TL;DR Reign of Gaming is moving forward with a new blog system (among other things), and I will no longer be a consistent author here, although I will continue to do guest posts from time to time. However, I wanted to give you all one last blog post. Today's topic? An in-depth analysis of picks and bans in the first half of the 2014 spring split of LCS.
I will no longer be writing consistently for Reign of Gaming, although I will try to pen some guest posts from time-to-time. However, I have been lucky enough to be offered a post writing for Riot Games at lolesports.com.
If you want to see my posts there, you can check them out here! As well, I've started my own solo League of Legends website at http://gentlemangustaf.com, so feel free to stop by!
Now, let's dive into that LCS data!
Let’s start with the basics: what are the champions LCS players consider strong enough to pick or ban consistently? Rather than lump it all together, let’s go role by role!
At the beginning of the 2014 Season, top lane was dominated by three champions: Renekton, Mundo, and Shyvana. These champions — as detailed here and here — are manaless, extremely tanky, and very sustained with the new masteries.
Early in Season 4, two counter-picks to these champions arose, Warwick (played mostly by Gambit’s top laner: Darien) and Trundle (popularized by Fnatic’s top laner: sOAZ). Warwick had high sustain and % health damage, while Trundle’s ultimate drained the tankiness of the dominant top laners. As well, sOAZ and Balls were expected to play their Season 3 AP picks. How has this panned out?
As it turns out, not very much.
- Renekton, Mundo, and Shyvana account for about 20% of top lane picks each.
- Tank-busters account for about 17.5%, with about 15% from Trundle and 2.5% from Warwick.
- Melee Carries make up about 8% of picks, split between Jax, Yasuo, Aatrox, Irelia, Nasus, and Riven.
- AP Carries account for another 8% between Gragas (2%), Karthus (1%), Rumble (1%), LeBlanc (1%), Lulu (1%), Nidalee (1%), Lissandra (<1%), and Vladimir (<1%).
- AP Tanks add another 2.5% split evenly between Malphite and Zac.
Groups 1-4 all maintain about a 50% win rate. So what causes groups 1 and 2 to be so popular? Consistency. Top lane has always been biased towards tanky champions because of the volatility of the lane. It is isolated from dragon, so may go long periods without help, and it often suffers from 2v1 lanes. As such, top laners need to be able to deal with falling behind. A carry who falls behind is nearly useless, while a bruiser who falls behind is simply finally killable.
More interesting than the 50% win rates is against whom those wins come.
Renekton is 30-26 overall, but more importantly, he’s 12-4 against all champions outside the 4 top picks. This is what we expect from Renekton: he wins every lane, but has to win lane or he gets outscaled. While he is 8-4 against Mundo (able to punish his weak early game), he is 6-9 against Shyvana and 4-9 against Trundle. More than anything, this is what makes Shyvana and Trundle solid picks: they can beat Renekton; not necessarily in lane, but in overall contributions to the game. Against champions who aren't Renekton/Mundo/Shyvana/Trundle, Shyvana and Trundle actually have modest records: 6-6 and 5-6 respectively.
However, I foresee this changing in the near future. The regen from perserverance and Doran’s Shield that made Dr. Mundo and Shyvana viable has been nerfed heavily. Doran’s Shield’s health regen has been nerfed by 40%, and the perserverance regen has been nerfed by 66%. While Trundle and Renekton can start Doran’s Blade, Mundo and Shyvana are pretty reliant on the sustain of Doran’s Shield. With the Doran’s Shield nerfs coming through, I predict Shyvana and Dr. Mundo falling slightly out of favor, with Renekton sticking around as a generally strong laner, and Trundle as a strong Renekton counter. As well, champions who have strong sustain from their kits or builds — Irelia/Aatrox/Jax — or strong poke — Jayce — might be able to force champions out of lane without the the oppressive regen of Doran’s Shield. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see more Warwick!
The new jungle was heralded as allowing ‘farming’ junglers to have a place in the meta. However, looking at most of the top picks, a jungler’s role remains the same as it’s always been: snowball lanes during the early game, control objectives during the early and mid game, and initiate/peel/dive late-game.
Elise, Vi, and Lee Sin were all dominant junglers last season, and have remained so. Pantheon was buffed into viability by changes to Elder Lizard, and his early ganks have started to strike terror into the hearts of laners, but only become worse once he hits 6.
One striking thing really stands out about this: every champion on here — except Wukong — has a winning record. In fact, if we look at the win rates of all champions picked fewer than 4 times, they are 5-15. If we include the 3 next-least-picked champions, Nunu, Gragas, and Shyvana, that extends to a whopping 7-30. For comparison, the numbers of the 'niche' picks are 16-19 in top and 7-5 in support. Only mid compares, with a 9-25 record.
