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Sunday, 12 January 2014

Champion walks into a bar...

Today I wanted to discuss one of the greatest sports, competition, and strategy.

There are very few strategies in competitive sports and games that don't have a counter. Usually these things become popular for a short period of time as people exploit their strengths but then lose popularity after things change or people find a way to counter it.

Naturally, counterpicks and counterplays are some of the biggest aspects in League of Legends and with the recent changes that have brought sustained damage bruisers back into popularity, that also means that we're going to be seeing some of their counters becoming popular again.

Let's assume for just a moment that you're playing Dr. Mundo. Would you rather play against an Elise or Jayce top-lane. Most people would prefer Jayce because in his current state, he isn't considered to be exceptionally powerful. That's not to say he isn't strong, he's just not perceived that way.
Now what if the Elise had Liandy's Torment? Jayce for sure, right? Well, Jayce just bought Blade of the Ruined King which, when combined with his cannon form's W, allows for a large number of applications of it which leads to more overall damage versus Dr. Mundo.

Basically, if things keep going the way they are, we're going to be seeing a lot more percent based damage dealers popping up. Kog'maw, Vayne, Elise, Brand, etc. Especially champions that have ways of hindering enemy movement because despite their durability and damage potential, they can still be hindered fairly easily(depending on the champion). For example, it doesn't matter how much Dr. Mundo's Burning Agony reduces crowd control, he's still going to be slowed by Kog'maw's ooze for a good long time.

With the potential for percent damage dealers to show up in competitive play again that means one other champion has the potential to appear and this one champion genuinely scares me.
Poppy has an incredible kit that makes her extremely durable and capable of dishing out some serious damage. Even early on in the game, she is incredibly durable thanks to her passive. Even later in the game, Poppy shrugs off critical hits like a Cho'gath shrugs off creeps.

While in her currently state, she's not exceptionally competitive, there's still the possibility of her becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Now, that being said, Poppy has the same issue that any other bruiser has. Sustained damage is annoying to deal with. As long as we have champions like Mundo and Shyvana that are capable of idly walking to the backline to start wailing at them, we're going to need safer carry picks. Lucian is a prime example of this. Tristana may see competitive play again due to her synergy with attack speed, and while there's still some issues with his current state, Varus could be seeing more competitive play again very soon.

Rumble may be seen more again due to the nature of his kit and it's synergy with Liandry's Torment and there's incredible potential for Trundle to get to trolling.

What I suggest to anyone who is reading this is when you load up into the champion selection screen, take a look at the current roster of 111 champions that are available(after bans) and just consider the possibilities.
If the enemy picks x, can I counter them with y? Will I be able to contribute after the laning phase with y or would I be better off with z?
When you're picking and there's still enemies yet to pick, consider what their potential selections could do to affect you.
Just because you countered your opponent in the laning phase doesn't mean you can counter their team. This isn't  a 1v1 tournament, that left with the Snowdown. League of Legends is a team sport whether you want it to be or don't want it to be, that's what it is.
Every team, player, strategy, champion, ability, etc. can decide the outcome of a game.
While I may have been discussing bruisers, that's because top-lane has almost always been home to bruisers. The only thing that has changed is it's picks.

If you do pick Kog'maw to deal with that late-game Dr. Mundo how are you going to deal with their bot-lane? If their bot-lane is Draven and Annie, Kog'maw isn't exactly the best pick for that. If you're taking Brand mid because their jungler and top-laner are extremely durable, how are you dealing with that Yasuo? He can easily dodge half your combo since they're skillshots but that doesn't mean you can't beat him either.

In the end, countering opponents isn't just about picks and bans, it's about every move, every ability, every click.

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