Exhaust vs. Barrier – Which One’s Better?

League of Legends has no shortage when it comes to game-turning items and abilities. However, the biggest insurance for a laner does not lie within those factors. Rather, it’s the summoner spells that enable you to play to the very boundary of what’s possible.

While each spell is fine-tuned for its own unique applications, there are some that still manage to provide more value than the rest. Surprisingly, this comparison has sparked an interesting debate between the wielders of Exhaust vs the Barrier abusers. 

Through plain comparison, Exhaust tends to provide more value than a Barrier spell. This is due to the spell’s ability to disable champions that rely on dealing an exorbitant amount of burst damage. Meanwhile, the barrier has a preset limit. 

Needless to say, the Exhaust isn’t the ultimate counter to every situation. Consequently, there are scenarios where having a barrier would be much more beneficial than Exhaust. Therefore, let’s list the main differences to see whether the statement holds true or not. 

Also read: Most Broken Supports

Exhaust vs Barrier: Teamfight Analysis

While both spells tend to retain their specific set of uses, the scenarios in which they’re used tend to dictate whether they are a good option or not. 

Exhaust Spell

Exhaust is a single targeted spell that essentially renders the targeted champion useless in a team fight for the duration of the spell. This can aid in disabling ultimate-based threats in team fights to a  respectable degree. 

For example, Kennen’s Slicing Maelstorm or Miss Fortune’s Bullet Time are widely known for their team fight prowess. Being able to exhaust them at the perfect moment, will not only alleviate that threat from you but also your team. 

Consequently, you can also look to disable an assassin that’s trying to hunt your AD carry from the backlines. Exhaust can not only be used defensively but can also become a catalyst for an all-out offense. 

Barrier Spell

The barrier acts as a plain shield in and out of team fights. It can only be cast upon yourself, and only negates a set amount of damage (depending on your level). It’s generally used to shield yourself from the incoming burst damage. 

It tends to shine the most in the early to mid-game since the enemy carries are yet to come online. While its assurance is rather limited to yourself, it’s a good tool to bain the opponents into thinking that you’re squishy enough to be taken down. 

That being said, its team fight uses aren’t that great since it’s mainly used for laning. Needless to say, the spell has every right to shine even in team fights. However, compared to Exhaust, its performance can be rather poor.

Exhaust Vs Barrier: Laning Phase

The main benefit of carrying Exhaust with you in the laning phase is that it stops the burst potential from the enemy laner. While the Barrier tends to do the same, the way they’re usually played to their strengths is immensely different. 

With that being said, here is the lane breakdown for Exhaust Vs Barrier:

Top Lane

The top lane of the map is generally considered extremely brawl heavy. However, finding casualties in the said lane can be rare due to their isolation from most of the early game objectives. 

While the jungle interference can be an extreme issue, the Teleport and Ignite spells generally take precedence here. If you’re looking to stomp the top lane using a high-risk high-reward strategy then the story changes in its entirety. 

The Exhaust has more value here mainly because of the fact that it also slows down your opponent’s movement speed. While the barrier can be kited, the only way of countering an exhaust is to Flash in most scenarios. 

Also read: Most Broken ADCs

Mid Lane

In the middle section of the map, there are generally two types of enemy laners. The first kind tries to poke you down whilst the other relies on heavy burst damage in order to take the cake in one go. Luckily, this is the lane where both spells shine. 

While the Exhaust can be used to disable the all-in potential of champions like Talon, it’s still possible for them to poke you down to death. You won’t be able to do much if you’re already fatally low on HP. Therefore, the Exhaust is only good when the laner lacks poke threat. 

In comparison, the Barrier acts more like bait to lure the enemy laner in. While it suffers from the same poke issue as the Exhaust, being able to generate a decent shield in the nick of time is much better than trying to reduce 300 damage on 15 HP. 

Bot Lane

The bottom lane is where most of the action happens in the early game. The level two all-ins are notoriously known for dictating the pace of the game for AD carries and their supports. 

While most of the supports tend to go ignite for kill threat, exhausting the AD carry can pretty much win you the whole team fight. However, depending on the support – the Barrier can be a much better option when it comes to deceiving your opponents with your health bar.

That being said, a high elo bot lane duo will still be able to bait out both spells before all inning you. Therefore, it’s recommended that you rely on your mechanical prowess instead. 

Also read: What’s The Best Role To Get Out Of Bronze in LoL?

Should Junglers Use Exhaust or Barrier in League of Legends?

The simple answer is no, the Exhaust spell is generally a supporting spell that’s generally used for team fights. Consequently, the Barrier is mainly equipped on the carries of the team in order to help them survive the incoming burst of the enemy team. 

Since junglers only have one spell to choose from, it’s essentially better to go for flash, unless you’re a Hecarim or a Shaco. Even then, it’s not recommended to pick an Exhaust or Barrier. 

This is because your main goal is to gank enemy laners, whereas the Barrier and Exhaust are both defensive spells. Therefore, a Flash is much better for setting up ganks and plays in general, since the slow or damage reduction debuff can be applied from the smite as well. 

Exhaust Vs Barrier: What Scales Better?

The Exhaust tends to scale much better than the barrier spell mainly because of the fact that champions have insane damage scaling in the late game. To put this into perspective, a Gankplank Barrel or a Talon’s Ultimate is going to deal at least a thousand points of damage once they reach their power spikes. 

While the Barrier will only be able to negate 300-400 damage, the exhaust will almost halve their damage in addition to slowing them down. Therefore, Exhaust is a much better choice in the late game. 

In comparison, an early game champion will only be able to deal 300-500 damage. While that is still deadly, it can be negated quite effectively with the help of a Barrier. Since Exhaust works in percentages, it will be much harder to get a value out of it early game. 

Also read: Best Elo Boosting Champions


All in all, both Exhaust and Barrier have their specific sets of use cases. When it comes to playing effective League of Legends, your main strategy should be to perceive the winning condition of your enemy in order to neutralize it. 

For example, a Zed or a Talon are champions that will look to all in. Their entire damage will come in bursts. Therefore, picking up exhaust will be extremely effective. As for Barrier, champions like Leblanc and Ahri constantly poke you down until the job can be finished. 

Therefore, your main point of focus should be to understand how you want the lane to play out. In general, having Barrier is the safest play since you can then guarantee a safe laning phase. However, if you want to play aggressively – then something like Ignite might be better. 

Check out this piece on the League of Legends Twisted Treeline Tier List!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 4.40 out of 5)