The reworked Akali was picked five times in total last week in the North American and European LCS regions, and saw mixed success. In Europe, she was picked three straight games on Sunday and won every match, while in NA she dropped both her games. Her overall winrate across the two regions, while only 60 percent, is much higher than her solo queue one, which sits at a paltry 41.34 percent, according to Champion.gg.
So what gives? Why is Akali so much better in professional play?
Azir and Ryze are two of the most difficult champions in League of Legends. Due to their high skill ceilings, these two are absolutely broken in professional play even when they have terrible winrates in solo queue. If Riot was to buff them into solo queue relevance, however, they would be the only mid lane champions picked in competitive play.
It seems like Akali suffers from a similar problem. Her kit is difficult to use optimally, and Akali doesn’t play like a normal assassin. She can’t flank as well as Talon or Ahri, and needs to position herself uniquely in fights to maximize her damage output. Pro players, who can dedicate hours to playing her, obviously have a large advantage when it comes to learning her playstyle.
In almost all of the games she was played this past weekend, Akali was used as a strong splitpusher that could apply pressure and make quick escapes using her ultimate and her Twilight Shroud, similar to old Akali. In solo queue, and especially at lower elos, players simply don’t have the communication required to play around splitpushing.
In addition, a lack of vision control at lower ranks makes it much more difficult to avoid getting collapsed on when in a side lane. Pushing out side waves is inherently risky, since you are usually alone and unable to receive backup in case the enemy team sends multiple members to deal with you. Without wards, this kind of playstyle becomes even scarier and often leads to the splitpusher being caught out and killed.
Akali will likely see her winrate in solo queue go up as players become accustomed to her unique kit. In competitive play, however, she should be an insta-ban against top tier mid laners, much like how Azir and Ryze were last year.