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If Melee is so problematic, why is the Marksman class the only mandatory role in pro-play

Ghostcrawler New PortraitIt seems apparent to me that League wasn’t designed with melee carry as a viable alternative to a Marksman. We have melee carries in the game, but they fill sort of a questionable role at the moment.

I’m not saying that’s how League should be, but in terms of why there is a must pick Marksmen in most games, the answer is tradition.

If you ask me how League should be, that’s a much larger question that requires a big discussion. For starters, maybe it would be nice if players picked positions (top, middle, bottom, jungle) but not roles for those positions. Would players be ready for something like that? Is there benefit in having the tacit agreement that if you pick a Marksman, she’s probably going bot? Would you want to see games with two Marskmen or none at all? Does that sound exciting or destablizing?

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The meta has

Ghostcrawler New PortraitRight, something like that. The current melee = top etc. setup has been in place for so long that teammates will call you out if you’re “doing it wrong” and they will certainly report it to us as something broken. (The pros are often more adventurous in trying what works rather than what is expected.)


But there are definitely benefits in having an assumed configuration. It’s easier to coordinate a pickup team for example because you can infer a lot of position intent just from their role choice. The question is whether those benefits outweigh some amount of fatigue for every game ending up melee-top, mage-mid, ADC-bottom.

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Follow Up
Ghostcrawler New PortraitI’m not saying players are ignorant and choose ADCs because they don’t know any better and cling to tradition. I’m saying Riot has ended up supporting ADC mandatory bottom because it’s a relatively stable configuration of the meta. There is no reason that has to be the only configuration. It’s just the one we have traditionally used for at least the last couple of years.

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Support means a team role, a Champion type and a position

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe have discussed whether we should rename the role of support to something else (“utility?”) just to avoid the potential confusion there. So “support” would be a position, as you describe, when you share a lane but don’t go for CS, and could conceivably be performed by a melee like Alistar or a mage like Annie or a “role-formerly-known-as-support” like Sona.

It may cause more disruption just trying to change it though.

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LoL over the years has lost some of its replayability

Ghostcrawler New PortraitYes. This is exactly the sentiment we’re trying to improve for next season.

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Promo Series Banner



Promo Series should not exist and here’s why

Originally Posted by Lil Soybean View Post
Before we go on, let me ask you guys something honestly.
Recall the last time you reached a Series. Whether it be from Bronze IV to Bronze III, or Diamond II to Diamond I, it doesn’t matter – just think back to that time.

Now tell me, honestly – which of these two feelings were you leaning more towards?

1) Super excitement at how important these next matches are!
2) Extreme frustration at the possibility of feeders/trollers/AFK’ers in your following promo matches.

As I recall, it has been Riot’s stance in the past that they have Promo Series between divisions because it makes certain games feel more important and more exciting.
But with the end of the season coming up, I feel like one of the big changes for S5 should be removing the existence of Promotional Series.

Please, hear me out.

I honestly think the existence of Series is at the core for a lot of the games major issues. Trolls, feeders, AFKers, etc. would not be as harmful if Series didn’t exist, simply because they couldn’t completely ruin your work by forcing you to lose that one important series match. Toxicity and raging would be lessened in a similar way – if you’re super-anxious and frustrated because you’ve proved you deserved to be a rank up, but have to win a select few specific games in a Series just to actually go up that rank, then you’re more likely to rage/be toxic to people who don’t do well in that game. Why? Because the stakes are so much higher, for no good reason. Because you’re not just losing more LP from that one feeding botlaner, you’re losing your entire series. You’re not just losing more LP from that one ‘Diamond I Smurf Warwick Mid’. You’re losing your entire series.
While much of the player base is capable of handling these situations without resorting to toxicity, if a player is going to rage, it’s liable to be in that moment; when all of their hard work is crushed by one other allied player, because of the way Riot’s ‘Series’ System functions.

Another benefit of removing series is that it’d help destroy the concept of ‘ELO hell’, whether it exists or not, by making transition between divisions much smoother. Currently, a player could effectively win almost every single one of his games, but still be stuck in Bronze V because he had 1 or 2 AFKers on his team in each series. This situation is highly hypothetical and unlikely, but it isn’t unlikely that players are often screwed out of ranking up because of a troll/feeder/afker in their Promos. In fact, I’d say this probably happens a lot.

Last but not least, lag. Lag is obviously a major factor in winning or losing in a game like this, especially lately with all of the apparent DDOS attacks and major server lag spikes. The Loss Prevented system is helpful but we all know how unreliable it can be. Lose a game due to lag, lose full LP – win the next game, have your LP cut in half because of loss prevention? Those sort of issues. The biggest problem is that Loss Prevention doesn’t actually apply to series. Correct me if I’m wrong, but even if everyone in your game lags out and the servers are being DDOS attacked and Riot turns on Loss Forgiven, you’re STILL counted as having a ‘loss’ for that game in your Promo Series.

Basically, Promo Series increase the excitement of the game on a small scale, by making certain games more important. I believe Riot has specifically said this is their reason for wanting series in the game.

But that increase in ‘excitement’ comes at the cost of;
  • Increased stress & anxiety
  • Increased punishment from trolling teammates
  • Increased punishment from AFKing teammates
  • Increased punishment from feeding teammates
  • Increased toxicity
  • Increased rage
  • Increased belief in & rage over the concept of ‘ELO hell’
And finally, 

Increased factor of ‘random chance’ in determining your placement, rather than skill.

How is it worth it?

EDIT: An excellent compromise has been suggested. Keeping Promo Series only between ranks, but not between divisions. 
So, for example, there’d still be the increased stress & excitement of going from Platinum to Diamond, or even just Bronze to Silver – but you wouldn’t have to go through that stress for every division, between Bronze V, IV, III, etc.


Socrates New PortraitThanks for the feedback. A few of the reasons you called out for removing promos are issues that should be addressed across all ranked games and not just in promos. For example, whether you’re in promos or not, having somebody rage or AFK on your team isn’t a great experience. Also, lagging out in the middle of a ranked game whether you’re in promos or not totally sucks. 

We’ve been working with the player behavior team to create a more robust system to address behavior related issues in ranked. For example, we’re testing a feature on PBE called Ranked Restrictions that blocks players with a consistently negative behavior from playing ranked games. We will have more details to share on this in the coming weeks.

I’m not able to speak to lag issues in a super educated way, but I do know there is a team at work to address those issues. When we see connection issues, we enable compensation mode which forgives lost promos and lost LP, but still counts wins. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it does help shield players from a situation outside of their control.

One of the reasons you called out I disagree with. That is making ranked a more smooth experience. There is a bit more to series than just making the matches feel important and exciting. Division promotions reinforce the value of achieving competitive milestones. If we removed promotional series it would be easier to climb. In ranked easier doesn’t mean it’s strictly better though. Ranked play is about accepting the challenge of being measured by your skill. This is really what separates it from normals. Every change to make the system easier undermines what the accomplishments mean. What separates you from the players in lower tiers is not only the LP gains, but the series you fought through where you proved yourself and came out on top. 

