Coming out of the 2015 League of Legends World Championship, Fiora was undoubtedly noted as one of the powerhouse champions to fear for the new year. Despite her prominence at Worlds, featured at the pinnacle of play in the hands of Marin, she has seen little re-tuning since her remake. Fiora’s power as a hyper-carry makes her a popular pick in both solo queue and competitive leagues – undoubtedly her high skill ceiling also entices many.
Understanding the Contemporary Fiora
August 2015 marked a new beginning for this champion, who was previously rarely chosen outside of one-trick-ponies. Riot maintained her duelist fundamentals, but managed to still diversify her kit. Fiora’s Lunge (Q) was made into a pseudo skill-shot. Her Riposte (W) was turned into a block-all ability. Finally, her ultimate finally allowed for counter-play, whereas before she just became an untargetable blur of damage. Subsequently, some of her worst match-ups were mitigated through the addition of a true damage passive.
Some initial reactions marked her as the newest Riven, which would be somewhat accurate. She is dynamic, mobile, and can deal insane amounts of attack damage. She’s also a tough champion to gank in the early game. Her Riposte though, is the skill that really vaults her into the top tier of champs. Simply by holding onto the ability, one can force opponents to change play styles. Most AP casters must carefully pace their burst and trickily implement any crowd-control abilities. Previous lane counters such as Jax suddenly have to consider mindgames with his Counter-Strike: when should the ability be reactivated so that it doesn’t stun him?
- Fantastic scaling – Fiora is powerful at all stages in the game, something that is crucial for nearly all top-tier champions. Even if her opponent builds a ton of armor, her true damage and consistent sustain give her the dueling advantage.
- Well-rounded match-ups – In the 1v1 setting, she suffers from very few tough lanes. Ryze is one of those champions, however, consistent bans and a lack of player expertise have lessened his presence.
- Flexibility – Against tank compositions, Fiora can choose to opt for an early Black Cleaver and dominate through split-pushing presence. When a team tries to pick a crew of carries, she has no problem diving right into the back-line and assassinating her target while giving area-of-effect healing to her team.
- Farm/EXP reliant – Without sufficient gold, Fiora is unable to build the core items (Hydra and Black Cleaver) that scale with her kit, making her into the monster people fear.
- Struggles against slows – Despite her gap closer, Fiora can be exposed in teamfights by compositions featuring multiple slows, i.e. Iceborn Gauntlet, Lulu, Lissandra, Janna. It becomes more difficult for her to gauge whether to parry a slow or save the skill for something greater.
- No innate wave clear – Before building a Hydra item, she is unable to effectively push waves without expending incredible amounts of mana. During sieges, she becomes very difficult to position.
Dominating the North American League Championship Series
Fiora’s statistics in the NA LCS have been mind-boggling. She maintains a 92.3% win-rate (12-1) with a 67.5% pick/ban rate. Fiora sports a 4.42 kill-death-assist (KDA) ratio, the highest of any top lane only champion. More staggering, she has seen play in the hands of almost every single LCS top laner; even substitutes Cris and Seraph have managed to capture wins with her. Fiora’s sole loss came in the hands of Solo, when Echo Fox matched up against the undefeated Immortals.
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In stark contrast, Fiora is sporting a 28.6% win-rate in the EU LCS this split, though this can in part be attributed to certain mid and lower tier teams picking her at every chance (*cough* Steve). Even still, this discrepancy may be attributed to North America’s lane oriented play. The American games have seen many more even lane match-ups. The EU LCS has featured many more 2v1’s which transition into 4v1’s. Fiora struggles in these situations as she will emerge both farm and level-starved in the midgame. Regardless of her many strengths, she does require some scaling to be relevant in full team settings.
How to Deal with the Baguette?
Forcing Fiora into a prolonged lane-swap can delay her power spike for an incredibly long time. Choosing teams with good early dive potential and fast pushing can create a scenario where 4 side lane turrets from EACH team must be traded off. This would force a low-farm game that is also mid-centric, two scenarios that Fiora struggles in.
In the NA LCS, she has definitely proven to be one of the best champions across the board. It is extremely difficult to structure an entire team to counter her. Fiora’s flexibility in the mid-game forces opponents into tough spots. With any power pick, it is easier to simply remove the threat.
Look in the following weeks for her 15% ban-rate in North America to spike. The top lane talent in NA is finally shining, empowered by the rapier of the Grand Duelist.