Every year, we hope we get a good meta at Worlds. We want to see the best players on Earth play skill-expressive champions that push the boundaries of how League of Legends is played.
But the reality is that players are trying to win first, not put on a show. They will always default to the best champions. That’s how we got the Ardent Censer meta of last year, where every support that didn’t play for Misfits was stuck on enchanters. Or how Nidalee was nearly perma-banned two years ago because of how broken she was.
This year, we have a number of champions that look overpowered on the Worlds patch. Anything can change over the next few weeks as Worlds metas tend to evolve over the course of the tournament, but there are a few champions we don’t think are going anywhere.
Top lane: Aatrox and Jarvan IV
Riot’s Patch 8.18 notes included this nugget about Aatrox: “Our last set of Aatrox changes brought his lane bullying under control.” Then you look at what he did with those changes on Patch 8.16:
Aatrox was the most picked and banned champion on Patch 8.16, if you remove Akali who is a mid laner in competitive play. Aatrox’s 52 percent win rate is misleading because it’s dragged down by NA’s poor performance on the champion. TSM top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell looked like he had never played Aatrox before locking him in against C9 in the regional gauntlet.
Oh, and Aatrox was buffed on Patch 8.18. Go figure.
Jarvan is here too because he’s one champion that might be able to handle Aatrox. He out-ranges Aatrox with his Q, and the lower CD on his passive allows him to trade basic attacks once Aatrox blows his spells. So there is hope, as long as you want to see another Worlds dominated by top lane Jarvans.
Jungle: Olaf and Gragas
There are a few jungle buffs in Patch 8.19, but none will affect how Olaf is doing. With Trundle and Sejuani falling down the tier list, Olaf is simply running teams over. He clears fast, ganks fast, and when his ult is on, don’t even bother running away.
Gragas is another beneficiary to nerfs to Trundle and Sejuani. While we’d love to see AP Gragas on the menu, it looks like we’ll get a repeat of last year instead where tank Gragas is too good at controlling objectives to give up.
Mid lane: Akali and Cassiopeia
When the mid lane meta shifted to control mages, Ryze predictably rose to the top of the tier list. He’s so reliable: good in lane, can side lane safely, and can teamfight with the best of them. And teams at the Worlds level can make the best use of his ults.
But we have a feeling that the substantial nerf to Ryze’s Rune Prison on Patch 8.18 will hit him. And if there’s a mage waiting in the wings to take over, it’s Cassiopeia. She’s always a good pick with her ability to control zones with her W and R.
Then there’s Akali. She defies the mage meta because she’s broken. Her nerf on Patch 8.18 doesn’t actually affect her trading pattern in lane that much, though it will be interesting to see her matched up against her AD equivalent, Irelia. If Akali falls down the tier list, expect a similar split pusher like Irelia to creep back up.
Bot lane: Kai’Sa and Xayah
Varus is a disgusting champion, as we covered in our Worlds meta wish list. We’d actually be okay if he was perma-banned. Instead, Riot just nerfed him to oblivion in Patch 8.18. A 50 point reduction in his level one health doesn’t sound like much. But remember, when ADC apocalypse happened in Patch 8.11, it was largely because of a four point nerf to the starting AD of ADC champions.
So with Varus dealt with, the default will be Kai’Sa and Xayah. Kai’Sa’s latest nerf doesn’t actually hurt her that much. And Xayah hasn’t been changed in quite a few patches.
If you’re looking out for a hidden OP champion, take a gander at Tristana. She outranges basically everyone in the late game, which makes teamfight and siege execution with her super easy. With Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson in the house, you know there will be some Tristana play at Worlds.
Support: Braum and Tahm Kench
Riot has tried nerfing these two champions in the past few patches, but nearly all of those changes missed their mark. They’re still good, especially in the hands of pro teams that know how to use them effectively—and recent nerfs haven’t really stuck to these guys.
The most interesting part of these two champions is how they’re utilized. Chinese and Korean teams better utilize Tahm Kench’s positioning ult and map control. That makes sense because they actually understand how to play multiple lanes. Meanwhile, European and North American teams love Braum’s lane presence and ability to start teamfights, and they suck at playing the map.
Either way, we’d love to see teams creatively use Kench’s ult and Braum stuns, especially after the enchanter meta of last year. Oh, Janna just got buffed? Sounds about right. Please, Riot, no more Janna at Worlds.