In this article, we will discuss how new/reworked champions upset the meta in League of Legends.
League of Legends has expanded its champion selection over the years including the latest addition of Akshan. With the controversies surrounding additions and reworks at release, we thought it would be a good time to talk about how these champions affect the meta in professional play. Bear in mind, this is strictly in the context of pro play and not your average solo queue games. Let’s start talking about it.
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Changes we have seen
So far in the past 11 years of pro play in League of Legends, we have seen a bunch of changes. These changes can range from item system rehauls (this year) to vision changes back a few years ago and so on. Riot has not been afraid to make changes. However, in most cases, the changes sprout a new set of problems.
The problems that are most memorable were the boring Ardent meta at Worlds 2017 and then the Pantheon rework permaban at Worlds 2019. These kinds of issues have always popped up when a new change was made. This was also visible this year at MSI where we went from playing engage/ganking champions in the jungle such as Udyr/Hecarim/Volibear to Morgana/Rumble/Udyr. It did not stop there as after MSI, it went to Diana/Xin Zhao/Lee Sin/etc.
Affects of Changes
These kinds of changes often upset the balance in pro play as teams get used to a style for the split. Then in the next patch, that kind of composition is long gone and it’s back to the drawing board for many of these teams. Jungle changes have often been the name of the game recently and that has impacted the meta heavily with many mid laners opting into the AD mid lane champions.
That has then prompted a lot of engage/dive-heavy compositions with champions like Lee Sin, Nocturne, Renekton, etc being mid lane champions. However, this is to be expected as changes like these will often make pro players gravitate to the stronger picks. Hence, it does not become a great issue in the grand scheme of things.
However, changes like during and post-MSI is a problem as an example. The drastic jungle change has really caused problems for many teams to adapt to but that’s not the full story. The biggest thing that often upsets the balance of pro play is new champions or champion reworks. As stated earlier, we remember the Pantheon rework where he was a menace in 2019. This year it’s following the same trajectory with Gwen and Viego being heavily prioritized while Akshan has just been released.
Riot has a bad reputation with balancing and releasing champions, often in overpowered states. This has changed the landscape of professional play for many years and will do so this year. The thing is pro players will always pick up these champions if they are tagged as “OP”. It is not inconceivable to think they wouldn’t opt to do it. We all know that and so does Riot most likely.
Is there a Solution?
Is there a solution for this? Not unless Riot changes their philosophy. Now, credit to Riot for one thing, they have updated the game and kept it fresh. However, the sheer changes and new mechanics that are being implemented are just extremely hard to balance.
There could be a lot of examples such as Gwen’s W, Hallowed Mist, or Viego’s Passive, Sovereign’s Domination, and the newly introduced Akshan’s W passive, Going Rogue. These kinds of mechanics are something you would attribute to abilities that are ultimates (R abilities). Thus, it makes these champions so high priority in professional play. This forces these champions to be either must pick or must ban. In any case, it’s not a healthy situation as there are other bans that teams can go for to target their opponents.
If we were to pinpoint solutions for the changes, it would be hard. However, there can be some countermeasures. For example, increasing the time before the champions are allowed in professional play (maybe a patch later). One also could be releasing Champions in a more balanced state. We can’t speculate how much the PBE players input Riot is taking. Hence, maybe start a new system to take their opinions as opposed to the data on the champions in the PBE server. These are some things that maybe could be some solutions that will lead to a long-term result.
In our opinion, it is an issue that needs to be addressed and moderated by Riot. The sheer power of these champions is a problem for many pro teams to handle, given the current dynamic if you are not versed on the champion. That’s our two cents on the topic.