Riot Games has a history of over-buffing new or recently reworked champions. A good example is Aatrox. After his recent rework, Aatrox isn’t just strong—he’s been the most busted champion at Worlds so far.
In our preview of OP champions, we noted how good Aatrox looked. That was before we got to see how buffs to his healing and ultimate ability on Patch 8.18 would work. To no one’s surprise, buffing an already-strong champion made a monster.
So what else did we get right—and wrong—about the Worlds meta after the first two days of play? We examined all the positions to find out.
Aatrox is the most banned champion through two days of the play-in stage. The one time he was played, Cloud9’s Eric “Licorice” Ritche went 3/1/5 and built an obscene CS lead. It’s safe to say that he will continue to be banned by nearly every team.
In our preview of the Worlds meta, we wondered if teams would try something like Jarvan IV to counter Aatrox. Instead they’ve taken him off the table and Jarvan is nowhere to be found. In their place, top lane is being run by Ornn and Urgot. Both of those champions were released last summer, so the theme of new champions being OP continues.
Below that tier are champions like Sion and Darius who don’t quite have the teamfight disruption that the best champions bring. But now that Darius has been played, we might see more teams with a split-push focus try him out.
We had Olaf and Gragas as our OP champions a week ago. Olaf is one of the most-banned champions. One thing we did not expect was the level of respect teams have given jungle Camille—she’s just after Olaf with five bans in 12 games.
Below those two are the trio of Xin Zhao, Kindred, and Skarner, who have surpassed Gragas in priority. Expect Kindred and Skarner to stick around, but Xin Zhao may not. He’s a good champion, but he’s more difficult to execute around and falls off harder than the other two. And we still feel that when the level of play increases after the play in stage, Gragas will wiggle his way back to jungle supremacy.
Akali is busted, as we noted in our preview. She’s the most-banned champion after Aatrox. But we thought a nerf to Ryze’s rune prison would see him fall a bit, so we chose Cassiopeia as our second OP champion.
So far, we were wrong about Ryze. His nerf doesn’t matter in lane, and he’s been just fine in teamfights. And the other mage that’s risen in priority isn’t Cassiopeia, it’s Syndra. She’s taken over several games in the play-in stage with her lane pressure.
We had Kai’Sa and Xayah as the best champions after the Varus nerf. They’re still good but Varus is oddly still being played with the nerf to his early power. Then again, not a lot of teams can take advantage of that nerf given his range superiority. We now wonder if someone like Ashe will see some play to provide more pushing power and lane control once the main event starts.
We did nail the hidden OP champion: Tristana. She’s good in a variety of situations, and if you can survive lane until she gets even a B.F. Sword, she feels pretty good.
Engage supports are still en vogue, though Alistar has taken Braum’s place at the top next to Tahm Kench. Unlike Varus, the nerf to Braum’s starting HP has really hurt as he is supposed to stand forward in lane and provide presence. That opens him up to basic attacks from the opposing duo.
Thresh is back a bit after his recent buff, but two engage supports we’d keep our eyes on are Leona and Pyke. Cloud9 support Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam pulled out a surprise Leona against KaBum! e-Sports. Zeyzal actually used Leona as a counter to Pyke and just counter-engaged every time Pyke looked for a hooko.
If the theme of engage champs continues, it would be interesting to see if Taric sees some play. He’s another champion that doesn’t mind if others engage onto him.