You Messed with the Bull: A look at why Alistar has been such a big part of the Worlds meta
Fri 30th Nov 2018 - 12:46pm
With Worlds 2018 having just finished and the dynamic in region ranking having been massively shaken up (let's go EU, EUphoria is real), we can learn a lot from S8’s World meta. However, the biggest thing that we saw in the support role was the power of the Minotaur, as Alistar has been a massive power pick in the competitive meta with the majority of top-tier support players having him in their champion pools. So, in this piece, I hope to showcase some of the reasons as to why Alistar is in the spot of being an S-Tier champion in the recent meta.
One of the biggest things that has also been prevalent was the presence of carry top laners, so much so that we even saw the rise of top lane Viktor, a carry mage in the lane usually dominated by bruisers. However, picks like this usually lack one thing, engage, which is a necessary part of most functional team comps. Now, normally teamfight engages tend to come from top laners (such as Kled, Malphite, or Sion) or from the jungle role (via champions such as Sejuani, Nocturne, and Lee Sin). But when neither of these two roles are bringing engage, it falls to another role and since the roles of carry bot and mid lane more focused on damage output and pick potential, engage must fall to another role. The only role left is support. Now many supports bring engage to the table, but no support can match potent engage of Alistar. This is one of many reasons as to why the Minotaur has been so prevalent in the competitive meta.
As previously mentioned, the typical roles in which a tank is played (top lane and jungle) has featured a lot more carry champions (albeit some tanks like Ornn and Sion have seen some play for their immense levels of CC and ability to shove in the laning phase), which means that the requirement for a tank as part of a balanced team comp has to, once again, come from another role, and since mid-lane and bottom lane carry roles both do not typically have tanks in those positions (Nautilus mid from Season 7 and Galio are outliers to the rule here), meaning that the tanking falls to support again. So why is Alistar the best when fulfilling this need? Well, he already is naturally tanky and he becomes the best support tank in the game (in terms of raw tankiness that is) when he activates his ultimate, Unbreakable Will, which not only breaks a CC but then gives 55 to 75% physical damage reduction which makes his tankiness unrivalled in the bot lane support role (especially against most marksmen), which is why he is premier choice in the top flight pro play like in tourneys such as Worlds.
All of Season 8 has seen a major focus on the biggest neutral objective on Summoner's rift, Baron Nashor. Many games in both Solo Queue and professional play have been decided by the pushing/teamfight power that the Baron buff provides or the fights that happen in and around the Baron's pit. So, what does this mean for the meta and Alistar? Well, we all know that Baron and his pit is a place of major importance, therefore any champion that can bring control that area (for example by using an area of effect spell to keep an area impassable or using a knockback ability to deny the opposing jungler access to the Baron pit) gains more importance.
Now many champions have abilities that help control the area in and around the baron pit. This includes a variety of champions from a variety of roles, such as Yasuo [mid and top] and his Wind Wall, Lee Sin [Jungle] and his ultimate, and Tristana’s Buster Shot, but no champion can match the Minotaur in terms of the completion of this job as Alistar can do this job in so many ways (not limited to but including; flanking and knocking a carry into the team, knocking the jungler away to secure the baron kill, and just straight up starting a fight with the Headbutt/Pulverize combo) and this is one of the many reasons as to why Alistar has become an S-Tier pick in the recent meta.
To conclude, Alistar has been one of the most prevalent picks as of the last few months in both our solo queue games and in recent professional play (Alistar had a presence of 97.4% [being banned in 47 games and picked in 28]) and this is due to many reasons, not limited to but including his immensely strong tanking potential, baron control, and one of, if not the strongest, engage kits in all of League of Legends. It is these factors that has made Alistar so powerful recently, so much so that it may actually worth dedicating some time to learning the Minotaur (if you are a support player, of course).
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