he had a reliable second carry in the bot lane. Viper flipped the script and became the primary carry of EDG since joining at the beginning of the season, a trend that continued into the Summer Split.
Viper’s most recent performances for EDG have been on high damage carries like Aphelios, Jinx, and his signature Ezreal, but throughout the summer, he has shown the ability to excel on any pick the team needs including utility picks like Varus or new meta flavor Ziggs. Viper’s consistent performance across multiple picks and shifts in meta is unparalleled in 2021, and his elite level of play in the Summer Split was only bested by his stellar performance in the Summer Playoffs.
When you consider that Viper’s support is Tian "Meiko" Ye, it becomes difficult to argue that any bot lane duo on the planet is at the same level of LPL Summer champion EDward Gaming.