The strange meta that came in at the start of this Split still reigns supreme! Weeks have passed, with the pros more or less adjusting to the changes and coming up with new ways to turn the commotion in their favor. Three rounds ago, it was still hard to tell what the viable picks would be. Teams came back from short holidays to huge changes that they’re only now beginning to crack. Now is a great opportunity for you to score some points. If you’re surprised by Heimerdinger being played in bot and you still can’t get over Martin "Rekkles" Larsson getting benched, keep reading. I’ll be taking a look at how the drastic changes to the bot lane happened, what works best right now and, most importantly, how to use the knowledge gained from the LCS to aid you in Solo Queue!
Why is ADC Dying?
It’s still strange to see Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau instead of Rekkles here, isn’t it?
True, in Splits past we witnessed the likes of Ziggs in bot with Miss Fortune as a support. But individual picks like these were very specific and situational. They only worked in the short term or against specific comps, and even then they were often pretty controversial. For some, facing the new meta in this Split was like jumping into cold water after lying in the sun for too long. We were so used to the years of orthodox meta that we’re still petrified from the shock of the changes. In many cases, it’s simply a result of not understanding the processes at work. And it’s no wonder – several things have been changed at the same time, and not one of them is trivial. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the most important changes for you below:
1. Marksmen Stats - Physical Damage
Patch 8.11 gutted the marksmen stats, like that Yasuo 1/11 who crushed your dreams of reaching gold before the end of the season to pieces. Nearly all of the champions we were used to seeing in the ADC role lost several points of base attack damage in favour of increased damage growth per level. It all hinges on some clever math action that I won’t bore you with, but check out the Jinx example below:
AD in Patch 8.11
AD in Patch 8.12
As you can see, the breakeven point comes as late as level 9. It’s only after you reach this point that the champion begins to get stronger and their stats grow faster than they did before Patch 8.12. But the problem is that this level is reached quite late in the game and the players, especially pros, are hard-pressed for time. That’s why marksmen got pushed out by champions that provide real value from the first moments of the match – that is, champions who simply snowball faster.
2. Marksmen Stats - Health Regen
Health regen got nerfed in a similar way. Almost everyone lost about 0.5 points per second, which made it much harder to return to the fray after a defeat in a lane or a gank.
WE [AS FNATIC] CONCLUDED THAT MARKSMEN ARE IN A REALLY BAD PLACE RIGHT NOW AND IT’S BETTER TO NOT PLAY THEM.
3. Fleet Footwork
One of the most popular bot lane runes also took a hit. Fleet Footwork generates charges which, when they reach their maximum value of 100, make the next attack heal its user and gain haste.
Patch 8.11 reduced the haste ratio and removed a critical bonus for marksmen, which gave them additional healing if a charged hit was a critical strike. This further weakened champions who strongly relied on crit chance: Caitlyn, Sivir, Ashe, etc.
4. Items - Infinity Edge, Zeal
Last but not least, popular bot items also got the nerf bat. The Edge was the first choice for many champions and a sure pick for the likes of Caitlyn or Ashe. Significant stat changes and a price increase meant that several champions, such as Tristana, saw some builds become both weaker and more expensive. For example, the Rapid Firecannon, Runaan’s Hurricane, and Infinity Edge kit cost 800 gold more after the patch but gave less offensive stats in this exact combination.
5. Changes to the Map
The orange crew is currently one of the most versatile teams in the entire EU LCS roster. Both top laners (Bwipo and Paul "sOAZ" Boyer) have already played games in bot.
The bot meta was also indirectly impacted by other changes to the Rift. The popular crab wandering across the river suddenly became one of the most profitable targets on the map. It gives more experience than it used to, coupled with priceless vision which is definitely worth fighting for. The nerfed marksmen proved to be weak in early game fights and so they began to get replaced. Changes made to Baron Nashor further fueled the process, as it’s now a much easier fight that doesn’t require a marksman.
All these alterations together severely weakened marksmen in the early game. They became more vulnerable to attacks by losing crucial health regen points. Their most important offensive stats were cut in early levels, and champions relying on critical strikes got hit in the item department as well.
