How Aatrox Completed the Greatest Transformation in LoL History
Tue 9th Oct 2018 - 9:11pm
If you had theorized at this time last year that Aatrox would become the most popular and influential champion in all of League of Legends, you would probably be ridiculed to no end and laughed at by a majority of the community. However, if anyone would be on your side, it would be the developers and truthers of what would turn out to be the most impactful champion rework in the history of the game.
At this time during the 2017 season, Aatrox was one of the most destitute, disappointing embarrassments on the entire champion roster, as his pick rate sat at a lowly 0.1%. For reference, he only appeared in 2 of the 2000+ games that took place last season. However, this year, especially this Summer, the champion has undergone a certain renaissance that has transformed him into one of the strongest picks in the history of competitive play.
On June 13, Riot announced a significant overhaul of Aatrox’s abilities and visual effects, as the champion arguably underwent the most drastic rework since Sion in the Fall of 2014. However, the most perplexing, or even unfortunate, part of the rework came embodied in the fact that by the time the contents of the rework were about to hit competitive play, the old version of the champion was finally gaining traction on the professional stage.
In fact, during the final week of the champion’s lifespan in its original state, Aatrox had received nine picks, all of which would be his first and final nine picks of the 2018 season before being completely transformed into a brand new version of himself.
However, despite the fact that the rework may have cut the celebratory return party of Aatrox’s original iteration just short, the debut of a stronger, more impressive, and more versatile toolset allowed Aatrox to grab competitive League of Legends by the horns and firmly announce himself as the single-best character on a roster with 141 of them. His presence has been unmatched, as he’s appeared in 41.5% of games in 2018, including 80.7% of games during the Summer Split and Postseason, the highest mark of any champion this Split. Additionally, Aatrox’s presence peaked just about in the middle of the latest split, appearing in 99.3% of all champion selects during Patch 8.14.
So far this Summer, including postseason play, Aatrox has garnered 383 picks, giving him the 22nd-highest overall pick-rate in all of competitive League of Legends, while his 1,486 bans are by far the highest of any champion in the game. In fact, he has been banned 200 more times than any other champion in League, with Taliyah being the only one in range of Aatrox’s ridiculous mark, as she sits at a number of 1,237.
With a solid showing of picks this past split, combined with the ridiculous amount of times that the champion has been banned across nearly every region, Aatrox has quickly become a historically strong power pick; emanating the likes of champions we haven’t seen in quite some time. In fact, Aatrox’s mark of 1,486 bans this Summer is the highest for any champion of any split ever seen in the history of competitive League.
And now, as we leave the Summer split in our rearview mirror and move forward towards the World Championship, it’s important to realize that Aatrox might just be one of the most significant picks at this year’s final tournament. After appearing in over 80% of all games played in the second half of the season, Aatrox quickly established himself as the single strongest champion in the game, and in a top-lane meta that is seemingly starved for power picks across the board, Aatrox could certainly be a meta-defining champion that makes some major waves at Worlds.
And with some of the strongest Aatrox players in all of competitive League of Legends assembling at the World Championship, there’s sure to be some fireworks in the top lane throughout the entirety of the tournament, as long as the game’s newest titan is still prioritized by the players who have dominated with him over the course of the past few months. However, it would behoove the average viewer to keep an eye on Martin "Wunder" Hansen of G2 Esports, Kim "Kiin" Gi-in of Afreeca Freecs, and Lee "Duke" Ho-seong of Invictus Gaming. While there have been plenty of players to take up Aatrox’s mantle during the Summer Split, these three have played the champion with the utmost skill and resolve, rising leagues above the rest of the competitive playerbase.
Between the three stars, they’ve posted a combined average KDA of 6.53, with Kiin leading the charge among the group, as his mark on the champion sits at a massive number of 8.8 over the course of nine games, six of which have been wins. And while Kiin leads all top laners at Worlds when it comes to Aatrox KDA, Wunder has been the shining example of perfection on the champion, as his 7.2 KDA this season, while not quite as high as Kiin’s, is complemented by a perfect 100% win-rate over the course of seven games this Summer.
Wunder’s strongest performance on the champion came at his last international tournament, Rift Rivals, where he took the Darkin Blade into his hands against 100 Thieves, securing the win for G2 in a 45 minute thrashing that saw just as many kills as it did minutes played. Wunder eventually finished that game with a final scoreline of 6/2/13, unveiling Aatrox’s newfound power on the international stage in the process.
And now, as we find ourselves at the beginning of the 2018 World Championship, Wunder could find himself in a position where he could once again unleash Aatrox’s power at an international event. And in a tournament packed to the brim with incredible Aatrox players and top laners alike, G2’s master on the topside of the map could be the one to steal the show and really utilize Aatrox to his fullest potential.
And while Wunder, Kiin, and Duke are nothing more than mere flashes on the radar in comparison to the overall level of talent at the World Championship, it should still be interesting to see how the World’s greatest Aatrox players fare at the tournament. In a meta where the top lane can either make or break any game of League, giving the game’s top laners a chance to carry any given game with one of the strongest champions on the roster should surely give a boost to the overall health of the World Championship.
And although Aatrox as a whole has certainly undergone a few changes since his monstrous reign earlier in the Summer, in the hands of the right player, he can still be an incredibly powerful, even lethal pick, and it’s only a matter of time until the game’s strongest players prove that point yet again.
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