2015 League of Legends World Championship: Lessons Learned from Week One Champion Selection
I think I’ve mentioned it before on the blog but an acquaintance of mine is trying to drag me back into playing League. He’s an ADC and he’s looking for a regular support main to keep him dying. So not only have I been scrambling to learn new champions (I’m not very good at Bard or Soraka but I picked up Sona and Thresh surprisingly quickly) but I’ve been watching the World Championship to pick up a thing or two.
One of the more interesting storylines from Worlds, besides the Western teams doing surprisingly well, especially Cloud 9, is how diverse champion selection has been through the first four days of group stage matches. In the 2014 Worlds, only 58 champions were contested during the whole event. In one week, the teams have contested 59 champions and we could see more champions introduced to counter other team comps as the month progresses.
But what lessons are there to be learned from picks and bans from the first week of Worlds?
While there have been 59 champions selected over the course of 24 games, two have been contested in every game. Elise has been picked 15 times and banned nine. She has a 60% win rate which is 21st overall but tops among champions that have been selected double-digit times. The other 100% pick/ban champion is Gangplank who has three wins from three picks.
If you’re looking for power picks, these two seem to have proven it. At the top-level, Elise is the most threatening jungler. Lee Sin has an 80% win rate from five matches and is the only other jungler that has been picked for multiple games and has a winning percentage above 50%. There are a lot of moving parts to any match of League of Legends but when looking at win rates, Elise is head and shoulders above the rest of the pool in the jungle.
There are three other popular targets in champion select. Mordekaiser has been picked twice and banned 21 times out of 24 matches. While there’s often a disparity between competitive play and solo queue play, even in solo queue, Mordekaiser is banned out because of how powerful he is. He’s dominated the games he’s been selected in and I would expect that he’ll see a lot of bans going forward. Lulu has been picked or banned 23 of 24 games but has a 50% win rate in 8 games. Her popularity comes from her flexibility. The fact that she can control either the top, middle or bottom (as support) lanes gives her unmatched flexibility and makes it hard to counter her. That and she has ranged harass that makes her very difficult to close down on in top and middle lanes.
Since I main support, I think I can speak someone intelligibly about those trends. Three supports have been picked or banned at least 50% of the time: Braum, Alistar and Thresh. Each are tanky supports with high CC and peel potential. However, Alistar has the highest win rate at 50%. The other two are below 50% despite the fact that we haven’t seen a lot of traditional solo queue laning. Those three are best at tanking and CC’ing in fights rather than in lane.
There are a couple of interesting selection trends around who isn’t getting much play time. Morgana has only been picked for four games but has won each which gives her the most games played at that 100% win rate. Considering that she can CC, lane clear and block status effects, I thought she would be a sought after pick. Maybe this will be a trend over the next week. I’m also incredibly biased because I consider myself a Morgana main.
My other main is Janna who hasn’t been picked in the Worlds. She’s considered one of the stronger solo queue supports. While she has CC (a knock-up and a slow), unlike the four supports noted above, she doesn’t really have an engage. With teams aiming for fights, she doesn’t have a place in most comps even with the knock-back and heal ultimate. The other hot solo queue support on the sidelines in Bard with only one game played. He has a lot of utility (a slow/stun ability, heals and a tunnel) but I find him far more difficult to play well compared to the other supports I’ve mentioned. Even with the best players in the world, the risks of misplaying a high utility champion apparently aren’t worth the potential reward.
Mid might be the most interesting role because of with 48 mid draft picks, there have been 19 champions used. Azir has been selected the most at 7 times and has the highest win rate among champs played mid more than twice at 71% despite Riot thinking they nerfed him out of competitive play. The funny thing is that in ranked play, Azir has the lowest win rate of all 126 champions at 41%. So he’s been nerfed everywhere but Worlds. Lulu has the highest pick/ban rate among mid champs with 8 picks (6 at mid) and 15 bans from 24 drafts. Lulu only has a 50% win rate. Aside from Azir, only Twisted Fate has been selected more than twice and has a win rate above 50% (3-1 though the first week).
If you were to look at the solo queue stats from the last month, midlaners Malzahar and Brand are in the top three for win rate but haven’t been selected once at Worlds. You have to go down to 10th in win rate to Avinia for a midlaner who has been selected at Worlds. Even then, Avinia has only been selected once.
While there are a couple of power picks, the exciting thing about the state of the mid lane is that the pros think that just about anyone can make for a viable champ in mid. We haven’t seen some of the top solo queue champions at Worlds so I think the 19 mid champions used might just go up before we’re done with the group stages.
The ADC pool isn’t as deep with only nine champions drafted for the bottom lane. That actually makes it the least diverse position on Summoner’s Rift with Jungle and Support both having 11 champions in play through 24 games. Like the supports, the commonly picked champions don’t have high win rates. Tristana leads in picks with 11 but at only a 54.5% win rate (6-5). Kalista is next with 10 pick, 7 bans and a 50% win rate.
Sivir is the only other ADC with more than five picks but only has a 33% win rate from 9 games so it seems like Siv isn’t the way to go. Of course, Siv also doesn’t have CC so I don’t know why she’s so valued with the CC such a priority. You don’t see the likes of Ezreal or Lucian being contested and they have no CC either. If coaches go back through the numbers, you would expect Siv picks/bans to fall off the table over the next three weeks.
So what have we learned from looking at the champions selected?
Teams value tankiness and initiation from their support and rely on the ADC to handle the crowd control. That’s not to say that wave clear isn’t important but that might be something that you need to be more mindful of in solo queue rather than at the professional level. Again, look at Sivir’s win rate and the 0% pick/ban rate of low CC ADCs and compare that to ranked play. If you’re playing solo queue, I think wave clear will still be important but it’s just not as critical to the pros in Paris.
While a lot of midlane champions have been selected, with most mid players going with teleport as a summoner spell, big damage, especially burst damage, is the key to winning in mid. The top lane is looking for some damage with the juggernaut rework. And jungle is a role that I will probably never understand except to realize that if I don’t see an enemy jungler with my own eyes rather than a ward, I’m already dead.
Oh, and just because it works at worlds doesn’t mean that it’s going to work in solo queue. There’s only one Faker.