The result is that the game has become much faster, with matches often lasting about 20–30 minutes now which is not enough for the likes of Tristana or Caitlyn to even start their proverbial engines. Slowly hoarding gold and crossing off an Edge here and a Cannon there from your kit list gives way to the effectiveness of mages, for example, who can reach a satisfying level after less than 15 minutes on the Rift.
The Solo Queue, particularly in the lower levels, still hasn’t caught on to all these elements and is desperately clinging to the old meta. However, it’s worth taking some inspiration from top leagues – going off the beaten track may be the key to your victory and ascending further in the ranks.
Heimerdinger to the Rescue!
So, what are the viable picks if the marksmen are so weak? One of the brighter aspects of these changes is the variety coming to the bot lane. It enabled a multitude of compositions in various configurations. For the first time in a long time you can pick, say, Morgana for bot and not be accused of inting. If you are accused of it though, refer your accusers to this text and especially the section below!
When searching for inspiration, it’s always worth looking at the pro games. It’s there that the meta is created and where it evolves. Entire think tanks of analysts and coaches run the most bizarre scenarios and decide which of them work so that you can simply enjoy the game. Luckily, we saw the first hints of a number of trends and play styles during the EU LCS, and each type of player will find at least one that suits them. Be sure to tell us your favourite!
Play Style: Strong lane control
Picks: Heimerdinger, Karma, Morgana
How to Play: The Hjarnan strategy is based on choosing a champion, usually a mage, with strong laning potential. The twilight of marksmen made the bot lane more vulnerable to attacks. This makes picking a champion like Heimerdinger so brilliant that it can result in six consecutive EU LCS wins. Legit info!
Your goal here is to quickly push the lane, destroy the turret, and prevent the opponent from any aggression in the bottom part of the map. Heimer’s turrets allow him to kill minions quickly, which not only creates pressure but also provides the opportunity for river and jungle roaming. Like Morgana and Karma, he’s also relatively hard to gank. The ability kit of these champions acts as both a weapon and a shield, which can be used to both destroy the opponents’ structures and provide effective defense in crisis situations.
Stuff Worth Knowing: G2 often uses the so-called gold-funneling strategy, which is a tactic based on pumping nearly all their gold into a single champion – usually Luka "Perkz" Perković playing Kai’Sa or Lucian. It would be hard to pull off this exact scenario in Solo Queue with its uncoordinated players, but it’s enough to remember that somewhere on the map – top or mid – your team should have a champion based on physical damage. It’s not crucial, but it’ll come in handy and considerably increase your chances of winning.
Some Other Good Solo Queue Picks:
Veigar – Works in the current bot lane environment and, on top of that, like the marksmen of old, he has superb scaling. He’ll play similar to Nasus, and in longer games you’ll be one of the potential factors that decides victory.
Ziggs – Like Heimer, he has great lane control and can easily clear minion waves. He’s slightly more vulnerable to ganks, but compensates for it by being a real turret mincer. He’ll be useful not only for bringing down that precious first tower, but also in the late game when the entire team comes together to lay siege to the enemy structures.
Play Style: Bruiser
Picks: Aatrox, Swain, Ryze
How to Play: While Petter "Hjarnan" Freyschuss mostly focuses on lane control, Bwipo and Fnatic as a whole invest their team resources evenly. The champions he picks have to be as useful as top or mid picks, and that’s the concept around which the orange crew builds their comps. Let’s use Aatrox as an example, as he’s the next potential juggernaut for their opponents to deal with.
The play style doesn’t deviate much from what we usually see in top, the one difference being that there are support champions there. Occasional fights break up the farming marathons, but the goal is still to destroy the enemy structures, gain an advantage, and build a strong position in relation to your opponent as quickly as possible.
Stuff Worth Knowing: Always keep in mind what your entire comp looks like. If you have the privilege of picking last, be careful your team doesn’t have too many champions focused on physical damage. If, for example, you see Irelia in top, Nocturne in the jungle, and Yasuo in mid, then they’ll be better served by Swain or Ryze than by Aatrox.
Some Other Good Solo Queue Picks:
Vladimir – Good old Vlad works very similarly to Swain. He’s weakest in the early game, becomes a beast in the late game, and is pretty forgiving in between. Constant healing allows for more freedom in the lane and some impromptu river fights.
