Post written by Ram “Brokenshard” Djemal of compLexity.Black.
Hey everyone. Ram “coL Brokenshard” Djemal here, back with another blog about League of Legends. Today I’m going to talk about subject of meta picks: specifically, what they are and how they evolve.
League of Legends is a game that is constantly evolving and changing. There are over 100 champions to choose from and each champion fulfills a very specific role. With so much diversity, however, there are several champions that stick out as “meta picks.” A “meta pick” as I like to define it is a champion that fulfills its role better than almost any other champion in that specific category. It could be a tank, an assassin, or a support, but the champion’s unique characteristics push this champion to be much more sought after than its counterparts. A good example of this would currently be Lulu in the mid lane. Lulu is traditionally a support champion that saw some play mid lane in her release in Season 2, but since then has been largely played in the bot lane as a support. Lately, she has seen much play in the mid lane due to her strong lane dominance and good scaling as a support mid. Her rise has made her a 1st pick or ban worthy champion, meaning that teams will pick her first if possible or ban her out if they cannot.
Champions must be carefully adjusted as to not become overpowered, and these balances strongly affect what champions become top meta picks. Ziggs received a series of small buffs towards the end of Season 3, for instance. On par with this was a series of nerfs to sought-after assassins like Zed and Fizz. A combination of Ziggs getting buffed and the champions that are commonly strong against him nerfed put ziggs as one of the top contenders for strongest mid lane pick. It was a huge reason why my team, at the time known as Determined Gaming, lost to Evil Geniuses in late December for the playoffs. Ziggs is a perfect example of a balance of power heavily shifting in his favor. When a champion becomes strong, the champions that counter him become strong as a result. When Renekton and tanks became really strong and sought after picks, champions that beat them or do well against them became strong by proxy. A good example of this is Trundle. He is a strong 1v1 machine who does very well against tanks due to his ultimate “Subjugate” which steals defensive stats. Couple this with his viability as a kiting champion due to his Pillar, and the strong siege mid-laner known as Ziggs, and the champion quickly became a sought after pick in the EU LCS and thus turned into a “meta pick.”
Identifying what champions are in the meta is one thing, but finding how to counter them is something else entirely. It’s not easy to easily pinpoint a champion and say “that champion does well against him” and instantly put him into play. It needs to somehow fit into the metagame and synergize with the current pool of “flavor champions.” Trundle is a good example of a champion that does well against meta picks as well as synergizes WELL with the pool of flavor champions. Kiting and poking as well as a strong split pushing pressure is exactly what the meta entails for a top-laner, making Trundle a perfect pick in the current pool. Morgana and Alistar are both good examples of this. Traditionally, Thresh held the reigns as the king of supports in bot lane. He was very hard to counter and in the hands of a strong support he was almost unstoppable. Leona was another solid pick in the current bot lane, with her all-in tendencies. Morgana and Alistar are champions that have not seen much play in Season 4, but have since resurfaced as counters to the flavor pool champions in the bot lane. Morgana and Alistar both respectively doing well against popular supports like Thresh and Leona, while also being well rounded champions in their role have made them good picks to pull out when needed. They are not necessarily “meta picks” as they aren’t exactly sought after as heavily as thresh, but they still provide champion diversity. Soon, champions that counter Morgana and Alistar will become picked as the meta shifts away from Thresh and Leona. Simply, why pick a champion that is so easily countered? Everyone is learning Morgana now, might as well not play Thresh. I’ll instead play Karma who does well against Morgana. And so on, and so forth.
The meta is constantly evolving and involves an ever-shifting balance of power. As a result of nerfs and buffs, champions emerge as powerful counters or contested picks in the meta. This has been going on since the very beginning of competitive League of Legends and will continue to go on until the end of it. Balancing and tweaking is an ongoing process. There will always be a balance of power that can easily shift in any direction with the slightest change. Ultimately, it’s the professional players who contribute the most to help the meta evolve.