The “metagame” is a set of unwritten rules that guide teams and players to make the right decisions on how to play League of Legends. It dominates the game, an ever-present arbiter that governs what items to build, what champions to play, and what lanes to play them. Players will complain if teammates move outside the “meta”, threatening to take a match out of the comfort zone established by the community guidelines.
This week, the European region of the League Championship Series threw that guide out the window.
Three champions made their debuts in this season of the LCS. Two of them were played in their first LCS game this year. One appeared for the very first time in LCS history.
Rammus may be the mascot of League, but he hasn’t been a competitively viable jungle for years. Today, Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov brought him into the LCS for the first time. Gambit Gaming is already eliminated from playoff contention, so perhaps the legendary jungler wanted to give his fans a bit of a show?
His jungling opponent seemed to go along with that plan. Fnatic jungler Lauri “Cyanide” Happonen picked Maokai. The Twisted Treant was popularized as a jungle pick by Brian “TheOddOne” Wyllie in League’s younger years, but he’s long since given way to newer and more powerful champions with better playmaking ability. Today was the first time Maokai was picked in 2014, and just the seventeenth time he’s appeared in the LCS.
The most popular champion this week in Europe? Lucian, picked six times, the most popular champion this split. But he was tied with a dark horse: Xerath. The Magus Ascendant was picked a whopping six times this week, and he’s only been played seven times this split!
The surprise plethora of Xerath could be attributed to the god of the mid lane himself, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. The SK Telecom T1 K mid picked Xerath against Incredible Miracle last week in OGN summer, putting up a 9/1/5 KDA line with the long range mage.
Xerath only has 25 appearances in LCS history, with eleven this year.
Another oddity was a jungle Riven, expertly played by Alliance’s Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema. He finished the week with a 9/1/9 KDA in two matches. Those two games were the first she’s seen this split. Riven has only appeared in 26 LCS matches all-time, with twelve of those coming this year.
Blitzcrank may be one of the most hated supports in normal, thanks to his annoying grab, but he’s never been a popular competitive pick. Today he saw his second match this season. It was his fifth of the year and 27th all time.
Another odd pick? Morgana. She’s one of the most popular support champions this split, appearing in a whopping 75 games. But in her only game this week, ROCCAT used her in the middle lane as part of a protect Kog’Maw team composition. That allowed them to double up on supporting the hyper-carry marksman, but it still wasn’t enough to beat Millenium.
All in all, it was an incredibly odd week in the champion select in Europe. You could chalk it up to the recent 4.12 patch, released three days ago, but the only champion listed above affected by its changes was Lucian. Maybe there was something in the water.