Skarner and Trundle stuck around all year in the LCS—here’s why

Too OP, or not too OP? That is the question.

Image via Riot Games

Which two champions had a combined total of 747 picks worldwide in competitive League of Legends? Well, you probably saw the title of this article and already know the answer. That’s right, it’s Trundle and Skarner, two of the most popular junglers in the game during the 2018 season.

Both the scorpion and the troll come from similar backgrounds. Up until this year, they were mostly troll picks, aside from a brief stint Trundle spent as a very niche support champion. Then, 2018 rolled around, and pro players in the LCS and abroad couldn’t get enough of them. There are several reasons for all that, such as changes to Skarner over the years, the new runes from last fall, and item changes this year. Previously-weak champions becoming meta isn’t that rare, though. What is rare, however, is that they stuck around throughout the whole year.

Typically, if something is strong for any stretch of time in pro play, it disappears in a few months as the meta shifts. Trundle and Skarner survived. Not only did they just stick around, but they stuck around during one of the most dramatic and heavy-handed meta changes in the game’s history—Patch 8.11.

So what’s so special about these two champions that allowed them to stick it out? Trundle, who was recently nerfed pretty hard, was still picked a fair amount at the end of the split and during the regional gauntlets. There’s no hidden trick or secret strategy that the pros know about these champions that you don’t, they just have really solid kits.

Skarner has a speed boost, fairly reliable crowd control, a game-changing ultimate ability, and can serve as a beefy front-liner without giving up too much damage. Trundle has a speed boost, a game-changing ultimate, can be a beefy front-liner, has good damage without needing items, and can counter Skarner with his pillar. It’s true, Skarner was more popular during the Spring Split, and Trundle started to really pop up at the end of the Spring Split as an answer to Skarner. And then, Trundle became the slightly more popular one for the summer. As far as we can tell, the secret to surviving overly-volatile seasons in League is being a safe pick with reliable tools. They weren’t OP, for the most part, they were just solid.

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t think that this makes them good for solo queue. In solo queue, your own personal ability to play your champion and how it matches up against the enemy matters a lot more. But in pro play, where most junglers compete on the same level and are separated by macro knowledge, a solid kit really matters. We don’t expect either Skarner or Trundle to go away during Worlds, either, so hopefully you’re not too bored of seeing them just yet.