Looking to Play Some Different Champions? - A Guide to an Evolved Champion Pool
Thu 26th Mar 2020 - 4:38pm
Every League of Legends player, new or old, knows that there are a multitude of champions to choose from (144 to be exact). With all of these champions, it can be difficult to pick the ones that you want to play, be it because they have fun for you or because they are strong. Whatever your choice may be, the goal of any game is always to win, usually having fun along the way.
Many League of Legends players, however, want more than anything to win. So, what champions do you want to pick in order to climb the ranked ladder? Well, the answer in simple, to follow every patch update to determine what old champion may be getting buffed or what powerful champion may be getting nerfed.
The champions that have been buffed are strong are usually considered 'meta' while the weaker ones are pushed aside so that players can focus on the win. Each role can have any meta all to itself at a given time, and the overall game can have a meta as well if enough champions are put into a spotlight.
Now, some people at this point may be wondering, "what does meta mean?", "What makes a champion meta?" and "What role is meta?". Well, in this article we will answer all of these questions and take a deeper look at who to choose in your next champion select.
Let us approach the previous questions as they were listed, so first we will address "What does it mean for a champion to be meta?". Just because a champion is inherently powerful does not always mean they are meta. As of the patch 10.3, champions like Irelia, Kassadin, and Veigar are not meta, yet they are still powerful. So, if these champions are considered powerful, why are they not considered 'meta'? Well, to be 'meta' a champion must have a role to play in the overarching meta. A prime example of this is the 'gold funnel' technique from Season Eight.
Champions like Master Yi and Taric were previously overlooked, as they had no role to play in any meta. Yes, Taric is good at protecting his carry and Master Yi is good in teamfights, but if they have no role in the game then they are not always worth playing in a ranked setting.
When the 'gold funneling' technique was first figured out, the trend caught like wildfire, and soon everyone was playing Master Yi jungle and Taric mid to abuse this new system. Because of this, these two champions that were previously overlooked are now suddenly meta and are brought into the spotlight. Now, when there is a trend like this that pops up, Riot Games (creating company of League of Legends) has three obvious options: 1) buff the meta champions to keep the meta champions powerful, 2) Nerf the meta champions before they get out of hand, or 3) Leave the meta as it be.
As for gold funneling, the trend was not long lived, as Riot quickly put an end to it. This was most likely because it ruined the way the game is supposed to be played. Without a mid laner on your team, the easiest point into your base was wide open and completely changed the way the game was played.
So, to review, a 'meta' champion is a champion that has an integral role to play on a team of five players. Just because a champion is not meta, does not mean it is not good. It simply means that it is not a 'team player' if you will.
Next on the docket is "What champions are meta?" Well, each role can have its own meta as long as it fits into the overarching meta of the game. The overarching meta is normally very general, such as tanky champions like Ornn being good or ADC champions like Kalista being strong. Normally, Riot Games will buff a variety of champions or items that share a theme to (sometimes inadvertently) create the metas players form. For example, at the moment, bruiser champions are fairly meta. Champions like Sett and Diana, both powerful champions, were meta for quite some time.
Diana recently received a buff that put her into the spotlight as a jungle/mid laner whose role was to engage on squishy (low health/armor/magic resist) champions that were a threat and take them out before they could win a fight. Sett was a new champion that was released already in a very powerful state, and is a tanky champion that has strong engage and dealt tons of damage.
However, as of Patch 10.3, both of them were nerfed to try and take them out of the meta. Champions like Ekko, Akali, and Aphelios were also nerfed. All of these champions are fairly meta and one round of nerfs may not take them off the table yet, but it is the first nail in their coffin.
As of the same patch, champions that got buffed were ones like Galio and Sejuani were also buffed. This could lead to a stronger tank meta in the game that Riot Games is trying to initiate. When things like this happen, there is normally a trend.
At first, the champions that oppose the soon-to-be-meta champions are nerfed slightly, while the desired meta champions are buffed slightly over the course of a few patches until they are at a stage strong enough that they are difficult to oppose.
So, the question asked was “What champions are meta now?” Well, that varies by rank. In higher elo games, champions like Diana, Ekko, Braum, and Leona are incredibly strong. Diana and Ekko are powerful because they can easily engage on weak champions and take them out fast. Braum and Leona are meta because they can protect these squishy champions so that they can stay in a fight long enough to matter (and they also have TONS of crowd control).
In lower elos, champions like Kai’Sa, Janna, and Master Yi are all strong. Kai’Sa and Master Yi are strong because they are fairly easy to play and have a high damage output, making them easy to learn at an entry level. Janna is strong because she can protect these champions with her shield or heal them with her ultimate when needed.
The best advice to keep up on what is meta is to look at the patch notes every update and review it from the old one. Eventually, players will see a trend where certain 'themed' champions (such as tanks, ADCs, bruisers, etc.) are receiving buffs or nerfs over the course of a few patches. Vigilance on this subject is the key to climbing in ranked games.
Lastly is the question of “What role is meta?”. Now, just because a role is not 'meta' does not mean it is not important. In a tank meta, for example, champions like Braum, Ornn, or Sejuani may all be strong. This would mean that roles like Support, Top, and Jungle are also strong.
However, this isn’t always the case. Riot Games will usually put buffs on one 'theme' of champions in a role. So, instead of buffing Braum, Ornn, and Sejuani, maybe they will buff Braum, Leona, and Galio so that the support role is what has the focus.
Currently, in higher elos the stronger champions are in the mid lane and jungle. Champions like Ekko, Diana, Elise, and Akali are all very strong, and for a good reason.
Champions in the mid lane, like Diana and Akali, are strongest when they can get an early lead and roam to other lanes to carry their lead there. Because of this, it is easy to help snowball weaker allies into the late game where they can shine.
Jungle champions like Elise or Ekko are great at setting up early ganks on lanes that are unfavorably pushed. By ganking a weak lane and taking advantage of the enemy’s lead, it is easy to pick up some easy kills and get ally laners a leg up in the game.
In lower elo games, meta does not hold the same importance. As long as a champion is strong, or a player is decent at a certain champion, they can sometimes win a game, but it can be a coin toss. For lower elo players that want to bring meta into their games, study what champions are buffed on a regular basis and understand why. Also, observe higher elo players and how they make plays with certain champions.
Then, in the highest of elos, the meta can be wild. In challenger games there are strong junglers like Nightblue3 who can dominate a game with his meta jungle picks. There are also players like Metaphor or Karasmai, who are OTPs (one trick ponies) who play off meta champions but are still able to maintain a high rank.
So, in summary, 'meta' constantly changes from patch to patch and from elo to elo. The meta is never set in stone and is always frequently subject to change. The best way to understand what champions you should play to climb is to observe what champions you see in your games and what champions have recently been buffed or nerfed. Bringing an overpowered champion into your low elo game can easily grant you the win.
Staying vigilant on what champions are changing in any given patch is the key to climbing, no matter what rank you are in.