If you had grabbed any League of Legends player four months ago and told them that Heimerdinger, Yasuo, Vladimir, and Renekton would be meta bot laners, they’d probably slap you in the face.
Sure, that sounds really shocking, but this is League. One of the reasons we keep returning to the game is because, a couple of times per year, it feels like a new game that’s exciting to dive into and learn. The ever-changing meta keeps us on our toes—especially at the top of the ladder where masters of champions can utilize them in fun and interesting new ways.
This new meta has sparked a lot of conversation, and rightly so, since its results are much more dramatic than anyone expected from the mid-season changes to marksmen and towers. As League conversations go, this is about as polarizing as it gets. In one camp, you have the upset bot lane mains that feel betrayed, forgotten, and replaced. Players that think wild meta shifts are more irritating than interesting belong in this camp, too.
On the other side, there are the players that think this new bot lane diversity is fun, and that big changes are more entertaining than stressful. These players argue that more champions in the bot lane automatically means that the lane itself is healthier. While there’s a grain of truth to that statement, it isn’t entirely true. In fact, it’s quite wrong.
The truth is simply that more choices means healthier and more diverse gameplay. Yes, there are a ton of champions in the bot lane that could previously only be found in their old traditional roles, and that’s certainly fun. The thing is, though, we don’t actually have more choices, we now just have different ones.
If this meta really were healthy, both the old marksmen and these new bot laners would be meta, and they’d have defined strengths and weaknesses that could be exploited depending on which type of champion you pick. As it turns out, though, the Heimerdinger, Yasuo, and Vladimir meta has simply replaced those old marksmen, with a few exceptions like Kai’Sa and Lucian. This has resulted in a similarly-sized bot lane meta, but with some new faces.
Tristana, Twitch, Vayne, Kog’Maw, Jinx, Varus, Sivir, and more have all plummeted in performance, according to North American League stats site Champion.gg. So while yes, the new meta is more exciting because no one really knows what’s strongest, players of old marksmen rightfully feel left out, because their lane is no longer their lane. A healthy meta would include those champions on top of the new options, but it doesn’t.
There are other implications that need to be explored, too. For instance, why can Renekton, Heimerdinger, and Brand be played better as bot lane carries than they can play in their intended roles? Isn’t it an issue that they’ve found power in the bot lane simply because they can’t find power where they should be able to? There are exceptions to that, obviously, like Vladimir and Yasuo who both still see significant playtime in their traditional roles, but they aren’t the problem here.
If Renekton and Heimerdinger really were healthy champions, one could argue that they’d be played primarily in their main roles, and that only masters of each champion should feel the reward of being able to pull them off in off-lanes. Instead, it makes more sense to play them bot lane right now than top or mid, and that doesn’t feel great.
Riot is taking strides to bring crit-marksmen back into the fold to compete with the new bot lane, including damage buffs to their key abilities like Jinx’s Zap! and Twitch’s Contaminate. If those buffs arrive with Patch 8.13, the bot lane could feel a little healthier in as little as a week.