If you consider the example you gave where a player is at the top of Bronze V and wins consistently, then fails to win his promos repeatedly, should he really qualify for Bronze IV? Probably not. If he’s going 1-1 assuming equal gains and losses he’s at 100 LP still. If he’s going 1-2 he’s lower than 100 LP, which is why LP can be lower after failing a series (especially in the case of going 0-2). There are a also number of safeties in place to ensure if you’re more than qualified to move on to the next tier you can either skip two tiers after completing your promos, or skip them entirely. If you’re in promos and not skipping it’s because the system isn’t confident enough in your skill to move you to the next tier yet.

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You can climb the ladder with winrate as low as 52

Socrates New PortraitThere is a misconception around this being true. In reality promotion series win rates are about ~47%.

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Win Streaks are counter-logical in SoloQ for a team game

Socrates New PortraitRanked solo isn’t for everybody, this is why it’s an opt in experience. Some players want to know how they measure up to the competition as an individual. It exists to serve this purpose. I challenge your assumption that solo queue position doesn’t reflect skill because it’s a team game though. Players consistently climb or fall to an accurate position on the ladder even after resets or when playing on alts. 

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Cass Rework Banner

Not familiar with Cassiopeia’s rework? Here’s the changelist.



If Twin Fang E lands on a dead target, will you be healed

STASHU New PortraitYes it should function in the improved way you describe here. If it’s not as forgiving as it needs to be, we can make it more so or less so as necessary. But yes, this problem was in the scope of these changes ;D

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You’re reversing Cassiopeia’s power curve and changing her

playstyle, when Cass players only wanted bugfixes

STASHU New PortraitGreat thinking here, you bring up a lot of interesting points. The ones I’m most interested in talking about are 1) 180 degree shift in play pattern , 2) that her damage is no longer reliant on her skill shots, and 3) that the update was just tacked on to bugfixes/reliability changes.


1) We tried to pay very careful attention to this one in our brainstorming. The reason the passive grants LOTS more stacks when hitting champions than minions/monsters is to preserve a lot of her old play pattern. That is, in order for lane bully Cassiopeia to be successful, she needs to land her abilities on her lane opponent carefully and frequently, and in order for scaling Cassiopeia to be successful, she needs to land her abilities on her lane opponent carefully and frequently. In terms of actual play pattern, not much has actually changed. The outputs (or, what her opponent notices) has changed a bit– Cassiopeia is less of a threat early in the game but more of a threat late game.

2) While her damage (number wise) will mostly come from her Twin Fang, she is entirely dependent on consistently landing Noxious Blast for both poison application and the movement speed to stay in range of Twin Fang. Miasma also helps her here, in much the same way.

So, where her damage is coming from in particular and at which points of the game her damage will be high arechanging, I think we’re preserving much of the traditional Cassiopeia play pattern.

3) So, I can definitely see how this update comes across as a misguided attempt at making a character ‘better’ for no good reason. I assure you, this is not the case! There were problems on Cassiopeia’s kit that, while not on the level of some other champions in the game, still needed to be addressed. Shurima and her texture update provided a great opportunity to do all of these things. I wont go deeply into the problems here, but they generally involve non-interactive lane bullying patterns, game-stalling, and problem with unsatisfying or under-appreciated DoTs (though, not by all people).

I hope all of this makes sense/seems fair. I also don’t seek to invalidate the concerns you expressed, as they are all certainly valid. I just wanted to provide some context on the changes and hopefully explain that there was a reason for everything. It’s true that all of this comes at costs, and as you explained, it may have left “her feeling like not-Cassiopeia for some people.” This is probably true for some people, and I’m sorry for that . However, in the end, I think Cassiopeia will still feel a lot like Cassiopeia in many of the ways that people love, express less problems than she has historically, and have a stronger identity overall. Time will certainly tell, and I promise to be around to make right anything that goes wrong.

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You’re turning Cassiopeia into a 2

STASHU New PortraitI could definitely see how some of the changes come across like this, but I’d have to disagree on a few points. Primarily, I think she has more of a kite pattern now than before, with her kiting tools having more power in their movementspeet related aspects and with her ult being more reliable.

I the end, it’s true, a lot of the math and comparison points for this update were ADCs, but I’m very confident that there are enough defining and distinct features in Cassiopeia’s gameplay (i.e, the way her kit comes together) to make her feel significantly different than ADCs.

As for mana, maintaining the mana to cast spells in lane should be very doable with some practice on priming minions with poison/basic attacks and last hitting them with E. If this turns out simply not to be true, then we’ll have to retune things accordingly.

I think we landed on a coherent kit that flows well, especially when you invest time into mastering it, so I encourage you to play around with it a bit. I really do hope that you enjoy it, as it definitely makes me sad to disappoint Cassiopeia players 

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Will Cassiopeia’s passive stack additively with Deathcap

STASHU New PortraitSo this is a little unclear, but the way these stack is as follows:

Base AP.
Aspect of the Serpent AP boost.
Archmage on top of Aspect of the Serpent AP boost.
Deathcap on top of Archmage and Aspect of the Serpent AP boosts.

So, the way the numbers break down, when both Deathcap and her passive are both giving 30% amped AP, Deathcap will actually be giving more, numerically, because it stacks on top of her passive.

Does that make sense?

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Why are you focusing her passive around farming

STASHU New PortraitIt’s not a farming passive D=. Well, it does include farming but…

The minion/monster farming part of the passive functions almost entirely as a fallback pattern. Though, it does come across as being the primary stacking mechanism. I found this very difficult to solve through messaging, but I assure you, if you crunch the numbers or just play enough games on her you’ll quickly realize that farming minions/monsters in hopes of stacking your passive is MUCH less efficient than hitting enemy champions with your abilities.

The minion/monster part of it is just so that when you can’t find any champions to fight, you have something to do to work towards your end goal. If this wasn’t the case, enemy champions could just play keep away all game and you’d get reallllly frustrated. That said, this is still an effective way of slowing down Cassiopeia, but at least she won’t be full-stopped.

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Suggestion Cassiopeia’s passive to evolve her spells

Cassiopeia gains a stack of Aspect of the Serpent 
for each second that an enemy champion is poisoned, 
for each poisoned unit that she kills and when she 
hits an enemy champion with Twin Fang, 
up to a max. of 400 stacks.

  • 75 STACKS: 5% increased ability power.
  • 150 STACKS: 10% increased ability power.
  • 225 STACKS: 15% increased ability power.
  • 300 STACKS: 20% increased ability power.
  • 350 STACKS: 25% increased ability power.
  • 400 STACKS: 30% increased ability power.

