League of Legends Meta

League of Legends meta - The Past, Present and Future.

League of Legends Meta - A history of the LoL Meta Game

 A lot of people play this amazing game that we all cherrish and love, but only a few know about all the changes that has taken place since the beginning of the game. LoLBoost get a lot of questions about the current League of Legends meta, what it means and which champions are actually viable and so on, so we will help you dive into both past eras, the current meta, the season 7 meta and the projected future meta for League of Legends. Before we begin we have added a table of content so you can see what we will be discussing today. Feel free to skip down to the sections you prefer reading about. 

1. Early Season 1 - Double Bruiser bot / ability power top laner / ADC mid
2. Mid-Late Season 1 - Splitpushers
3. Early Season 2 - Atmogs (impaler and warmong)
4. Late season 2 - Soviet domination
5. Late season 2 - The ideal league of legends meta
6. Pre-season 3 - League of Cleavers & Warmongs
7. Season 3 - The pie (3.14) patch
8. Late season 3 - Elixirs, low risk, high rewards - legendary 1vs1 Zed Outplay.
9. Season 4 - Jungler and Support heaven
10. Season 5 - Double cinderhunk and skirmisher's sabre
11. Season 6 - Tank/Stall meta
12. What Riot did right
13. What Riot did wrong
14. What should happen in season 7
15. Preseason meta 2016 - the jungle rules
16. The season 7 meta game - which champions should you pick?

 

 

1. Early Season 1: “Double bruiser bot / ability power top laner / ADC mid”

As people were trying to discover the league of legends meta, this was the first successful

attempt. The mid lane was given to attack damage carries for safe farm and scalling, the double bruiser bot lane was picked to crush enemy laners while being behind on gold compared to other lanes and experience. Popular champions during this era were:
 

- Blitzcrank+Alistar bottom lane ( huge amounts of cc & great base damage ),

- Panth+Jarvan bottom lane ( great ammount of burst in short period of time on top of some decent cc ),

- Ashe mid ( great, easy wave clear and a good initiation ),

- Caitlyn mid ( long range, great for sieging and punishing enemy players ).

The reason this era ended is because Fnatic, your most loved european team. They decided to put the Ability Power champion on mid lane, while sending the ADC with a support to bottom lane.

 

2. Mid-Late Season 1: “Splitpushers”

league of legends meta

 

A player known as “HotshotGG” ( current owner of CLG, former player ) had something for split pushing champions. He had such a ridiculous high skill ceiling on certain amount of champions, that Riot had to nerf them soon after they saw what someone could do with them. Mobile champions with great wave clear who could stomp 1v1 started filling the top lane, while other lanes followed Fnatics idea of AP mid & ADC/SUP bot. Popular champions during this era were:
 

- Nidalee ( insanely high mobility and spear damage );

- Jax ( was broken because of the dodge system, which allowed him to survive ridiculously many times ),

- Cho’gath ( insane sustain, lots of CC and utility ),

- Karthus ( a meme was born with the “press R Karth” ),

- Sivir ( great waveclear and survivability ).

The era had to end because of the amount of nerfs to these champions, and an emphasis on grouping up and teamfighting starting forming.

 

3. Early Season 2: “Atmogs” ( Atma’s Impaler & Warmong )

Every top laner had become a bruiser because of these 2 items. They were dominating every other champion/laner, they were dominating balanced discussion because of their ridiculousness. Atma’s Impaler in it’s first form was insanely strong and Warmong was a core of the usual bruisers, soo all you had to do is bring in an extra item to become an unstoppable demon king. They synergized very well like Sunfire’s Cape/Iceborn Gauntlet now ( or before the nerfs ). When combined with a 3rd item like Trinity Force, they were simply unstoppable. Another item which made them even more annoying was Frozen Mallet ( Fratmog / Atmallet ). It was just hell for anyone else, but bruisers. Popular champions during this era:
 

- Gankgplank ( very strong ranged damage and even more in melee combat ),

- Irelia ( typical “nerf Irelia” discussion, she was way too strong with this combination),

- Olaf ( unstoppable Viking charging at people and hammering them down ),

- Jarvan ( too much burst in a small period of time and a great CC/zoning tool ).
 

The era ended after nerfs to Atma’s Impaler & Warmong’s came into play.
 

