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What is Lethality in League of Legends and how does it work in Season 11?

Lethality was introduced in 2017 as a new bonus statistic in League of Legends (Image via Riot Games - League of Legends)
Lethality was introduced in 2017 as a new bonus statistic in League of Legends (Image via Riot Games - League of Legends)
SENIOR ANALYST

Lethality is one of the most important bonus stats that a League of Legends player can achieve while using a burst AD champion. 

Lethality was introduced in 2017 as a new bonus statistic in League of Legends. It was added as a replacement for flat armor penetration. 

This stat is extremely useful for AD champions as it allows them to deal heavy damage to enemies. It reduces the amount of armor an opponent has when attacked. However, it is an "effective reduction" and not a true reduction in armor.

How does Lethality work in League of Legends?

Image via Riot Games - League of Legends
Image via Riot Games - League of Legends

Lethality works by reducing the opponent’s armor while dealing damage. It somehow provides a boost to the champion's physical damage, resulting in a heavy reduction in the opponent's armor effectiveness. 

Its effect is, however, restricted to a single champion and not the entire team. There are other items, such as Black Cleaver, that reduce armor for everyone in a team.

Image via gamepedia
Image via gamepedia

How to calculate Lethality

Lethality works as a booster to flat armor penetration. It is a scaling stat that starts out relatively small and builds throughout the game. As a result, the armor stat does not lose its long-term effectiveness as a match progresses.

The formula by which flat armor penetration is calculated in League of Legends is:

Flat Armor Penetration = Lethality x (0.6 + 0.4 x level % 18)

From the formula, it can be understood that, at level 1, a player gets just a bit more than 60% of the lethality stat as direct flat armor penetration. However, at level 18, the player gets the full bonus lethality stat as flat armor penetration.

The amount of lethality a champion receives rises with an increase in its level. To avoid all sorts of in-game calculation complexities, Riot has enabled a simple feature by which a player can keep a check on their champions' lethality simply by hovering over them.

Lethality vs Armor Penetration

Lethality is flat while Armor Penetration is based on a percentage. Lethality can be denoted as "negative armor." The amount of lethality a champion possesses is the amount of armor removed from his enemy.  

League of Legends Lethality shows one kind of armor mitigation stat. There are also other kinds, such as:

Fixed Armor Reduction

Fixed armor reduction is similar to lethality but it gets applied to all allies, not just a single champion. It reduces the opponent's armor by a fixed amount and, it stacks additively.

Fixed Armor is particularly effective against targets with a small amount of armor or no bonus armor. It should be avoided against teams with a large number of tanks as global fixed armor reductions are usually low and generally help to defeat squishy champions.

Percentage Armor Reduction

Percentage armor reduction decreases an opponent’s armor for all of the allies by a percentage. Unlike fixed armor reduction, it stacks multiplicatively.

For example, if a player has one item with 30% armor reduction and another has 20% reduction, and their original armor was 200, their final armor would be reduced to (100-30)% * (100-20)% * 200 = 112.

Percentage Armor reduction is a good stat to build if the enemy team has multiple tanks.

Percentage Armor Penetration

Percentage armor reduction is not applied to allies but only to a single champion. It stacks multiplicatively.

AD Carries hugely benefit from this stat, especially marksmen that deal high physical damage themselves. Additionally, as a percentage armor reduction modifier, it’s most effective against tanks.

Percentage Armor Bonus Penetration: It affects only the bonus armor obtained through items and runes, but it does nothing to a champion’s base armor. This is highly ineffective against glass cannons.

League of Legends Lethality and Damage Reduction Order

When multiple armor debuffs are applied, they are applied in the following order:

  1. Flat Armor Reduction
  2. Percentage Armor Reduction
  3. Percentage Armor Penetration
  4. Lethality

As Lethality in League of Legends is applied at last, it cannot reduce an enemy's effective armor below 0.

Best Lethality Items in League of Legends Season 11

Some of the best League of Legends Items and Runes for Lethality (Image via gamepedia)
Some of the best League of Legends Items and Runes for Lethality (Image via gamepedia)

Some of the best Lethality items in the current meta are:

  • Duskblade of Draktharr
  • Eclipse
  • Edge of Night
  • Sanguine Blade
  • The Collector
  • Prowler’s Claw
  • Serpent’s Fang
  • Serrated Dirk
  • Umbral Glaive
  • Youmuu’s Ghostblade

Champions that benefit from Lethality

An AD build of Pyke featuring Lethality (Image via Mobafire)
An AD build of Pyke featuring Lethality (Image via Mobafire)

Assassins and Fighters are the breeds of League of Legends champions that benefit from Lethality. Some of the best champions to peddle Lethality are:

  • Zed
  • Pyke
  • Jarvan IV
  • Darius

How to counter Lethality

Zhonya’s Hourglass is a good item for countering Lethality (Image via Riot Games)
Zhonya’s Hourglass is a good item for countering Lethality (Image via Riot Games)

Lethality is generally used by players to one-shot squishies. Builds with items that grant armor in addition to damage, such as Death’s Dance or Zhonya’s Hourglass, counter most League of Legends lethality stacks.


Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh

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