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Esports League of Legends

League of Legends: The Meta’s Damage Problem

Though the pre-season is almost over, there is one problem the League of Legends community is growing tired of: there is simply too much damage in the current meta. It’s easy enough to find posts on sites like Reddit discussing this issue, and it’s probably pretty apparent in your Solo Queue games. While no one is trying to revive the more boring tank, late game metas, it does seem that there is a problem with the state of the game.

There are reasons for this and potentially adverse effects it could have on the game. It’s important to examine the biggest problem for LoL – the presence of too much damage – to see how it will shape the future.

Offense > Defense

lol too much damage
An epic battle between two fighters, Jax and Aatrox. Photo via Hachiimon on DeviantArt

It’s hard to argue that the meta isn’t focused on high damage carries at the moment. Simply looking at the tier list on op.gg will show that fighters and burst champions are at the top. There are three main roles that are affected most by damage increases: top, support, and, to a lesser extent, jungle.

Top lane is the most important and the clearest to see the change. The top lane “island” has long been a lane that tanks have a strong position in. While fighters were able to win duels and have a stronger lane presence, tanks were able to scale and shine in team fights. Currently, that is not the case. According to champion.gg statistics, many bruisers are able to absorb as much damage as these tanks but output considerably more damage.

Supports have been leaning towards aggressive picks for a while, with play makers and damage dealers being prioritized. Now straight-up damage has taken over, though it isn’t as extreme as top laners are. Picks like Zyra, Bard, and Brand dominate the bottom lane.

Junglers usually have fluid metas but right now its clear to see who’s the best. Damage dealing junglers are, with assassins running rampant in the jungle with almost no signs of tanks. The first tank to show up in op.gg’s tier list is Rammus at #19 with a meager 2.71% play rate. All other champions before that are carry champions with plenty of damage.

Importance to the Meta

The existence of a hyper-aggressive meta has many effects on the game.  It does have positives, especially when considering some of League’s history. Standard late-game, multiple tank compositions were, to many players, quite boring to watch and to play. More aggressive picks are generally more fun and leads to better diversity overall.

lol too much damage
Photo via clip by GwtBC from Gosu’s Twitch stream.

This clip from Gosu’s Twitch stream shows just how terrifying it is to play against so many burst damage champions. However, there are other conditions that this type of meta is harming.

The most obvious is the viability of tanks. Though not everyone may like them, there are significant amounts of player that do. If tanks are too easily abused by their role counterparts, it makes them largely not worthwhile to play. Thus, Riot has to buff tanks for them to survive in the meta. The problem is that buffs normally come in the form of damage. Giving tanks more damage makes them able to survive lane, but brutalize carries.

On the subject of carries, tanks are a crucial part of the success of carry roles, specifically of ADCs. The state of ADC is rough for them right now, and the lack of frontline marksmen have only worsens their problems. According to League of Graphs, games are on average quite short in higher Elo, which is caused by not having viable scaling options. Defensive picks are needed to complement scaling marksmen picks, and as long as one suffers, the other will too. It is possible to incorporate them into the meta again, but Riot needs to walk a fine line to keep games diverse and interesting.

Case Study: Galio

lol too much damage
Galio splash art. Photo via Riot Games.

Galio is a fitting example to show the progression of the hyper-aggressive meta. Since his rework he has experienced many changes, and he displays just how the meta has changed. Originally, the Colossus was designed to be a team fighting tank. His kit was designed around having some wave clear and being able to roam and save allies with his Hero’s Entrance (R). He quickly became a staple pick because of his zone control and team fighting prowess.

He went through numerous nerfs and buffs, but Riot took him in a new direction in patch 7.21. Here, they decided to buff his scaling damage numbers. They did this to give AP builds viability and reward aggressive Galio players who did build more AP. Three patches later he received more damage on his Shield of Durand (W) too. He received some more changes afterwards, but none too impactful. He fulfilled a niche role and had variable builds paths.

That was until patch 8.24. In this patch Riot took out core parts of his kit that centered around team fighting and put that power into his dueling. His ultimate’s damage reduction was removed and knock up duration was decreased. His Winds of War (Q) received significant scaling damage buffs and his Justice Punch (E) was made easier to hit, which made his combos easier to land.

Closing Thoughts

As if to acknowledge the stark shift away from tanks, Galio was adjusted to be a burst mage. Damage is the core of the meta. While this isn’t inherently an issue, it brings about glaring problems. Tanks are made far less useful than bruisers and fighters in the top lane and jungle, and ADC’s problems are worsened by their lack of support.

Though it is great to be far removed from boring metas, there needs to be some rebuilding. Power creep is a real possibility in this game, and though Riot has proven themselves able to avoid this, the future isn’t set in stone. Season Nine is bound to bring changes for struggling classes, and it is likely Riot will implement adequate changes to promote some defensive play. Only time will tell just where the meta goes.


Featured image via Riot Games.

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