Ebb and Flow: How the Meta Impacts the Pro Teams
The meta in League of Legends is a changing tide, influenced by many different factors that end up washing up a set of strategies for any given tournament. While the exact definition of “meta” will be left for another article, the current meta has definitely evolved as a result of Season 3 changes. This comes as no surprise to anyone, especially those suffering through the League of Black Cleaver, League of Warmogs and League of BoRK that has just passed. While some of these changes have made their way up into the LCS, the changes in the meta can be far more subtle and influential in the professional scene.
The new trend that I’m talking about is a shift in individual role meta. The solo lanes have drifted away from a sustained, strong teamfighter to a snowball or reset character. The jungle has moved away from extreme support and into more of a carry or utility bruiser role. Bottom lane has seen adjustments away from mobility and into utility. These are far from rules to follow, but this small change in role-style has altered how some professional teams play.
Let’s first take a look at a team that’s somewhat slumping lately: Evil Geniuses. Now silly curses aside, they have had a pretty rough week, going 1-4 in the Super Week and having a poor showing at IEM Hanover. Diamond talked about this and the team itself has brought it up in some AMA’s on Reddit, but their compositions are somewhat outdated. They play very similar champions, but more importantly a very similar style. Snoopeh was absolutely legendary when support junglers were king, and he definitely showed it. His Cho’Gath and Maokai play was exemplary, and he proved time and again he knows the support style. Wikd is known for his Irelia and Renekton play, and while Renekton has stuck around, his style is very different in the new season.
But the new change is pushing towards a carry jungler and snowball-type solo lanes. Renekton can certainly snowball a lane in solo queue and he’s been fierce in competitive play. But he doesn’t have the same impact as a Zed or Akali in the laning phase. And let’s be honest, Snoopeh hasn’t had a big impact on carry junglers so far. This is nothing against their team but they have to adapt to the new style of play, not just the items or character picks- a problem they have recognized and began adjusting. But not all teams have suffered from this; the counter example to EG is Curse.
Curse was usually the team that was #4 NA, which is not so prestigious. They lost the LCS qualifier to CLG.NA, but managed to get through with the other new entries such as GGU and compLexity. However after four weeks of the LCS, they remain very strong in the standings. Again, we can look to the change in the way the game is being played to help them out. Saintvicious is not a support jungler, and never has been. Now he’s given the chance to shine and carry his team with the new set of junglers. In addition, they picked up Voyboy and he’s been absolutely tearing through teams with his Akali and Elise play, two characters that can secure a lead and strangle their opponents.
While Curse’s dominance was shut down by Dignitas and EG has seen a bit of light with some newer, more aggressive strategies, the point remains that some teams have fallen into the meta changes for the better or worse. The truly amazing teams will transcend this natural division, just as they have in the past. I’m sure EG will come out of their slump and Curse will have the rest of the LCS catching up to them. The question remains as to whether future shifts will be beneficial to teams and styles they’re more comfortable with.