As the League of Legends esports spring season goes on, Rell has become a favorite pro-pick for support. Considering how strong ADCs are right now, it makes sense that an armor-based support would fit the meta.
Another fairly popular champion in pro-play with very similar base stats, abilities, and purpose is Leona.
Despite all their similarities, Rell is picked twice as much as Leona. In pro matches alone (based on the LEC, LCK, and LCS), teams have picked Rell as the team support for an impressive 39% of matches in 2021. Leona, meanwhile, gets picked 20% of the time.
So is Rell actually the better support and if so, why?
Popularity/Similarity of Leona and Rell
Fundamentally, there are a lot of similarities between Leona and Rell. Their kits are based around boosting magic resist and armor, getting on top of the enemy, and then stunning/knocking them up.
In game, the pair also have comparable builds. Right now, they both tend to pick the Locket of Iron Solari as their mythic item and rely on Berserker’s Greaves. Just look at the pros, they almost all put these on their Rell/Leona supports.
Their stat specifics are even very similar; they both start at 100 attack speed, 25 AD, and 32 magic resist.
So, yes, in a pinch of a tough ADC match-up, Leona or Rell are obvious choices that can fill the same anti-ADC role.
Win and Pick rates
Despite their similarities, there are apparent, stark differences in the appeal of Rell vs. Leona. Pros prove that with their pick rates. As mentioned before, in LEC, LCK, and LCS, Rell holds an impressive 39% while Leona’s pick rate is a still impressive 20%.
Though Leona is picked half the time compared to Rell, she’s still picked an impressive amount. In the current powerful AD meta, their potent engage and pin-down abilities, mixed with great resistances, make them both perfect anti-ADC tools.
On the flip side, when it comes to win rate, Leona has a roughly 40-45% win rate in this year’s LEC and LCS pro-play, while Rell has a frightening 61%.
Knowing that, why does Leona have such a questionable pro-play win rate but is still picked a decent amount?
The Armor Boss: Leona
Leona may not have the best pro-play win rate, but she still has a pretty impressive early game. Regardless of any runes, Leona starts every game with at least 576 health, 60 damage, and 47 armor. If you compare that to Rell, the mounted knight starts the game with at least 540 health, 55 damage, and 35 armor. That gives Leona extra oomph as an early bot lane tank support. On a basic level, Leona simply has more early survivability in comparison to Rell.
Also, her gap-closing and CC abilities make her an aggressive and impactful partner for any ADC and a viable choice in pro play.
Compared to champs like Rell, though, she simply doesn’t do enough for her ADC. She can execute powerful engagements, but she can’t heal them or boost their defense stats. Her passive does boost her allies’ attack damage, but that only does so much if her ADC can’t survive the fight.
Also, in the engage support meta, other supports like Rakan, Alistair, and Rell herself can do similar work and heal their ally.
Gist is, she’s good, but she’s missing that extra shield or healing oomph that other popular supports have that can really help save her ADC.
The Team Player: Rell
Rell is an armored knight like Leona, but what’s great about her has nothing to do with her early game stats. Well, other than her great attack range- hers is 175 versus Leona’s 125. She can do a lot more for the poke game than many other supports.
Despite that range, Rell does have to play safe early game. She simply doesn’t have the same inherant armor buffs and health stats like Leona, so her sub-5 minute engage won’t be as strong.
However, because of her abilities, her tag-team potential with her ADC is astronomical. Just her E alone, Attract and Repel, can do 80 base damage and stun everyone between her and her ADC. If she dives in and goes deep, leaving her partner behind her, those .5 seconds of stun could make an infinite difference in a fight. In that time, a Tristana could hit an enemy with a bomb, a rocket jump, and a basic attack or two. That could be a solid 100+ damage onto the enemy without them being able to answer.
Half abilities do something to help directly support her teammates. Bonded allies can heal from her Q. Her E gives magic resist and armor boosts. The other half are CC that can protect her teammates from attack.
One big concern with Rell is that she is so engage-heavy. Sometimes trades in lane require her to put her life in danger, if her passive armor buff isn’t strong enough, she could be evaporated just for going in and doing her job. Even a good Rell game could end up in a fair handful of deaths. On March 13th, Cloud 9 crushed Dignitas
with the losing bot lane taking 6 deaths. However, Rell still accounted for 2 out of Cloud 9’s 5 deaths.
A Leona’s base stats can help her survive a hard fight, but a Rell? She’s very likely to die while trying to make a good pick. And if she makes an ill-advised dive or her ADC/the rest of her team fails to capitalize on her engagement, it can really tank her chances of making a difference in a game.
Case Study: Team Liquid Support
There is one top-tier LCS pro who’s played more Leona in ranked this year than Rell, though. That support would be Team Liquid
. He’s had 8 games as Leona compared to 6 games as Rell. Unlike the rest of the league, both champions hold roughly a 60% win rate for him. Notably, Rell holds his worst KDA in pro play.
As Leona, CoreJJ has a much better KDA, damage, kill participation, etc., than he does Rell.
If you look at his games as Rell and Leona, comparing his losses and wins as both, a pattern emerges. So, let’s talk about Rell’s damage now, shall we? Because it’s not as simple as CoreJJ’s dpm shows above.
A Rell’s damage and efficacy can be very inconsistent and fully rely on working well with her team and further analysis of CoreJJ’s games with her help to support that.
During a lukewarm bot lane experience against Dignitas
, CoreJJ died twice and only did 84 dpm. In a loss where 100 Thieves beat Team Liquid
, CoreJJ then did 87 dpm and ended up with a rough 0/4/5 score. On a win against Golden Guardians
, however, CoreJJ’s Rell scored a solid 1/0/9 and 148 dpm. So, it takes a strong game for Rell to contribute damage-wise. If she isn’t starting (and winning) the kinds of fights that make Rell such a strong pick, then her stats just tank.
Let’s compare that to some of CoreJJ’s Leona games. In every game other than one, his Leona did 100-160 dpm. While the outcome of the game depends on how well the team does overall, Leona’s performance as a champion is always consistent.
Leona may still sacrifice herself for fights like Rell does, but if she does, she survives longer and can maybe even disengage from a bad situation with her armor/health stats. That logically can give her better damage output, increase kill participation, and with a smart player, lead to positive results.
CoreJJ’s performance proves that, in the right hands, Leona can be just as useful. Her abilities just make her more individualistic as a support by comparison, while Rell relies so much on the teamwork of her allies. It explains why, in solo queue, Leona has roughly a 10% pick rate of all champions to Rell’s 5%.
A team that doesn’t know how to work together, or is falling apart under pressure, just won’t make the best out of a Rell support.
Rell is the kind of support that not only works great against ADCs but also in pro-play in general. 5-stack teams that can communicate well help make her dives all the more impactful. Leona, on the other hand, has more potential as a useful, consistent pick, even if her time in bot lane goes poorly.
From the numbers, though, it’s clear that pro players think that the synergy requirements of Rell are worth it. To give them credit, it definitely seems to be working for them, with that 60% Rell win rate on the pro scene.
Much like this spring season’s Kai’Sa epidemic, Rell is just a solid choice in the current meta, so every pro support is trying to pick her when they can.
Does that mean anyone should write off Leona as a sub-par pick? Absolutely not. But, with a good team, could Rell be the kind of support that uniquely helps you dominate in team fights? Yes.