4. Late Season 2: “The soviet domination”

Moscow 5 appeared on the scene ( Darien/Diamondprox/Alex Ich / Genja /Gosu Pepper ) and were dominating everyone with their aggressive playstyle. They brought into play proper counterjungling to the forefront as opposed to something you would do ocasionally when you felt like it. It was their “core” plan, to abuse that and punish the enemy jungler. Shyvana as a champion was pretty bad, untill Diamondprox showed what you could do with her. He was counterjungling like mad, the enemy jungler would usually be behind a lot of levels with no gold. After Diamondprox got bored of playing her in the jungle, Darien picked her up in the top lane and showed what a good, worthwhile dragon can do in the proper hands. He would show a style of counterjungling like Diamondprox, he would bully people out of lanes and counterjungle if camps were up. Top lane started slowly being composed out of laners who could push really fast then retreat to the jungle to farm a bit. However, the middle lane started forming its own meta. Heavy farm champions started becoming popular, and noone was better at that than your favorite, CLG.EU Froggen. He was able to hold Moscow 5 at bay with his Anivia, a feat noone was able to acomplish before him. But as a counter to farming champions, assasins started becoming more popular aswell soo it was pretty multi-dimensional. Meanwhile, in the bot lane the holy trinity was formed: Ezreal/Corki/Graves. The most broken adcs at release anyone has seen. Popular champions:
 

- Ezreal ( 1st part of holy trinity, tons of poke ),

- Corki ( 2nd part of holy trinity, lots of mixed damage ),

- Graves ( 3rd part of holy trinity, insane amounts of burst ),

- Karthus ( who didn’t love farming for ages then pressing R for that juicy, big insane burst to clean up fights),

- Lux ( great overal utility, catch-up potential & burst ),

- Orianna ( the “balanced” queen of mid-lane, always a safe pick ),

- Shyvana ( due to Moscow 5 showing how she can be played in top/jungle ),

- Gankgplank ( just strong overal with Trinity Force & nerfed Atmogs ),

- Nunu ( counterjungle god, used as a support aswell ),

- Lee Sin ( counterjungle god, used a lot against Shyvana to burst her down ),

- Sona ( really good support, versatile with a lot of stuff on the table ),

 

Once teams started adapting and focusing on vision more and more, the lol meta was slowly dying, a lot of champions nerfs being the nail in the coffin.

 

5. Late season 2: “The ideal LoL meta”

Season 2 World Championship set the base of league regardless of patch to come: Bruiser/Tank top lane, Bruiser/Tank jungle, AP mid lane, ADC/SUP bot lane. In top lane there were some exceptions with Diana/Jayce, but overall this was the usual setup. Bot lane had the “Unholy trinity” with the ocasional “Kog’maw + Nunu” for insane mid/ late game potential.


Nunu started being picked as a response to counterjungle. It was a flex pick for jungle/support which could be taken away during the early drafting phase. The rest was just a “sum” of all the metas together. Trinity force was strong, Diana/Jayce were strong. Orianna was the queen of mid lane. The “unusual” adcs like Vayne/Kog’maw were picked in sync with some sort of utility: Lulu / Orianna /Nunu to be the tank crusher with lots of safety on their team. Popular champions:
 

- Shen ( global ult, contested pick cause of taunt ),

- Mundo ( mostly used for jungle ),

- Holy trinity ( Ezreal/Corki/Graves – great mobility and damage ),

- Kog’maw ( great in sync with Nunu ),

- Orianna ( queen of mid lane who brought everything),

- Vladimir ( great AoE waveclear and teamfight presence),

- Jayce ( lots of AoE ranged & melee damage, really good against the current league of legends meta),

- Diana ( “special” pick used by certain people for mid/top to counter certain teams of champions ).
 

The era ended with the Season 3 changes, the meta was flipped completely.

 

6. Pre-season 3: “League of Cleavers & Warmongs”

Both items were buffed to absurd amount of levels during the pre-season. Everyone and their mother bought black cleavers and stacked them. The team who had more black cleavers and better champions to use them usually won. You would see that 5 warmongs or 5 black cleavers on a team would usually win the game. The era didn’t last for that much, cause Riot realised what chaos it caused.
 

Popular champions:

- Jayce ( combine the tank crusher, great AoE poke, great melee damage with a Black Cleaver or more… ),

- Darius ( insanely strong damage when he got close to someone, true damage helped a lot ),

- Talon ( could 100-0 even if people stacked Warmongs ).


