Damage per second (DPS) and burst damage in League of Legends.
What does it mean exactly and what is the difference?
19 Jul 2015

DPS & Burst damage in League of Legends

In many team based games the amount of damage you are capable of dealing is a very important factor, usually leading to the victorious team. It is something of great importance in League of Legends as well, even if in this strategy based game, dealing a lot of damage isn’t the only thing that makes you win the game.


DPS is an abbreviation for “Damage Per Second”, and it is the most important variable in multiplayer games where there are long fights. In League of Legends, DPS is a feature that is just as important. For example, some of the high DPS mages in the game are Cassiopeia Icon Cassiopeia, Azir Icon Azir and Ryze Icon Ryze and some of the high DPS marksmen are Vayne Icon Vayne, Jinx Icon Jinx and Sivir Icon Sivir. These champions deal constant DPS, but there are some other champions called assassins or “nukers” that have a huge DPS for a short time (aka burst damage), but then it falls under the DPS that consistent damage dealers have. For example, Zed Icon Zed, Ahri Icon Ahri and Talon Icon Talon are all high-burst assassins.


To keep your DPS consistent you have to be careful about a few, very important things:

  • Your item build
  • Your positioning
  • Your target priority


Graph shows aproximate difference beween consistent damage (DPS) and burst damage in League of Legends



The items you possess are very important at determining your potential damage against every target. Besides the core build for your champion you should also have items that are good against your enemies, such as armor penetration items if you are playing a physical damage based champion and your enemies itemize armor against you.


As a marksman, the items that increase your DPS the most are Infinity Edge for dps Infinity Edge, Phantom Dance for DPS Phantom Dancer and Last Whisper Armor Penetration DPS Last Whisper. The combination of these items is great because Infinity Edge for dps Infinity Edge increases your critical damage and also gives you some critical chance while Phantom Dance for DPS Phantom Dancer increases the number of hits you can do each second while also increasing your critical chance and Last Whisper helps you ignore enemy armor, thus increasing the damage of your critical hits. This is the core build for most marksmen, but there are also the likes of Vayne Icon Vayne or Kalista Icon Kalista that do not achieve the best DPS they can do by buying these items as their core. They prefer having a lot of Attack Speed, so their first items are always revolved around increasing their speed while also increasing their damage. For example, Vayne always buys Blade of the Ruined King icon Blade of the Ruined King as first item and then she goes for Phantom Dance for DPS Phantom Dancer and Last Whisper Armor Penetration DPS Last Whisper or Infinity Edge for dps Infinity Edge depending on her gold and the enemy team defensive statistics.


This is a very frequent question players ask themselves. The answer is rather simple. If your enemies have a lot of armor or magic resist then you should buy an item that penetrates a percent of their resistances such as Last Whisper Armor Penetration DPS Last Whisper or Void Staff icon Void Staff. Flat penetration items such as Youmuu's Ghostblade icon Youmuu’s Ghostblade and Liandry's Torment icon Liandry’s Torment are good to build when your enemies do not itemize specifically against your damage, but they still build something that will lower your damage. Even so, their resistance isn’t that big, thus these items more effective than the percent penetration ones. In case your enemies don’t itemize against you at all, then you should keep building raw statistics and build percent penetration as your fourth item, not counting boots.


Positional mistakes turn most won games into loses because they make fights very easy for the enemy team because the allied team is either outnumbered or one of the important champions dies at the beginning of the fight. Not making these mistakes will usually let your team be the one to initiate fights when the time is right, thus lowering the number of allied casualties.


If you are playing a ranged DPS champion then you should always be behind your frontline and somewhere your support can reach you easily or a place where the enemy team cannot get to you by any means.

