What is Lethality in LoL and how does it work?

Here’s the scenario – you’re having the time of your life playing League of Legends, you’re comfortable, and everything’s going right… then all of a sudden, you run into an assassin that brings out the frustration from deep inside of you, the frustration you didn’t even know you had. That annoying Assassin keeps one-shotting you, and you can’t seem to figure it out. Well, we’re going to shed a little light on your situation and help you understand how you got one-shotted. 

Hint: It involved Lethality!

What is Lethality in LoL?

Let's face it, we're all probably still confused with what does lethality do in LoL. Well, you don't have to be confused anymore!

Back in Season 7, League of Legends introduced a new statistic. This is a change that was made in order to replace the flat armor penetration. Basically, you’re granted flat armor penetration using this formula:

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

During Season 7, flat armor penetration was changed and transformed into the new Lethality stats. Yes, they changed the name, and this was to clear up any confusion the LoL community may have. The previous name was “flat armor penetration,” and this suggested that it was good when going against targets with armor. 

It is worth noting that some items are better on certain champions than on others. Take ability power as an example – this is used for wizards, armor, magic resistance on tanks, physical damage for those damage carriers, and assassins. 

Lethality originated in 2017 and is converted into fixed armor penetration. In LoL, there are actually four different types of calculations to reduce or penetrate the enemy’s armor: percentage armor reduction, fixed armor reduction, armor penetration, and Lethality. Don’t worry; we’ll explain each of them.

Fixed Armor Reduction

Under fixed armor reduction, the enemy’s armor can be reduced by a fixed amount. This reduction will cause the loss of an enemy’s temp armor. If the enemy has 20 armor, and you reduce 20, then this will leave your opponent standing there naked, with 0 armor. Fixed armor reduction can exceed zero, which makes the attribute negative, increasing your damage even more. 

Percentage Armor Reduction

When you have a target hit by skill or an item that reduces the armor by a certain percentage, physical damage will be even more effective. 

Take the Black Cleaver as an example; it has what we refer to as a “Slit” effect – this can reduce the enemy champions’ armor by up to 24% (ouch). If the enemy champion has 100 armor, he/she will lose 24 and keep 76.

The Calculation for this:

Current armor = total – (percentage) = 100 – (100 x 24/100) = 100 – 24 = 76

Percentage Armor Penetration

Unlike percentage armor reduction and fixed armor reduction, armor penetration is only guaranteed to the champion who applies it. The opponent’s resistance isn’t going to be reduced gradually or steadily for all physical damage, but only for the champion himself. This is an attribute used in damage carriers and is best applied when going against targets with a large amount of armor. 

The item called Mortal Reminder applies 25% armor penetration. If you’re dealing with 100 physical resistance, this is going to result in 75. 

Here’s the calculation: 

Current armor = total – (percentage) = 100 – (100 x 0.25 / 100) = 100 – 25 = 75

LoL Lethality

Lethality is a special effect in League of Legends which Riot released back in 2017. It's usually built on assassins and high damage carries.

Lethality ignores a fixed value of the enemy champions armor, and it cannot exceed zero. This works as penetration and depends on the champion inflicting it. Riot balances Lethality in LoL by making it available little at a time, reaching the maximum Lethality at level 18.

When an item has this special trait, they’ll have a calculation that will let you know how much Lethality you’re gaining. Looking at Duskblade of Draktharr, it grants a total of 21 lethality, and it will give you a percentage of that before you reach level 18. 

Let’s say you have a character at level 10; the formula would look like this:

Fixed Armor Penetration = lethality x (0.6 + 0.4 x level / 18) = 21 x (0.6 + 0.4 x 10/18) = 21 x (0.6 + 0.4 x 0, 55) = 21 x (0.6 + 0.22) = 21 x 0.82 = 17.2

An Even Closer Look at Lethality – How Does LoL Lethality Work?

Long story short, in League of Legends, Lethality is all about armor penetration. You can think of it as negative armor. The amount of Lethality you have would be the amount of armor removed from the enemy. 

Here, let me give you an example to help you out…

Let’s say you’re dealing with Vayne on the other side – Vayne has 60 Armor, and you have 40 Lethality. This means that for you, Vayne will only have 20 Armor. 

The 40 Lethality you have takes away 40 Armor from the enemy, but only 40 (because that’s what you have). 

Now, you’re going up against a Rammus, and he has 500 Armor. For you, Rammus will have a total of 460 Armor because of your 40 Lethality. The 40 Lethality removes 40 Armor from his 500 Armor, which leaves him with 460.

Surely, this explanation has put a better perspective on why Assassins have been one-shotting Squishies and not Tanks. 

Lethality Vs. Armor Pen – The Difference Between Lethality and Armor Penetration

Are you scratching your head, trying to figure out the difference between Lethality and Armor Penetration? Let me explain …

Believe it or not, it’s really not all that complicated. LoL Lethality is flat, while Armor Penetration is based on a percentage. 

To make things easier, let’s go back to the example we gave you earlier. 

Vayne has 60 Armor, and you have 45% Armor Penetration. Now, he will have 33 Armor, Whereas the Rammus we talked about who had 500 Armor is now going to have a total of 275 Armor (wow, that was a big drop, wasn’t it). 

As you see, Lethality is a big help and makes it where the enemy barely has any Armor, but if you have an enemy that is stacking armor like a hamster stacks food in his mouth, Armor Penetration is going to be on your side. 

Lethality Calculation LoL

The amount of Lethality you receive is going to increase, depending on the level of your League of Legends Champion. Riot Games made it easy for us to calculate Lethality – simply by hovering over the item, it will tell you how much Lethality you currently have on your champion. 

Is Lethality better than armor penetration?

Yes. In most cases it’s better to build items that will grant you lethality than those with armor penetration.

Does damage reduction reduce True Damage?

Damage reduction effect reduces damage from lethality and armor penetration, but it will not reduce the damage from True damage effect.

Do lethality items stack?

Riot removed unique lethality passive last year, which means that you can now stack more lethality items, which allows you to do even more damage!

Does lethality work on abilities?

Like we said earlier, lethality is just scaling armor penetration. It will work with anything that does physical damage

What counter lethality?

When you’re facing an assassin, you should just build more armor to counter his lethality.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article clarified LoL Lethality vs Armor Pen for you, so you no longer have to wonder why that little Assassin has been one-shotting you the entire time.


Written by Jusjeet

Passionate League of Legends player whose goal is to provide you with the best League of Legends News