For a long time, we have been dealing with ardent censor supports, crit adcs, tanky tops and junglers followed by either a control mage or another carry mid laner. This has been the set up for nearly every single LCS match, until mid-way through patch 7.16 and the most recent games in patch 7.17, including the Summer LCS Finals, with an exciting 3-1 victory in favor of TSM over IMT.
Within these matches, we saw the same champion multiple times, and the same team set up nearly every single game. Let’s break down a few of their choices and analyze whey they are the best performing picks for the LCS Meta.
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Yes, we are currently in a “tank meta” of sorts, which is interesting because the best adcs are crit adcs which have the easiest time dealing with tanks and front lines. Due to this, pretty much every single LCS pick for top lane has been a tank or engage tool, such as Jarvan IV, Maokai, Cho’Gath, and Gnar.
The main reason that all of these champions favor engage or disengage is because the current meta has a tanky front line jungle, which means that tanks that previously dove in and were singled out will now have a follow up that will not require you to absorb all of the damage being dealt within the team fight.
For example, in Game 2 of the LCS Finals series, Immortals had Xsmithie on Sejuani and Flame on Jarvan IV. Both of these champions can engage really well, which makes it easier to have one of them engage, have the enemy team use their peel and disengage utilities for, and follow that up immediately with the other champion’s engage tools. Having both engage picks made for a very strong team fight AND pick potential for Immortals, which ended up securing them the second game of the series.
In game three, Hauntzer’s Cho’Gath seemed unstoppable, absorbing everyone’s damage and feasting on his prey, which was Immortal’s front line. He even solo’d Pobelter on Corki when Pobelter attempted to backdoor TSM’s top inhibitor.
Next, we move on to the Jungle. Jungle, as well as top lane, is currently experiencing a tank meta when it comes to higher elo and LCS play. Sejuani and Maokai come to mind. Both fit the current tank jungle meta to a tee. The usual build for tank junglers is Cinderhulk>Knight’s Vow>Locket of the Iron Solaari/Warmog’s>Locket/Warmog’s (whatever you didn’t just buy)>needed tank stats. This build can vary based off of your needs but is the basis for tank junglers.
Other requirements of playing this playstyle is to be able to understand when engaging and dying to spark a team fight is beneficial versus when backing out of a team fight may cause your team to lose it. This is a complicated area of focus that lower elo players are not too sure about. The general reaction to death is negative, which it should be; dying is rarely beneficial to your team… EXCEPT when it comes to being a front liner.
For example, in game two, Svenskeren had to use his ultimate to escape with Zac, but instead of leaving his team after being chunked, he threw himself back into the fight to distract and peel for his back line, which ended up helping TSM go even in the fight instead of just losing the fight in totality; Svenskeren did die, but Doublelift and Biofrost were able to escape because of his sacrifice.
Learning when engaging and fighting to the death is a positive versus a positive is a necessity when playing this role, as well as shot-calling for your team so they can understand whether you need to retreat or engage and brawl it out. Always take note of your team comp versus the enemy team comp when you do this.
Mid Lane is currently going through a control mage focus (hence the nickname “Borianna”), but this doesn’t stop some mid laners, like Froggen, from picking the occasional assassin such as Talon or Jensen’s LeBlanc.
Control Mages are extremely powerful when it comes to team fights. Most have a fight-altering ultimate ability, or have a kit that focuses around damage and utility. For example, Anivia’s Wall can alter how a team fight is played out, force flashes, or combo with her ultimate and Q for devastating Area of Effect damage.
Some control mages do not have a damage-oriented kit, but focus on crowd control. Galio has high base damage which allows him to be played in the mid lane with a carry or brawler in the top lane. Zilean is another mid lane control mage that comes to mind. He can speed up an ally or slow down an enemy, prevent his adc from dying once, and also provide hard cc with his double bomb.
Playing control mages is beneficial due to how strongly they can deal with disengage and punish poor positioning in team fights.
Attack Damage Carry is a role that has received a considerable number of memes regarding how awful the role was to how broken it was when lethality was in its prime.
Currently, adc is a role that’s main focus is to attack whichever target that is closest to you and to ensure your positioning is on point. The adc is also the focus of the support and jungle in most situations in the LCS; junglers usually play tank and engage champions, and supports either play heavy peel or heavy utility supports which protect the adc at all costs.
