Season 12 top lane meta is all about Hullbreaker, but is it really that OP?


League of Legends is no stranger to metas where certain items are so overturned that they completely define the landscape. Ardent Censer, a support item that received buffs in early 2017, became so prominent that it became a necessity for every team comp, even for non-enchanter supports. Then there was Banner of Command in 2018, an item which empowered a minion to not only do more damage, but take reduced damage as well, all on 120-second cooldown: a perfect tower-busting strategy.

What does Hullbreaker do?

Hullbreakerwas first introduced in patch 11.13 as a replacement for an item called Sanguine Blade. Building out of Phage + Pickaxe + 825 gold (2800 gold cost total), it offers +50 AD, +400 HP, and +150 base health regeneration.


The highlight, however, is Hullbreaker's unique passive, Boarding Party. Boarding Party provides 20-60 armor and MR and deals 20% bonus damage against structures. It also gives bonus stats to ally cannon minions and super minions, making them bigger, more resistant, and more effective against structures. Sounds too good to be true? The catch behind this unique passive is that it’s only in effect when there are no ally champions within 1,400 units of the item holder.

So why is Hullbreaker suddenly popular?

The changes to the Teleport summoner spell in patch 12.1 made it so that players could only teleport on ally turrets until 14 minutes (after which it's updated to Unleashed Teleport, allowing champions to teleport on wards and minions on a shorter cooldown of 270 seconds).


The changes took away top laners' ability to influence other lanes early on and snowball the game and therefore the importance of the laning phase rose significantly for the top lane. Top laners got shackled to an isolated island for even longer so naturally the top side meta evolved. If you can't TP down to help your bot lane before half of the game's passed, might as well spend all your time split pushing side lanes, which is where rushing Hullbreaker comes in handy.

Should every top laner rush Hullbreaker?

Absolutely not. Players can get away with it in solo queue due to how little communication there is in comparison to competitive play. Players in solo queue are more prone to find win conditions through what they can do individually, rather than as a team, so there’s more merit for a top laner to get ultra fed and macro through their side lanes. Even so, it should never be built on every single AD top laner, since while it empowers your laning, it ultimately delays your power spikes.


Hullbreaker definitely has merits, but it shouldn’t be built all the time. Yes, you get extra stats, and yes, the item itself is very gold-efficient. Hullbreaker definitely goes well with champions like Gnar, for example, since the stats on the item fit the theme of the other items that Gnar builds. Sion's another great example, where the champion can benefit from the stats, as well as his playstyle of heavily threatening side lanes and ulting into teamfights when necessary.


However, champions like Tryndamere, for example, do not necessarily benefit from the extra health and resistances due to how his ultimate works. Simply put, Sion needs his power spikes. In comparison, the "power spike" that you get from rushing Hullbreaker definitely has a placebo effect on a lot of champions. With the nerfs announced for patch 12.5, you can definitely expect to see less of it, both in solo queue and in competitive play.

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