At start of the game, and for each milestone she will also get 
an evolution point. These points can be spent on 7 
different upgrades. She will eventually get every 
upgrade, but the order is completely player dependent.
(Sort of like how Kha’Zix evolves)

  • Twin Fang now heals for 6 / 8 / 10 / 12 / 16 (+ 10% AP).
  • 25% bonus cooldown reduction.
  • 15 (+ 2% AP) bonus flat movement speed.
  • +15 HP/lvl (+ 25% AP)
  • 150 bonus range to Noxious Blast
  • 3 second lower cooldown to Miasma

Latent Venom – 5% of the damage from her basic abilities will be
added as Latent Venom, which will then burst 4 seconds after
the last damage taken from these abilities, refreshing with every new
instance of damage. (Imagine a refreshing Zed ult)


STASHU New PortraitI have to say, this is super exciting. However, if the passive we landed on had complexity costs, boy does this one haha. It would be fun to try something more like this, but it would require implementing all sorts of new systems to work with evolving a trait from a pool of 7 and all sorts of stuff like that, which the game currently doesn’t support. Maybe this could be a cool project some time in the future, but seems unlikely for now.

That said, I like the way you think!

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Why did you give her power spikes at

STASHU New PortraitWe actually had a version like you describe in testing, and the first version of Cassiopeia to hit PBE did this smooth scaling for the AP bonus. However, neither tested well, as the incremental increases were simply unappreciable, and other bonuses are intended to come into effect at specific points in the game and not until then. The stack mechanism and numbers that we landed on solved all this pretty well.

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In teamfights, Cass will be using

STASHU New PortraitIt’s true, things might be overtuned. However, itemizing one large many item (seraphs or RoA, say) allows you to over come this pretty handily because of how valuable they make the mana restore. As you grow your mana pool, you grow the rate at which you recover it, which should mean that both Cassiopeia has more ‘ammo’ and takes less time to ‘recharge’ as the game goes on. 

But it’s true, we’ll have to see if the numbers are just a little off.

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Her ability icons should be updated as well

STASHU New PortraitTotally agree here, but sadly they are on the backburner for now (they are there, though).

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You should be responding to criticism of the rework

STASHU New PortraitYeah, this seems to be how everyone is reacting. I see that I replied to one particularly positive one, and can see how that drew some suspicion. Though, I believe the rest of my posts have largely been in response to dissenting opinions. Maybe I’m wrong here. If that’s the case, I’m really sorry, that wasn’t my intention =[

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Is her new passive adjusted for Dominion

SSTASHU New Portraithe has not been adjusted on alternate maps. We could take an awkward stab at the numbers and hope they are close, but we simply don’t have enough data on how she would perform on those maps to make an accurate guess. The levers are in place to adjust her accordingly (namely, the number for her breakpoints changing based on the map), so we should have an easy time adjusting her for the different maps as we get more information.

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There should be visible particles for her passive stages

STASHU New PortraitI totally agree with you on clarity. There should be some particles in to more accurately represent this, like a poison explosion around her when it happens and snakes spiraling around her for each tier she has hit.

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Dominion Banner



If you don't want to support alternate game types, why did Twisted Treeline get a Ranked queue

Lyte New PortraitA lot of players have mentioned that “indication of improvement” and Ranked as a measurement of skill might be key drivers of player growth, but I haven’t found that to be a compelling argument for a few reasons.

One, when we look at Normal Summoner’s Rift versus Ranked Summoner’s Rift, we can see that most players prefer to play Normal Summoner’s Rift (and that the queue has done really well over the course of time).

It may surprise some, but Ranked is not the the mode the majority of players play! Although I agree that some players would play Dominion more if there was progression and a measurement of skill in something like Ranked, to say that it would drive general player growth is a stretch because most players prefer not being faced with high-intensity, high-stakes games every time they play League.

In fact, depending on how you slice the data, it’s possible that removing MMR in Dominion/Normal Summoner’s Rift actually increased the engagement of these modes because you’re removing the constant “stakes” in each match. 

Regarding Twisted Treeline Ranked, in retrospect, it’s hard to say whether it was the right choice. As a games studio, I think it’s OK sometimes to admit mistakes, and try to learn from them. Game design and game development is really hard, and it’s pretty difficult to predict exactly how players will receive a new feature, system or queue. In the old days, it seemed obvious that we should open a Ranked version of Twisted Treeline, but did it actually damage the overall growth of Twisted? Did players get frustrated with the queue times and lopsided matches, and quit Twisted altogether? These are key questions that help us learn from the choices we make.

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ARAM succeeded because it was heavily advertized

Lyte New PortraitI intend on reading the full post, but am curious about this point. How do you explain the growth of ARAM when it was a Custom Game? This was before the blog post, before being able to queue for it, before any support at all.

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How about replacing Normal Draft Dominion with Ranked

Lyte New PortraitThis is another interesting data point. If there was a large number of Normal Draft Dominion players, you might be able to argue that most of these players would be interested in Ranked Dominion and that would be the “starting” playerbase of Ranked Dominion plus some additional group of incoming players. 

However, Normal Draft Dominion is completely unplayed and has never had any engagement. In fact, after reviewing the data, we should probably close Normal Draft Dominion completely.

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Has Dominion's population ever drastically

Lyte New PortraitI didn’t see any times when Dominion’s population drastically rose. However, the official release of Howling Abyss did reduce the numbers on Dominion. This could suggest that players that enjoy “alternative” maps that have different pacing prefer Howling Abyss to Dominion, and that these maps fill the same need for these players. I understand that some players might think of Dominion as a competitive map, but it might not be the majority opinion. For example, I bet there are some players that think Howling Abyss is a competitive map and would prefer to play Ranked Howling Abyss too–but, it’d be a far stretch to say the majority of players think that way.

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How has ARAM's popularity fared over time

Lyte New PortraitHowling Abyss has done really well over time. 

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How many players prefer Normals to Ranked Games

Lyte New PortraitUnfortunately, I can’t release the exact orders of magnitude, but the vast majority of players still prefer Normals compared to Ranked.

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How has Team Builder affected queue populations

Lyte New PortraitInterestingly, Team Builder hasn’t pulled much from the alternative maps like Dominion and Twisted Treeline. Team Builder has mainly split the Normal Blind Pick population, which is something we’re very sensitive to. We have some key design choices we want to make in Team Builder to make the queues as fast as Blind Pick, and want to see how these changes play out before discussing the replacement of Blind Pick. For example, we may run some experiments where we do have players only select Position and see if the experiences are just as positive, but queue times are much lower.

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Are players not punished after being reported in Dominion

Lyte New PortraitThis is false. Players aren’t immune in any mode.

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Any short-term solution to Bot accounts in Dominion

Lyte New PortraitYes, we’re working on a few short-term things to combat Bots in Dominion. Drevarius is a designer that has been working on that problem. As you might know, we usually don’t discuss anti-hacking or anti-botting measures because it typically is an arms race.

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Ranked gives legitimacy to modes and ups their popularity

Lyte New PortraitIntroducing Ranked Dominion might translate to an increase in the population that plays Normals, but the question is what the increase might be? Secondly, would the increase in Normal Dominion players be enough to compensate and overcome the pull that Ranked Dominion would have on current Normal Dominion players? 

