Mid has always been the most diverse role in the game, and so I’ll inevitably end up leaving some champions out. However, let’s look at the most important champions to the mid lane meta!
The mid lane meta is a bit more scattered, with a mid laner often setting the tone for a team. However, two types of mid laners seem dominant at the minute: assassins, and utility mid laners. This is largely a result of the 4.10 patch Infinity Edge changes, which had the intended effect of making AD Carries stronger in the late game. This shifted the meta towards late-game ADCs, and to that end, most mid laners are focused on either instantly killing the enemy ADC or keeping their own ADC alive. However, there is also room for mid laners that can rival AD Carries as late-game damage sources.
The Current Meta
Syndra is a relative newcomer to the LCS, but she has been lurking as an extremely strong champion for months. She has recently been brought to the forefront by Voyboy and Bjergsen, although a number of players have picked her in 2014. In a lot of ways, Syndra is what Veigar should be. She is highly immobile, yet has extremely high burst and decent CC that requires significant skill to land. This means that her biggest weakness is also her biggest strength. What do I mean by that? Syndra has high range and high damage, meaning she wins most lane matchups. This means that ganking Syndra is almost necessary to stop her from getting out of control. However, ganking a Syndra is extremely risky, thanks to her high burst, as Ringer learned the hard way, trying to set up a gank onto Pobelter’s Syndra.
Don’t mistake Syndra for just a lane bully, as her teamfighting is extremely strong, thanks the utility of her knockback and her ability to instantly erase a priority target. For more on Syndra, read about her competitive play and check out the lolesports Pro Tips on Syndra!
Zed has everything you could want on an assassin, multiple gap-closers, insane burst, a decent amount of poke, and a slow to stick to their target. However, most of his abilities serve multiple functions, requiring him to choose. For example, some of his best harass involves using his escape, leaving him vulnerable to ganks. Having two gap closers, allows him to dodge a lot of damage, meaning that his outplay potential is extremely high, as showcased in that – now famous – Zed v Zed battle where Faker first wowed Western audiences.
Zilean came out of nowhere. He was played as a support by SKTT1K at All Stars, but with how badly they stomped that event, there was some speculation that they were just trolling. However, Zilean has gone on to be one of the largest mid lane picks in the LCS, with 29 bans and 10 picks during the 55 LCS playoff games. He has replaced Lulu as the utility mid laner, bringing both a speed buff and a hard revive for a teammate. As well, he is a strong lane bully thanks to his time bombs.
Xerath is a newcomer to the competitive scene, but he has proven himself quickly. Xerath has extremely long-ranged abilities, allowing him to rain damage down on the enemy team from a safe distance, and pick off fleeing members at low health. As Sneaky put it after having to play as Kog’Maw vs Xerath, “here’s a gif of me from game 4”
Not long ago, I’d have called Yasuo the best mid laner in the game. His Windwall makes up for his major weakness, being melee, while making his team almost entirely immune to picks. For that alone, he makes a good pick, but on top of that he has huge damage that only requires his team to land a single knockup/knockback. With champions like Maokai, Nami, and Alistar (not to mention Lee Sin and Tristana) at a premium, landing a single champion with a reliable knockup/knockback has proven easy. However, ranged champions have been getting longer and longer ranged, causing him to be more punished in lane. He is still a great pick, but he’s no longer the pick/ban status he was not long ago..
These mid laners are just always strong. They aren’t particularly meta-based, but what they bring is just objectively strong, regardless of the meta.
Orianna may be the most important mid lane champion in the game. It’s not that she’s the best mid laner, it’s that she does everything. Need utility? She has a speed boost and a slow. Need shields? She’s got that too. Need damage? Orianna’s got you covered. Need initiation? Shockwave it is! Most importantly, Orianna doesn’t have many horribly lane matchups, allowing her to be picked at any time during the draft phase. There has almost never been a time when Orianna wasn’t at least a good pick. With any gap-closing champion, she can land an easy initiation onto primary targets, most theatrically demonstrated by CLG’s famous Ball Delivery Cow:
For more on Orianna, read about her competitive play!
Twisted Fate may not be the most popular champion going into the World Championship, but he is one of the most unique. When most people think of Twisted Fate, they think of his ultimate, Destiny, and using it to influence other lanes through ganks from mid lane. However, his ultimate remains quite valuable into the late game, as he is able to uses it to teleport to a priority target, stun them, and then use Zhonya’s to survive while his team follows up. Most importantly, the low cooldown on his Pick a Card allows him to spam out stuns; watch as Hai gets off three cards in a gank top vs Dyrus!
With Dade at the World Championship, it’s almost a certainty that Twisted Fate will be picked at some point, being one of his signature champions. For more on Twisted Fate, check out my analysis of his competitive play!
Kassadin, Kassadin, Kassadin. Try as they may, Riot simply can’t nerf him out of the competitive scene. In Europe, where he’s always seen the most dominance, he saw picks or bans in 22 out of the 26 Summer Playoff games. Kassadin is a ticking time bomb for a number of reasons:
- His damage scales up the longer a fight goes on, making him very dangerous once he reaches full stacks
- He has an incredible amount of mobility, given the low cooldown on Riftwalk. This allows him to escape most ganks in the mid-game, while giving him unparalleled ability to chase down low targets.
- Thanks to his new mana oriented builds, he actually gets quite tanky as well, adding even more threat to his kit. He can’t be focused easily, which lets him get his full damage off, and even if he is brought low, his kit has a naturally high ability to escape.
All of this means one thing: you don’t want to make a single mistake against a Kassadin, no matter how ahead you are. He will find you, he will chase you down, and he will snowball harder and harder. While Royal Club did not win this game, the following clip showcases Kassadin’s to be extremely dangerous despite a gold disadvantage.
While Ryze has been dominant in the top lane, he is also a viable pick in mid lane for many of the same reasons. However, his low range can get him in trouble in some mid lane matchups, making him a much more niche pick.
Ahri and Fizz, the highly mobile assassins, see on and off play, especially in Europe and Korea. As such, it’s likely that they will show up at the World Championship at least to an extent.
Ziggs has largely fallen out of favor, simply because what he provides – long range and wave clear – is better provided by Xerath. If Xerath is banned vs a team running a late game poke/wave clear composition, Ziggs is a safe backup.
What do you think? Do you agree with my list? What mid laners do you think will see play at the 2014 World Championship? Weigh in in the comments, and stay tuned for the current ADC meta next!