AP vs. AD – Which One’s Better?

Since League of Legends came out, the Summoner’s Rift has remained tangled in a constant state of chaos. Whether it’s the icy shards of an Everfrost or devastating criticals of an Infinity Edge, the Rift has seen its fair share of violence. The enhancements provided by the items above are not only crucial to the game but opposites to one another. 

The former influences your Ability Power, whereas the latter prefers increasing your Attack Damage. Almost every single item in the game affects either of these and, in some cases, both.

Since its inception, Attack Damage and Ability Power have solidified themselves to be core and one of the essential mechanics of the game.

Attack Damage or AD is the stat that determines the damage you deal with your basic attacks. In contrast, Ability Power or AP can effectively increase the strength of your abilities, items, and runes.

Both can affect your character’s abilities and characteristics depending on the Champion you pick. For example, a Veigar benefits tremendously from AP, whereas a Yasuo would be more inclined towards an AD build.

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AP vs. AD – Which One’s Better in Season 12?

In retrospect, each build has always had its pros and cons. Furthermore, the effectiveness of AP and AD is ever-changing based on new updates and the fact that the meta is constantly adapting. There are days when an Ekko one-shots you with his Rabadons and ones where a Zed obliterates you with his lethality. 

As such, anyone claiming supremacy of one stat over the other is either biased or not worth their salt. Both AP and AD are equally essential parts of the game, and it’s impossible to prove one to be better than the other.

A general comparison between both of them is futile. A good balance between AD and AP is vital to increase your odds of winning. However, if we talk strictly in the sense of a single season, well, the scenario changes.

We’ve seen seasons where ADCs were incredibly horrendous. We’ve also witnessed seasons where the Mid Lane became practically useless. Similarly, it’s possible to deduce that some seasons gave precedence to AP, whereas others were more inclined towards AD.

Let’s talk about things from the perspective of Season 12. Although, these fluctuations are pretty standard and happen over time.

Note that this will be highly subjective, and the scenario will change from case to case.

AD vs. AP – Champions and Roles

To do justice to our analysis between AD and AP, we can’t simply look at items or builds and call it a day. Instead, a more relevant comparison would be about how these builds are effectively utilized in each role. 

After all, that’s what ultimately matters. Keeping that in mind, here’s a breakdown concerning the AD vs. AP debate amongst the different parts.

Bot Lane

This will be a pretty straightforward answer for anyone who’s been playing League of Legends for more than a week. Attack damage, all the way. A more comprehensive take on this is below.


 Firstly, let’s get the support role out of the way. Support can be AD and AP depending on the carry and the team’s requirements. The actual job of the support is to provide CCs or overall utility, and as such, their focus on AD or AP is quite negligible. 

However, it is worth noting that most supports are usually AP, with Pyke and Senna being the main exceptions.


Moving on to the carry, there’s a reason why this role has become synonymous with the term ADC. Although exceptions such as Ziggs or Swain exist, the bot lane is dominated by AD champions. Usually, the carry is almost always a ranged AD champion. This is both convenient and necessary.

A carry is required to provide consistent damage throughout a team fight and siege towers. In contrast, AP champions generally provide burst rather than sustained damage. Additionally, it is much easier to farm in the bot lane for an AD champion than an AP one.

Another essential factor to consider here is Siege Potential. This will hardly come up in lower-ranked games. However, it becomes a massive factor in Platinum and above Elo’s. In evenly matched games, the carry is crucial in breaking stalled fights. 

Furthermore, ADCs can be an excellent source of damaging turrets while your team interacts with the enemy. For example, a champion with zone control can force the opponents to retreat while the ADC effectively chips away at a tower. The bot lane thus goes to the AD side of the matter.

Also Check Out: How to Carry a Losing Team as an ADC?

Mid Lane

This is probably going to be the most complex analysis to make. The answer to this is entirely subjective. There are notable champions on either end of the scale, AP and AD, designed for the mid-lane. Generally, the champions played at the mid-lane are either AD Assassins or AP Mages. So how exactly do we make a comparison here?

For one, AP champions are generally more popular in the mid-lane than AD ones. This has more to do with the game’s circumstances than the champions. Ability Power is not that famously played in the Top or Bottom lanes. 

In a case such as that, picking an AD champion would put your team at a disadvantage. In comparison, selecting an AP champion would diversify your team’s damage portfolio and prevent the enemy from continuously stacking armor against you. 

At the time of writing, AP champions constitute 17 out of the top 20 picks with the highest win rate in Platinum+ Elo’s for the mid-lane. That difference is massive. AD champions at mid make sense in the scenario that either your top lane or jungle wants to have an AP pick. 

By picking the less popular AD role in the middle, you also handicap your top laner/jungle to pick an AP champion. Hence, choosing an AD champion at mid isn’t necessarily bad; it’s probably not what your team requires in most cases.

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Top Lane and Jungle

For the top lane, the argument’s premise won’t differ much compared to the bot lane. For a reason, Top has always been dominated by melee Bruisers or Tanks.  Of course, a few exceptions such as Malphite, Kennen, or Vladimir can potentially be great picks for the topside. 

But they are only that – exceptions. At the top, you will be completely isolated from the rest of your team for most of the game. You need to be able to make good trades and farm. Most importantly, being heavily mana-dependent and squishy, AP champions don’t make an ideal pick on the top.

In most cases, you can have an advantage in the early game, but once you hit a few levels up and manage to get a few items, you’ll find yourself having to deal with some of the most annoying champions in the game. Ahem… Darius. It seems as if AD will take this one.  

The Jungle, on the other hand, is one of, if not the most, complicated role in the game. The massive size of the jungle means you need substantial roaming ability.  

Additionally, you have to be on the lookout for team objectives actively and gank your lanes, unless you want Yasuo in the mid lane to blame you for going 0/7 in the first 5 minutes! As a jungle, you must consider invasion pressure and camp clearing speed. 

You might have noticed by now that in none of the factors I’ve mentioned is ability power or attack damage significant. The job of a jungle is quite complicated for them to be torn apart in this debate. For them, it’s more vital to perform well in the sections mentioned above compared to whether they pick AP or AD. 

This is backed up by the fact that in season 12, the most favorite champions in the jungle are Nunu, Viego, Diana, and Volibear. Two of them are dependent upon AP, while the other two prefer AD. The jungle role seems to remain indifferent to this matter. 


It’s apparent from the above discussion that a majority of the roles require you to play AD champions to do well for yourself and your team. Thus, considering all arguments, it’s clear that AD won this comparison.

Or did it? Well, let’s assume for a moment that it did. Does that mean that AD champions/roles are more effective or currently over-powered?

 You’ll quickly notice the inherent flaw if you pick an all-AD team. There’s a reason why ability power is integral to the game. Although you can rank AP/AD champions over one another like we’ve done here, doing the same for AP or AD itself would be criminal.

Both are essential to maintain an overall equilibrium in the abilities of your roster, and not doing so will cause you to be at an inherent disadvantage. As such, there is no clear winner here. One is just as important as the other.

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