In case the enemy team has very long range or they are very mobile and their damage gets to you even if your positioning is good, then you should build a defensive item. If you are playing a mage and are playing against physical assassins such as Zed Icon Zed or Talon Icon Talon then you should build Zhonya’s Hourglass icon Zhonya’s Hourglass very early or as a marksman you should build Randuin's Omen icon Randuin’s Omen, Guardian Angel icon Guardian Angel or Black Cleaver icon The Black Cleaver if you want to deal more damage and have a bonus of movement speed when you attack.


Positioning yourself as a melee DPS champion is a little different because you will find yourself in danger at all times as you have to be close to enemies to deal damage to them. The place you should find yourself as a melee is near the backline of your enemies. Being a melee DPS is risky, so you should build some defensive statistics after the core items. Very cost effective defensive items are Randuin's Omen icon Randuin’s Omen, Sunfire Cape icon Sunfire Cape, Spirit Visage icon Spirit Visage and Banshee's Veil icon Banshee’s Veil. Analyzing the enemy team’s damage dealers and your champion’s ability kit is key to knowing which items to buy. For example, if your champion has the ability to heal themselves and the enemy team’s main DPS is magic damage based, then you should buy Spirit Visage icon Spirit Visage, but if the enemy DPS is mainly itemizing physical damage, then you should buy Randuin's Omen icon Randuin’s Omen. These items aren’t the only good defensive items, for example if the enemy marksman is very fed and has built many items and you have ways to stick to them, then you should buy Frozen Heart icon Frozen Heart to lower their damage. In case you cannot stick to them then you should buy Thornmail icon Thornmail since they will be dealt damage each time they attack unless they have 30% lifesteal or some magic resist in combination with lifesteal.

Target priority is another thing that’s very important to maximizing your DPS. Being able to hit a squishy champion while being in a safe position is a great boost for your team fight usefulness because usually squishies are champions of high importance to the enemy total damage output.


As stated above, as a ranged DPS you have to position yourself so that enemies can’t get to you easily and your support can in case a threat approaches you. Because of this positioning, you won’t always be able to hit the enemy DPS or burst champions, so you have to hit the frontline. There will always be people saying that as a DPS you shouldn’t be hitting the tank members of the enemy team, but it’s more important to be safe than to try and kill an enemy damage dealer because risky plays aren’t worth most of the times since their success rate is rather low unless you are playing a very mobile champion that can get in and out very quickly. In the fray of battle, enemies could misplace themselves and there might be opportunities to swap your target from a bulky champion to a squishy one that is very important, this is why you have to be careful at all movements during battle. Finding an opponent mistake might make the difference between winning a fight and losing one.


Being melee DPS means that squishy targets have the biggest priority of all of them. The enemy support will most likely always try to stop you, that’s why you should be careful when to go in the fight because if the enemy support is a high crowd control one, you might be dead when you try to do your job since you will be the main target of the enemy damage dealers since you can get to them and your damage is considerable.


Another thing that influences the DPS is how the game goes. If you are being shut down early on then you will be very behind and your damage might not be enough to be an important target to the enemy team. Because this is such an important thing, I wrote a guide on how to be even or ahead in a lane phase where you are countered by the enemy. The example champions are Cassiopeia Icon Cassiopeia as the DPS and Diana Icon Diana as the champion that counters her.

To know how to beat a champion, you must firstly know what makes that champion so good against yours, in this example Diana Icon Diana is a burst champion that counters Cassiopeia Icon Cassiopeia because she is very mobile and her burst is very high from as early as level 6.

What you should do in this matchup is to buy magic resist early, purchasing Abyssal Scepter icon Abyssal Scepter after Tear of the Godess icon Tear of the Godess is great because the range of the aura of Abyssal Scepter icon Abyssal Scepter is the same as Cassiopeia Icon Cassiopeia’s Twin Fang Icon Twin Fang so your damage will increase even if you are building an item that will increase your defensive statistics. Harassing Diana before level 6 is imperative, as her only response will be her Crescent Strike Icon Crescent Strike which won’t deal that much damage if it’s on its own. At level 5 it deals a maximum of 150 damage, depending on what runes Diana uses, which is a lot lower than Cassiopeia Icon Cassiopeia’s Noxious Blast Icon Noxious Blast combined with a few Twin Fang Icon Twin Fang uses. The total damage will be around three times what Diana is able to deal at that level.

