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?
- 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 (2%), Yasuo(2%), Aatrox(1%), Irelia(1%), Nasus(1%), and Riven(<1%).
- 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.
Basically, only Trundle has managed to break onto the scene as a common pick, and only really as a counter-pick to tanky champions. It remains to be seen if new champions will break into the top meta, but right now, the prospects look grim.
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. Essentially, this leaves us with 4 types of junglers:
- Good ganks pre-6, better ganks post-6
- Vi, Lee Sin and Pantheon are the biggest examples, and they account for 19%, 16% and 11% of junglers respectively. Eve also sneaks in for another 5%.
- Great ganks pre-6, about the same post-6
- Elise is basically the ‘constant pressure’ jungler, and accounts for over 20% of jungle picks.
- Bad ganks pre-6, great ganks post-6.
- Wukong accounts for 10% of the jungle picks. His early game is weak, but once he hits 6, his ganks can be devastating.
- Strong snowballing/farming.
- Olaf (6%), Kha’Zix (3%), Shyvana (3%), and Gragas (1.5%) are about the only farm-heavy junglers to see play.
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.
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.
- Gragas and Ziggs make up about 30% of mid picks.
- Assassin mids – Assassins dominated the end of the 2013 season, and are still strong in the 2014 spring split.
- LeBlanc is the priority assassin, accounting for about 13% of mid picks.
- Zed, Kha’Zix, Fizz, and Ahri combined equal about as many picks as LeBlanc, and a few straggler assassins make up the difference.
- Team fight mids – Some mids simply bring a lot of AoE damage and CC that can initiate fights.
- The primary two are Orianna and Yasuo, accounting for about 13% of mid picks.
- Supportive mids – Some mids bring a lot of team utility and lane presence.
- Nobody’s surprised to see Kayle mid; she’s a strong counter-assassin pick, and accounts for about 10% of mid picks.
- Lulu mid, on the other hand, is a bit more novel, and makes up about 6% of mid picks, almost entirely in the last 3 weeks.
- Ever since HotshotGG declared AP Nidalee dead after Season 1 Dreamhack — and started playing bruiser Nidalee — Nidalee players have complained about every AP Nidalee nerf. Yet she still remains an extremely strong pick, with about 6% of mid picks under her belt as the only pure poke.
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:
- Lucian is picked in a staggering 30% of games,
- Caitlyn: 25%
- Jinx: 20%
- Sivir: 13%.
- From there, the next 3 ADCs (Ezreal/Vayne/Draven) barely amount to as many picks as Sivir.
I probably shouldn’t have hyped ADC so hard, because Support suffers from extreme concentration of champions.
- Thresh: almost 1/3 of picks
- Leona: 22%
- Annie: 21%
- Lulu: 6%
- Morgana: 5%
- Every other support: 13%
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.
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: the 25 most picked and banned champions in the first half of the 2014 spring split. Tune in next time for investigations into win rates and matchups, lane-by-lane!
Mattias “Gentleman Gustaf” Lehman is a big time nerd-gamer who has been involved in both SC2 and LoL. He has ranked as high as Diamond 1 in solo queue and Diamond 3 in arranged 5s.
You can see his other work here:
Reign of Gaming LoL articles
I love to talk to friends, and you can add me at Gentleman Gustaf, but keep in mind that my friend list is very near full, so I may not reply, or I may delete you shortly thereafter (to make room for others)