The League of Legends champion pool provides players with diverse playstyles. Whether you like to bully your opponent at the start of the match or prefer scaling through the mid-game into an unkillable juggernaut, League has just the right champions for you.
A unique playstyle that resembles the juggernaut playstyle is the ability to gain stacks throughout the match. These champions grow in power throughout the match, and can really shine in the later stages of the game.
However, that is not the only type of stacking available in the game. Some champions can apply stacks to enemies for additional damage. Each time they use their ability, a stack is placed on the enemy, empowering their next attack.
The two champions that are entirely reliant solely on stacking are Nasus and Veigar. Although other champions can still be viable without stacks, both these champions turn into cannon minions if not stacked properly. Other champs that gain stacks are Shyvanna, Cho’Gath, Senna, and Kindred. Bel’Veth, Sion, Thresh, and Swain round out the list for permanent stacking abilities.
Now if we look at temporary stacking abilities, I am sure two top lane beasts, Jax and Darius, come to mind. Irelia also requires stacks to become relevant while Gwen and Tahm Kench can hold their own, even with minimal stacks. The final few champs we’ll be talking about are from the bot lane comprising Samira and Kalista, the Spear of Vengence.
These might seem like more champions that you imagined having stacking abilities, but not all of them are as reliant on their stacking capabilities as others. In both cases, permanent or temporary stacks, the ability to pilot the champion properly is what decides the outcome of an encounter.
Let us get right into how each champion gains and utilizes stacks, and if they are really worth playing the waiting game.
Also check out: Scaling champions counter in LoL
Stacking Abilities- Permanent & Temporary
I mentioned before there are two types of stacking abilities, those that grant permanent stacks to the user while others place temporary stacks on the enemy in order to hit harder. Both are important, but knowing how each work is vital to unlocking their full capabilities.
Firstly, we’ll start off with abilities that you use to gain permanent stacks on your champion.
Nasus, The Curator Of The Sands
Nasus, revered on the rift as the king of stacking, takes the top spot on our list. As soon as minions enter the lane, Nasus’s main goal is gaining stacks with his Q. That is due to the passive effect of his Q.
Every time Nasus kills a target with his Q, he gains variable stacks. 3 per minion kill and 12 per champion kill. These gradually increase the power of his Q, which simply empowers his next auto attack.
Later into the game, if you let a Nasus farm too much, he can deal insane amounts of damage to any target. Since Q’s attack damage increases simultaneously with stacks, it can be dangerous once he gets over 500, even for tanks. The other issue is that it is flat damage, meaning it does the same amount to any target. This makes turrets in front of a fed Nasus look like Krugs or Raptors.
Veigar, The Tiny Master Of Evil
The best AP glass cannon, if not the best from all damage categories, is definitely Veigar. The yordle can gain Phenomenal Evil stacks every time he strikes an enemy with a spell or scores a takedown.
With each Phenomenal Evil stack, Veigar gains +1 AP flat. This means this additional AP applies to all of his abilities. With comparatively easy stacking, at least compared to Nasus, Veigar can gain stacks really fast, considering he is piloted properly.
Taking out minions with your Q is vital to gaining stacks fast as you cannot constantly harass your opponent with ability. The downside to Veigar is the short ability ranges meaning you have to get pretty close to land an ability, two of which are skill shots.
But he is definitely a menace once he gets an appreciable amount of stacks. His R, which is auto-targeting, can one-shit an ADC before they realize what is coming.
Shyvanna, The Half-Dragon
Unlike the previous two champions, Shyvanna’s stacking style is quite different. As the entire champion is based around dragons, Shyvanna’s passive, Fury of the Dragonborn, allows her to deal more damage to dragons. On top of that, she gains additional magic resistance and armor based on how many dragons her team has.
This means Shyvanna’s stacking ability is based purely on taking the dragon objectives. She does scale very nicely once you get a few items and two to three drakes. As she also deals bonus damage to dragons, Riot has made sure she is able to focus on a win condition and see it through.
Since the additional damage is not implemented on to champions she damages, it is great to run the Conditioning rune while playing with her. This will massively increase your magic resistance and armor based on how much you already have. Get some defensive items and you will be unkillable in team fights.
Cho’Gath, The Terror Of The Void
Seeing Cho’Gath in any of your matches has become surprising considering how much his play rate has dropped. Once a feared top laner, he is now a niche pick into certain champions. Regardless, his ability to gain stacks through “eating” minions, champions, or anything he sees, has not changed.
Cho’Gath’s R, Feast, allows Cho’Gath to devour an enemy. This deals a massive amount of true damage (damage that is unaffected by shields or resistances). If the enemy is killed by this ability, Cho’Gath gains a stack, increasing his maximum health.
The unique aspect of Cho’Gath’s stacking ability is that there is a limit on how much you can stack per target type. For minions, the limit is 6. After you have devoured 6 minions to gain stacks, killing any more minions with R will not result in additional stacks. Champion and large monster stacks are infinite.
