Remember when Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon locked in support Miss Fortune the Worlds semifinals two years ago? It was one of the most hyped moments of the entire tournament. Not only had GorillA picked something way off the map, he did it in a grudge match against defending champions SK Telecom T1. The stones on that guy!
And the most amazing part? It worked! For two games, SKT had no response for how good the ADC Ashe and support Miss Fortune combo was. And they were the best team in the world that year.
So which champion will come out of the woodwork to surprise us this year? We took a look at off meta champions in each role to find out.
Top lane: Rumble
Top lane is in an interesting spot right now. Aatrox, Ornn, and Urgot are totally broken, and you can even take mages like Ryze up there. Everything will be fine and dandy until buffed Jarvan takes over, just like last year.
But one champion that’s been on the fringe of the meta who could make a big comeback is Rumble. He’s going to love the recent buff to Liandry’s Torment. And while he can’t trade into behemoths like Aatrox in the first few levels, he can clear waves with the best of them. And when teams default to objective control as they are wont to do at Worlds, there’s Rumble’s ability to equalize teamfights with his ultimate.
Remember when one Nidalee spear could take all of your health bar? Well, welcome to the new version of that: Dark Harvest Nidalee.
Instead of her Q doing all the damage though, it’s her ranged auto attacks. And with the recent nerf to junglers who liked Predator, it’s made Dark Harvest even more of a requirement on the cat lady.
But the thing is, Dark Harvest is actually good. It reduces her early game damage, but if her team can focus on getting her to late game, she can still pump out huge damage. Don’t expect her to be a popular pick, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a team focus on a carry jungle style a la GIGABYTE Marines and their funnel Nocturne comp from last year. In that setting, Nidalee could become an absolute beast.
C9 jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang has been playing some Nidalee in Korean solo queue—don’t forget, it was C9 that innovated jungle Ezreal last year. Can the NA underdogs do it again and make everyone adapt to a new type of pressure jungling?
Mid lane: Lissandra
We had a few choices here. There are poke mages like Lissandra and Xerath. Vel’Koz is already nearly meta, which disqualifies him. NA LCS teams are trying the super heal Kassadin build with Fleet Footwork, hoping that he can dodge enough abilities to survive till late game.
Last time Lissandra was back in meta was in that 2016 World Championship. Abyssal Mask was still a scepter and Akali was never seen. But Lissandra is actually a bit of a counter to slipper assassins with her point-and-click CC. All sorts of mid laners from different regions are trying her out recently, which means she could be close to returning to the meta.
Bot lane: Jinx
Weeks ago, when it became clear the NA LCS teams had no idea how to pilot Ezreal, we wrote that Tristana could come back as an Ezreal facsimile that’s easier to play. But the cat’s already out of the bag with her: she’s now popular enough that she doesn’t qualify for this article anymore.
But take a look at another crit-based ADC that could stand a chance: Jinx. The Loose Cannon has been hovering near the top of the solo queue charts for months, but isn’t picked in pro play because of her abysmal lane phase. KT Rolster bot laner Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu tried Jinx in the LCK playoffs and went 1/5/6.
But Jinx has to be set up well to thrive, and KT didn’t have a comp that did that. Their top lane Aatrox wanted to split push while the mid lane Viktor did not provide early pressure to relieve the bot lane. Finally, if enchanters like Janna make it back into the meta, expect more lane control from the support position that could make Jinx a star.
Zyra is one of the bot laners that will benefit from the increased damage from Liandry’s, her first core item after the support item and boots. She’s a good support into engage types like Alistar that run at you. And if Janna returns, she has a chance to return some damage as well.
The easy pick for a damage support with Liandry’s is Brand, but Zyra just provides more utility throughout the game. And don’t forget—Gorilla’s Miss Fortune years ago was a counterpick specifically used against Zyra. So if we see the plant lady come back into the meta, the buxom redhead can’t by far behind.