Two new faces flew onto the Rift during Patch 7.8, however, they were disabled for the entirety of the Midseason Invitational. But as of the first week of the Summer Split they will be uncaged and free to wreak havoc on their prey. Xayah and Rakan have been praised for their high mobility and damage, combined with punishing crowd control. With Xayah’s Featherstorm that can be used to both deal and evade damage, and Rakan’s ultimate The Quickness that can disrupt an entire enemy team, the bot lane has been full of feathers since their arrival.
It’s somewhat unusual for an AD Carry to have such a loaded toolkit as Xayah’s, but the price to pay for her strength is that she is punished in a few fundamental areas for professional play. Being out-ranged and out pushed in lane by the rest of the meta Marksman pack, Xayah might find herself in more of a niche role for players that pride themselves on being able to pick into specific matches, rather than just playing the flavor of the month. One such player, famed for his Draven picks while playing for Misfits in their debut split, Hans Sama, spoke to us about some of Xayah’s strengths.
"I’ve both played as Xayah and against her, and I think she’s a strong champion. She has kill potential with her E combo and her W allows her to kite or chase targets easily. It’s also hard to catch her due to her ultimate letting her be untargetable for 1.5 seconds. You can force the enemy flash with a gank because of Xayah’s potential crowd control. But she hasn’t got the best laning phase compared to Ashe or Caitlyn, so maybe teams will prioritize a more pushing lane."
Out of the two feathered fighters Xayah has definitely stolen the spotlight, which is ironic considering Rakan’s flair for the dramatic. The sad truth is, without his beloved Xayah to fight for, Rakan just doesn’t hold up to the other supports available. His ability to push is hindered when paired with anybody else, and suffers from an overall weak laning phase. His “style” of play is centered around team fighting and crowd control, which typically isn’t played at the moment because it’s difficult to win lane. Because of this, I don’t anticipate seeing Rakan without Xayah often at all.
"I think Xayah is even stronger with Rakan, they have such good synergy and kill pressure. With W at level 1, enemies can’t really contest the lane. If the lane is even, Rakan can just engage at level 6 and Xayah can follow up with lots of damage."
Perhaps the biggest update to hit the meta has been the Tank Update of Patch 7.9, which took three of the Rift’s beefiest inhabitants and gave them a makeover. Since then SoloQ has been full of saplings in the botlane and blobs of ooze in the jungle. We spoke to Splyce’s Support Mikyx and H2K’s jungler Jankos to see what their take on the updated champions is.
Over the years Sejuani has seen a decent amount of competitive play, usually when tank junglers were very strong. Typically she would end up becoming something of an engage tool with her ultimate, but only after she suffered through a weak early game. The midseason changes looked to improve Sejuani’s kit all around, buffing her base abilities and giving her more to do than wait for her ult to be off cooldown. Since her rework she has predominantly been seen in the support position thanks to her strong synergy with melee junglers.
"I started playing Sejuani as soon as she was reworked because I played the champ back in season 4 when I could play it full AP mid, and the new one works really well as support because of her E and R especially if you have a melee jungler that can proc E easily like lee, ww, elise etc."
"A lot of people are playing Maokai support now because his E gives you a complete bush control and you can even push the wave with it, but I think it's mostly a SoloQ pick since it doesn't work that well against players that know what his abilities do."
The Secret Weapon has found himself in an awkward spot for a few seasons now. Stretching into competitive play and getting bounced right back to the bench by stronger early game junglers frequently, a re-worked ultimate might just be what Zac needs to put a spring in his step. Zac’s strength has always been his ability to set up fights from a-far, utilizing his Elastic Slingshot to enter a lane from unorthodox, un-warded areas of the jungle easily. The drawback to this, however, has always been his limited strength in the early game. In a meta dominated by junglers with strong early games, it has proven difficult in the past to get through the first few clears without falling behind. The changes to Zac in the mid-season update and patch 7.10 not only improve his clear a little, but significantly increase his impact in teamfights at the same time thanks to the adaptations to Elastic Slingshot and Let’s Bounce, which allow him to reposition enemies after an untargetable channel. I’m expecting a few junglers to bring out Zac in the early weeks as it’s unlikely he can be shut down in the early game before his team fight presence is felt.
"The buffs in Patch 7.10 fixed the reasons Zac wasn’t being played before, so I believe he will be played on stage. His jungle clear is decent now, but his scaling is insane. He also has good teamfighting now, and is really hard to kill. With that said, I don’t believe he’ll be a higher priority than the Junglers like Graves, Lee Sin, or Ivern. I think aggressive Junglers can punish his predictable early game pathing and put him really behind early, but I need to see more of him to really know."
Having first appeared in Patch 5.22, the Rift Herald has struggled to find its place in competitive play. Often only taken when no other objectives were available, gaining her relatively weak buff simply wasn’t enough of a reason for teams to prioritize her over downing a drake or pushing a lane. But the Rift Herald has had enough. She’s tired of being ignored, and after a fancy new makeover in Patch 7.9 she only has one mission: to kill your base.
Instead of giving out a buff, upon killing the Rift Herald players now receive an item they can later use to summon her. Upon summoning her she’ll charge down the nearest lane and deal massive damage to the nearest structure. Basically, it looks like this:
The ability to pick up the buff with the jungler, move to mid and push past the enemy carry with the giant “bug” in tow can’t be overlooked, and the thought of pairing that with a Zac’s ability to dive make for some scary post mid-season, mid lane dives. I’d anticipate there will be very few games in Europe this split that we don’t see teams turn to the Herald in place of rushing to Dragon, whereas we saw that Rift Herald was slain in only 28% of games in the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split.