Everyone knows that the best summoner spells for an ADC are Flash and Heal… Or are they? Deep within the hidden tombs of METAs past, there lie tales of another ADC summoner spell. This spell’s name? Cleanse. Flash is invaluable and cannot be replaced 99% of the time. It is an escape tool, a repositioning tool, and a kill-secure tool. All three of which are crucial to ADC gameplay. This means, if you want to try something new and dangerous with your ADC game, you have to look to the second spell, Heal.
While Heal is a fantastic summoner spell for ADCs and can safely be taken every game, there is another option. Cleanse is a Summoner Spell that allows you to remove most forms of crowd control (CC) and grants you 65% Tenacity for 3 Seconds. If you know about the item QSS, this is practically the Summoner Spell form.
How Does Cleanse Work in League of Legends?
Alright, let’s talk about how to use Cleanse from a technical standpoint. If you’ve never taken Cleanse before, then pay attention. This section is for you! If you have taken cleanse, there might be some nuances that you do not know about, so pay attention! Alright, then let’s get to it.
- Auto Target: This is a fancy way of saying that Cleanse will automatically target your champ when you press the button (F gang btw). You won’t have to press the button and then select your champ. Press cleanse and let the CC wash away.
- Tenacity: Cleanse will apply a 65% Tenacity boost to your Champion for 3 seconds after you use it. Tenacity lowers the duration of crowd control effects such as slows and stuns.
- Summoner Spell Debuffs: Cleanse has one notable advantage over Quicksilver Sash. Quicksilver Sash (QSS) will remove Exhaust’s slow but not its damage reduction debuff. On the other hand, Cleanse will altogether remove Exhaust and its debuffs. Cleanse will also remove ignite (but not the grievous wounds), which QSS does not affect.)
- Cleanse Vs. QSS: So why take Cleanse when you could build QSS? That’s a great question, and to be honest, you will want to take Heal most of the time. There’s not a massive difference between Cleanse and Quicksilver Sash. First of all, Cleanse grants the Tenacity boost while QSS does not. However, QSS can be used on Suppressions like Malzahar and Warwick ult while Cleanse cannot. Finally, Cleanse will remove the full effects of Summoner Spells like Ignite and Exhaust, while QSS will not.
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What Can You Cleanse?
Cleanse will work on just about anything, even some Summoner Spells. The upside to Cleanse is that you have it level 1 and can use it all through the laning phase. The downside is that it doesn’t work on important ults, like Mordekaiser’s and Malzahar’s. This still leaves a long list of CC abilities that you can cleanse your way out of, and I’m going to lay out some of the most common ones that you will come across.
- Yasuo Ultimate (R): You can Cleanse and QSS a Yasuo ult. There is one caveat; you’ll be able to run away, but you will still take the damage from his R. So make sure you have enough HP. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your cooldowns for nothing.
- Nasus Wither (W): This ability is the bane of an ADC’s existence. If you see a Nasus on the enemy team, you should be prepared to take Cleanse or buy a QSS as soon as possible. This ability will lower your movement speed by up to 95% and your attack speed by up to 47%. This means that even when the dog is behind, his Withers will wreck your ability to fight.
- Ahri Charm (E): Cleanse will rid you of all charms, roots, and stuns. Ahri Charm is one of the biggest threats in the game because it usually comes out of a bush full of enemies. Thankfully if you use Cleanse in time, you can make it out with most of your health intact.
- Teemo Blind (Q): Here’s another big one. Teemo blind will wreck you almost as much as a Nasus W. If your auto attacks can’t hit, then you’re practically useless. The good news is that most games Teemo won’t get close enough to blind you. But if you’re worried about it (or worse, if you’re against Teemo support), then feel free to take Cleanse. You can also Cleanse Teemo Shrooms, but you will only remove the slow, not the damage.
- Silences: Not many players know this, but you can remove silences such as Cho’Gath W or Soraka E. The main reason you would want to do this is that being silenced will prevent you from using many of your escape tools, including Flash, or any dash/blink abilities your Champion may have (Vayne Q or Ezreal E, for examples.)
- Grounds: This is a less common form of crowd control and will likely show up in the form of Singed W and Cassiopeia W. Unfortunately, both of these abilities will leave a glob on the ground. So if you Cleanse the initial grounding effect, you will want to dash out of it as soon as possible to escape completely.
