The State of the Game: Champion Diversity
With the first week of pro play competition over, let’s take a look at how the game changed, and whether those changes affected in a positive and healthy way.
Champion diversity is something that Riot has repeatedly said they want to see in League of Legends. While there have been worse moments for the game and preseason patches took a step in the adequate direction, I still think that more can be done. Last year, Riot was doing a great job in this category until they introduced the juggernaut patch right before worlds. Worlds was completely played around a few OP juggernauts which is in my opinion unhealthy for the game, and on this occasion, steps on the line of competitive integrity.
In the first week of the NA LCS, we saw great champion diversity specifically in the AD carry role. I do not think I have seen so many different AD carry picks since season 1. In ten games, we saw 8 unique picks in the AD carry position (Miss Fortune, Kalista, Lucian, Ezreal, Kindred, Caitlyn, Corki and Tristana). The preseason patch was mostly targeted towards this player, and it seems Riot accomplished its goal. As the season progresses some champions will be labeled as OP, but it seems that slights buffs or nerfs depending on who rises and who falls should maintain the diversity we saw in the first week.
The jungle is dominated by the same champions that dominated it last season, Elise, Rek’Sai and Lee Sin. It has been more than a year now that the jungle is dominated by these champions and it seems as though people got used to it. The last champion that I remember to have priority in competitive play was Kha’Zix a long time ago.
It has been said that in the current state of the game it is hard to engage because there is so much damage floating around the Rift, that being said, when engages occur, fights explode. For the game to be in a healthy position, it needs to have fights that balance tankiness with damage. If fights are too short that means that there is too much damage in the meta. Which is detrimental for champion diversity because those that do lower amounts of damage over time do not see any action. And if fights are too long like the Cinderhulk meta last season, tanks and champions that can deal well with tanks, like Vayne, are prioritized. In both cases, some champions are simply not viable because of the meta, that means that only when the game is balanced, as in no items are OP, can champion diversity exist.
Riot took a good step during preseason, by giving identity to the AD carry role. Which should introduce new strategies and new ways to win a game of League of Legends, but I would love to see a meta where many strategies are viable and every role has many different picks available. Unlike season four where all we saw was Renekton, Mundo and Shyvanna in the top lane. The best meta is that in which Froggen can play Anivia, Faker can play Zed, and Pray can play the juggermaw.