Esports League of Legends

League of Legends: The Evolution of Gold Funneling

Gold funneling is one of the most infamous strategies in League of Legends. This tactic has the team’s jungler and middle laner putting both of their resources into one champion. It has been on the fringes of play for years before it was noticed, but finally made its mark on the broader meta this year. Patch 8.11 made a ton of changes to the game earlier this year and it helped to popularize funnel strategies. However, the strategy didn’t start here.

gold funneling
Professor Akali’s video that brought gold funneling to public attention. Photo via Professor Akali’s YouTube channel.

Gold funneling was first utilized by boosters in China. It was simply a quick way for duo’s to efficiently boost other people’s accounts for profit. It was also seen in a similar fashion on Twisted Treeline. Using champions like Taric with Master Yi, the duos could 2v5 without caring about the rest of their team. It was never utilized though because pushing mid laners and scaling ADC’s built better and more effective team compositions.

That was until patch 8.11 destroyed mid laners’ wave clear and gutted marksmen. This left a perceived power void and allowed for new strategies to be debuted. After Professor Akali released a video of him playing the strategy, people started trying it. In a short amount of time word spread that this was a new meta-breaking tactic. With so much hype, it was no surprise when professional players began funneling their own carries.

Pro Play and Riot’s Response

gold funneling
G2 Esports using the gold funnel strategy versus Splyce. Photo via Riot Games and LoL Esports.

Professional teams had mixed reactions to this meta shift. There were teams like NALCS’ Echo Fox and EULCS’ G2 Esports that embraced it. G2, in particular, was undefeated until Rift Rivals relying heavily on the gold funnel. Some used it when a good opportunity arose, while others avoided it for the most part. It was difficult to play against in pro play, as it was harder to punish the lack of map pressure the duo had.

Eventually, teams did find ways to fight gold funnels. Attacking and abusing side laners was the go-to way to create advantages away from the funnels who relied heavily on farming. But Riot Games had already had enough. They saw it as non-interactive and too difficult to counter. Thus, they set out with a plan to kill it.

That way was to implement a debuff named Monster Hunter into the game. This debuff was tacked onto Hunter’s Machete and Hunter’s Talisman, and it decreased the amount of gold earned from killing lane minions if the player had the most gold on their team. It was a controversial change and was accused of hurting carry junglers. Riot left it open to revision by saying it was a band aid fix to the problem. But it did its job and effectively brought an end to gold funneling.

Pre-Season Nine Changes

gold funneling
Patch note for Monster Hunter removal in patch 8.23. Photo via Riot Games.

It was surprising when Riot decided to remove Monster Hunter in patch 8.23. The removal seemingly came out of nowhere, but Riot Meddler explained the decision in a recent Dev Corner post.

Here he outlined that turret plating is one factor that deters funnel strategies. This is because if a funnel were to leave mid, and the enemy mid was able to effectively push, then they would be keep pace with the funnel without sacrificing an entire role’s resources. The second factor was that the new bounty system would be incredibly punishing for funneled carries, and would make the game very volatile for themselves.

The Future of Gold Funneling

New turret plating. Photo via Riot Games.

Gold funnel strategies are much riskier than before because of the changes to turrets and the bounty system. Its no longer safe for a hyper-carry to run around the jungle for 20 minutes of farming, as one misstep could throw all their time away. That’s not to say it can’t be revived. There is definitely a chance that players who were successful with the strategy will use it again.

It is important to keep an eye out for gold funnels though now that Monster Hunter is gone because it is such a controversial strategy. Diversity is typically good in League of Legends, so it may make a fateful return sooner than people may expect.

In the end, it is likely that the funnel strategy will reappear in professional play. Because the teams are much more coordinated than in solo queue, the strategy has a better chance to work. But it won’t be something fans see very often, and will only be utilized by a handful of teams. If marksmen aren’t the focal point of team compositions, as they were in the past, creative strategies like this stand a chance. Its a matter of time to see whether or not high elo and professional players choose to revive gold funneling.

 

Featured image via comicbook.com.

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