- Drowsy & Sleep: If you’ve ever played against a fed Zoe, then you already know, Cleanse is the way to go. Getting put to bed and then put to death 2 seconds later is one of the worst experiences in League of Legends. Thankfully Cleanse can rid you of both the initial Drowsiness and the Sleep that follows.
- Exhaust: Cleanse is the only tool that will remove Exhaust’s effects altogether. This includes the slow as well as the damage reduction debuff. On the other hand, QSS will only remove the slow but not the damage reduction. This makes Cleanse a complete counter to the Exhaust Summoner Spell.
- Ignite: Many players do not realize this, but Cleanse will remove the Damage Over Time (DoT) applied by the Ignite Summoner Spell. Ignite also applies Grevious Wounds, which will reduce all healing on the Champion affected. Cleanse will remove the damage, but not the Grevious Wounds applied by Ignite. This effectively means that Cleanse will remove both Summoner Spells taken by most supports, which is why it is a viable option, especially early game.
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What Can You NOT Cleanse?
While Cleanse has the advantage of being able to rid the effects of Ignite and Exhaust, it falls flat against some of the biggest threats in the game: Suppressions. It is a bit counter-intuitive not to be able to Cleanse abilities like Warwick and Malzahar R, especially when you can QSS them. Cleanse still has its use-cases, but this is a big reason why it doesn’t see play as often. The following is a list of effects and abilities you cannot Cleanse.
- Malzahar R: Imagine this. You’re fed, you’re carrying your team to victory, but suddenly a Malz Flash Ults you and his whole team surround you like the Sharks they are. You go to press Cleanse, but it doesn’t work?? This is a fate many ADCs have suffered, but I’m here to prevent you from bearing that same demise. Malzahar R is a suppression, not a stun, so you cannot Cleanse Malzahar ult. On a positive note, though, you can build QSS and remove that suppression all day!
- Warwick R: Warwick’s ult follows the same principles as Malzahar ult. It is a suppression, so you cannot Cleanse Warwick ult. Just like Malzahar Ult thought, you can QSS it instead.
- Urgot R: Sorry, you cannot Cleanse Urgot Ult either. I’m sure you’ve noticed a pattern here. Urgot’s R is a suppression, so it can only be removed by QSS.
- Mordekaiser R: Mordekaiser’s ultimate is weird. He sucks you into an alternate universe of pain and tries everything in his power to kill you. However, technically his Ultimate is a suppression, and you know what that means. You cannot Cleanse Mordekaiser Ult, but you can QSS it.
- Fizz R: Unfortunately, Fizz’s Ultimate cannot be Cleansed or QSS’d. Nothing can remove the Shark once it has you in its grasps. However, the silver lining is that you can remove the slow with QSS and Cleanse. So while the Shark will still hurt you, you might be able to escape the Fizz himself.
- Knock Ups: Knock-up is a notorious form of crowd control in League of Legends. They cannot be removed with QSS or Cleanse. There is no way to remove a knock-up, so you have to be extra careful against champs like Cho’Gath and Malphite (or build a Guardian Angel)
- Nearsight: Nearsight is the debuff that your champ gets when Nocturne ults or when you step in a Graves Smokescreen. When your champ is afflicted with nearsight, you will only be able to see things happening within the immediate vicinity. Cleanse will not work on Nearsight, but you can always build a Quicksilver Sash if you find yourself losing because of this debuff.
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When to Take Cleanse?
I’m sure you’ve noticed, but Cleanse doesn’t work on a lot of things. So you might be wondering why you should take Cleanse at all? Especially when you could build a QSS and save that spell slot for Heal. Heal will be the better option most of the time, but you can get away with Cleanse when you have a support with a lot of healing and sustain.
For example, supports like Soraka and Yuumi have a lot of healing abilities, so a heal Summoner Spell may be redundant. It may also come in handy against enemy bot lanes like Lux and Thresh. They have one big stun that will make or break the fight. Cleanse has an advantage over Heal in these lanes because it allows you to continue a fight after the enemy support inevitably hits one of their CC abilities.
Just to summarize everything up in one neat package, while most games you’ll want to stick with Heal and a Quicksilver Sash, there will be some games where Cleanse is the better option. Cleanse works a lot like QSS but has the distinct disadvantage of not breaking suppressions. However, it has the advantage of allowing you to play aggressively against CC-heavy supports since it is practically an early-game QSS. The best way to get a good feel of when to take Cleanse is to start taking it and see what works and what doesn’t, so I encourage you to take it now and then and find out if it works with your playstyle!