The era ended once these 2 items were nerfed thankfully though…

 

7. Season 3: “The pie(3.14) patch”

The new support items arrived in this patch, enabling many supports outside of the previous ones. What really happened though was the Targon chain (Relic Shield, Targon's Brace, Face of the Mountain) was broken as fuck and the execute was enabled for any person equipped with it. Leading to no jungler and double ADC team comps with 4x Targon and insane gold leads. It was instantly hotfixed before next patch. Popular setups included double ADC/SUP on both mid & top with a great wave – clear mid laner. Popular champions:
 

- Everyone ( all you had to do is stack Targon to be viable ).
 

8. Late season 3: “Elixirs, low risk, high reward – the legendary 1v1 Zed Outplay”

With the resurgance of ad mid laners and top mid laners because of some items being too strong, specificailly Runic Bulwark & Locket of the Iron Solari ( which eventually led to Runic Bulwark being removed ), people figured out the most optimal build would be an elixir of fortitude ( which granted some amazing combat stats ) with some health pots. Assasins were primarly focused in the baning phase: Zed, Kassadin, Ahri and more. It was a very fast-paced, individual orietend game, where a player on an assasin could stomp entire teams almost by himself with proper support from his team on side lanes. A lot of people remember this era because this is the time where being good mattered and Faker, a rookie player for SKT showed what he could do with certain champions, most notably being the moment where he outdueled KT’s Ryu in a 1v1 as Zed vs Zed in a bo5 match which decided if SKT or KT would go to Worlds. Popular champions:
 

- Zed ( insanely strong, no cast time on W made it impossible to predict what would happen when you were playing against him ),

- Ahri ( with her insane amounts of damage and mobility, she was the perfect fox to join the fray during this period ),

- Kassadin ( perma-ban material due to the absurd amount of mobility and damage post-6 ).

 

9. Season 4: “Jungler and Support heaven”

Season 4 has brought in drastic changes to the game, especially to the Jungler and Support positions. The changes to these staple positions increases their gold flow as well as, in the case of supports, seeing many of the traditional support champions given scaling to their abilities in order to properly benefit from this increased gold (before, they were designed to operate with minimal items, as they did not have the money to purchase them). The first changes to their cash flow is items. Both roles have received new items (or changes to existing items) that increase their gold flow in different ways (one of the support items, for example, gives gold every time an enemy minion dies near you). These items also have strong stat lines and/or utility, making them worth buying for more than their gold advantage (they’re also surprisingly well balanced, making them nearly useless for the other roles). Another change is how warding mechanics work. Before it was the supports' job, with a small amount of assistance, to ensure that the map was covered in wards so that the enemies' movements could be tracked properly. This was a huge gold drain to an already money-taxed position. Now, however, each player can only place three stealth wards and one invisibility-detecting ward. This means that the team has to work together to keep proper vision on the map. New free items called 'trinkets' have been added to help with this. Three trinkets now exist. They are free for the base versions (they improve at level 9, and may be upgraded further for a small amount of gold) and are invaluable. The Ward Totem is a free ward whenever the cooldown is up; extremely useful with the limit on individual warding and allows everyone to help with warding without affecting the items they can build. There is also the Sweeping Lens, which is now, other than pink wards, the only way to remove enemy wards from the map (Oracle’s Elixir was removed). The third trinket, Scrying Orb, allows for a player to reveal a section of the map for a few moments. It has seen very little play, but recent buffs may change that. A few other changes have occurred; these aren’t as sweeping, but are no less important in their effect on the lol meta:
 

- Towers and Dragon give less global gold to the team as a whole.

- Many of the top assassins saw nerfs to bring their power in line with other champions.

- Inhibitors saw a nerf to their power. Minions in other lanes are no longer affected, and super minions saw a nerf to their health and damage.
 

The change mostly affects the hyper-aggressive nature of Season 3. Before, turrets and dragons were all important. Teams that didn’t manage to secure these had a very difficult time keeping up with their opponents; the global gold simply snowballed them way ahead. However, both dragon and turrets had their global gold reduced. Taking a turret now has to be calculated, as the farm lost will not be outbalanced by the global gold for the team. In addition, dragon is worth far less as the gold it gives is much lower early on. Although hyper-aggressive, fast pushing is still an option, it now has to be calculated, and losing a couple towers early in the game isn’t going to mean your opponent snowballs ahead with a huge gold lead. This also means laning phases will get longer. Taking turrets is less profitable than killing minions for their gold in lane.
 