At level 6 Diana’s burst increases by a lot, Lunar Rush Icon Lunar Rush having a base damage of 100 at level 1, being doubled if Diana lands Crescent Strike Icon Crescent Strike because the cool down on Lunar Rush Icon Lunar Rush refreshes and she can use it again.

From level 6 you should be very careful with your positioning since if Diana lands one Crescent Strike Icon Crescent Strike, you are dead or almost dead. In case she lands Crescent Strike Icon Crescent Strike you should try to use Petrifying Gaze Icon Petrifying Gaze to stun her and then run away. If she misses her Q then you are able to begin increasing your DPS against her since her only response will be using her ultimate which will put her in a perfect position for your Petrifying Gaze Icon Petrifying Gaze.

One thing that you can do from the beginning could be to start the game with Crystaline Flask icon Crystaline Flask and keep harassing Diana Icon Diana so that she cannot do anything. You won’t have as much health nor damage as you would with Doran’s Ring, but you will be able to hit her more times.

Against Diana Icon Diana you should use Exhaust icon Exhaust or Barrier icon Barrier. Exhaust icon Exhaust is great at lowering her damage while also increasing yours and Barrier icon Barrier is picked over Heal icon Heal because most Diana Icon Diana players use Ignite icon Ignite and Heal icon Heal is reduced if Ignite icon Ignite is used before you use Heal icon Heal. Some Diana Icon Diana players use Skirmisher’s Sabre and Smite icon Smite, but against Cassiopeia Icon Cassiopeia that’s not good because they won’t be able to make effective use of the Smite icon Smite effect during laning phase.



The factors that you have to be careful about when playing burst based champions are rather similar to consistent DPS champions, but there are differences here and there.


As always, itemization is very important for nukers. Because of the fact that you are aiming to kill a target very fast you should itemize for this exact reason. You should get as much damage as possible, but this doesn’t mean only raw statistics. Penetration is playing a very important part of an assassin’s itemization because once you have enough of it, you will be able to deal so much damage that no one can help your target so they will die before the support even gets there to zone you away from their damage dealer. If you are playing an Ability Power based champion against a champion with a lot of magical damage, you can go for Abyssal Scepter icon Abyssal Scepter as your first item because it gives you everything you need in early on: Ability Power and Magical Penetration for a damage increase and Magic Resist for surviving the enemy poke longer. After buying this item your Magical Penetration should be alright for some time, so you should itemize more Ability Power. Buying Rabadon’s Deathcap icon Rabadon’s Deathcap is great, but Luden’s Echo icon Luden’s Echo is also good for an increase in burst damage. Your 3rd item as an Ability Power based champion should always be Void Staff because by then there will be many champions itemizing Magic Resist and your damage will decrease. While playing an Attack Damage based champion you will go for The Brutalizer icon Brutalizer very early because of it’s low price and very useful statistics. It will not be your first completed item of the game because there are more useful items than Youmuu's Ghostblade icon Youmuu’s Ghostblade, but it will be finished as 2nd or 3rd item. If you play Zed then you should firstly complete Blade of the Ruined King icon Blade of the Ruined King and Last Whisper icon Last Whsper afterwards, while if you are playing Talon Icon Talon you should go for Ravenous Hydra icon Ravenous Hydra and Last Whisper icon Last Whisper and complete Youmuu's Ghostblade icon Ghostblade after these core items.

Burst marksmen such as Graves Icon Graves should go for Infinity Edge icon Infinity Edge, Statikk Shiv icon Statikk Shiv and Last Whisper icon Last Whisper. Statikk Shiv icon Statikk Shiv increases their overall burst by 100 to 200 if the attack is a critical strike. Infinity Edge icon Infinity Edge and Last Whisper icon Last Whisper are a good increase in ability damage while Statikk Shiv icon Statikk Shiv is great at increasing his non-burst DPS as much as possible by increasing the number of hits he can do during a team fight. 


