League of Legends: ADC Starting Item Guide- When To Build Cull Versus Doran’s

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League of Legends: ADC Starting Item Guide- When To Build Cull Versus Doran’s

We take a look at starting items for ADCs and the most recent debate of Cull vs Doran’s Blade.

If you’re like me and enjoy keeping things simple Doran’s Blade is the no-brainer option, it’s been around for years. But what if I told you it might not be your best option? ADC is a role that does not change too much so when it does change many of us are hesitant to try something new. I’m going to break down a few of the changes leading up to our current meta as of 10.13 and why you might want to give Cull start a try.


Doran’s Blade has historically been the main starting item for ADCs providing attack damage, life steal and health; it gives them both stats for fighting in the early-game and scaling into the late-game. However, in Season 7, Doran’s Shield began receiving buffs making it a more viable starting option for all laners, ADCs included. Doran’s Shield became the new safe start for ADCs with the only downside being having to auto twice to last hit caster minions at tower compared to the one auto with Doran's Blade.

However, Riot did not want Doran’s Shield to be an item that helped ranged laners sustain. So in Season 9, Patch 9.23 they nerfed Doran’s Shield regeneration for ranged champions. The nerf caused the item to be much less desirable. Due to this Doran’s Blade began to become the main starting item for ADCs again, but their option for a sustain laning phase item no longer existed.

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Fast forward to Season 10, Patch 10.11. ADCs received a decent buff across the board with increases to their base health and base health growth allowing them to be slightly tankier in the early game. Due to these changes, people began looking at Cull as a viable starting item because they no longer felt like the +80 health from Doran’s Blade was necessary to make it out of the early game.


dorans blade Doran’s Blade: +8 AD, +80 Health, +3% Life Steal

(Provides the best raw stats out of all starting items)

dorans shield Doran’s Shield: Health +80, Health Regen: +6, Passive: After taking damage from an enemy champion, gain health regeneration.

(Still the best sustain for matchups where you could get poked and zoned off the wave)

cull Cull: +7 AD, +3 Life on Hit, Grants +1 gold per CS and 350 gold after 100 CS.

(Provides slightly better early sustain than Doran’s Blade and easier to sell in the mid-game)

Final Thoughts

Above, I’ve listed basic summaries on each starting item that ADCs take and what they bring to the table. Doran’s Blade is the most cost-efficient starting item in terms of raw stats. It also scales best into the mid-late game with the additional +3% Life Steal that it provides. Doran’s Shield is still a viable option in matchups where you could potentially get zoned off the wave. However, if possible Doran’s Blade is the more desirable option between the two considering the nerfs to Doran’s Shield on ranged champions.

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So where does Cull come into play? Cull is not an efficient item in terms of base stats. But it can create windows of opportunity where Doran’s Blade and Doran’s Shield cannot. It provides sustain levels somewhere between Doran’s Blade and Doran’s Shield. That is, so long as you aren’t getting zoned off the wave. Cull also is an item that pays for itself. As a result, selling the item in the mid-game only loses you the base stats of +3 Life on Hit and +7 AD. This means you have less to lose compared to selling its main counterpart Doran’s Blade which relies on providing you the best stats.

What this means for your games is that you can potentially spike into the mid-game with a slightly earlier power spike by selling your finished cull and surprising your opponents with an Infinity Edge or Blade of the Ruined King while the enemy ADC is still stuck building components.

I would not recommend building Cull every game. In most situations, Doran’s Blade will most likely be the more consistent starting item out of all three options. However, in games where bot lane has two enchanter supports (e.g. Soraka vs Janna), Cull can be a good option to purely look towards scaling when you know bot lane will most likely be a farm fest. That’s all for this week, GLHF summoners.

Avatar of Alex Armatas
Alex Armatas
Alex is a Rutgers University student studying Communication and primarily plays League of Legends in his free time. He is currently ranked Grandmaster as an ADC and his favorite champion is Ezreal. Alex has been following the competitive League of Legends scene since season 3 with his favorite region being the LCK.