As an aside, realistically, turning on new queues isn’t as simple as flipping switches. Rioters might have trivialized this in the past, but as someone directly involved in Team Builder, new queues require continuous monitoring and maintenance by a team.

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Master Tier now live on NA

Socrates New PortraitHey all, with the launch of Master Tier Diamond players may notice some changes to their LP gains and losses. Here’s what is going on in these cases:

* The top 200 challenger spots were protected by a concept called ‘clamping’ before Master Tier was introduced. This ensured the top 200 dudes on the server had both the highest LP and MMR. This greatly slowed gains and losses, making small gains appear normal. Removing clamping means gains (both up and down) are more fluid now. Since in some cases clamping was actually protecting players from falling down too quickly, these players will see some larger losses and smaller gains until they’re back where the system expects them to be.

* In other tiers (bronze – plat) league standing is a very accurate mapping of player skill, but there is a buffer to slow players LP losses temporarily if they start to go on a losing trend. Since clamping was removed, but challenger and master must contain the very best players, the loss shielding is thinner in diamond than other tiers. In other words, gains and losses can feel more swingy.

Gains should become more stable over time. We’ll be monitoring how LP changes stabilize over the next few days and evaluating if we need to make adjustments or not based on the results.

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Patch Rundown – 4 16

Want to check Patch 4.16’s notes? Here’s a link:






If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at [email protected]


Lately in competitive play, you rarely find that both teams end up going to the “expected” lanes. For instance, the bot lane duo on blue may go mid to siege the most important outer tower, as it opens up the largest part of the map by being destroyed. Along with that, the minions are quickest to get to the middle lane, contacting each other just around 1:55. If the mid laner attempts to stay there, they are likely lose their tower; however if they don’t, they and whoever comes into that lane will lose exp by having to move into/out of the lane.

Along with that, the bot lane duo may choose to siege whatever lane has the highest potential to snowball. Riven is a champion that both snowballs well and has a strong early game. The enemy team may decide to try and shut her down early and thus prevent a strong late game.

Riven has an ability to snowball that can be shut down by duo-laners.

For instance, if the duo on blue has gone top lane, the purple side duo could go bottom, while the jungler helps mid. This would help them take 1-2 towers and a dragon, in exchange for losing top and it’s snowball potential. A really efficient team can usually take an early tower, rotate, and repeat. However, a team comp that allows that may be shut down by a team with a hard engage, or some champions such as Singed that really don’t give a crap and will run circles around you until you’re dead. This really brings some interesting strategies to competitive play, and it’s just recently hit the NA and EU LCS in the past couple months; though they are still far behind the Koreans who really know how to make it work. The ability to push down towers so early and get your team ahead is huge.

Teams in Korea, and recently Cloud 9, have employed an “Always Take an Objective” strategy. After all, the goal of the game is to take down the opponents’ Nexus. Not get the most kills, ace them X amount of times; you want to destroy their nexus. Killing them is a means to an end. The enemy champions are just in your way. You might take the dragon or baron to kill them, so that you can get to the nexus. You can only reach it by taking down towers. By lane-swapping, teams take down multiple towers at a high rate. Games are a bit shorter nowadays, the game is no longer about “Let’s force a fight here, ace them and win!” It’s about pushing, killing them if need be, and pushing again. Certain picks have really helped that.


Pictured: Cloud 9′s ADC and Support: Sneaky and Lemonnation.

Caitlyn, for example, has the ability to siege towers very early with her long auto-attack range, and can zone you from defending with her traps. She also packs in the escape mechanisms to take the tower and live. She has a very high pick/ban rate in competitive play, simply because if going 2v2 lane, she’ll outrange you and if she has a ranged support as well, can poke you down and your tower. If she’s in a 2v1 lane, the tower is essentially hers, as one person cannot clear so many waves so early. If she draws the jungler to her lane, all the other lanes can pressure hard with the help of her own jungler, take objectives, or even have the jungler counter-gank. Other champions can suit this playstyle of taking down towers, such as Singed. While not common in competitive play, his ability to push down the minions in his lane can draw the attention of the jungler or a champion from another lane, which allows the rest of the team to pressure or take objectives while two people worry about Singed. If they don’t go after him he ends up with an incredibly high amount of farm, which allows his DPS and Tankyness to be incredibly high later in the game. Overall, what’s been pushed, whether or not it was Riot’s intention, is a faster-paced, skirmished based, objective focused game of LoL.

The game will continue to evolve, and innovation is sure to come for the victors. We’ll see how this all plays out at an international level, if the game stays like this when Worlds roll around.


Categories: Original Content Tags: , , ,

The Meta Model

March 24th, 2013


Meta. We hear this word thrown around a lot, but what exactly does it mean? Is the meta two solo lanes, a jungler and ad/support bottom? Is it the set of champions being played right now? Is it the items being commonly built? Meta as a term is vast and encompassing and in this article I want to scratch the surface on what the meta is and how Riot sees.

Meta in philosophy is: “A prefix meaning one level of description higher. If X is some concept then meta-X is data about, or processes operating on, X.” ( So the metagame is the data about the game itself, in this case League of Legends. As you can see, this is entirely open ended. The meta can be any of these things and more:

  • Lane assignments
  • Item Purchases
  • Types of Champions played
  • Playing style
  • Role specific expectations
  • Team compositions

 Layer 1

People commonly refer to “the meta” as a solo top, solo mid, solo jungler and a duo bottom, which is a mindset that Riot has discredited. The next stop on the meta train is usually the absolute most popular thing like “League of Warmogs” and “League of Bruisers.” This is the first layer of the meta and is the most general sense. It doesn’t really explain anything about the true meta of the game at any time.

Layer 2

Team comp is the next layer to be looked at. You can see clear patterns in the style of teams played, such as AoE composition, armor shred or strong laners. With champion specific synergies, teams can achieve aggressive diving, early towers, safe laning or something else. The solo queue meta doesn’t have as much emphasis on this aspect, but you will still see trends such as the long holding bruiser top, bruiser jungle, AP mid or an AP top/mid setup.

Layer 3

Inside of the other two layers lies the lane specific environment. Each lane has their own meta going on, whether it’s a mobility emphasis on the ADC on bottom or the switch from AP to AD in middle. This meta changes fairly frequently and is often an entire ecosystem within the game. You can main a lane and not have it get stale thanks to the match-up and champion pool changes over time. As a jungler, I’ve gone from “what’s a jungler?” to strong gankers (Rammus/Maokai) to strong counter junglers (Diamondprox’ breakout Shyvana play) to the support (rise of CLG.EU) to the now current carry jungler meta. Over the course of a year or two the champions and environment has changed entirely.