The changes of Season 4 have opened up more possibilities. Playing a slow, farm-centered game is now much more possible, and hyper-aggressive playstyles shouldn't run away with every game, but still remain viable. The warding changes spread the responsibility of map vision out, and also strengthen tactical ward placement. Supports and junglers now have much more gold to play with, and this will mean these positions have more impact on the game. Season 4 seems to have made all the right changes to make the game more balanced, more competitive, and more entertaining to play.

 

10. Season 5: “Double Cinderhulk and Skirmisher’s Sabre”

With the nerfs to assasins and removal of DFG ( a burst AP item ), the game was slowly transcending to a more team fightning oriented game and less of being an individual carry. With the fall of assasins, the bruisers started rising up. The meta started focusing on dive-heavy champions, a place where bruisers excelled, they decided who lives and who dies. Soo two types of setups have become mainstream: heavy engage with dive potential and disengages setups. It was alive for a pretty big amount of time, untill people realised what you could do with a pure tank up toplane by taking Smite instead of the usual Flash. People started picking Smite, doing a level 1 camp then go to top lane and harras enemies heavily due to the bonus exp, the smite item was usually continued into a cinderhulk and soo the “tanky” meta appeared for some time, where every top laner was viable if he could use cinderhulk & smite properly. The smite upgrade of choice was Skirmisher’s Sabre which allowed them to outduel anyone in a 1v1.
 

Popular champions during this era were:
- Lissandra ( very verstatile both mid & top lane, could catch people who were in a bad spot and instantly delete them ),

- Kassadin ( flask + teleport allowed him to become a menace both on mid/top lanes against magic damage dealing champions due to his absurd mobility ),

- Gnar ( overall solid laner, could easily zone pretty much anyone and anything without ganks ),

- Sivir ( with the game being focused on teamfightning, her ult become a decisive factor in a lot of victories ),

- Rek’sai ( queen of the jungle, could go warrior/cinderhulk, the vision provided was beyond insane by good players, was hard to counter & kill ).

 

11. Season 6: “The tank/stall meta”

Season 6 began with a pretty boring and dull situation in the top lane, because of the reworked masteries ( especially Grasp of the Undying ), tanks were insanely overpowered, especially when coupled with a few items ( Sunfire Cape & Iceborn Gauntlet ) soo everyone started picking up tanks and build the same items in the top lane. Malphite, Mundo, Tahm Kench and Trundle as a counter to them were picked in quite a lot of games.
 

While people were mostly focused on top lane, in the jungle arose the “ADC junglers” ( Graves/Kindred ) who forced Riot to nerf certain stacking items. Their base damage was insane and allowed them to clear without any issues the jungle. With the combination of Sterak’s Gage and Maw of Malmortius they were esentially unkillable tanks while dishing out tons of damage. Then out of nowhere, a Dragon Rework came to force teams to do something outside of farming for ages. The meta was undergoing a lot of drastic changes every few patches and then came the mage rework, with lots of items and abilities modifications. Overall, it’s a fun season, a lot of champions are used in every region, both in dynamic que and competitive play.

 

Final note:

I’d like to finish off this wall of text with a personal insight about the state of season 6, what they did right, what they did wrong and where should they look to develop.

 

12. So let’s begin with what Riot did right:

- diversifying the meta every few patches, by doing constant buffs/nerfs to overpowered and slightly underplayed champions to make sure they have room for entry into competitive play;

- reworking the Dragon ( with a small exception, making it completely RNG – bad design );

- mage rework & items ( it added some flavour to the mid lane and allowed for new champions to appear into play ).

 

13. What Riot did wrong:

- death timers, getting aced at around 30 minutes meant game over for a lot of teams, it was getting soo boring watching competitive play trying to be as safe as possible to avoid losing nexus after a lost teamfight;

- paper towers, goes along with death timers, made the game focused on one teamfight during 30 minutes, lose a teamfight - > lose the game, due to how easy it was to push;

- focusing too much on buffing/nerfing champions instead of balacing items;

- promoting team fightning and ignoring the individual skills making the game to watch as boring as possible;

- dynamic que ( there’s too many bad things with it, one of the most important ones is the skill ceiling which some players can reach due to pro players avoiding this enviroiment. Before you could easily play with pro players all day, now you barely see them due to insane que items and of this joke system ).

