It’s not long now until the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) returns to your computer monitors and while there have been major changes to some of the rosters, the game itself has also undergone a monumental transformation.
Drakes now have major impacts on the map, many runes and items have been updated and a plethora of champions have received significant nerfs or buffs. During last year’s World Championships, a staggering 99 different champions were played which was a new record for the tournament.
However, that still leaves 47 champions who didn’t see any play-time as well as three new champions who will take to Summoner’s Rift in 2020 with Senna, Aphelios and the soon to be released Sett. Thanks to the preseason patches, the meta has seen quite the shake-up and consequently, there are a lot of champions who will be more viable in the new season of pro play. Here are just a few that are looking likely to break into the meta.
First up on this list is Cassiopeia who has benefited immensely from the changes to the Conqueror Keystone. The rune was changed as it previously gave melee fighters too much of an advantage against tanks so it no longer converts any damage into true damage. However, the rune was rebalanced to allow ranged champions to also take advantage of the Keystone but it turned out to be too effective for them.
Aurelion Sol and Ryze were just some of the beneficiaries but even after Conqueror was nerfed, Cassiopeia is still seemingly extremely powerful with the rune equipped thanks to her ability to rapidly generate stacks through spamming spells. Fnatic’s Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek was just one of the two LEC players to play Cassiopeia last split and has already been terrorising solo-queue with the serpent as you can see in the clip below.
While Cassiopeia is still an excellent midlaner, another strength she will bring to pro play is her flexibility as the mage has also been enjoying spells in both top and bot lane. The latter is particularly effective as the role covers up two of her main weaknesses: her weak roaming doesn’t really matter down bot and the additional crowd control from her support makes landing skillshots much easier. Keep an eye for teams drafting her early so that they can possibly flex the pick.
Another champion that has benefitted from the Conqueror changes is Maokai though he doesn’t take the rune itself but instead has benefitted from the removal of the true damage removal.
Tanks are creeping back into the meta and Maokai has become a much more common pick than before. The Twisted Treant was only picked 21 times in pro-play during Season Nine and none of those games were in the LEC, LCS, LCK or LPL.
However, he currently has the second-highest win-rate out of all toplaners in Korean solo-queue, coming out on top in 52.8 percent of his games. The tree is an extremely safe pick that can work into any match-up and has buckets of crowd control to keep opponents locked down. Both of these traits make him a reasonably appealing pick for pro teams plus he can also be flexed into support thanks to the Relic Shield changes which now gives the item line a dose of Ability Power.
Speaking of support, Bard has shot up as one of the strongest in the role currently as the new meta suits him perfectly. Thanks to the addition of dragon souls and the ability for two Rift Heralds to spawn, early skirmishing around objectives has never been so important so roaming supports currently have a strong edge.
Bard is perhaps the best roamer in the game thanks to his long-range portals and the passive chimes he picks up which offer movement speed. If a fight breaks out in the bot lane river around Drake, there aren’t any supports who will be able to get there before Bard. On top of that, the additions of extra terrain from Mountain Rift and the Alcoves has given Bard more adaptability than ever, especially thanks to the latter as on Red Side Bard can escape any gank by tunnelling from the Alcove to the safety of his own turret.
And finally, while many supports were hurt by the removal of mana-regen from the Spellthief’s support item line, Bard has come out relatively unscathed as each of his chimes offer additional mana. Bard is a champion with a very high skill ceiling and can be difficult to pull off but in the right hands, he is almost unstoppable.
One of the champions who has undergone the most changes this preseason, Diana received a mini-rework and is reaping the benefits.
On Patch 9.24, Diana had her E and R abilities swapped and tweaked which allowed her more mobility before level six and huge AoE damage potential with her ult. That extra safety in lane has made a huge difference for the midlaner as Diana is scaling effectively in a lot more of her games.
On top of that, the Targonian is still strong in the jungle too as additional attack speed from her passive Moonsilver Blade has improved her early clear while her new E ability offers stronger ganking potential before level six.
Diana could be a force to be reckoned with in 2020 and pro players including Rogue’s Emil “Larssen” Larsson have already begun to notice her strength.