The diversity of champion picks we’re seeing on Patch 6.11 begs the question: who are we likely to see next? With Mid Lane Week approaching, bringing with it a new patch, I’ve been wondering what variation in mid lane picks we’re likely to see. More specifically, I’ve been analysing how Taliyah, the latest champion to enter the Rift, fits into competitive play. While she has a unique kit and playstyle, we haven’t yet seen her pop up in the EU LCS. So why is that? Well, let’s start by looking at how she functions so we can better understand why she doesn’t fit in the current meta.
Passive: Rock Surfing - Taliyah’s passive allows her to return to lane quicker than most champions, and is great for roaming effectively.
Q: Threaded Volley - One of Taliyah’s main damaging abilities, it also provides adequate waveclear. The biggest drawback of this ability is the creation of ‘Worked Ground’ on the area upon which it’s cast. On Worked Ground only one rock is flung, instead of the usual 5, which greatly reduces its damage potential.
W: Seismic Shove - Taliyah’s fundamental ability, yet the hardest of her abilities to master. This displacement ability is pivotal in making the most of Taliyah’s damage. It’s also used to reposition key targets and provide peel for herself and allies.
E: Unraveled Earth - This ability is often misunderstood as being similar to Ziggs’ Hexplosive Minefield, primarily being used as a waveclear tool or area of zone control. In reality, it is actually a core of Taliyah’s damage rotation: when you knock a target through the Unraveled Earth with your Seismic Shove, they’re dealt a massive burst of damage.
R: Weaver’s Wall - Creating a mighty wall wherever you see fit has, understandably, a lot of play-making potential. Whether that be dividing the enemy team in teamfights or cutting off the escape of your opponents, this ability is what makes Taliyah so unique.
Rocking the mid lane
Taliyah excels at kiting due to the amount of bonus movement speed that she gains. While Worked Ground does hurt the damage of your Threaded Volley, it also provides you with additional movement speed when you walk over it. This is useful when a target is running towards you, as you can use Worked Ground’s movement speed bonus to consistently maintain a gap, while moving to ‘fresh’ ground where you can then use all 5 shots of your Threaded Volley. Combine this with your Unravelled Earth, and it becomes the same principle as chasing a Singed: just… don’t do it. Don’t chase the Taliyah.
Taliyah is surprisingly strong during laning phase. Her Threaded Volley provides decent wave clear that’s good at dealing with a lot of the prominent, heavy wave clear mids like Vladimir and Viktor. She’s also great at trading in lane, assuming that you can land the W into E combo. Unraveled Earth hurts… a lot. Catching people off-guard by knocking them into zone of damage, followed by a Threaded Volley as they try to escape is an effective harass tool that’s hard to trade against.
Bjergsen's Taliyah Insights
“I think a lot of pros were a bit turned off by Taliyah’s initial win rates so they didn't do a lot of testing or theorycrafting on her. She does have a few weaknesses in the sense that she has to have lane pressure to be useful; if you're getting pushed in you can't use your passive to roam and you’ll be stuck putting Worked Ground all around your tower, slowly making it harder and harder for you to farm and push. She’s also really skillshot reliant with her E/W combo; if you miss or they flash it your damage greatly reduced. I do think if you can pick Taliyah in a winning matchup she can pressure the map a lot by roaming and her high skirmishing power with Thread Volley.”
As previously mentioned, Taliyah is the queen of kiting. By properly managing Worked Ground and your utility, it becomes very difficult to chase a Taliyah. Extended teamfights are her forte, and patient play enables your teammates to force 5v5 fights where she excels. You can’t just roll your face on the keyboard to deal massive damage, it requires careful planning and great execution, meaning in chaotic fights it can become difficult to efficiently land your damage onto key targets. Here is a great collection of clips from Bjergsen demonstrating great ways of making Taliyah work and the different functions her skills can bring to a team. The beginning of the video also highlights runes and masteries that Bjergsen used while playing Taliyah:
Will we see Taliyah in the EU LCS?
Playing Taliyah at a high level requires an understanding of how all of her abilities intertwine. When you consider all of Taliyah’s mechanics, such as the use of Worked Ground, the skill associated with her combos and how to effectively utilize her ultimate, you come to realize that Taliyah as a champion is very complex.
While Taliyah is definitely an interesting and fun champion to play, one thing a pro player will often do is compare one champion to another. Taliyah as a champion can closely be compared to Twisted Fate. Both provide wave clear, scale well, have decent utility and provide global pressure. While they do have their differences, one has to wonder whether the increased learning curve of mastering Taliyah would be worth it over just mastering the simpler Twisted Fate. Factors such as this can be a large factor in the slow adoption of new champions, as the large time investment required to master said champion is inefficient relative to mastering a simple one.
While it’s always exciting to think about a new champion joining the EU LCS, it is optimistic to think that Taliyah will be picked here in the near future given her current state. Perhaps if she reaches a point where her high learning curve results in a phenomenal reward, that might change. This isn’t beyond the realms of possibility as Bard was in a similar position upon release, and has now become one of the most contested supports in Europe. Only time will tell.
Let us know what you think of Taliyah in the comments below!