Drafting in Professional League of Legends

Shadman Sabik Zaim
By Shadman Sabik Zaim
8 Min Read
Image Credit: Riot Games

In this article, we will tackle one of the more divisive topics of the LoLEsports community and that is drafting in professional League of Legends

Any avid viewer of League of Legends esports can tell you that drafting is one of the most important parts of the scene. That is pretty much why most teams have multiple coaches/analysts to try and break down what works. With that said, every person has a different read on this and this has turned into a hotpot of conversation regarding drafting in general. Let’s dive into this topic and explain why it’s important and the controversies that come along with it.

The Meta

To understand drafting, we must first establish or lay the groundwork for it which comes in the form of The Meta. Any long-time watcher of eSports will know that the meta is often what is being played by pros all across the world. The change in LoL Esports is that the meta is based on which champion is strong in the current patch state, new additions/reworks, and so on.

The meta is generally a consensus of the pool of champions that are very strong in the current patch. There are a lot of factors that go into it as typically new additions/reworks tend to be stronger than the rest (i.e. Viego, Gwen). Also, items can cause a shift in the meta (i.e. Divine Sunderer) and so can small changes (i.e. Irelia, Tahm Kench). All of that is par for the course of the meta. As always, it is ever-changing and we can see shifts going from Spring Split to MSI to Summer Split to Worlds.

With that established, let’s move on to the meat of the article, drafting.

Drafting Philosophies

The basics of drafting in professional League of Legends is relatively simple. You draft a strong composition with an identity whether it be teamfighting oriented, or early game focused, etc. However, it is very idealistic to think of getting all the power picks. Generally, teams trade-off power picks and ban the ones they can’t cope with. Hence, drafting can be a tug of war.

However, the philosophies of drafting are often different. Some analysts such as LS, tend to look at drafts in a vacuum or in an ideal world. There are others that look strictly at compositions and there is another train of thought is to pick what they can play. While all of them have their perks and whatnot, neither is better than the other in a general sense.

Now, let’s dissect the definition of comfort vs ideal drafting. Ideally, you would want power picks like Viego, Xin Zhao, etc, in the current meta. However, some teams have defaulted to the Olaf because of comfort from playing it in the last split. Both ideologies work for different teams and there should be no controversy regarding that. Some players are known for their iconic picks (Faker on Ryze, etc).

Thus, in those situations, those players on those champions should be picked if left open in a drafting scenario because of how good they are on it. Of course, there are exceptions to when the champion is just in a bad state but if it is in a good state, it is fine to pick it if the player is well known on it.

Why Drafting Is A Controversy?

Often times you will see the saying X team won draft in the stream chat or so on. However, that is subjective based on which drafting philosophy you are following. If you are following an ideal scenario philosophy, then anything that isn’t OP or anything is not a good draft in your eyes. Similarly, you could have the OP draft and still not come out on top in the end.

The reason drafting is a controversy is because of those circumstances. The best draft does not mean you win the game outright, it just means you have a better chance of winning the game. On the flip side, if you take comfort champions, it’s still the same effect as you are more comfortable on the champion.

However, bad drafts can lose you games but just because meta champions are not picked, that does not make it a bad draft. A bad draft is basically picking 5 champions that have varying identities. It’s like taking Yorick, Kha’zix, Kayle, Varus, and Rakan. All those five champions do different things at the same time and do not work well together.

For example, by most metrics, people would say that Twisted Fate and Trundle shouldn’t be picked in the current meta. However, these champions have 60%+ win rates in the LPL and LEC. So, while they are not power picks, they still win games in certain situations. So, picking champions out of the power picks list is not a bad idea. What should be said is that drafting is not the end all be all and drafting is merely a tool teams use to make their chances of winning better.

Is There A Best Drafting Strategy?

To answer shortly, no there isn’t. Some teams like EDG in the LPL do well by using power picks in the meta. While other teams like RNG have fallen back to comfort this split and have racked up quite a few wins. Drafting is always subjective based on the team and there is generally no clear winners in drafts unless you give the opponent too many power picks.

In Conclusion

To sum it all up, in our opinion, drafting should be based on a team’s strengths and weaknesses as opposed to what is OP. If the player is not comfortable on the meta champions, falling back to the comfort ones is fine and we have seen that work for many teams. Players, analysts, and teams have their different takes on this. T

he best draft does not guarantee a win and a bad draft does not solidify a loss. However, there are still certain basics of drafting like taking a composition that works together. As long as that is maintained, drafts should not generally decide games unless one team grabs all the power picks (which is not likely to happen).

Hopefully, this gives an idea about drafting in general and explains a few things about drafting.

By Shadman Sabik Zaim Deputy Editor
Shadman is a Deputy Editor of League of Legends and other Riot IPs (excluding VALORANT) at GameRiv. He is a computer science and engineering graduate who got into games pretty early. Also, he takes pride in trying multiple types of games and got into League of Legends pretty early. Games, Board Games, Writing, Music, and Sports are his passions and hobbies.