All but two berths have been decided for the 2017 League of Legends World Championships, with the remaining spots up for grabs in the European and North American gauntlets. As far as most analysts are concerned, all of the ‘good’ League of Legends has already been set. We’re already living in the Worlds meta.
View from the top: LCK
When it comes to defining the metagame, no one does it better than the Koreans. In the past, they’ve been miles ahead of the world. This year things look a little more aligned – probably because everyone’s just copying them though.
Zac is obviously still untouchable, rocking a disgusting 87.8% ban rate. Rounding out the top champ in rach position are Elise (jungle), Caitlyn (marksman), Thresh (support), and Taliyah (mid).
These picks are an indication of a traditional team composition paradigm for Worlds 2017, with lineups that feature at least two bruising tanks and two standard ranged carries, especially if you continue down the list.
The significant deviations from this come mostly in the top lane, where Rumble, Jayce, and Camille have seen some pretty substantial usage despite their ‘carry’ traits. Especially in the wake of Longzhu Khan’s dominating performance on these more individualistic laners, expect Korea to favor 1-tank compositions for the group stage.
Slight variations in the LMS and LPL
Staying true to regional identity, the Chinese League of Legends meta has continued to be teamfight-centric. The Jarvan IV / Galio combination is an outstanding favorite in the LPL, allowing teams to explosively engage full-on teamfights at will. Rumble is also slightly more popular with certain teams, and should be considered a key ban-away on the international stage for competitors.
However, the outcome of each playoff series has been almost solely decided by midlane performance. The breadth of champions that have been played by RNGs and EDGs midlaners in particular makes it a difficult position to target during pick-ban. Instead, tilt + the spread of toxicity is usually the best way to beat the Chinese.
The LMS game flow better mirrors the LCK. Solo laners are always put on display, which bodes well for the international stage where matchups against Khan, Huni, Untara, and Cuvee await.
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Is the West trailing behind again?
As far as Europe is concerned, yes. In North America, not so much.
When it comes to team compositions, Europe has been totally normal. But if we look at what happens in actual games, things get a little messier. G2 continued their dominance over the region essentially through having the better player from 1 through 5. But on the world stage, there isn’t quite the same skill discrepancy. They are still the only team with a chance of being competitive at that level, and will bring a very skirmish-heavy 2v2 or 3v3 brand to the tournament.
On the other hand, TSM and Immortals could have a record year ahead of them. Playmaking from these two teams comes mostly from the supposedly quieter positions – Biofrost and Svenskeren for TSM and Olleh and Xmithie for IMT. It’s definitely the safest formula to bring. The carries, though attention-drawing, will emphasize consistency in their playstyles, allowing the roaming members to dictate the pace of the game.
Which style is best?
Very few people will argue with the idea that Korea comes in once again as strong favourites. However, I believe that NA has the best personnel to succeed in this meta. Minimizing the carry potential of solo laners of both teams allows support and junglers (which have the best engage tools right now) to take low-risk high-reward decisions during the early to mid game.
We saw SKT fall flat when Huni and Untara were shut down hard. Then there’s the star top laners from every other region, NA aside, who although are incredibly talented, must take big risks to make their picks pay off.
Of course, the best strategy still is probably to have Uzi or Faker.
All in all, the Worlds 2017 meta is looking like it’s going to be a bit stale.