Layer 4

Role specific expectations are just a broad way of saying what each lane is expected to do. This creates lanes like the recent Nidalee/Soraka bottom lane from Dragonborns. The lane is expected to have an AD that gets farmed and can do so effectively. To counter this expectation, a very strong poking composition was thrown down there to make sure no farm can be gotten. When middle was expected to roam, champions such as Evelynn and Katarina became wildly popular because they could roam well. This is where a lot of the action goes and many mind games of counters and counters to the counters and a lot of really fun, interesting stuff.


The heart of the meta is playing style. Over time, player’s styles start to change around. While the game was developing and people were learning still, a much more passive approach was taken. Players overall took little risks compared to today as they were feeling out the game. As people learn the game, more and more aggression and calculated risk is found and rewarded. If the meta is healthy, this will trend a different way and keep the overall flow of the game going. There are individual styles to players and teams, however a global trends also happens when someone breaks the mold.

How to work my meta model

My model has a core and several layers that go outward. The meta is a general trend in what is being played right now and as such can be countered at the proper layer. Each layer then radiates all of the decisions outward until you’re outside the model. If there is a shift in the lane-specific environment, it will then effect the team compositions and lane assignments. When Talon, Kha’Zix and Zed took over midlane in preseason 3, the team compositions shifted towards supporting armor shred (Renekton, Jarvan, etc.) and stacking up the physical damage dealt, which in turn drove things such as Miss Fortune buying Black Cleaver.


The churning turmoil of the inner core impacts everything else in the game. You can see this with the trend over the last two years of League of Legends. First there was passive play style with safe laners that had strong teamfight abilities, such as bot lane tank. This was then countered with stronger lane presence in a roamer and jungler combined. The roaming meta was stopped by running a dedicated AD/Support style bottom that was well insulated to the roaming and a strong control jungler. This was dominate for a while until folks figured out that strong counter jungling puts the mostly passive approach of control jungler/support/adc bottom to rest. To stop the counter jungling, lanes started swapping and playing strong pushers to force junglers to respond instead of counter jungle.

Currently, there is a trend in the meta towards strong snowballing lanes and champions that do well against or in combination with heavy lane pushing. This is indicative of a healthy meta and I’m sure a new style of play will soon arise that does well against early tower aggression and diving compositions. When the next trend drops, expect changes in every other layer to trickle to the casual players. What do you think is the next step in play style to defeat the towerkrieg currently going on?


     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.


With the way the game has been changing lately I think it is time to go back and revise something I wrote about in one of my previous articles. “Developing Your Killer Instincts” was my least read article (although at the time I wrote it I think it was the best way to gain rating), and the main focus of it is now obsolete, but I still think it worth revisiting the topic and talking about what has changed and how that reflects on “Poke” which is what I want the central focus of this article to be.

Aggression in the Mid Lane: a Thing of the Past, and by Past I Mean the First Week of Pre-Season 3.

In the Killer Instincts article I wrote about how the revisions to the jungle made being aggressive in the early game an incredibly superior strategy compared to Season 2. My reasoning behind this was that jungler clear speeds were increased and the more traditional junglers of the time (Amumu, Maokai, Skarner, Mundo, Lee Sin, Shyvana) took a lot more damage. This meant most lanes experienced less jungle pressure and therefore could capitalize on winning 1v1’s instead of waiting for ganks or fear being ganked. How things have changed.

The new top junglers can clear fast, healthy, and apply tons of pressure, so basically back to Season 2. This has some adverse affects on all the lanes, but I want to focus on mid lane the most, since the side lanes play by prison rules; 2v1 lanes, three-person ganks, and pushing turrets down before four minutes. Because venturing into the middle of the lane is now dangerous again, mid lane has reverted back to being a farm lane (Note: I did not originally realize this and give full credit to Scarra from his mid-lane vid). Farm you say? Then why do we see champions like Diana, Lux, and Nidalee so highly picked instead of great farming/scaling champs like Karthus or Anivia?


The difference between Season 3 and Season 2 is that now everyone has tons of HP which has caused mid laners to become more Poke oriented (Note: I recognized the transition to more pokey champs which was the articles original focus, but included Scarra’s farm lane input to make my article more thorough). Dealing damage from a long range is now a big deal. When you can whittle your 3k hp opponents down to 2k Hp before you engage you level the playing field, so to speak. You could theoretically play Karthus or Anivia vs Lux and do just fine in lane, but when it comes to pushing down towers, or even an inhibitor, Lux’s team will have the advantage of zoning and doing damage to your team at a distance before they see fit to engage. By instead picking a different mid champion with better poke capability you give your team the same tools as your opponent. It is also necessary to lane with the ability to do damage from a sizeable distance so that your lane opponent doesn’t shove you in with their poke/wave clear and go roam. You need to be able to keep each other in check and farm at the same time. This is also another reason that the only AD champs we see in mid are Kha’Zix, Zed, and sometimes Jayce.

Now there are exceptions to the rule; I am not trying to say, “Never play Ryze again!” We saw Curse beat TSM in LCS with Ryze, and a couple teams in EU absolutely dominate with Kassadin who doesn’t have the greatest poke either. It is important, however, to remember these teams create strategy and synergy within their compositions which allow for things like this to happen. Basically, if you are going to play soloqueue I would still recommend playing a mid champ with poke, especially if you are the first team to pick a mid champ, but if say the opposing team picks something like Annie before you pick your AP champion do not force yourself to pick a poker because there is a good chance you could run Ryze or Kassadin in this instance and successfully out-carry them. Acknowledging strong meta trends is one key to being a good player, adapting is another.

What Lies Ahead?

As I mentioned, the above premise holds true a majority of the time, but with certain situations presenting way for innovation. However, the game is always changing. With the new buffs to BotRK AD Carries might become the forces they were in Season 2, putting less pressure on AP mids to be able to poke down HP before engagements. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Dignitas run Draven with BotRK absolutely slaughtering 3k HP enemies like they are paper while Scarra plays an assassin like LeBlanc which he uses to one-shot the opposing ADC. The buff to BotRK may have been the hidden nerf to Giant’s Belt we needed and turn the meta completely upside down. The game is very volatile from patch to patch. We’ve already had “League of Cleavers,” “League of Warmogs,” and now possible “League of the Ruined King.” We can only keep an open mind and hope I can change the name of this series from “The Stale Meta” to “What League is it this Month?”

Love, Dcgreen



LoLKing Profile

Previous “Glory of the Climb” Articles:

Making Sense of Season 3

Dominion: Helping You To Win More Lanes and Games

Developing Your Killer Instincts: Why to be Aggressive in Season 3

Working With Your Team to Win

Countering Health with DFG

Reviewing the New “League System”

Why Losing is Just as Important as Winning

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 Junglers

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 AP Mids

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 Top Laners

The Stale Meta: Top 5 AD Carries

The Stale Meta: Top 5 Supports

ap mids

In my introductory article to the Stale Meta I briefly addressed why the cheap cost, and immediate effects, of stacking health are determining why certain champions are more viable than others right now; even causing a lot of Season 2 favorites, like Shyvana, to completely disappear from the competitive scene. I want to take the time to address the fact that I will not be covering the AD Mid variants as I think there are too few and they are too obvious (Kha’Zix, Zed, Talon, Pantheon, Lee Sin). The idea behind picking an AD middle vs an AP middle are also much more straight forward as you are just looking for more AD damage and armor shred to synergize/compliment your top lane Bruiser. It is also important to note that with the increase in Jarvan IV and Taric picks there has been a decrease in AD mid picks because of teams abilities to stack armor without any gold investments, so there’s that.

