Should you play Gwen, and should the pros play Gwen?

League of Legends’ newest addition to the roster is cutesy doll Gwen, whose twee, mawkish aesthetic belies her playstyle. An AP fighter who weaves auto-attacks between dashes, needles and scissor snips, Gwen is an interesting champion that forgoes any kind of hard CC for raw DPS.

Like Fiora, but more kawaii

Her melee range is somewhat offset by her E, a short range dash that increases your attack range and attack speed, making it an incredibly strong level one ability. Her Q is a flurry of scissor cuts that graphically looks seriously cool, and feels really nice to connect - but be wary, as you can only reposition with your E while using it, a la Aatrox. 

Her W is a sort of mini-Xin Zhao ultimate that gives her resistances, but without damage. This turns Gwen into a pseudo-tank - she already has incredibly high Armor (she basically has Darius’ base Armor) despite being… well, a doll. The Ult that sews the kit together is a triple-cast needle throw, the first slowing and the second two casts dealing increasing damage.

Thanks to her passive that deals 1%HP damage per hit, Gwen deals a whole lot of damage to bulkier targets, making her a monster at killing the frontline and neutral objectives but less powerful at taking down squishy targets. While she has amazing DPS, she shouldn’t have the damage to one-shot ADCs and mages without being excruciatingly fed.

"She’s sort of like a scaling version of Aatrox, trading tank-shredding for Aatrox’s knock-ups."

As to whether or not you should pick her up and whether or not she will be pro viable… that’s a bit tougher to say.

She’s difficult to blind pick as she really struggles with ranged match-ups, despite the mini-windwall - as she can find it difficult to stick to targets until she gets a lot of Ability Haste. She smashes tanks for the most part, and should be good into juggernauts like Garen, Darius and Sett if you can wield her well. Her biggest issue is how badly she gets smashed by bruisers who can engage onto her - Camille and Irelia seem to be some of her worst match-ups, similar to Kennen.

It’s for that reason that we think unless she is overtuned numbers wise, it should be hard to slot her into the pro meta. She’s resource-reliant, frail and offers nothing except tank shredding, sort of like a top lane Kog’Maw or a melee Kayle. She will have spots as a counter-pick to beefy comps and protect-the-hypercarry potentially too, due to her ability to shred the frontline without getting blown apart by ranged carries.

In solo-queue however, she could be ideal. Her ability to outheal damage and put it out consistently in longer fights make her an excellent 1v2 threat in the sideline once she has some items - Riftmaker plus some healing on her passive make her a surprisingly powerful draintank. She’s sort of like a scaling version of Aatrox, trading tank-shredding for Aatrox’s knock-ups. If that sounds interesting to you, we recommend playing some normals first; she’s pretty tough to pick up at first.

If nothing else, this gives bruiser players an AP option in the top lane that isn’t Mordekaiser or… Sylas? There’s really no other good AP Bruisers since the removal of Rod of Ages, and Gwen fills a niche. If you like the play patterns of Fiora but your whole team is AD, it might be worth having Gwen up your sleeve

Elliott Griffiths covers a variety of esports from his home base in the United Kingdom. His greatest emphasis is on competitive Counter-Strike, but he has also covered all aspects of League of Legends esports across the game's various international regions.