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The Summoner's Guidebook: Aftermath of the LoL World Championships

Patrick Mackey

Last weekend, we saw the League of Legends World Championships come to an end. While I thought the grand finals were a bit disappointing, the teams that made it to the final four put on an amazing show. I think few would say that any of the four teams in the semi-finals didn't deserve a place there, and I think equally few would question the validity of the Taipei Assassins' final victory.

The World Championships were a Cinderella story, and the Taipei Assassins became the unlikely champions in a decisive victory against Korean favorite Azubu Frost. The characteristic heavy aggression of the top Asian teams has already trickled down to the lower levels of play, and a few less common faces have come to new popularity in ranked and normal games all throughout the League.

In the aftermath of the World Championships, what did the tournament mean for the rest of us, the less fortunate who aren't at the top?

I hope Riot doesn't nerf Ezreal too hard

One thing that immediately springs to mind is the overuse of certain powerful champions during the tournament. I've already noticed a sharp increase in the number of Ezreal, Orianna, Anivia, and Jayce players since the tournament ended, and there were some definite mentions by Riot employees during the tournament about how Ezreal might be a bit too powerful.

I definitely think that any nerfs to Ezreal or Orianna would be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. We know that these champions are very strong, but I'm not sure that these champions are actually too strong. Their strengths may be a product of the changing metagame, and as top players find new ways to play, they will of course explore those strengths and exploit them. We saw Froggen's Orianna get decisively crushed by RapidStar's Ahri, and while Ezreal did tend to win most of his lane matchups, I think a lot of what made that happen was simply better play or a really terrible lane matchup (one cannot run Nunu/Kog versus Sona/Ez and expect to do well). We also saw the Sona/Caitlyn lane pick against Ezreal do exceptionally well as an alternative poking composition.

With all that said, I think Ezreal could stand to get nerfed a little, but I really liked the last buff to Ezreal (focused on making Mystic Shot better); I think it really brought out the good things about him. I would like to see other carries buffed up a bit to push them up rather than getting more nerfs to Ezreal, Graves, Corki or whoever the current top AD carry is. It's pretty obvious that gap closers/escapes are a big deal to carries, and the underpowered ones really need something special to make up for the lack of an extra Flash. I look at other newer carries like Draven or Varus and think they just lack that je ne sais quoi that Ashe or Kog (who lack gap closers but are still played) have.

Jayce is a bigger problem, and it's enough of a problem that my regular teammates have asked me to start playing him. I'm sort of well-known for playing unbalanced champions, so my friends are encouraging me to add Jayce to my bag of tricks. I am not sure what to do about Jayce, to be honest. I think he wins far too many top lane matchups. It's very strange to say that there's a character that beats Jax and Shen, who also win far too many top lane matchups. I hope that whatever Riot does to Jayce, it ends up working out. I don't know of anyone who thinks he is fair right now, though. In general, I think that the balance between top lane champions is in somewhat bad shape, but Jayce isn't the only problem.

I really don't know what to say about the mid lane issues during the tournament. We saw a lot of Ori, Karthus, and Anivia, plus some Morgana. I was really happy to see Scarra play Diana, and I was on the edge of my seat when I saw RapidStar play Ahri. The mid lane diversity during the World Championships was surprisingly low, and I'm not sure why. Anivia hasn't been changed in forever (she's always been pretty good), Karthus was nerfed not too long ago and Orianna's most recent buffs were quite a while ago. It's really hard for me to say whether these champs were actually overpowered because they were practically the only ones used. Furthermore, other mid picks like Vlad and Cassiopeia did well when they were selected. As a player, I wouldn't read too much into this; Ori and Karthus are fielded with specific comps in mind, and Anivia's always been a solid choice. It seems sort of weird that those three mid champions would dominate the picks and bans, though.

The Summoner's Guidebook Aftermath of the LoL World Championships
The audience metagame

Although there were a lot of noteworthy events that happened during the tournament, I think one deserves more mention than others because I think its importance is overlooked.

In game 2 (first attempt) between and Team WE, CLG was executing an amazing stall after a weak early game. had a better lategame comp and had proven to be better at teamfights than WE. CLG wasn't that far behind, so a stall tactic to flatten out WE's gold lead seemed like the best option. While it was the best strategic option for CLG, it was pretty boring to most people (I loved every minute of it), and the commentators were struggling to find things to talk about.

The game was fairly even (CLG might have even taken the lead at that point), so both teams were trying to restrict the other's vision by killing wards and jockeying for objectives. Neither team wanted to engage neutrally, so a lot of wards were being destroyed. As the game dragged on, an exasperated Deman mentioned offhand that had destroyed yet another sight ward. The crowd erupted in cheers and applause at the defeated ward, and although minutes went by with no real action, the crowd became heavily involved with the match. Every time a ward went down (which was often), the crowd cheered. Deman struggled to understand the crowd's enthusiasm at the time, but Jatt just rolled with it and got into the crowd's excitement too.

Destroying a ward is such a minute advantage that it normally wouldn't deserve much mention (especially that late in the game where it was happening all the time), but it created a motion that stuck throughout the tournament. Even in games without lengthy stalls, destruction of wards was rewarded with instant applause even in later days of the tournament.

I think this was important because it showed just how important working the crowd can be. Players put a lot more effort into ward-hunting than before, with very early Oracles getting purchased regularly. It was also really awesome for me because I think ward-clearing is highly underrated by the general population even though wards are one of the most important elements of high-level play. I really liked that a "boring support job" like clearing wards got more emphasis during the tournament. I hope that more viewers understood that doing it was a really important job and contributed a lot to winning. I can hope, anyway!

The Summoner's Guidebook Aftermath of the LoL World Championships
Looking forward to Season 3

The World Championships showed just how many people love League. Millions of fans tuned in to watch the World Championships, and anyone who tried to activate the stream promo codes knows how hard the promotional websites were stressed in the hours after the codes were released. Despite all the production issues with the World Championships, they had a huge viewer turnout and caused League of Legends to grow even more.

I've said before that LoL is a really hard game and the MOBA genre is one that is hard to get into. The success of League of Legends is nothing short of miraculous to me. It's astounding that a game that is so challenging to play and understand has so many loyal fans of all types of player demographics. So far, while Riot has made some mistakes along the way, its dream of making a MOBA for the masses has succeeded beyond anyone's expectations.

We understand what it's like to climb the skill ladder in League of Legends. The Summoner's Guidebook teaches you the tools you need to get a competitive edge. Whether you're climbing the ranked ladder, playing Draft Dominion, or getting crushed by intermediate bots, every enemy has a weakness. And every Thursday, Patrick Mackey shows how you can improve improve on yours.

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