The Best AP Mids and Why.

Ok so in my last article regarding Junglers I applied a specific “curve” that I believe potential junglers needed to fit in order for me to consider them viable. This meant all the junglers were very similar to each other because they had a specific “early pressure/initiator/tank” role that they HAD to fill. AP mids do not suffer from these linear traits and are instead picked because of how their unique skill set will compliment their team mates best; this, however, becomes less apparent the further down the list and more apparent the higher we go up the list. Things that an AP champion can provide to a team in order to be considered for mid lane are: Poke, Armor/MR Shred, Burst AND Sustained Damage, Shields/Buffs, Stuns/Slows, Displacement, and Global Presence.

#5.  Nidalee

Rounding out my Top 5 is Nidalee, and for the record she NARROWLY surpassed Lux, who would be my official #6. When I compared Nidalee and Lux to make this decision it came down to the fact they have very similar kits but Nidalee can do more sustained damage in a prolonged fight. Lux has notoriously long cooldowns and all her abilities are skill shots, so if you miss with her you have a reasonably long reload time before you can try again to deal damage, she also has high mana costs which means you can’t poke as long with her without blue. Her shield gives no sustain in a siege unlike Nid’s heal, and while her E does provide vision it can not be placed as strategically as Nidalee’s without significantly reducing her damage output. Nidalee can poke for days with her spears as they are reasonably costed, have a low cd, and probably hit for just as much as Lux’s ult at max range. Her heal is good for prolonged sieges and fights, and if there is no one to heal she can always give it to her ADC to increase his/her attack speed. The versatility of her ult is what gives her the edge over Lux though in that she can use it to keep putting out damage when her human form’s spells are on cooldown, where someone like Lux has to sit and wait; it also gives her some of the best escapability in the game combined with her passive making her very safe. Ok I think that is enough reasons.

As you can see Nidalee provides a little bit of everything that I listed above. She can poke, she has sustain in cougar and burst with spears, she provides vision and shreds Armor/MR with her traps, and one of her biggest boons is her heal that scales incredibly well with AP as well as doubling as an AS steroid. She is a very well rounded champ right now and a great pick for #5 AP mid.

#4.  Ryze

Ryze is definitely the most generic champion on this list but if it’s not broke don’t fix it. Ryze benefits mostly from being one of, if not THE highest sustain damage mages out there. He fits the meta very well right now because he can build primarily tanky stats and still deal formidable damage, and it’s AoE dmage to boot, thanks to his ultimate! His Rune Prison provides his team with great catching potential, his Spell Flux shreds MR, and he can 1v1 most champions, and win, at many stages of the game. Against ADC’s and opposing AP mids his combo is considered burst and against the tankier Junglers and Bruisers he has enough consistent damage output to not warrant standing next to him for very long unless you plan on killing him. He definitely provides less utility than Nidalee (or Lux) but I think his solidarity as an AP powerhouse and the fact he’s less composition dependent puts him firmly above her at #4.

#3.  Orianna

Orianna is the epitome of the #3 spot on my list. She has great burst and sustained damage with high AP ratios and low cooldowns on all her spells. Her range is long enough to be considered poke. She has a shield that scales incredibly well with AP and provides the wearer free Armor/MR. Her W slows the enemy team and speeds up her own, and her Shockwave is the premium displacement spell right now and can be wombo-comboed well with many of the tanky gap closing Junglers. She is an extremely solid pick right now and even bolsters a strong/formidable laning phase compared to other AP champs.

#2.  Kayle

Kayle is the sleeper newcomer to the AP scene. Her high points are the ability to shred Armor/MR of the opposing team in an AoE, slowing champions while amplifying her own damage against them, providing her team with a heal and speed burst, and of course, the Coup De Grace, three seconds of invulnerability to an ally at 1200 range! Her ability to do burst damage with her spells, and sustained damage with her autoattacks and a Liandry’s Torment make her a force to be reckoned with, whatever Champion you are. If Kayle’s team has just one fed Champion on it she doesn’t even have to achieve an average item build because of how strong her ultimate can be in conjunction with an allied carry. Kayle is definitely first pick or ban worthy right now and her game changing ultimate is reason enough for that!

#1  Twisted Fate

I am going to be honest, I absolutely hate Twisted Fate and it sickens me he sits at #1. I think he is a stupidly designed champion. On the surface he has little depth and underneath it all he is one of those “is he an ADC or AP champ abortions” that has been in the game so long they really can’t do anything about what he has evolved into. Back in beta he would constantly fluctuate between nerfs and buffs from AD to AP. Finally the pro scene has deemed him an AP champ because of how game breaking his ultimate is while running AP. You can use Gate to teleport and stun somebody, doing significant burst damage, and ensuring a successful kill most of the time; compare this to an AD TF showing up and the stun and wildcards doing no damage and his follow up damage has to come from all autoattacks and you can see why he is run as an AP, plus putting him in mid lane allows him to Gate to either Top or Bot.

Anyways, TF provides the least “utility” to a team in terms of his kit only really having a stun/slow, BUT the global presence + Champion vision that his ultimate provides are enough to keep him in the #1 spot for a long time to come because of how influential it can be in snowballing other lanes/the game. He also has incredible poke (1450 range!), wave clear, a decent passive that actually does provide some significant extra gold to your team over the course of a game, and he can do some crazy baits with Gate + Zhonya’s Hourglass as popularized by WE Misaya, and also used by Curse NyJacky in yesterdays LCS game against GGU. It’s unfortunate the brokenness of his ultimate is a relic of bad beta design and so it unlikely another champion will ever be released with an ultimate to rival his for the number 1 spot. However, if the meta ever shifts back to the days of farming for 30 minutes before pushing a lane as five you can expect to see Karthus occupy this spot because of Requiem (fucking global ultimates!)

Honorable Mentions

These AP champions provide good utility and damage to their team but are just a tier below the top 5 in terms of how game changing they can be just by being on a team. They are listed in no specific order.










This list was a bit more influenced by the competitive scene than by the soloqueue scene, but I don’t think it would be much different, and I think by adhering to this list you would still be likely to gain LP.