As an assassin you want to always be hidden from the enemy team and in a flanking position. Being in a flank is great for catching out one of their most important players and killing them quickly before returning to safety or continuing to deal damage to the rest of the players. Making sure that you aren’t standing in a warded area is imperative because if the enemies know where you are you could be engaged upon or they can repel your attack very easily, thus either killing you, making you lose the team fight or putting you in a great disadvantage, both position wise and objective wise because they can either take down a tower, a dragon or Nashor or a buff and set up vision in your jungle.

For a burst based marksman positioning is almost the same as a consistent damage dealer’s positioning, the only difference is that as a burst marksman you will be closer to your enemies to land your abilities on as many as possible. For example, Graves has to be pretty close to the frontline of his team to land as many hits from Buckshot as possible because the damage stacks with each hit landed, even if it’s not 100% of the damage, it’s still a DPS increase.


As an assassin your main targets are in the backline of the enemy team. Their marksman is the most common target because mages have many items that improve their damage and survivability as well and it makes them harder to kill for assassins. Unlike consistent damage dealers, assassins need to have a set target before the fight starts because they use all their skills on that target and by switching in the midst of battle, they won’t be able to deal a lot of damage so their DPS will go down very much.

As for burst marksmen, the targets are the same as consistent DPS targets, but because of the Area of Effect damage these champions have, they can hit more targets at once and thus increase their DPS by a lot. The more targets you can hit, the better. Some burst based marksmen have good mobility so they can move around the battlefield from safe position to safe position and end up around the enemy backline and try to take them down, but it is still very risky because being near the enemy backline means that you are probably away from your frontline, thus you aren’t in a safe position anymore and might get killed. Another problem with doing this is that you are in range of the enemy damage dealers and if they focus their damage onto you, you will die before being able to deal any damage.


For an assassin, being even in a losing lane is very hard because if they are laning against a champion that counters their ability kit, then they won’t be able to do much, so they’ll have to play very safely until level 6 and try to push the lane and then roam a lot. For example, in the matchup of Rengar Icon Rengar vs Riven Icon Riven, Riven Icon Riven has the upper hand all the time because of her crowd control and shield, so, Rengar Icon Rengar has to farm safely until level 6 and then try to gank mid lane or try to kill the enemy jungler so that he can get some gold and experience.

For burst marksmen such as Graves Icon Graves or Lucian Icon Lucian the laning phase against someone with longer range and good crowd control from their support is very hard. The best thing they can do is farm and try to harass from time to time, for Lucian Icon Lucian it is a lot easier because of Piercing Light Icon Piercing Light’s range, but it is hard for Graves who has to go all in if he wants to do anything.



  • DPS is very important and you should always look for ways to increase it.
  • Itemizing is a very important part of increasing consistent damage and burst damage. Burst damage dealers have to itemize penetration very early on.
  • Positioning is extremely important for your DPS and so is timing and vision.
  • Consistent damage dealers focus on whoever is closest while burst damage dealers focus on a single target at a time so that they can deal enough damage to kill them.
  • Being in a losing matchup means safely farming for consistent damage dealers until the laning phase ends and for assassins it means roaming and making plays around the map, essentially forcing laning phase to end.




This is old version of this guide where u can find meanings of main terms on this theme.


DPS is an abbreviation which means damage per second. It’s mainly used in MMORPG where fights against big raid bosses are long and DPS is the most important characteristic for players who choose damage dealer as their main role. In League of Legends DPS is essential for Attack Damage carries (ADc). That’s why in late phase of the game one of the main goals in teamfights is succesfully protecting ADc and providing your carry with opportunity to do his maximum DPS without any barriers. Such process is called “Peel” when you get off bruisers and tanks from your carry, this is another special term in League of Legends.

