There are 9 LoL starting items that players can choose from at the beginning of the game that each have separate functions to help the champion secure an early game advantage or prevent the opponent from rolling over you. League of Legends has introduced a recommended menu in the Season 11 Item Rework that players can follow to determine which items to buy. Unfortunately, this recommended list doesn’t always fit the situation. To become an advanced player, you must first learn how to choose from the 9 LoL starting items according to the situation.
The 9 LoL Starting Items
Excluding starting items that are specific for junglers, there are 9 types of LoL starting items (with the support items being clustered into two types instead). Each item has a unique set of stats and bonuses that help the player secure a better laning phase. Remember that starting items are only useful during the laning phase and play a very small part in the mid to late game once you’ve built one or two legendary items or above in the game.
1. Doran’s Blade
Doran’s Blade is the most popular LoL starting item among the three Doran’s Items since it’s used commonly in all three lanes. The item is used by champions that use AD as their primary stat or those that simply rely on auto-attacking to deal damage to the enemy player. It also features a bit of omnivamp to make players more powerful when trading damage in lane as well as gives some sustain by being able to absorb some HP by attacking minions or monsters using your auto-attacks.
Players should choose Doran’s Blade only if they either have a range advantage or they are confident about their ability to walk up to a minion wave without getting harassed. This item has a perfect balance of offensive power and a bit of survivability thanks to the small amount of HP. If you’re not planning to walk up to your minions or the enemy champion to play aggressively, you should avoid playing this item as it doesn’t give you a lot of benefits.
2. Doran’s Ring
Doran’s Ring is the Ability Power alternate for Doran’s Blade. This is mostly reserved for mages who draw most of their power in using abilities instead of auto-attacks. For standard mages, this item offers them a better chance to use their abilities to kill off minions while allowing them to retain a bit of their mana. This item also works for non-Mana users since it converts mana regen into HP regen instead which make it the perfect option for tanky battlemages.
Players should choose Doran’s Ring if they’re an AP user but that’s not always the case. Since the mana recovery on Doran’s Ring isn’t necessarily the fastest in the game, it’s only reserve for champions that like to stay in the lane for a long time. Champions that drain their mana really quickly won’t benefit from this item too much. If you’re not planning on attempting to solo kill your enemy laner every minute, you should be fine using this item.
3. Doran’s Shield
Doran’s Shield is often mistaken as the tank only item. This item specializes in giving defensive stats and sustain in lane by allowing the user to take more punishment thanks to increased regeneration. It increase the amount of damage to minions but other than that, it has no offensive application. While this is the item that’s commonly suggested for tanks, players can also choose to use Doran’s Shield if the only thing they plan to do is survive in lane against an aggressive opponent.
Unless you’re a mana user, you should always consider Doran’s Shield as a defensive option especially if you think your opponent will spending the majority of their laning phase trying to harass or kill you. Mana users don’t benefit too much from this because of the deep reliance on ability power and mana regeneration. On the bottom lane, players may choose to use Doran’s Shield if the range discrepancy is really far and the support has the option of harassing you from long range.
4. Corrupting Potion
Corrupting Potion is the first alternative option for starting items on this list. This item is basically an empowered version of the refillable potion. Despite having the option to regenerate health, this item has no defensive option whatsoever which means that beginners that don’t know how to trade should avoid buying this item at all costs and choose between the LoL starting items on this list instead that are friendlier towards beginners.
This starting item is primarily reserved for players that are excellent at trading. Using this item means that you need to be constantly trading blows with the enemy laner often while consuming the item since the added damage only works while the potion is still being consumed. Corrupting Potion is best for champions that are use a lot of mana in bursts by getting into fights during the laning phase.
5. Dark Seal
Dark Seal used to be a really strong item because of the increase in effectivity of regeneration items. However, the new effects of Dark Seal is just a more ambitious version of Doran’s Ring without the mana regeneration. This item is no longer a popular choice of starting item but can still be used by some champions. Players that are confident in the gap between them and their opponents in terms of skill level might want this item because it snowballs an early lead significantly.
The most appealing part of buying Dark Seal as a starting item is that it offers 10 ability power whenever you get a kill and 5 if it’s an assist up to 50 ability power. This might be a good idea if you’re playing Ranked Flex with a team and plan an early game invade in the enemy jungle to cheese one or more kills against the enemy team. It’s one of only two LoL starting item that benefits the player until the later stages of the game because it can be upgraded to Mejai’s Soulstealer.
Cull is one of the Most Underrated Items in the game. The nature of this item is very passive and doesn’t benefit champions that like to fight or are vulnerable to getting engaged by the enemy laner. It’s basically the same as Doran’s Blade since they have almost the same item stats except that it’s more reserved for passive laning rather than being the aggressor of a fight.
The biggest reason why players like to buy Cull is because it gives an additional +180 gold once the player has consumed all of the stats. This is a very helpful if the player is good at CSing and avoiding conflict. This item is most efficient on ranged champions or melee champions that have a consistent long-range farming ability like Gangplank. If you think there is even the slightest chance of fighting in your lane, avoid this item.
7. Tear of the Goddess
Tear of the Goddess is another item that has very little bonuses in terms of defenses and survivability. This item is purely for champions that play safe but use a lot of mana to clear waves. This item upgrades either into Manamune or Arcangel’s Staff. Having this item early means that you can stack the passive earlier and have the item passive faster so that the champion will receive their power spike quicker.
This item isn’t usually purchased as a starting item but can be used if they want to get the benefits very quickly. Just like the other starting items, if there is any threat of getting into a fight during the laning phase, you should avoid buying this item purely because this item leaves you very vulnerable.
8. Spectral Sickle / Spellthief’s Edge
Moving onto the support LoL starting items, Spectral Sickle and Spellthief’s Edge are the same item with the exception of the damage stat being AD/AP variants. These items are used by support champions that like to harass the enemy with abilities. These items reward the user gold whenever they land a damaging ability on the enemy champions which speed up their gold acquisition despite not taking CS.
Both items increase mana regeneration so that it’s easier for the champion to throw out their abilities. When you’re using these items, make sure to be aggressive in the lane and let your ADC freely farm out the waves while you attempt to push out the enemy. Never waste a moment by waiting for the right time to hit so throw out your abilities even if you think there’s a chance that they’ll miss.
9. Relic Shield / Steel Shoulderguards
Finally, Relic Shield and Steel Shoulderguards are the melee support options for support starting items. Like the previous support items, the only difference between these two are the AP/AD stat they have but both have the same passive ability. They have more survivability but aren’t necessarily passive since most melee supports like to engage onto the enemy.
When using relic shield, make sure to always attempt to last hit minions that give out a big amount of gold with the priority list being Cannon Minion > Melee Minion > Caster Minion. Like the other support items, you’ll be able to gain warding once you fully upgrade this item which allows you to gain better vision scoring overall.