Senna, The Redeemer
The first ADC on our list of permanent stacking abilities is Senna. Senna’s method of stacking souls is by far the easiest. Any time you hit an enemy champion twice with an auto attack, you will gain a soul. On the flip side, this means that each soul is worth less. You will need a lot more soul stacks to become relevant as compared to Nasus or Veigar.
These stacks come from Senna’s passive, Absolution. Whenever an enemy unit dies near Senna, their souls are trapped by the Black Mist. Senna can attack these souls, with either auto attacks or her Q, to release them.
This Mist (souls released from the Black Mist) empower her basic attacks. As she gains soul stacks, Senna receives increased attack damage, attack range, and critical strike chance.
Her passive allows her to be a great support as her damage scales immensely well and each auto attack slows the target partially, granting her increased movement speed.
Kindred, The Eternal Hunters
One of my favorite champion designs, Kindred are our second marksman champion on the list. Unlike most marksmen though, Kindred are the only jungle marksman champion in the game. Their stacks are through hunting their prey, an ability they posses through their passive, Mark of the Kindred.
From the start of the match, Kindred can mark enemy champions to hunt. If Kindred can successfully secure a takedown on that champion, they are granted a stack. These stacks passively increase the attributes of Kindred’s basic abilities.
Other than champion marks, Hunt marks also appear on jungle camps. The issue arises when it is an enemy jungle camp, meaning you need to enter the enemy jungle in order to complete the Hunt.
After every 4 hunts, Kindred receives an additional 2 basic attack range. This makes them an extremely deadly threat as the only jungle marksman champion on Summoner’s Rift.
Bel’Veth, The Empress Of The Void
The most recent addition to the League of Legends champion roster, Bel’Veth has been dominating the jungle, primarily due to her stacking attack speed attribute.
The purely AD, attack speed jungler is made to power farm through the early game and reach her mid-game spike sooner. Her passive, Death in Lavender, grants her permanent attack speed on takedowns of large minions, monsters, and champions. This means if she’s moving around the map effectively, she will soon burst you before you can flash out.
On top of permanent attack speed from takedowns of both neutral and enemy units, Bel’Veth also gains a temporary attack speed buff after using an ability. This means the stacking potential is truly insane and could be broken in the hands of the right player.
Although if you’re ever looking for a counter, remember that Rammus makes her kill herself as fast as she kills your teammates.
You may also want to check out: Is Bel’veth AP or AD?
Sion, The Undead Juggernaut
Having one of the most versatile build paths on the rift, Sion uses his stacking ability to bulk himself up. As the name suggests, Sion is built to be a juggernaut and his passive helps him do that even after death.
Sion’s W, Soul Furnace, has a passive effect that allows Sion to gain health every time he kills an enemy unit. This means that he can infinitely stack health and build defensive stats through items, making him an ideal tank in the late game.
His late-game potential is further enhanced using his passive that keeps him alive for a few seconds after death, with rapidly deteriorating health. This definitely makes Sion a force to be reckoned with in the later stages of the game. Make sure to keep him behind while you can, otherwise, he is near unkillable.
Thresh, The Chain Warden
One of the top support picks in professional play, Thresh has outshined other supports to remain relevant throughout the patches. His epic outplays potential makes him a joy to watch and even more satisfying to play if you can pull them off.
But unlike most tank supports, Thresh does not gain armor rating with levels. Rather, this is where his stacking potential comes in. Thresh’s passive, Damnation, allows Thresh to harvest the souls of dead enemies. These souls grant Thresh permanent armor and ability power.
Quite similar to Senna’s passive, Absolution, the souls spawn any time an enemy unit dies near Thresh. But it is easier to stack as you do not need to auto-attack it. Simply passing over the soul will collect it and count as another stack. This passive can prove to be useless or overpowered, depending on if the player properly farms these souls through the laning phase.
Swain, The Noxian Grand General
Last but not least on our list of champions with permanent stacking abilities is Swain, the Noxian Grand General. Swain’s kit is usually reliant on either pulling enemies near him or sustaining damage while front lining. This is primarily due to his short-range abilities, even though he is mage support.
Swain’s passive, Ravenous Flock, grants him soul fragments from various sources. These soul fragments partially heal him and increase his maximum health permanently. Swain collects soul fragments every time champions are hit by either his W or E.
E’s reduced cooldown during his R, Demonic Ascension, helps him sustain and heal himself while taking damage from various sources. Even though he builds AP, Swain can definitely become tanky enough to take some shots.
Now that we are done with all the champions that gain permanent stacks one way or another, let’s take a look at those who apply stacks on enemies during combat.
Jax, Grandmaster At Arms
If you are a top lane main or have basic knowledge of the top lane meta, you’ll know how scary it is to go up against a master Jax. With a well-rounded kit, Jax has an answer to almost every champion, making him an insane hyper-carry late-game.
