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Esports League of Legends

The rise of Aatrox: From bad to broken

Aatrox, the Darkin Blade, is a champion long acquainted with the word “useless.” For nearly four years, Aatrox was a terror in solo queue, usually because if someone picked him it meant they were trolling. Now, it’s Aatrox mains’ turns to laugh at the rest of League of Legends players. He’s turning heads in the current meta, and seems to be an unstoppable force in the top lane.

Ascended from darkness

Justicar Aatrox skin. Photo via Riot Games.

Aatrox was a strong meta pick all the way back in Seasons Three and Four. Here, he made many appearances in the Season Three World Championships and in the EU LCS 2014 Season. For veteran viewers, Aatrox is synonymous with the player freddy122. He piloted the champion to great success in the EU LCS under SK Gaming. But that was a long time ago, and the champion has been under the radar ever since. Besides two random games in the EU LCS, one in Season Five and one in Season Seven, Aatrox has been completely untouched.

This made it all the more surprising when he was picked in the first game of professional play for the split globally. In the LPL, Invictus Gaming’s Lee “Duke” Ho-seong played it two times in their series against JD Gaming. Both games he won.

Aatrox’s Dark Flight into the meta was swift on patch 8.11. He has made appearances in all five of the major regions, having a 48% pick/ban rate. So far he has a 72% win rate across these regions, the highest of any top laner, according to Games of Legends. Furthermore, Oracle’s Elixir states he boasts an impressive 5.1 KDA ratio. While the meta has long been controlled by tanks and/or carries with at least some utility, Aatrox proves that this is not the case anymore. His dueling is unmatched by the current meta picks and has quite a good early game and scaling. Though he may not be the best in a 5v5 scenario, he is able to flourish in skirmishes and 1v1s.

Aatrox’s kit, ADD and the Meta

Mecha Aatrox skin. Photo via Riot Games.

If these stats aren’t enough to convince someone that Aatrox is brutally strong, this clip surely will. While SKT Park “Thal” Kwon-hyuk had a kill and CS lead on MVP Kang “ADD” Geon-mo’s Aatrox, he was helpless against the overbearing strength of the champion. He had Sejuani there too, and of course that helped. But, this clip shows us two things specifically that make Aatrox a perfect fit for 8.11 pro play.

The first is the high damage output of the champion. Darius is a champion with high base health and resistances, plus he owned a Phage, giving him more HP. Aatrox didn’t care about this at all when he dove the SKT top tower. Sejuani did little damage, only bringing the CC needed for ADD to delete Thal. If this fight occurred outside of tower range in a 1v1, it is likely the result would be the same. Aatrox’s ultimate, Massacre, along with his Blood Thirst/ Blood Price, combine to make him a huge solo lane threat. He outputs high physical and magic damage, healing all the while. It makes him impossible to fight if you’re a meta pick like Ornn, Dr. Mundo or Gangplank.

The second unique characteristic is Aatrox’s passive, Blood Well. With this, he gains Attack Damage, Attack Speed and most importantly, a revive while in combat. In an early game meta, where tower dives are more prevalent, this ability is fantastic. Again, we see in the game between SKT and MVP how it is utilized to create and push an advantage. ADD isn’t worried about dying to Thal there. This is because after he secures the kill, his passive revive drops the turret aggro. This isn’t the only instance you can see this strength, as it was showcased with GGS Lourlo’s performance against TL.

The future of Aatrox

Reworked Aatrox splash art. Photo via Riot Games.

Aatrox is likely to remain a top lane priority, especially in the LCK and LPL. These regions are showing much more innovation on patch 8.11, and their strategies focus much more on early game than NA teams. This doesn’t mean that NA teams will throw out the pick entirely though. The presence of top lane picks like Ornn, Singed and Shen give NA top laners good reason to stick with Aatrox.

The Darkin Blade is, however, being reworked in patch 8.13. His kit is receiving a host of changes, as well as a visual and lore update. To catch up on all of the changes, visit Riot Game’s Aatrox Champion Reveal.

Professional play still has a ways to go until they begin to play on patch 8.13, but Aatrox will be a pick to watch in it. There is a chance that players won’t like the rework. But, there is a higher chance that he will become an even better pick on stage. He is receiving more mobility and CC, two things pro play loves. If the meta continues as it is right now, Aatrox will surely be a strong pick for a while. Who knows, maybe he will be even more broken, and be a top lane tyrant like Camille was on her launch. Only time will tell how long this champion will remain top tier, but all those who enjoy the 8.11 meta will hope for his lasting success.

For more information on the split, teams and standings from all regions, visit www.lolesports.com. VODs of previous games can be found at https://www.youtube.com/user/LoLChampSeries.

Featured image via Riot Games.

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