Champion Trends in Season 3 LCS
Tue 30th Apr 2013 - 7:25pm
Hello ladies and gentlemen, Fox here. Before LCS started I had an article about Champion Picks and Statistics, and it got a lot of great feedback and promoted great discussion. So, we're at the halfway point of LCS, and I'm really interested to see what trends have changed, and what new trends have popped up.
These statistics are from the North American LCS for the last 10 weeks of play. If you'd like to have a look at them yourself, you can find them all at leaguepedia.com. The role graphs are marked with red and blue in the bars, blue represents wins, red losses. With 87 champions being picked in just these 10 weeks, the focus is on the popular champions, and less about the rare niche picks.
So here they are, the top 10 played champions in the North American LCS. When I look at this list there are a couple of things I see.
Armor Shred: With the changes at the start of Season 3 to armor shred to make stacking it more powerful we have seen a lot of champions who were barely getting play in Season 2, now become top contested picks. Jarvan, Xin Zhao, and Renekton, all doing much better than they were in Season 2, no small part to the armor shred on these champions.
Ranged Supports: Lulu, Sona, and Thresh, all have a ton of cc, and are nightmarish to play against in a 1v2 lane. With the strategy of lane swapping to kill your opponents tower as fast as possible, the harass and damage these supports can put out in that style of lane makes them very favorable, not to mention their power in mid-late game team fights.
Caitlyn: Caitlyn is pretty noticibly the highest picked AD carry. Her lane match ups are great, having very few situations where she gets flat out shut down, and many lanes where she will be bullying opponents. She is probably the best AD carry for a lane swap, having great lane clear, long range, and escape, and traps to completely zone the enemy laner. And even in team fights, she may not have massive AD steroids like Vayne, but her range and utility more than make up for it.
The bans are kind of expected and not too crazy. Shen and Twisted Fate globals are really difficult to deal with. Nidalee is an extremely versitile, played AD, AP, top, and mid, not to mention all the interesting things can do with her traps, poke, Cat form. In the right hands she is just a menace.
The thing I can't get off my mind when I look at this is Kayle and her ult. At Rank 3 with max CDR it's on a 36 second cooldown. That's basically twice in a long team fight. It's easy to see why so many teams are banning Kayle.
In Season 3 Jarvan came bursting onto the scene, being far and away the most contested jungle pick. The strength of his early game ganks, strong cc all game, and armor shred in the current metagame, all make him very powerful. Xin Zhao is also strong for the exact same reasons, but after some nerfs he isn't quite on the level Jarvan is.
Nasus and Volibear crept in mid season. The changes in Season 3 allowed both of these champions to rise from obscurity in a big way, known for their ability to build full tank and become a complete menace, throwing in CC and dishing out a decent bit of damage too.
And then we have Vi. Vi has a very respectable win rate for the amount of games she has, sitting at 62% (the highest win rate in the top 5). But what is interesting about the fact that she is in the top 5, is that she was only played for half the season. Vi recieved a nerf in the Quinn patch, hurting her early game a lot, which was applied after week 5 of the LCS, and after this Vi play completely dropped off. She was a strong and contested pick, getting picked or banned many games, and then at the exact half way point, a 100% drop off of play. Now what can we gather from this? Maybe Vi's nerfs were too much, or maybe Nasus and Jarvan were just too appealing.
There was a lot of public outcry when Sona recieved numerous nerfs, specifically to her health, but as we've seen time and time again, she is still as strong as ever. With poke, utility, healing, and a game changing ultimate, she is still a top pick, in both the competitive scene, and on the solo queue ladders. Lulu is in the same boat as Sona, but just not doing as well. I think Sona slightly out classes Lulu, and perhaps with less difficulty. I mean with a difference of 18% win rate there is something seperating them, but functionally they do a lot of the same things for a team, a little utility, a little poke, and a really powerful ult, but Sona just does the same job a little better.
Thresh is kind of a swiss army knife of supports. Shields, his lantern, a hook, loads of cc. His kit does soo much. I'm not sure what lies in the future, but as more players begin to master Thresh, I think his win rate can only go up.
Alistar! I'm so glad to see him up here. In Season 2 he was considered a top pick or ban champion, until nerf after nerf pushed him down, and with the Season 3 changes to the jungle, I feared our favorite cow was going to be forgotten. But now he has been repeatedly picked by a few players in the support role bottom lane, with his great CC, and ultimate that makes him nearly unkillable, his kit keeps him a threat even into late game.