This means that the best adcs to play have either high utility or sustained damage. Let’s break it down! and talk about why those categorical adcs are currently the strongest options.
Every adc scales well into late game, and experiences power spikes with each item. This means that having utility in your kit allows you to not only peel for yourself, but also make it an easy engage onto the enemy team, or have high pick potential. There has been a countless number of Ashe ultimates that I have sent cross-map to save my top or mid laner from dying.
Varus and Kalista are the most played champions currently this split in the LCS. This is due to Kalista’s ultimate engage or peel tool combined with her ability to kite well and scout out bushes while her wards are on cooldown, or keep vision on objectives. Varus is a strong pick due to his %hp damage on his W passive as well as engage ultimate.
This next category contains the adcs that are not played as much as utility, but provide an equally necessary tool in team fights. Jinx, Tristana, and Kog’Maw come to mind almost immediately.
Jinx has some forms of cc if used properly, but her main tool is her AoE sustained damage combined with her passive which increases her AoE damage output. Jinx scales really hard into late game, which provides her team with an easy win if she gets the peel she needs from Jinx’s jungle and support. Her range on her rockets plus Rage Fire Cannon provides her with insane team fight presence.
Kog’Maw has been played several times by IMT Cody Sun and has sparked controversy with his masteries and itemization. Kog’Maw is known for very high levels of sustained damage throughout team fights and destroying front lines with his W and actives from his items, as well as kiting extremely efficiently. He is not only strong in the LCS, but also in a duo queue lane, such as the Lulu Kog’Maw bot lane.
Any adc that focuses on elevated levels of sustain damage either needs a heavy cc or heavy utility support, such as Braum or Janna. If you do decide to pick Kog’Maw, please be sure to ask someone to grab an Ardent Censor for you; nothing feels better than a Kog’Maw with BotRK, Guinsoo’s, Runaan’s, and an Ardent Censor support peeling for you.
Now, onto one of the most important roles: support. Supports in solo queue are in charge of vision control, which is strange because in the LCS, everyone is in charge of vision control, namely the jungle and support.
There are three distinct types of supports that are experiencing the most play: Utility (shields and healing), Engage/Disengage (heavy cc or peel ability), and Playmakers (high engage usually focused around specific targets to attempt toget a pick).
Utility supports are usually focused around shielding and protecting your adc and preventing assassins from getting to your back line in general. Janna, Lulu, and Braum are really good examples of this.
Janna and Lulu are both Ancient Coin supports who rush Ardent Censor in most cases. Their shields are readily available in order to provide the AC proc to their adc, which in turn amplifies their damage output by a considerable amount. This is the main reason that sustain adcs are in flavor right now; Ardent provides them with increased DPS and sustain in lane.
Braum does not shield his adc, but he does protect him from any projectiles, absorbs damage, and provides slows and hard cc for his adc and team to take advantage of. He also specializes in getting picks with his passive as well as having an insane engage and disengage tool, his ultimate. If used correctly, you can absolutely destroy the enemy front line and immediately get to the back line.
Engage supports tend to focus on diving the enemy back line or peeling for their back line. For example, Leona.
Leona provides insane hard cc which combos well with most adcs. If a Leona lane starts snowballing, expect the game to be miserable to play against. Leona has pretty high base damage which makes for a deadly level 3 all in.
The main part of Leona’s kit that is so favorable is the ability to either use it for the enemy frontline to peel, enemy assassins to deny in-and-outs, and the enemy backline to provide your front line to follow up your engage and your back line to destroy their carries.
Finally, we have the Playmaker category. Immediately you should be prompted to think about Thresh and Blitzcrank, because they are THE playmakers.
Thresh is not just focused on making plays, but he is categorized under “playmakers” because that is where he shines. If he latches onto your adc and they do not have a QSS, you pretty much just lost your main carry for the team fight. His ability to stick to someone and ensure they cannot escape is almost unmatchable. He also has the ability to peel for his carries should you be behind and not wanting to force team fights.
Blitzcrank excels at getting a lead in your different lanes. You should be roaming mid and possibly helping your jungle invade or roaming top lane as much as possible. Blitzcrank is solely a play maker who destroys the enemy team if he is ahead during lane phase. His cc combined with his high base damage makes for a deadly level 2 power-spike; try to pair him with an early game adc such as Twitch or Draven for superior results.