Over the past week of competitive play, we saw League Patch, 9.4, being implemented in all legions except for the LPL.
Here, we will be talking about how the latest League patch has influenced professional play, specifically, when it comes to drafting as the game was fundamentally left unchanged by the latest update.
In general, solo lanes have been greatly affected by the recent series of nerfs to previously prioritized picks. Champions such as Akali, Irelia, and Aatrox have met several changes over the past few patches, and as such are no longer contested picks. The most recent champion to meet this treatment has been Urgot, losing much of his shielding in his W, meaning that trades against him can become more meaningful, and having his mana costs significantly higher for his Q and W. While this does not place Urgot at a level wherein he is no longer viable in professional play, the priority should be gone as he is no longer the immensely safe pick that he has been.
Because of this, top lane has become a more open lane in terms of champions that are to be picked. The leading champion in terms of presence has been Jayce, being banned 31 out of the 38 competitive games. This comes to us with no surprise as Jayce is one of the best lane bullies in the game, and he can be flexed between the top lane, jungle, mid lane, and bot lane. Other viable options include Kennen, Ryze, and Vladimir.
To accompany these scaling picks, teams have started drafting strong skirmishing junglers to help accelerate the pace.
Bruisers such as Riven, Renekton, Jax, Irelia, and Fiora has also seen some play because of the recent changes to the keystone rune Conquereor.
Another emerging pick is Vladimir, who can run through entire teams if given the time and space to do so.
For the jungle, the only notable change has been to Rek’sai: with some quality of life changes to her kit, her combos now feel smoother and more rewarding to execute. In addition, her ultimate can now only be dodged if the champion to be hit dashes a significant distance away. This means that it cannot be dodged by using the summoner spell Flash. Due to the changes Rek’sai has seen a lot more presence both in picks and in bans, being banned in 10 games, and being picked in 11.
The rest of the jungle pool is quite the same. We still have skirmish-heavy junglers such as Jarvan IV, Lee Sin, and Olaf. Aatrox seems to be rather dependable on the jungle as well. Due to the nerfs to his Q, Karthus’ clear speed has been greatly reduced, and he has been seeing less presence overall.
Four picks stand out the mos in the middle lanet: Lissandra, Sylas, Zoe, and LeBlanc. Lissandra is still in the meta due to the amount of safety that she has in her kit, and the sheer amount of crowd control she has. With the proper set up, an initiating or a flanking Lissandra can be the deciding factor of a team fight.
LeBlanc has been the best mid lane assassin in a while, but she can be rather conditional. Still, she has been banned a total of 22 times and picked just 9 times, marking her strong position in the meta even if she needs the proper set up in order to succeed.
Zoe sees play mostly because she is a good matchup into Lissandra. Not to mention, in a siege, Zoe can be oppressive as she throws her skillshots into the defending team.
Sylas is in a rather odd position. While his lane strengths are much more easily utilized in the top lane, teams gain so much from being in the mid lane due to the inherent wave clear present in the champion. Because of his capability to clear waves fast, he is able to shove minion waves into the enemy turret and then roam. Of course, there is still an issue of what kind of ultimates Sylas can steal in the end, but if the rest of the team is put ahead due to Sylas’ roaming, this may not matter if the game ends too early.
Mid lane may look to be quite the same as last patch’s, but Zed and Azir have gotten quite reasonable buffs. They may see some play under the right conditions.
Not much has changed in this lane. For the carry role, lane-dominant champions such as Lucian and Kalista are still the best picks to secure bottom lane priority. Scaling options such as the Kai’sa and the Cassiopeia are still viable, and critical-strike chance AD Carries such as Sivir, Xayah, Jinx, and Tristana have been cropping up here and there. The best marksman would still have to be Ezreal, though. With his serviceable laning phase, safety in his E, and late game scaling due to the Double Tear of the Goddess build, Ezreal remains to be a force to be reckoned with at all stages of the game.
For the support position, the usual play making supports of Alistar, Braum, Tahm Kench and Thresh have been of a high presence. The difference has been the Galio: it has been picked 14 times, and banned 12 times. While it can be flexed into the mid lane, the recent nerfs to the champion has made it a rather risky pick to put in the mid lane. The play making potential on the champion is still rather top notch, and most teams would not want to miss out on that. How Galio would end up shaping bottom lane matchups remains to be seen.
League Patch 9.4 was huge, but not in an explosive manner.
By changing the Conqueror Keystone Rune and nerfing the champions terrorizing the solo lanes, we’ve seen the meta open up a bit. Teams now have a lot more freedom in the pick and ban phases than before. Even if we may still see specific players’ champion pools targeted, the increased diversity in possibly strategies makes it easier for teams to play around such “weaknesses” and still come out triumphant.
What do you think was the biggest thing when it came to the League patch 9.4? Do you think the next League patch will continue with the same line of changes? What kind of changes do you think we’ll see down the line? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.