A big part of his hyper-carry potential is his passive, Relentless Assault. Much like Bel’Veth, it increases his attack speed corresponding to the number of stacks. The only difference is he can fully utilize this passive at any point of the match.
Going 1v1 is always a bad idea as his passive stacks up to 8 times, giving him a burst of attack speed. He gains stacks with consecutive attacks and, as long as he is basic attacking, the stacks do not decay. Although once out of combat, the stacks decay very quickly.
Darius, The Hand Of Noxus
Holding the spot for the best early game champ, Darius is probably one of the most stack-reliant champions on our list for temporary stacks. So much so that at max stacks, he gains a burst of attack damage against the affected target. With the passive bleed coupled with additional attack damage, it is hard to escape him once he’s on top of you.
Darius’ passive, Hemorrhage, causes enemies to bleed for 5 seconds. Hemorrhage stacks can be applied by basic attacks or any of Darius’ damaging abilities. The passive stacks up to five times, after which it grants Darius additional attack damage.
The champion is made even stronger by his R, Noxian Gullutione. The damage on his R increases with each stack of Hemorrhage on the target. Renowned for getting double kills during enemy ganks, he is not someone you want to see your opponent lock-in.
Irelia, The Blade Dancer
Irelia has been a revered top laner since her release, mostly for her high skill ceiling and ability to dodge out of most skill shots. Those who know how to pilot her can 1v1 champs at any stage of the game, while others are nullified after 2 deaths. Much of her power comes from her passive stacks though, which you will need to master if you ever plan to play Irelia in ranked.
Irelia’s passive, Ionian Fervor, grants Irelia a stack every time she strikes an enemy with a spell. These stacks increase her attack speed significantly. At maximum stacks, she gains bonus on-hit damage.
This passive fit perfectly with the rest of her kit. Her Q resets each time the target dies due to Q damage. That means she can get all 4 stacks within a second if enough minions are present. Once she has fully stacked, the all-in power is unstoppable.
Gwen, The Hallowed Seamstress
Gwen was released a few years ago and has been a niche pick ever since. The Hallowed Seamstress requires some serious mechanics to pull off properly, mitigating damage, maintaining stacks, and going in for the kill.
Although Gwen’s stacking passive is only used for her Q, it is her main source of damage. Every time Gwen basic attacks, she gains a stack. She can gain up to 4 stacks that decay while out of combat. When she uses her Q, it uses up all her stacks to deal additional damage.
Since Gwen’s Q does true damage in the middle of its hit-radius, it is essential to keep firing it off as soon as you get 4 stacks. This maximizes your damage output and sends your opponent back to their fountain.
Tahm Kench, The River King
An extremely difficult champion to deal with, Tahm Kench comes in at no.5 on our list. The River King is known to be exceptionally tanky into the late game, mostly due to his E’s shield. But if you are in the top lane, the bigger threat is his Q stunning you. Maybe if you are really unlucky, you could even get eaten by his R.
Tahm Kench’s Q and basic attacks apply a stack of An Acquired Taste. These stacks can only be applied to enemy champions, up to a maximum of 3 stacks. When an enemy is fully stacked, Tahm Kench can use his Q to stun the enemy for a short duration. If the enemy is stunned, the stacks are consumed.
He can also use his R, Devour, to devour champions. If it is an ally champion, it can be done without stacks. But if an enemy champion has 3 stacks, Tahm Kench can also devour them, incapacitating them.
Samira, The Desert Rose
The acclaimed ‘1v9’ queen of the bot lane, Samira, relies primarily on her stacks to get going. Until now, stacks have only been available to empower attacks or raise base stats. But Samira is a one-of-a-kind champion in this regard.
Samira’s passive, Daredevil Impulse, allows her to build up a combo by landing attacks. The stacks are grades and go up from E to S, which are a maximum of 6 stacks. Once she hits the S grade, she can activate her R, Inferno Trigger, which is her main source of damage in team fights.
Kalista, The Spear Of Vengence
Rounding out our list is Kalista, the Spear of Vengence. Probably the least seen ADC in the bot lane, Kalista has one of the shortest ranges of any ADC. She excels at kiting out enemies and out-sustaining their auto attacks while stacking up her E.
Kalista’s E, Rend, impales the target with multiple spears. The number of spears is uncertain, but it goes pretty high. When activated, Kalista rips out all the spears, dealing burst damage that escalates, and slows the target.
She is an extremely hard ADC and one that requires proper engage support. This is mostly due to the fact that you need time to stack up your spears on a single target. Her passive, Martial Poise, helps with this as you can dash a small distance every time you auto attack. Once you have enough spears on the target, you can reactivate Rend to finish off the opponent.
Every player has their own diverse playstyle, or maybe you just want to shake things up and try something up. No matter what the reason, League has some amazing stack-dependant champs waiting for you in their roster. Whether you want quick, bursty assassins, or unkillable late-game juggernauts, you will find there is no limit to the possibilities in League.
Also check out our article on the cheapest LoL champs.