In jungle, it really seems like there is a bar: can jungle vs can’t jungle. The strong junglers right now feel like Vi, Lee Sin, and Pantheon: AD junglers with strong early games and devasting post-6 ganks. However, Evelynn is gaining popularity, Elise does well vs Vi/Evelynn, and Olaf sneaks in off of good scaling. As for Wukong, he really only has one good matchup, Elise, and has a measly 43.48% win-rate.
Mid lane is the black sheep of lanes right now. While 4 top laners account for about 80% of top lane picks, and 5 junglers do the same, you need 10 mid laners to account for 80% of mid lane picks. Many people love seeing tons of different champion picks. To an analyst, it’s sort of a nightmare. Mid lane ends up being the hardest to analyze this season, because the wide variety of picks decreases the consistency of picks, which makes it hard to distinguish actual trends from random correlations.
There are also a few types of mids that are picked
- Wave clear mids – These mids obviously bring other things than wave clear to the table, but they have strong wave clear, which allows for solid tower control.
- Assassin mids – Assassins dominated the end of the 2013 season, and are still strong in the 2014 spring split.
- Team fight mids – Some mids simply bring a lot of AoE damage and CC that can initiate fights.
- Supportive mids – Some mids bring a lot of team utility and lane presence.
I think analyzing each matchup in mid is disingenuous, due to the low sample size of each matchup, so I'll avoid it. The most-played matchup is Gragas vs Ziggs, with 9 games, the next highest is LeBlanc vs Orianna, with 6 games, and from there, everything is 4 games or fewer. So while it’s safe to say that there’s counter-picking, there’s a lot of picking to fit the team, or counter the enemy’s team, or picking a jungler to offset the laner’s strengths.
Mid has to choose between roaming and lane dominance; wave clear and single-target burst, utility and damage, and so many more factors, not to mention countering their lane. No wonder many teams leave mid for their last pick. So instead, I’ll leave you with a few meandering thoughts:
- Assassins. LeBlanc and Kha’Zix have extremely high win rates, and Zed has seen some success, despite outcry after his last set of nerfs.
- Nidalee is also scary, as usual. Dem spears.
- Karthus seems to be making a comeback, with the same 80% win rate as Vayne
- Lulu wins lane, and that’s given her a decent win rate at 56%.
- Yasuo was hyped as super scary, but 54%, while strong, doesn’t quite live up to the hype.
If top lane looks dominated by 3 champions, you haven’t played bot lane recently. ADCs almost reach the 80% mark with the top 3 picks:
It's a bit baffling that anybody picks Ezreal at all, given his low win rate. If I had to guess, he's a comfort pick for ADCs, given how safe he has been for so long.
Then again, Lucian is the top-picked champion with a 43% record, so it may be that ADCs preference safety too-highly. However, I think there's some matchup information at play, so we'll revisit this later.
I probably shouldn’t have hyped ADC so hard, because Support suffers from even more extreme concentration of champions.
Basically, Thresh is the dominant pick, Morgana is a good counter-pick to Leona, and you’re stuck with Leona/Annie/Lulu if the other team gets Thresh.
But bot lane picks should be made together: what important considerations remain when we combine the data?
The matchups help to explain why Lucian is such a strong pick. Caitlyn only synergizes well with Thresh, while Jinx is heavily countered by Caitlyn (data available here).
This makes first-picking Caitlyn dangerous because it locks you into Thresh, and first-picking Jinx dangerous because the enemy team can just grab Caitlyn. I do think that as more players start to master Sivir, she will replace Lucian as the 'safe' pick, but for now, picking him isn't great, but avoids hard counters.
How do the bans reflect the pick situation?
Adding up picks and bans, we can get the most feared (and liked) champions in the LCS:
- 125 (122/3) – Kassadin
- 124 (71/53)- Elise
- 113 (31/82) – Thresh
- 112 (56/56) – Annie
- 86 (46/40) – LeBlanc
- 80 (32/48) – Gragas
- 80 (6/74) – Lucian
- 77 (21/56) – Renekton
- 76 (14/62) – Caitlyn
- 75 (28/47) – Vi
- 70 (46/24) – Kayle
- 68 (15/53) – Dr. Mundo
- 68 (10/58) – Leona
- 62 (31/31) – Pantheon
- 61 (20/41) – Lee Sin
- 56 (7/49) – Shyvana
- 53 (35/18) – Yasuo
- 53 (6/47) – Jinx
- 49 (17/32) – Ziggs
- 42 (10/32) – Lulu
- 41 (7/34) – Trundle
- 40 (8/32) – Sivir
- 37 (20/17) – Kha’Zix
- 36 (20/16) – Olaf
- 31 (11/20) – Riven
So there you have it: an analysis of each lane and the 25 most picked and banned champions in the first half of the 2014 spring split.
Mattias "Gentleman Gustaf" Lehman is a big time nerd-gamer and mathcrafter who has ranked as high as Diamond 1 in solo queue and Diamond 3 in arranged 5s.
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