Irelia – Currently one of the most versatile champions, she fits well almost everywhere. In recent weeks, she found herself in top, mid, and bot, which means that mastering this champion will enable you to play at the highest level even if you can’t play your favourite role.
Play Style: Bench
How to Play: You don’t
With all kidding aside, Rekkles’s situation is indeed a very interesting case of an extreme reaction to the changing meta. The talented Swede devoted years of his career to nearly perfecting the art of marksman control, neglecting other roles and champions in the process, so it comes as no surprise that Fnatic will temporarily have an easier time making Bwipo play his usual picks – just on the other side of the map and with a support at his side – than putting Rekkles in that role. For now, Rekkles is quickly learning how to play 5 to 10 other champions that he could really benefit from mastering.
Stuff Worth Knowing: Although the orange crew chose their path, declaring the ADC truly dead is very premature. This is proven by the very effective Steven "Hans Sama" Liv (more on him below), who makes very little of the meta changes and remains undefeated in this EU LCS split.
The Hans Sama
Play Style: ADC
Picks: Varus, Lucian, Draven
How to Play: Same as you did before patch 8.11, before the League went crazy. All the changes I laid out above put a large dent in this role, but that only means more than one play style is viable in bot. If it fits your comp, you can go with Heimerdinger and support your team through the entire game making bot your stronghold. If your heart lies in top, then pick Irelia or Vladimir. Try your luck in bot and you just might experience glorious victory. On the other hand, if you don’t like any of the changes and you prefer the old meta just as it was, change nothing and keep enjoying the game.
Stuff Worth Knowing: Caitlyn and Tristana, who were very popular in the recent split, are doing much worse now. You’ll probably fare better in Solo Queue playing Miss Fortune, Draven, Twitch, or even Quinn. The void left behind by the marksmen nerfs has to be filled somehow, and those champions seem to be doing it quite well.
Some Other Good Solo Queue Picks:
Quinn – Combines what used to be important in bot with the current meta needs. She’s fast, her roaming potential gives you control, and on top of that she’s a decent laner. According to popular stat aggregate sites, Quinn has the second highest win rate in the platinum division and above.
Miss Fortune – She got nerfed, but managed to land on her feet. She’s not as popular as Lucian or Kai’Sa, so she probably won’t get banned on you. In some circumstances, however, she’s more effective than either Lucian or Kai’Sa, and if you want to play a classic ADC in bot then MF should be among your go-to choices.
Play Style: Adaptive
Picks: Whatever’s strong at the time
How to Play: The key to succeeding with this play style is closely following the meta changes. With each update, at least a few champions get buffed and others lose value. Your favorite champion may become your ticket to gold overnight and get you that victorious champion skin at the end of the season.
Considering how many doors just opened for you in bot, you can try nearly anything, although we strongly recommend playing your first game with a new champion in normal instead of ranked. Below you’ll find several proposals and explanations about why specific champions work, even if you don’t see them played in the LCS.
Kayle – According to stat aggregate sites, this is currently one of the most effective picks for the bot lane. Kayle sort of brings together what was always important there, while holding her own thanks to not being affected by the critical strike nerf and other changes I mentioned. Not only that, but Kayle can use her Ultimate ability to turn even the most hopeless situations to her advantage. A skillfully cast spell can save your life or your ally’s, making them invulnerable to damage and able to slaughter your opponents, giving you those precious rank points.
Mordekaiser – Not very popular in Europe, he’s been played to great success in Korea and Brazil. His unique ability kit basically makes him a perfect pick to swing low-Elo games in your favor. It’s also worth mentioning that in the Asian Rift Rivals, Flash Wolves’s Lu "Betty" Yu-Hung used Mordekaiser to beat powerhouses like RNG and Kingzone DragonX (yes, the winners of the Spring Split from the Chinese and Korean leagues, respectively.)
It's All Up to You
It’s been a while since we’ve had so many different strategies exist in harmony. You may feel lost and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the changes, but it’s worth taking a few moments to get your bearings. After all, this is one of the most interesting metas and periods of professional League play we’ve seen for quite some time.