With the arrival of the new split of LCS comes a new pick/ban system. The number of bans have been increased from 6 to 10, with the final 4 taking place in the middle of the draft. The increase in bans has allowed teams to commit a larger number of bans to a specific role. This has forced greater champion diversity, leading to a lot of picks we haven’t seen much before. We'll be looking at some picks which haven't been in the competitive scene and are making their comeback in the Spring Split.
Proxy farm. Split push.
Tanks have once again become the standard in the top lane. Due to the power that the new mastery Courage of the Colossus brings, tanks have risen to a high priority for top. Courage of the Colossus rewards CC with incredible sustain, keeping tanks in the front line and in their lane even longer. Champions like Maokai and Nautilus have risen to the top of pick/ban as a result of this change. In the scramble to find a counter for these champions, Singed has emerged as a viable option. Singed provides many benefits for teams in the LCS. First of all, he is a tank himself. Although he doesn’t benefit much from CotC, Singed still provides a strong frontline for teams who want to go for high-damage junglers like Rengar or Kha’Zix and poke-heavy supports like Zyra or Karma. In lane, he is a big counter to meta tanks. Because of the poison that trails behind him, it is difficult to stay on a Singed, getting rid of one of the main benefits of a champion like Maokai. Secondly, his constant damage is better suited for hurting tanks. High-burst champions struggle against tanky champions because their damage is meant for one-shot kills. If they don’t get a kill immediately, they aren’t very useful. Instead, Singed causes long-term, constant damage, which is more difficult for a Nautilus or Maokai to recover from. Also, outside the lane, he is able to provide jungle pressure because of how difficult it is to chase after him if he invades. That is not to say he doesn’t have his weaknesses. Singed doesn’t provide the same benefits in a teamfight that more conventional tanks do, and in against anything but a few select champions, he falters.
Fast Clear. Bushes. DAISY!
Ivern is one of the newest champions to League of Legends, and has quickly emerged as an option in the jungle if more powerful picks, such as Rengar or Lee Sin, are taken away. Ivern is particularly powerful early on. His passive gives him to have the fastest clear in the game by far, and eliminates the need for a leash. If he uses smite, he can take a buff in just a couple of seconds. This allows him to quickly take a couple of camps and then run into his enemy’s jungle and steal a buff. The ease with which Ivern can invade gives opposing junglers a rough start, unable to pull off the types of cheese level 3 bot ganks we’ve seen in some games. His ultimate, Daisy, also gives him extra pushing power. But there are reasons why Ivern is still rated a tier below the best junglers. He provides neither damage or a real tank, making him a cut below the rest when it comes to most teamfights. Despite this, some teams, such as the Unicorns of Love, have put him to great use in their first few games of the LCS.
Dagger. Jump. Kill. Reset. Repeat.
The rework of Katarina has completely transformed her. She has gone from a champion notorious for the lack of skill required to play her to one with a surprisingly high skill floor. This makes her appealing for top-tier professional midlaners. She has several benefits that make her a dangerous pick in the mid lane. First of all, she has a very early power spike. Whereas most champions get their power spikes at level 6 or at the completion of a major item, Kat gets her’s as soon as she hits level 3. Her powerful 3 skill combos make for a very scary level 3 dive. This enables her to snowball very hard if played successfully. Her early power spike makes her a good counter to many of the control mages, such as Syndra and Orianna, that are dominating the LCS. Most of these champs don’t get their spikes until their ults come up, and it’s difficult for them to deal with a diving Katarina. The biggest problem for Katarina in pro play is her reliance on snowballing. If her early dive doesn’t work, or she gets camped, it is difficult for her to make much of an impact later on.
Bombs. Bombs. MOAR BOMBS.
Ziggs is single-handedly redefining “ADC.” Right now, marksmen are severely underpowered. Most powerful ADCs right now are utility champs like Ashe or Jhin. Despite their name, rarely do teams use “AD Carries” to actually carry games. Ziggs bot exploits this concept to an extreme degree, and takes out the “AD” part of ADC as well. Ziggs’s biggest strength is taking towers. His skills are uniquely designed to do a ridiculous amount of damage to turrets, even if he lacks in some other important aspects. However, with the importance of First Brick and the lack of carry potential from bot laners, Ziggs fits right in. The main weakness of Ziggs may be that he forces the comp to change to fit him. There has to be another source of AD damage at another role, or the opposing team will be able to to easily counter by building tons of MR. Another problem with him is that he lacks the sustained damage that traditional ADCs like Ashe or Varus have. But in a meta where damage isn’t the main selling point of the bottom lane, Ziggs is a viable option. If you want to read more about this matter check out this article where we discuss the 'Rise of the Mages'.
Slow. Polymorph. Tanky Stats.
The final surprise pick that has emerged since the start of the new season is Lulu. One of the new power picks in the Spring split is Malzahar support. His voidlings provide an incredible amount of pressure on lane opponents, and his hard CC ultimate makes him good for both teamfights and quick picks. Lulu is an effective counter to this hyper-aggressive support. Lulu’s empowered auto attacks allows her to kill the voidlings in one hit, stopping them before they can make much of an impact. She also counters his ultimate. Both her W and R cancel Malzahar’s ultimate if placed on the target. This gets rid of the need for a QSS, allowing for greater build flexibility and a larger focus on damage. Although Lulu remains a bottom-tier champion in most cases, against Malzahar, she has proved very effective. We discussed other support mages which are taking over solo-queue here.