Lee Sin has been a jungler since the dawn of time in League of Legends. However, in Season 11, he’s been pushed out of home. The Blind Monk has found refuge in the top and mid lane though, and he’s stronger than ever. Here’s why.
Lee Sin is arguably League’s most iconic playmaking champion. Those old enough to remember will never forget the first time the inSec kick was made.
The Blind Monk’s playmaking power with all of his micro-mechanics, from ward jumping to insane flash-kicks has made him a favorite in pro play and casual play for years. However, in Season 11, he got pushed out of the jungle after big changes to the role.
Now, he’s found home in the top and mid lane — and he’s arguably stronger than he ever has been in the jungle. Here’s why Lee Sin is so popular again in League of Legends Season 11, and how you can master the Blind Monk in top and mid lane.
Why is Lee Sin top & mid so popular in LoL Season 11?
Lee Sin has received a handful of buffs in League of Legends Season 11 to try and bolster his presence in the jungle. His Tempest (E) cooldown has been reduced, and the same goes for his Sonic Wave (Q) cooldown. That was on top of buffs late in Season 10 to most of his kit.
These changes have all had an effect on Lee Sin top and mid more than jungle Lee Sin. It only caught on on LoL patch 11.8 after the latest set of changes, but now it’s slowly taking over solo queue.
According to stats site op.gg, jungle Lee Sin still has 80% of the champion’s play share. However, top lane (17%) and mid lane (3%) are catching up fast. He has a 51.65% win rate in the top lane as well as a 6.53% overall pickrate — placing him firmly near the top.
Pentanet.GG jungler and Oceanic MSI 2021 representative Jackson ‘Pabu’ Pavone has been a pioneer of the pick. He has a 100% win rate on it on his EUW bootcamp account (63% on OCE), and thinks he might make an appearance at the international event.
“Lee Sin is way better with gold since he is a bruiser who wants to fight,” he told Dexerto.
“Being in the jungle sucks because you don’t get nearly as much gold and experience, and your clear is slow, so moving into top and mid lane can help fix that.”
Pabu isn’t the only player to catch onto the trend. Top laners like Kim ‘Khan’ Dong-ha (56% WR), Li ‘Xiaohu’ Yuan-Hao (60% WR) and Ibrahim ‘Fudge’ Allami (56% WR) have all been practicing the pick ahead of MSI. Heo ‘Showmaker’ Su (100% WR) and Luka ‘Perkz’ Perkovic (100% WR) have also been picking him up in mid.
How to play Lee Sin top & mid
It’s only a matter of time before he explodes onto the professional stage and solo queue stalwarts start picking him up in droves, so here’s what you need to know to master the pick — with a few helpful tips from Pabu.
Lee Sin excels in lane and the early game. This has always been Lee Sin’s strong point in the jungle, but it’s even more obvious in lane. He basically can never lose trades between his Safeguard (W) sustain, his E attack speed slow, and high early damage.
“He has tools for basically every matchup. E does great damage early and is on a low cooldown, so you can always get a good base off,” Pabu said.
“He has a combo that is hard to avoid — R guarantees Q, so he can one-shot squshies with lethality. He can take points in W in hard lanes for sustain, and can max E for short trades.”
E max has been the pick of the bunch, as its damage and ease of use in lane helps shove waves and win trades. Q max second can help with engages and finishing off low-health targets as the game wanes on.
For runes, there’s only one page you need: Conqueror with Resolve. Taking Triumph, Legend: Tenacity, Last Stand, Bone Plating, and Unflinching gives you the perfect mix of damage and sustain you need to survive the top and mid lane.
Pabu also mentioned the Lethality build above, but the most popular and best one for now, he told us, was the Goredrinker one. With Sterak’s Gage, Gargoyle Stoneplate, Spirit Visage, and Death’s Dance, you do a lot of damage while staying relevant into the late game.
Stridebreaker is a situational pick if you are facing a lot of ranged champions.
“He doesn’t have the best scaling, and late-game Lee Sin kind of sucks, but his build keeps him relevant for 3-4 items as long as he gets gold,” Pabu said.
Lee Sin isn’t infallible. There are counters to the Blind Monk — Sett and Renekton were two Pabu mentioned. However, he is still one of the best picks in the top lane and is incredibly flexible.
“He’s early pickable, but some of his counters really own him. It’s better to use him as a counter pick. However, he’s extremely powerful against control mages like Orianna and Viktor as well as bot lane meta picks like Jinx and Varus.”
So, if you want to dust off your inSec kicks and test out your mechanics, give Lee Sin top or mid a whirl this weekend. Riot doesn’t look like nerfing it any time soon, so if you can master it, you should be able to climb like the pros.