Love, Dcgreen



LoLKing Profile

Previous “Glory of the Climb” Articles:

Making Sense of Season 3

Dominion: Helping You To Win More Lanes and Games

Developing Your Killer Instincts: Why to be Aggressive in Season 3

Working With Your Team to Win

Countering Health with DFG

Reviewing the New “League System”

Why Losing is Just as Important as Winning

The Stale Meta: Intro + Top 5 Junglers


With Season 3 actively live for about three weeks and LCS starting its third week tomorrow, the meta has finally settled and the dominant strategies have emerged. There is still a little room for champion innovation as far as viability goes (i.e. Volibear being used by Gambit and Giants in EU LCS) but most top tier champions and item builds have been established. If you are behind the times the current trends revolve around champions that can build primarily tanky while still doing good amounts of damage, shredding Armor/MR, and thriving in prolonged engagements. If your champion can not do these things then it better be packing some major utility for your team otherwise they really have no place on the fields of justice. I will be discussing what is the primary culprit in this shift towards HP is, as well as giving my opinion on which junglers are the best to play right now to gain LP and climb divisions.

thumb      VS        _41775748_knife-pile-london


What Caused Such a Major Shift in How the Game is being Played?

The biggest contributor to the shift in meta has been the re-evaluation of stats by Riot. Health and Damage are cheaper while Resistances and Attack Speed are more expensive. What this has done is make it so that the early game gets completely dominated by health stacking. Giant’s Belt is a premium at 1000g giving the wearer 380 HP. If we compare that to the premium AD and AP items (BF Sword and Rod) they give 45 AD for 1550 and 80 AP for 1600. While BF sword is 100g cheaper its power is masked over ten fold by the cheaper Giant’s Belt, same with Needlessly Large Rod. It takes nine attacks before armor to chip away all the extra health that Giant’s Belt provides compared to your BF Sword. It’s even worst for AP characters who don’t even receive the full 80 AP on a majority of their spells, plus factoring in cooldowns and it could be a while before your extra 80 AP negates that extra HP. Plus the purchaser of the Giant’s belt also has 550-600 more gold to spend on whatever they want. Now these numbers are not infallible truths as I am not factoring in things like your base auto attack damage or scaling AP from runes, etc but I am just trying to show comparatively what the items provide to the user at face value. The other contributor to HP being out of control right now is that Attack Speed is no longer the premium stat it was in Season 2. I don’t play AD carry a lot but I was forced to play it a few days ago in ranked and even when fed, with BT/IE, PD, LW at 30 minutes I felt incredibly weak shooting at the opposing Shen and Hecarim. We did eventually win but I felt like such a small contribution of damage as I watched every auto attack tickle that massive HP bar when I felt I should be blowing them away! Things are not as they used to be.

Anyways, the main point is HP is out of control which in turn is making bruisers out of control, which in turn is making playing non-bruisers futile, which is making the meta very stale already for only being three weeks in. I would definitely advise against playing any kind of assassin or damage dealing character (excluding ADC’s) that can not provide some kind of significant utility to your team. Let your bruiser/jungler take care of tanking, killing, and winning the game, while you take a back seat and grab some pom-poms to cheer them on.

The Best Junglers and Why.

To keep this section clean I am going to list what I think are the top 5 junglers right now and list some close honorable mentions. The traits that I am looking for that help me decide power level are based on junglers who fit a very precise curve of being able to provide early game pressure, do good early damage while being tanky, and scale well into late game transitioning into an unkillable tank/initiator/frontline/cc machine.

#5:  Vi

Vi is incredibly new to the League scene and I think that it took Riot fixing all her bugs for people to discover how powerful she really is. Now that she is fully functional I see her banned or picked in almost every game I play. She has a very long range gap closer with her Q, shreds armor, has high base damage, has suppression, scales well, and she gets a free shield that scales well with the stats she wants to prioritize. She has great pressure early game with her ability to fly long distances over walls, does good damage because of her base values, becomes incredibly threatening once she gets six, and she scales well as a tank into the late game providing her team with initiation, armor shred, and cc. She does everything at an above average level and fits my jungler curve very nicely. The reason she is 5th on my list is that she is really only scaled well to prioritizing one enemy at a time where the other junglers outshine her.

#4:  Amumu

Next is Amumu who is no stranger to the League or the jungle. A high priority pick in all three seasons, his use seems to get more refined the more time passes. Despite being very susceptible to early counter jungle pressure, Amumu is a tough champion to ignore even when he is at a disadvantage. His Q give him a gap closer and stun in one, while also lowering the targets MR with his passive, this gives him the ability to pressure lanes early. Once he hits six he doesn’t even need to hit you with his Q to stun you anymore, just use it to close the gap and set up a gank. He scales incredibly well building only tanky while providing great damage with his Despair’s % damage. In team fights he shreds MR with his passive, provides a giant AoE Stun, and meanwhile is able to stun someone every few seconds with his Q which has a base damage of 320 at rank 5! Ya I bet you didn’t know that. Amumu is everything you want in your jungle tank. He gets the edge over Vi because his ultimate is more game changing than hers because it can effectively be used on all five enemies. Its also as big as the Baron pit which makes contesting an enemy Baron with Amumu a walk in the park.

#3:  Hecarim

Of all the junglers to start picking up major speed, Hecarim is leading the charge. A fan favorite of Season 2, he is now starting to make his way into the spotlight of season 3. Hecarim has great jungle clear doing it both fast and healthy. While he doesn’t have the greatest gap closer on my list he does have a unique one in his Devastating Charge; couple this with Ghost and its almost like having a 1000 yard Flash with how fast Hecarim can appear on the scene and mess up your day. His Q scales well with levels which lets him build pretty tanky and if he ever gets really ahead he can start prioritizing damage and really make heads roll. Once he gets his ultimate the angles at which he can gank from go up astronomically and it provides AoE-CC to boot! His real power lies in his W which allows him to be a late game brick wall that never dies. Hecarim again fits the curve perfectly being able to provide pressure and great early game damage while prioritizing all his items to transition him into that 4k hp monster that will never die come late game; all while ripping your team to shreds with a spear/scythe/javelin thing. His ultimate is a little less devastating than Amumu’s because it has a smaller chance of actually hitting five people, but its how incredibly hard it becomes to kill Hecarim late game that really gives him the edge. If you have Hecarim in your front line you basically always have a front line which is why he gets my #3.

#2:  Jarvan IV

Jarvan is a scary jungler right now. If you ever hear that “DEMACIA!” and you don’t have flash you are dead. It’s that simple. Jarvan fits the curve almost flawlessly providing tons of pressure as early as level two with his gap closer that knocks you up, shreds your armor, and increases his and his allies attack speed. If he comes back at level six he will have a shield and brings a giant ring of death that he can also use to close the gap a second time! He doesn’t need to build damage because he gets free armor shred, attack speed, and % damage from his kit, which allows him to prioritize into HP allowing him to fight up to five people in his Cataclysm for as long as his team needs him to while they rip them to shreds. Oh yea his shield also slows. Jarvan is in a very privileged spot right now, as he should be he is a god damn prince, and is definitely a top tier pick for jungler, and a scary one at that.

