Worlds is back, and the League of Legends meta is reaching one of its most diverse points of the season. More than half of the champions on the game’s roster were selected over the 38 games in the play-in stage, setting the field for one of the most appealing World Championships in the game’s history.
Eighty champions were contested during the play-ins, with 75 being picked at least once, and five more being banned but never seeing playtime on Summoner’s Rift. For reference, that’s an increase from last year’s play-in stage, where only 78 champions were contested.
From the champions that were picked once to the ones that controlled the play-ins with an iron grip, the initial stage of Worlds gave fans and analysts alike a brief glimpse of what the meta would look like for the next few weeks to come. Here are some of the most impactful League champions from the 2021 Worlds play-in stage.
Irelia is the most dangerous flex pick at Worlds, and players have been taking the champion into both the top and mid lane thus far. At the play-in stage, Irelia appeared in 36 individual drafts, missing out on just two games. She was the most banned champion at the play-ins by a wide margin, racking up 26 bans over a span of 38 games, according to League stats site Games of Legends. If this past week’s initial wave of games has been any indicator, it wouldn’t be surprising to see many teams forced to leave Irelia on the shelf during the rest of the tournament.
Jungle: Lee Sin
Lee Sin, League’s classic jungler, returned to the top of the position’s hierarchy at the Worlds play-in stage. Earlier this year, Lee Sin served as a priority pick in the season’s first international tournament, the Mid-Season Invitational. At that event, though, the Blind Monk was used mostly in the top lane. At Worlds, he’s been the most contested jungler on the roster, with 21 picks and 15 bans across the play-in stage, and it’s unlikely he’ll be going anywhere once the group stage begins on Monday.
The mid lane meta at Worlds makes for one of the most diverse positions at the tournament. Still, when things look questionable for mid players, they’ll usually revert to reliable picks like Ryze and others of a similar ilk. Control mages like LeBlanc, Zoe, and others have been emerging at Worlds once again, but none have been more active on the Rift than Ryze. With nine picks and 17 bans at the play-in stage, according to Games of Legends, Ryze has been one of the game’s most relevant mid laners over the last week. Plus, when some of the Worlds’ best Ryze players—including Doinb, Faker, Scout, and others—start to get their hands on the champion during the group stage, it’s fair to say that we’re going to see a lot more of him in the near future.
ADC: Miss Fortune
The undisputed queen of the AD carry role, Miss Fortune dominated the play-in stage at Worlds, and she’ll likely continue to do so throughout the rest of the tournament. Across the 38 games played during the play-ins, Miss Fortune was contested in a total of 37 of them—the highest among all champions at the competition, according to Games of Legends. Miss Fortune players posted a record of 16-13 with the champion in the 29 games she was picked, proving her effectiveness as a dependable choice.
It’s not too outlandish to claim that Leona is dominating the World Championship so far. At the play-ins, the champion was contested in a total of 87 percent of games and was picked in 24 individual contests, according to Games of Legends. Across those 24 games, Leona players racked up 19 wins, only dropping five games with the champion. Should Leona continue to have such a strong chokehold on not just the support position, but entire games in general, we could see her ban numbers go up since she was only scratched off in just nine games at the play-ins.
Honorable Mention: Amumu
After going seven years without seeing any playtime at the support position in a major region, the Sad Mummy returned to the professional League stage with a vengeance at the Worlds play-ins. With 11 picks and 11 bans, Amumu was one of the most prevalent champions at play-ins. Still, he only secured three wins in the tournament’s initial phase, despite his rampant growth in popularity.
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