What Works Right Now?
Rather than go in-depth about each champion, many of whom you are already aware, I’d like to talk about what the solo queue meta looks like right now. What kind of champions win, how the roles have changed, and why, and with those in mind, then give you a list of the champions to pick and avoid.
Right now, being a mage or a bruiser is the best thing to be. The masteries and meta favors this. Being an AD Carry is, in a way, the worst right now, because the changes have affected them the most negatively. Junglers and supports have more gold, and tops are harder to kill.
It was already frustrating to play this role in solo queue because if your team didn’t get the proper cc and/or doesn’t peel right, you’re free food. If your team doesn’t push and you try to split push, the other team will usually kill you, and then your own team gets upset that you’re feeding during the League of Jungle Farm or League of Minion Clearing.
Mundo and Shyvana are strong again, and a fully stacked and fed Mundo and Shyvana, who are not countered by the appropriate mage and/or bruiser (and they often aren’t), is a nightmare.
To be awfully, awfully reductive, supports got buffed, jungling got slightly buffed (overall, not every type), top got buffed (defense masteries), and mid is about the same. All of this, along with vision changes and other mastery changes, leads to carries feeling weaker than before.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t win as an AD carry, as Sivir’s win and ban rate currently attests. It just means you have to think of the carry differently. The role has shifted, just as others have.
A carry is still good at pushing down turrets. A carry can still do a lot of damage to the enemy team. And a carry can kill a lot of people. It’s the one-on-one, the hotshot stuff, the getting fed and destroying everyone bit that’s been toned down. You don’t have to do that to win. Right now, games go longer. The vision changes have players feeling more paranoid about getting caught and losing. The inhib changes mean a single lost team fight or inhib isn’t the end of the world. Comebacks happen more often. With more fights, and less of them being aces, pushing will take the cake. That is one reason why Sivir and Ziggs are ridiculously strong right now. They have great map reach and they can do a lot for their team even after they lose a lane.
Early game snowball stuff has changed. Going Lee and getting 5 successful ganks in 10 minutes for a clinched victory just doesn’t happen much anymore, and killing someone so hard that you win the game entirely is harder to do too (though not as impossible as support junglers snowballing right away). A game being decided early generally only happens if someone gets insanely fed off more than one source (not just a lane opponent, which is why Kassadin hasn’t changed at all even if the assassin meta has) or if 3 lanes or roles got destroyed. If a jungler has no presence and two lanes lost heavily, or all three lanes lost heavily, it can be game. But just one lane is not the case. I once went 7-2-0 as Sivir in 15 and got the bottom and mid turret down, with the top following soon after (due to map pressure shifts). Our top and mid were even or only lost slightly. Our jungler was Sion and weak all game. We almost lost. We lost plenty of team fights, then were behind most of the game. The enemy Vi (who killed got 2-3 kills on our support early and then fed off all of us for much of the game) ruined two easily winnable fights and we pushed for the win, and got lucky. Point is: game’s aren’t as foregone as they used to be.
So play a carry more like an independent champion. Focus on turrets. Don’t focus quite as much on farming and having people peel for you. The world doesn’t revolve around you any more.
Case in point.
Making decisions, map awareness, and warding intelligently are rewarded even more. That is a little harder as a carry, especially if your team isn’t as cohesive as it could be.
The pool of strong carries isn’t very large right now. That’s not terribly fun but you do what you have to. It’s not as bad as when Ezreal, Corki, and Graves were the only competitive legitimate options.
That said, ban or pick Sivir. Her nerfing isn’t done yet. If you have to play against her, pick Jinx, Lucian, Draven, or (if you’re good with them, but these are less recommended) Ashe, Varus or Quinn. Only those in the first list are on the “heroes” list.
As for non-carry champs, don’t worry about the carries so much (unless they get Sivir, or they get Lucian to counter your Nasus, etc.). Worry about late game, roaming, pushing, and independent map management. Depending on your teammates is even more frustrating than before. However, it applies to the other team to, and teammates like to follow people who roam, farm the enemy jungle, and push without dying. Do that, and they will subtly come to where you are. Also, it’s stupid, but people don’t look at pings. Do a regular ping, then do the “on the way” ping. Someone will think someone else responded and that two people are going to do something.