#1:  Xin Zhao

Xin Zhao gets my #1 spot because he fits my jungle curve perfectly as well as taking almost no skill to play. He does most things Jarvan does but with such increased simplicity it may actually make you face palm after you pick J4 and Leave Xin open. His Charge gap closes and shreds armor, no skill shot involved. He has a knock up that is based off his auto attacks, and increases their damage, which is what you are already doing anyawys, and he has an attack speed steroid which also heals him and has no cd (the heal proc) unlike Jarvan’s shield. His ultimate also has dual functionality in the fact that it can be used as a hard engage or hard disengage tool. Catch their adc trailing behind, just charge to him and separate him from his team. Did they catch you trailing behind? Target their support and knock the rest of them away as you make your escape. Crescent Sweep also provides Xin with free Armor and MR which means that Xin can deviate in prioritizing health into damage more freely than the other junglers. But in recap he provides great pressure early game with a gap closer and cc as early as level two. Has a team wide displacement ult with free defensive stats tacked on. He can build tanky and perfectly transition into the late game tank/initiator/cc machine you need him to be. He is the real deal.

Honorable Mentions:

These are the junglers that don’t make my Top 5 but I think are definitely worth mentioning as viable in the confines of the current meta, filling the Jungler/Tank/Bruiser role. They are listed in no specific order.


Elise (although she’s better top)

Lee Sin




Olaf (better top)


Shen (better top)



For those of you who don’t jungle stay tuned to News of Legends as I will be releasing a Top 5 for the other roles (Top, Mid, ADC, Support) in the future. Until then good luck and may this help you rise!

Love, Dcgreen



LoLKing Profile

Previous “Glory of the Climb” Articles:

Making Sense of Season 3

Dominion: Helping You To Win More Lanes and Games

Developing Your Killer Instincts: Why to be Aggressive in Season 3

Working With Your Team to Win

Countering Health with DFG

Reviewing the New “League System”

Why Losing is Just as Important as Winning





“With the recalculation of Armor Penetration and the increase in cost of armor, armor is no longer a cost efficient stat to buy to mitigate physical damage. Magic resistance also doesn’t seem to be readily available. All the pro players seem to have come to the conclusion that health is the best mitigation stat of Season 3.” ~ Some caster from IEM Katowice

This is an interesting statement and as we have been seeing lately is becoming more and more true. Warmog’s Armor’s new price is a major culprit to the growing trend of stacking health, even Voyboy gets it on toplane Katarina; so what the hell do we do about it? Well since resistances are generally lower, we need to find more reliable ways to deal bigger amounts of damage, so I propose using Deathfire Grasp and Blade of the Ruined King!

Now, I am not an AD player per se, and also at first glance I feel that BotRK is priced too high (2900 Gold) for what it actually does compared to more attractive items like Black Cleaver, Blood Thirster, and Last Whisper, so I am not going to talk about it.


The Appeal of the New Deathfire Grasp

For people too lazy to click links, the new DFG gives +100 AP, +15% CDR, and Activate: Deal 15% of Max HP as magic damage and increase all magic damage done to target by 20% for 4 seconds.

DFG takes health stacking down quite a few pegs because it gives you everything you need to deal more damage to a high HP target. 15% of their max HP chunks them down harder the more HP they stack, the AP makes all your spells do more damage, especially if they are favoring HP over MR, the debuff makes your unmitigated spells do more damage, and the CDR makes you cast more spells more often. Now, when something sounds too good to be true it usually kind of is, so lets try and run some basic numbers to see if this 3000 gold investment is worth it.


You used Deathfire Grasp! Was it Super Effective?

Looking at Champion stats we know that all Champions start with 30 base MR and if they are a bruiser they get an additional 1.25 MR per level (except in a few cases like Nidalee (.75) and Shen (+0, weird right?)). They will probably also have +17 from Runes and Masteries and +20 from a random Null Magic Mantle. So around mid game (level 11) they have 81 MR giving them 45% damage reduction, and at level 18 they have 95 MR (assuming the random mantle got turned into Mercs) giving them 49% damage reduction. Then assuming standard MPen Marks/Masteries/Sorc Boots you should bring them to 34% and 39% respectively. This reduces DFG’s initial % damage to 9-10% which is pretty good considering the investment. If the target has 3,000 HP you have an item that does 300 damage to them which is like having a 2nd ultimate ability.

Assuming 2x Doran’s Rings, 21 Ap from Runes/Masteries, +1 per level (@11), +100 from DFG, and 5% increased AP from masteries = 170 AP

Compared to 2x Doran’s Rings, 21 Ap from Runes/Masteries, +1 per level (@11), +120 from Dcap, 25% Ap, and 5% increased AP from masteries = 237 AP

Using Annie as an Example after 34% damage reduction:

Example: X base damage + (AP ratio with 170 AP)/(+AP ratio with 237 AP) = (base + 170AP * .34 reduction * .2 DFG increase = total)/(base + 237AP = total) – Winner = which does more damage

Q: level 3 – 165 base + (119 DFG)/(166 Rab) = (187 x .2 x 2 = 448 DFG)/(436 Rab) – Winner DFG (Q has x2 because the Cooldown is less than 4seconds which means you can cast it twice while the DFG buff is active)

W: level 5 – 280 base + (128 DFG)/(178 Rab) = (269 x .2 = 323 DFG)/(302 Rab) – Winner DFG
E : level 1 – Not relevant for example
R :level 2 – 325 base + (119 DFG)/(166 Rab) = (293 x .2 = 352 DFG)/(324 Rab) – Winner DFG

Deathfire_Grasp  VS. warmogs-armor

IT WAS! Thank Jesus it was Super Effective!

As we can see, because of the DFG buff you do 1123 total AP damage compared to the 1062 you would do with a Deathcap. Add in the extra 300 damage you will do with DFG itself and you are looking at 1423/1062 = 34% more damage than with a Deathcap. The downside is that this is all single-target damage and that for the remainder of the fight your dps will be lower than if you had a Deathcap. But concerning these high HP targets you just did 47% of their life in a single burst which should be enough to kill them before they do any serious damage to you or your ADC. Then once the fight becomes a 4v5 your team should be able to reliably clean up, plus you are still a relevant threat even though you do about 12% less damage than if you were cleaning up with a rushed Deathcap. With the 200 gold you save you could also potentially factor in another +25-40 AP by using an Elixir of Brilliance.

Now while this sounds good on paper I want to let everyone know that I have not actually tested this. It also only works on burst champs like Annie, Xerath, Veigar, LeBlanc, Syndra, Brand, and Kassadin. The more pure damage spells you have the better. I would not recommend rushing DFG on more standard AP champions such as Orianna, Anivia, Ryze, Swain, etc because they rely much more on specific itemization to also help fill their more utility-based roles.

Remember Season 3 is a time for experimentation so now is a good time to try things that can be potentially volatile to the meta and reap the ELO benefits!

Love, Dcgreen



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