 

14. What should happen with the League of Legends meta in season 7 : My opinion

- balance out the dragon types, make them less RNG ( allow it to be seen in champion select, for example first 2-3 drakes which will spawn are: x,y,z ), it would allow diversity and maybe force teams to pick early fights more often with certain champions and snowball of a drake or two more efficiently;

- as a continuity of the previous one, rework the Cloud Drake since in it’s curent state it’s just a laughing matter, can’t even be closely compared to the other 3;

- start promoting individual play and riskier plays, give more gold for kills, less gold for objectives, less gold in the jungle, straight up force people to fight for gold;

- focus less on nerfing/buffing champions and more on diversifying item build paths and reworking them if they see no play.
 

           
15. Preseason meta 2016 - The jungle rules.

Preseason 7 began with a rework to the jungle by swapping some minions around, experimenting with the experience gains and adding the new plants to the equation. Each of these changes giving different unique opportunities to players to perform new and exciting executions of playstyles in the jungle. Right now jungling is the most impactful role in the game because of the amount of tools they have in their environment, allowing them either to farm for a large periods of time and come out of the jungle insanely strong, or allowing them to find a balance between farming and ganking and never falling behind. It’s a big issue for other laners, especially for the solo-laners in the mid and top lane when the enemy jungler comes to gank you and he is ahead. The question is “ Why is someone who is farming monsters allowed to have a level advantage over someone who is constantly battling an enemy champion and trying to balance between trades and farming? “. The answer is nowhere to be found so far, so rerolling to jungle to climb the solo/flex queue seems like a good way to go.
 

The game modes have kind of reverted to season 5, with some small exceptions. The solo queue, which everyone wanted, was given back to the players with one big problem: the role selections and autofill. The role selection system is really nice and allows people to choose a role and improve, but the autofill system completely goes the other way around  by forcing people to play roles they usually don’t. It makes the ranking system much less pleasurable due to the annoying amount of players who decide to troll around when they get autofilled, ruining the experience for the other players before they move onto the next game.

 

16.  The season 7 meta game - Which champions should you pick?

Let’s take a minute and talk about the current popular champions:

a) In the top lane, you have the tanks with the broken keystone mastery which gives them a ton of effective health in form of a shield when they CC someone (the shield has a pretty low cooldown as well, giving them an extreme amount of sustainability). Ssome examples would be Maokai, Poppy and Sion.
b) In the jungle you have very aggressive junglers who tend to invade the enemy jungler and shut them down (seeing as shutting down the enemy jungler is much more efficient than trying to gank certain lanes). Champions like Lee Sin, Graves, Evelynn and Kha’Zix are very popular and strong picks in the current League of Legends Meta for season 7.
c)In the mid lane you have a mix of mages who want to either control the map or control the teamfight or both. Ryze, Orianna and Viktor are the most picked mid laners right now, all having a lot of control with Viktor having huge burst potential.
d) In the ADC role the nerfs to armor penetration caused some ADCs to get a surge in strenght and usability, while others (like Lucian) became much weaker. The most popular and efficient champions for the ADC going into season 7 are Twitch, Jhin and Vayne.
e) The support role seems to have remained more or less the same with people picking champions which benefit a lot from the new item which AoE heals (called “Redemption” ), with the most popular picks being Karma, Thresh and Nami. That being said, both Brand and Zyra are extremely strong in the current LoL Meta and would be great picks if you want to climb going into season 7.
 

Compared to previous season where some item could have defined the meta, or where a summoner spell was always picked by 3-4 teammates (ex. Heal pre-nerf ), season 7 seems to come with much more flexibility and no "presets" - meaning that more options are "approwed" and used in the meta game. All in all everything seems more or less balanced, with the exception of the jungle role. 

 

                                    



UPDATE: August 20th 2016: 
The League of Legends Meta is for ever evolving and changing - if we do not adapt we will fall behind and see our rank suffer. LoLBoost has created several tier lists, but for solo queue and role specific that you can find in the other news sections. These lists will be updated every time there is a new patch out, and this LoL Meta article will be updated when the next big meta change takes place. Until then, good luck at the fields of justice!


UPDATE: September 30th 2016:
With season 7 almost upon us we have seen many changes in the League of Legends Meta during preseason, with more to come in season 7. This article will be updated soon with the season 7 meta analysed. 

 

UPDATE December 3rd 2016:
A new section has been added to this League of Legends Meta article. Section 15 Preseason 2016 and the season 7 meta. You can read about this above. 

 

 

 

Written by LoLBoost Guide Writer and Coach: Chris Lupasco

 

 

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