Hyper-carries, and people who benefit from tons of money will benefit more. Annie is good champ. But once it’s late game, her power doesn’t spike the way an Orianna, Kayle, or Jax’s does.
For mids, pick pushers and sustained AOE damage champs or Kassadin.
For tops, pick those that can wreck entire teams when fed. Darius can be kited and cc’d and escaped from. He doesn’t push that well compared to many other tops. Champions previously mentioned, or champions like Renekton.
Supports are similar, only apply it to tanks and mages. Zyra can die instantly or get caught easily. She’s a two-edged sword. Leona at late game can be impossible to kill. Same with Taric or Thresh. Fiddlesticks can blow up the other team after he won bottom lane with his fear and silence.
Last tip: don’t pick Vayne into Sivir because of what bronze players voted on a community website before Sivir was reworked and made ridiculously strong, and Vayne was nerfed multiple times even as a middle-rate / niche carry. It’s not a good idea. I see it happening all the time. It’s the logic and advice of fools to do so.
On to the list. I’m not going to rank every single champion: that’s not the point of this article.
Solo Queue Heroes
Teemo, Sivir, Rammus, Taric, Thresh, Amumu, Shyvana, Kassadin, Fiddlesticks, Warwick, Morgana, Quinn, Viktor, Lucian, Jinx, Draven, Mundo, Riven, Sona, Kayle, Singed, Volibear, Nasus.
These champions are all ridiculous at late game and counter or deal with a lot of the established meta. Most of these champions fit qualities mentioned earlier in this article. Sona and Taric, while nerfed along with traditional supports, are just awesome with big items, and Taric was reworked to his old feel of lane bully who can make a lot of mistakes. Viktor’s late game team fights are great. The hardest decision for this section is Quinn, who is good at top lane. At bottom lane she is difficult to play (especially if against the other marksmen) but in either lane her ultimate is great in the new season for covering the map, the big long escapes, chasing people down, and pushing like crazy. Her vision move helps a lot too for not getting caught and for checking Baron. She fits a lot of the meta. I almost put her in the category below.
Solo Queue Maybes
Eve, Annie, Akali, Galio, Syndra, Karma, Poppy, Xerath, Heimerdinger, Blitzcrank, Olaf, Zac, Leona, Orianna, Udyr, Kha’Zix, Cassiopeia, Aatrox, Xin Zhao, Fiora, Kog’Maw, Shen, Fizz, Nami.
These champions have benefitted from recent changes but are not shoo-ins. Basically, if you are good at these champions you can do well with them as long as you understand when to pick them and how to play them. For example, Heimerdinger is great for the pushing meta, but not against infini-tank Shyvana or Mundo or in long, drawn out team fights with long chases. Eve, Annie, Syndra, Blitzcrank, Olaf, Cassiopeia, and Aatrox fit this as well. Poppy, Fiora, and Kha’Zix are champs that you’d not think are doing better, but they are as it’s easier to get to late game with them. But they are hard to play and can be horrible picks against certain team comps. If you are great with these champs, go to town, but they should be picked with caution. Zac is much better at top than at jungle (his clearing is weaker). Blitzcrank is banned less of the time but Taric and Leona are very popular and stronger now, and Lucian, Sivir, and Jinx are all good against him.
Solo Queue Zeroes
Ezreal, Vayne, Garen, Zed, Nidalee, LeBlanc, Shen, Elise, Lee Sin, Vladimir, Irelia.
These champions should be avoided. They lose too much and have too much opportunity to lose a game after a won lane. They also fail to deal with tanks, even if they get pretty fed, and that applies to even Vayne, whose strength was at chewing up supporty type tanks. With two big bruisers who are more likely to be farmed, carries who beat her, and supports that don’t have to be terrified of her, even in the later game, I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t pick her, even often if she’s your best. I’m a stat nerd: I check people’s stats before game. Plenty of good Vaynes are losing right now. It’s time to put her on the backburner.
Ezreal is great at split-pushing but he has poor wave clear and is weak as an anti-tank carry. I’m willing to bet LeBlanc actually wins more as support than as mid, if it weren’t for the fact too many people pick her incorrectly or can’t play her well. But a LeBlanc has poor, poor wave clear and that’s even more important now. Now more than ever, a winning LeBlanc has to run around putting out fires if her teammates lose lanes, all while not being able to push well at any place she stops. Shen doesn’t wreck other teams and boss the map like he used to.
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