One of the most important decisions a player can make is their first carousel item; an item that pigeonholes you into a certain build can be disastrous. In contrast, a flexible item off the bat can mean the difference between top 4 and bottom 4 placement.
If you’re not forcing a composition, players should focus on the one item that can fit into almost any build:
Best item – Recurve Bow
+15 Attack Speed
Recurve bow is the most desired item in patch 11.2, bar none. In fact, in Challenger games it’s common to see all 8 players jockey for position on 1 recurve bow on the first carousel. It’s a necessary component for 4 popular items in order of usage: Rapidfire Cannon, Runaan’s Hurricane, Guinsoo’s Rageblade, and Giant Slayer. As you can see, RFC and Runaan’s alone will give you BIS items for 5 different carries!
Zed, Kalista, Shyvana
Kayle, Olaf, Samira
Worst item – Tear
Oddly enough, one of the most contested components in set 4 has become one of the least flexible early in set 4.5. Many tear items grant flat benefits (flat healing via Redemption, flat damage via Luden’s Echo, etc.) which means they are not as useful in later stages when units are naturally stronger. Logically, tear should be a premier item for mages…but the most popular Elderwood ASol build doesn’t need a tear to succeed, relegating it to the back seat for now.
Hand of Justice, Chalice of Power, and Blue Buff are the most frequently used tear items in Challenger games. If you end up with a tear it’s not the end of the world; combining it with a spatula can produce great results with mage Swain, but these situations are few and far between. When stuck with an early game tear, consider HOJ or Blue Buff on Teemo with sharpshooter buff to carry you through mid-game. Alternatively, you could put Chalice of Power on a backline support unit to power up your early game mage build.