The author of this Reddit post something interesting when attempting to compare League of Legends to Dota 2:

Pros use the same build 100 games in a row for a reason. Since the game lacks actives and item counters, there are mathematically optimal builds. Stick to the guides if you want to win, no need to try new things.

They further elaborated their thoughts in the pastebin they linked to:

Enemy builds ad/ap -> build armor/magic resistance, and vice versa. This is why most builds divide in two. By optimal build I mean that a machine or excel sheet can determine the right build for you.

A blink dagger is never optimal, since it's entirely dependent on the player to determine if it's worth to waste an item slot and a lot of gold for potentially better positioning. It's not a question of math

That's a strong claim wrt LoL. Is it correct?

My first answer would be: no, while there might be some truth into it, such an claim in its all radicalism is incorrect.

Counterexamples: Do I build Spellthief's upgrades or Ancient Coin upgrades? Do I only build tanky items or do I add some damage output? Do I build DMP for engagement or do I only build tanky items? etc etc

But if pros only build the same over and over, then there's very little I can say to argue: There likely are optimal builds in such a case.

Therefore, do pros build the same over and over? Does LoL feature inflexible, mathematically optimal builds?

closed as too broad by FoxMcCloud, greg-449, Frank, Schism, MBraedley Feb 3 at 16:36

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    This questions is too broad. With over 150 champions + items, you can't go into specifics at all. The only thing you can really generalize is that every champion has a "first item" that is crucial with that champion. You aren't going to go full tank as Akali VS Vladimir in the midlane, but you might sprinkle in MORE magic resist if the enemy team has more magic based champions on it. I would also not compare items in DOTA to LoL because the items serve completely different purposes. There is no such item as a blink dagger in LoL so you can't compare the two. – FoxMcCloud Feb 1 at 21:34
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    Reminds me of a Dota Master player that said that LoL was so easy he could get into challenger in a month! Think he ended in gold. LoL and Dota are similar, but very different games. It would be like saying that Overwatch and Counter Strike are the same. Yes you shoot guns, but the rest is VERY different. – Fredy31 Feb 1 at 21:38
  • You linked a 3 year old post with only 2 upvotes. Why do you think that that is credible in any way? – Yuu Feb 6 at 7:14

If you are a newbie and follow builds on the internet, yes.

For pros its different. Usually, they will have 2-3 items that they would like to go for because it meshes well with the champion they are playing. But stuff happens in game where they will change build midgame. If they are camped, and are low on gold, they will have a build that meshes not as well, but will cost less (So they can still be relevant in the game, instead of having to wait a few minutes later to get a power spike that yes will be bigger, but won't mean you will have to be passive while you are waiting for it, losing turrets/drakes/barons in the process)

Another thing that may happen that will change a build is who is popping off. If their draven is having an Awesome game, and their mid ekko is having a crap game, build more Armor than Magic resist.

There's also some champions that will require an item when on the ennemy team. You can hear it referenced as the 'Malzahar Tax' where if there is a malzahar on the ennemy team, you have to build a QuickSilver Sache, that will give you the option to get out of his pretty awfull stun.

So going back to the original question, yes and no. Usually there is gonna be 1 or 2 items that when a pro is playing that champion, they will mostly go for them, but saying that every game, they would go for the same exact 6 items is one hell of a stretch.

EDIT: Another good exemple would be what matchup are you playing into. For instance, if you are support and a caster, you pick Spellthiefs edge, so you can get some gold while poking. But if their botlane will keep you under tower, stopping hard how much you can poke safely, take the coin.

In fact, some people even say that knowing how to adapt your build to the situation at hand is one of the biggest factors to get better at the game.

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    +1. I've heard LCS casters say multiple times stuff like "I'm sure he would have wanted to buy X, but right now he's just trying to live." – joedragons Feb 1 at 22:03

Short answer: no.

Long answer: there are certain items that are considered core items that are generally considered required for a build, but the order in which they are built, and different items may be substituted based on how well or poor you are doing.

For example, if you are playing draven and you get a couple early kills and a good cash in from your passive, you may grab two bf swords to try and snow ball your advantage rather than building a completed item.

Additionally, certain champions require items to be built by most everyone in the game on the opposite team. A good example of this is Malzahar who requires everyone is on the other team to purchase a quicksilver sash to escape his ultimate even when most champions wouldn’t normally purchase that item.

TLDR: Generally champions have certain items that are considered core for their build, but to be most successful you make adjustments to your build, summoner spells, and tunes based on the matchups you are facing.

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