These champions stand distinctly above other top lanes picks in popularity, with just their sheer, brute force ability to push an advantage.
Elise's kit has so much damage, utility, and versitility. Elise's stats are a little inflated due to her recent popularity in the support role, and occasional picks as a jungler, but it's all the more reason why she is such a feared pick.
Renekton is truly terrifying in the right hands, as we've seen from Megazero and Dyrus. Once he gets a few core items, he becomes nearly unkillable, while simultaneously dishing out lots of damage, and shredding armor with his Slice and Dice.
Rumble just has a kit that works so well. With a strong laning phase, and a game changing ultimate, and taking advantage of the new items such as Liandry's Torment, Rumble is one of the strongest solo laners in competitive play. And with the rise of mid laners like Khazix and Zed, who don't do any magic damage, he is one of the few top laners who can lane top and still bring longs of magic damage to his team.
And Shen. Well, his global presence is so strong, but against organized teams, it seems he has just had not that much success in the LCS. I think it's also worth nothing that some of the top teams such as Curse and Team Dignitas do not like to play Shen, and it does have a real impact on his stats, when historically the teams with the lower win rates are playing him. Is Shen's reign of terror finally past? I'm not so sure. The global presence he brings will always be an amazing strenth to have on your team, and I don't think we'll be seeing Shen disappearing from the competitive scene any time soon.
When I look at AD carries, with the exception of Caitlyn, they all look pretty close actually.
But when you see the difference, between Caitlyn and Twitch, "Wow" is all that comes to mind. She was picked in 16 more games than Twitch, the 2nd most played. I already briefly touched on Caitlyn so I won't go on too much more, but wow are those stats hard to ignore.
Twitch, Varus, and Kog'maw, all champions that until recently did not get a lot of play. Twitch's stealth mechanic and ultimate make him play unlike most other AD carries, and I can see why he has risen in popularity. Varus's kit is very strong, he has great harass in lane, % of life damage, and great utility from his ultimate in team fights. And Kog'maw the same as he always was, with the amazing tank shred he is known for.
But something real interesting here, is that of the top 6 most picked AD carries, only one of them has a win rate over 50%. Niche picks, while not played that often, are usually doing very well in the LCS. Champions like Draven for exmaple, who rarely get picked, often do well when certain players get the right match ups to snowball. Now does that mean the top played champions are bad? No, not even close. When two great teams play against eachother, someone needs to lose. I just find it interesting that more often than not it was the popular champion.
A Look Back
This graph is from the Season 3 Qualifers. It was one of the first pro level tournaments in Season 3, and showed a lot of trends in people's play. In this graph Blue is a pick, Red is a ban. I'd like to highlight a couple of champions who have fallen out of favor.
Evelynn: Eve was being banned out in almost every game because she was that strong. But after some nerfs to her kit, especially to her Ultimate, we rarely see her in competitive play now.
Ezreal: While he hasn't exactly fallen out of favor, he did have a strong lead for most picked AD carry, now he is the 5th most picked. And it's worth noting that Caitlyn was the 4th most picked AD Carry, and she's pretty far down, with less than a third of Ezreal's picks. Now Ezreal was lightly nerfed, but I think a lot of it has to do with gameplay shifts and other champions rising to popularity.
Nunu: Nunu was a heavily contested support during the qualifers, some even calling him overpowerd. After a nerf Nunu is now one of the least played supports, and never won a single game in the LCS, despite his 5 times picked.
Cho'gath: Cho'gath was the most played top lane champion at the qualifiers. But now, he's a rare pick,
Olaf: Olaf was played with huge success in the Qualifiers, so much so that Riot nerfed almost every ability he has! Since then his play has plummeted. After the first week of LCS he was never played, and in solo queue he has fallen in pick rates and has one of the lowest win rates of any champion in the League.
Conclusion and Musings
So a lot has changed.
Three months ago I would have never guessed Nasus would be a highly contested pick, and if you had told me it was in the jungle I would have laughed. Renekton, Alistar, Twitch, Volibear, all champions I had kind of just resigned to living in obscurity unless they got some sort of buff, but these champions all were mostly untouched. They rose out of circumstance and metagame shifts. And it's really refreshing to see.
I am keeping a close eye toward Sejuani and Trundle as they get reworked, and Lissandra the new champion looks like she's got a lot of potential in her kit.
What's next for League of Legends? What's going to be the next big thing? Anything can happen and only time will really tell.