Did Mobility Kill the Cat?
Tue 31st Mar 2015 - 4:21pm
Mobility has always been an extremely important factor in League of Legends. Immobile champions are easier to gank in lane, harder to gank other lanes with, and have a difficult time positioning themselves for fights or engages. Immobility has always been an issue for most champions in League, with only a few stand-out champs taking the spotlight for their extreme ability to position. Champions like Lee Sin, Jarvan the Fourth, Kassadin, and Tristana saw a huge amount of play just a few short months ago because they had an insane amount of mobility, far more than the average champion. Since then, however, four champions have taken the spotlight, completely changing the face of the meta, and ironically, they were the last four champions to be released.
Gnar, the Missing Link
Gnar was a hotly contested pick in both the LCS and in solo queue, and with good reason: almost everything about him was pretty great. In Mini-Gnar-form, he could essentially kite forever due to his boomerang's slow, and his ability to tear apart tanks thanks to his W meant that he basically couldn't be outlasted by beefiness. Another added benefit of his W was the movement buff, which just made kiting, baiting, and chasing all the more easy. His E was, however, arguably the most important piece of his kit. The distance on the jump itself was just slightly above the range of flash, but if you managed to bounce off of a minion or enemy champion (not a difficult feat) it was increased to almost tipple the range of flash. This allowed Gnar to farm and harass well ahead of safety, and made him an annoying little creature to gank in lane.
Once laning phase was over, Gnar started to really shine. Engaging a fight was as simple as one two three. One, charge up your rage bar to just under max. Two, bounce into or behind the enemy team. Three, ult them into a wall, stunning anyone that connected with it. Good engages with Gnar were never too hard to pull off. While Gnar has somewhat fallen out of favor due too some unsavory nerfs, his insane mobility still makes him a force to be reckoned with in the top lane.
Azir, the Emperor of the Sands
Azir's mobility comes not just from his ability to move, but also from his inhibition of enemy movement. Azir's soldiers mean that he's never too far from safety. If someone comes to gank, throw a soldier behind you and jump to them. As long as the enemy doesn't put themselves between you and your minion, you're golden. Azir's ult is what makes him unique though. While other champions can make terrain, such as Anivia, Jarvan the Fourth, and Trundle, no other champion-made terrain acts like his. While allies can move through it, enemies can't. They can't even jump over it with abilitys such as dashes or jumps, and even flashes aren't completely fool proof. While his mobility is certainly the most unique and least impactful of those on this list, it is still worth mentioning.
Kalista, the Spear of Vengance
Kalista's mobility is perhaps the most noticeable and effective kind of mobility. The hops from her passive are a force to be reckoned with in the bottom lane, and no other ADC is quite as mobile as her. Once she picks up even the slightest amount of attack speed, she can hop out of AOE ability's, dodge skillshots with ease, move over thin walls to escape enemies, and move up or down lane extremely quickly as long as there was something to right click. No other marksman can kite like she can, making her extremely safe in fights. Like Azir, though, her mobility is more than meets the eye. Linking with a support or jungler not only makes for great engages when you throw them, but allows your bond-mate to play much more aggressively. If they're in trouble, just pull them to safety, and if they like, they can still reengage a fight with ease.
Rek'Sai, the Void Burrower
There's a reason she's in the title: Rek'Sai is quite possibly the most mobile champion in the entire game, rivaling even the greats like Lee Sin, who has long held that title. While it takes some preparation, Rek'Sai can quickly set up a network of tunnels all over the jungle, making her clear time even faster, and her map pressure even greater. Her ultimate is practically a teleport in itself, which means you can pull off some crazy map pressure, going from a fight in the bot lane to a gank in the top lane, all in a matter of seconds. Couple this with her AOE knock up from her unburrow, her long range poke and ability to spot movement, and her high damage both to single targets and to groups, and you've got yourself a deadly combination.
Good or bad?
We've all seen the designers get better and better and making cohesive champions; champions whose ability's all lead to a single purpose. As their skill at designing interesting, powerful, and more importantly, fun champions improves, a less noticeable, negative effect starts to take shape. Older champions are falling far behind the new ones. Warwick, Ryze, Tryndamere, all of whom were once very powerful choices, have been replaced by their younger siblings, and a big part of that is mobility. These last four champions have been far more mobile than almost anything we have seen, which puts a huge strain on the current meta. Why play other, less mobile champions when moving around the map is so important? Why play Ashe when Kalista has a slow in rend, heavy crowd control in her ult, and a massive ability to dodge most skill shots thrown her way? Why play Elise when Rek'Sai's possible map pressure is so much higher? Why pick a top laner that's ranged or melee, tanky or damage dealer, when you can pick Gnar and have the best of every world?
Mobility has opened up a huge Rift (see what I did there?) in the current meta, one that has to be filled quickly. Luckily, the recent buffs to tank junglers has muted the importance of mobility, at least for a little while. Will these old champions go the way of Sion and Soraka, getting totally reworked into something far greater than they were? Or will they simply be replaced by the new ones, doomed to sit idly forever on the champion select screen, slowly gathering dust.