All day and all night
Why do Xin Zhao and Vi win so many games, and we do we hate playing against them?
Right now the meta has begun to take a definite shape, but it’s not quite solidified and still open to possibilities. Furthermore, it resists simple, boxed descriptions as there was in Season 2, and the rosters and varying types of champions seems to be different than before. At the end of season 2, it was all about utility junglers, high-sustain tops, and farming mids. Junglers and some tops would try to be damage soaks and cc machines while the two carries would obliterate the whole team.
Now, it’s junglers and tops doing obliterating with some assassins and Kayle in the mix. Magic damage or physical damage isn’t as strictly adhered to. AD Carries don’t seem as depended on to carry or lose a game. Some champions moved up, some moved down, and some stayed the same. It’s usually discrete groups and types that go up or down in viability and now that the dust is settled, It’s hard to pin a common thread to it all.
Is there one? What’s going on?
After thinking about it for a while, sorting through winrates, tier lists, % picks and bans, I’ve come up with a common factor that is the single best factor.
Top-rate champions right now are ones that can force, survive, and win in sustained fights the longer they go on. There aren’t numbers enough to show this as a general rule, nor is there a graph. Just imagine a graph with the line going up as the fight goes on. If that graph applies to a champion, they’re doing great right now.
You could also view it as who does the best with Warmog’s and against it, but now that it’s been nerfed I’m noticing Randuin’s and Locket are becoming more of a focus in long games—last week’s LCS saw few of them. Even if there is no Mog’s on the person, this is another way to view it.
Tools for survivability
So let’s break it down. What does it take to keep lasting in a fight? Three kinds of sustain. Sustained crowd control, sustained damage, and sustained survival.
The ingredients required (this part is important):
- Low-cooldown abilities, whether it be inherent or from getting CDR;
- Buffed basic attacks
- Defensive abilities from shields, lifesteal, and regen
- Anti-tank and anti-defensive abilities such as armor shred or % health damage
- Disengage and Reengage abilities
The more of these you’ve got, the better you are in sustained fights right now, thus better as a champion in the current meta.
Let’s apply my theory to champions that are in, out, or meh right now.
Xin Zhao: Xin has awesome lifesteal, innate CDR abilities, and a semi-spammed slow and knockup. He also can cc the whole team with one move and has a free 15% armor pen applied to one person. Think about that. A Black Cleaver applies 25% for everyone to benefit from after four stacks. Xin’s applies after ONE HIT. Xin fits everything on the list except for disengage.
Vi: a free shield that is 10% of her max health every 8 seconds, at level 12. Think about this passive. That means if she has a Warmog’s and is level 12 and has about 3,000 health, then she gets a 300-health shield every 8 seconds. At the same time, if she hits someone a third time in a row she gets attack speed, 20% armor reduction, and %-health damage which stacks with bonus AD! Again, everything on the list but disengage.
Hecarim: lifesteal AOE move, can run away, spams Qs.
Garen: no basic attack buffs but spammy abilities, lots of engage / disengage opportunities, free extra armor and mr, his passive allows him to stay out of base for a long time.
Jarvan IV: shield, free armor, armor reduction ability that can hit and knockup multiple people at the same time, % health damage off a basic attack, a very unique ult that keeps people in place and can, for many people, only be escaped by using flash.
Nidalee: shredding traps, spammed poke, practically infinite engage/reengage, a strong heal, low cooldown offensive abilities.
Meanwhile, champions like Nautilus, Rengar, Malphite, or Nocturne don’t quite have the same ability. Nocturne has nice basic attack buffs from his free attack speed and passive, but his ult has a long cooldown and he has mana issues. He also isn’t innately defensive or anti-tank. Malphite has nice initiation, but for him you have to get someone out of the picture quickly, then lock down the rest with his other defensive abilities. If he isn’t fed, he’ll perhaps trade carries, then die to someone with more staying power, or perhaps he’ll ult and the carry will survive, and then he’ll be a sitting duck. Rengar’s abilities have too long of cooldowns, his heal isn’t good enough, and his damage, cc, and leap just aren’t enough to stick.
Even Lee Sin and Katarina, those old stalwarts, aren’t as strong. I don’t think this is just because they were nerfed. They nerfed Warmog’s, and their abilities just start to taper off after about 15 seconds. They need definite results early to stay in, and if they can’t get in or they are forced to use it on fat people, they’ll taper.
Why do those champions have staying power? Do they invalidate this theory?
These champions are seeming exceptions to the rule because of unique skillsets. Lux is easy to build CDR for and has two cc moves and a very long range ult, + a spammed shield that works on multiple targets. This makes it so she can go the distance FROM a distance, which few mages can do. Anivia can also do this, which is why she stayed around.
Why are Varus, Draven, Kog’Maw, and Miss Fortune so much bigger now? They all have anti-tank damage. Why is Vayne still not? She’s still hard to play and doesn’t have the range or cc/disengage that those champs do. And Twitch? Why is he so much better now? Twitch has true damage, huge burst, huge damage, and like Lux, huge range. When the going gets tough he can stealth in or out…to disengage or reengage. See where I’m going?
Akali is hit and miss and matchup dependent, but smart Akali players get the snowball rolling to prevent problem champs like Vi or Xin from getting out of hand. She has shroud to disengage, and she can pour on abilities in a way that Katarina can’t. Also she got buffed, and free spellvamp added on a revolver is nothing to laugh at for sustained fights. Lastly, she is one of the few assassins that are very difficult to peel and can easily pick someone off, chase them a long way, and get back to the fight. Her sustained damage, Rylai’s/Vamp, shroud, and dash resets allow her to stay the way other champions don’t. Kha’Zix? Not so much anymore—he’s run on poke comps now using his W. Talon and Pantheon are okay, but not huge problems.
Kassadin? He favors longer fights. Stay there longer, and his R gets reset. He will continue to produce silences, slows, and blinks in and out for engage and disengage. He even, haha, has a good basic attack (that’s not why he’s strong)!
Why is Liandry’s awesome? It’s %-health.
Why else is Locket awesome? It’s health, armor, regen, and CDR, and a shield for teammates every 60 seconds, and it’s inexpensive. Is it any wonder it’s become popular? Shurelya’s and Zeke’s pale compared to this.
Why do they want Blade of the Ruined King, which they have buffed and are going to buff again, to be awesome? Why do they want Warmog’s nerfed?
It’s not simply health-stacking that’s the meta. It’s sustained fighting ability. You have to be able to fight long and hard to win or play well against champions that do that. You snooze, you lose.
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