Jinx DPS in League of Legends


Aatrox Champion DPS Aatrox, Caitlyn Champion DPS Caitlyn, Vayne Champion DPS Vayne, Jinx Champion DPS Jinx, Kayle Champion DPS Kayle, Master Yi DPS Master Yi, Tryndamere Champion DPS Tryndamere, Jax Champion DPS Jax, Rumble Champion DPS Rumble, Cassiopeia Champion DPS Cassiopeia, Fiddlesticks Champion DPS Fiddlesticks, Swain Champion DPS Swain etc.


Infinity Edge for dps Infinity EdgePhantom Dance for DPS Phantom Dancer and Last Whisper Armor Penetration DPS Last Whisper.


Trinity Force for dps Trinity Force, Maw of Malmortius for dps Maw of Malrmortius, Sunfire Cape for dps Sunfire Cape and Black cleaver for high lol burst The Black Cleaver.


Rabadon's Deathcap for dps Rabadon’s Deathcap, Liandry's Torment for DPS Liandry’s Torment and Void Stuff for DPS Void Staff. 


Burst means huge damage over a very short amount of time. Great bursters in League of Legends are mostly Ability Power carries (APc). Burst is the most important type of damage since it allows you remove an enemy champion from the team fight at the very beginning. Champion can have high burst but low DPS and vice versa, e.g Le Blanc burst Le Blanc is able to do huge damage in one second but until her cooldowns go off her damage output will be close to zero while Caitlyn DPS Caitlyn can do amazing DPS and has no burst at all.

Veigar Burst in League of Legends


Annie Champion BURST Annie, FizzChampion BURST DAMAGE Fizz, Le Blanc BURST Le Blanc, Lux Champion burst damage Lux, Talon Champion Burst Talon, Syndra Yi DPS Syndra, Veigar Champion BURST damage Veigar, Rengar Champion Damage Rengar, Zed Champion burst Zed etc.

In short terms DPS means consistent damage over time while burst is fast explosion of damage to your enemy.

P.S. There are also champions which are good at both burst and DPS. E.g. Graves DPS and BURST Graves who has great burst from his abilites (Graves Buckshot IconBuckshot & Graves Collateral Damage iconCollateral Damage) while at the same time he has decent DPS from his auto-attacks. 


Ravenous Hydra for lol burst damage Ravenous HydraBlack cleaver for high lol burst The Black Cleaver and Last Whisper Armor Penetration Last Whisper.


Rabadon's Deathcap for dps Rabadon’s Deathcap, Zhonya's Hourglass burst damage Zhonya’s Hourglass, Lich Bane burst damage Lich Bane and Void Stuff for DPS Void Staff.


There is old (2012 year) but still useful calculations of AP casters burst damage, made in a chart:

AP champions burst damage chart

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  1. iRelapsed

    i understand this char is just an idea, but I’m still led to believe most of this is false. As most champions by level 6 will have different builds. I see that Diana is low on the list with 469, he did mention that passives and other factors weren’t taken into account. Even despite her passive, I personally can get Q>W>R>AA>R off in at least a second, and that has to be more than 469. Many other champions are the same way, all depends on the player and how quick he/she is with the combo. Again, i guess this chart is just meant to give a player an idea of which champions are good/better at bursting.

    1. Boosteria

      Yeah, it’s really hard to measure such things and those numbers will rare fit real game situation.

    2. Boosteria

      This chart is pure theory, imagine that they were put in the laboratory with absolutely equal conditions and then you measure their damage. But yes you are right when you said that this chart aim was to give an idea to players of champions performance :)

  2. Cening

    Why is ryze so low? on lvl 6 with 3 or 4 presacks he can burst anyone with 1 combo if he stands in a creepwave, what actually often happens.

  3. Olosko

    Well i thought everyone knows what DPS is :)
    However, this guide is still interesting, but would like to see full chart of lol champions by amount of burst damage.

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