esports

The LoL champions tearing up Worlds

© Riot
Written by James Busby
What are this year's most popular picks at the tournament and why are the pro players using them?
Despite Riot's constant patches and fine-tuning, some League Of Legends champions still perform better than others, especially in the pro scene, where their influence is easily exploited. The 2017 World Championship is well underway and we've already started to see a clear meta formulate among the pros.
There are many reasons why a champion may be picked or banned in any given game. Sometimes certain champs may have an negative impact on a team's game-winning strategy, so players may ban those that could upset their playstyle.
Occasionally, champions will be banned because a team is targeting a certain player in the hopes of nullifying their impact. However, the most common reason a champion gets banned is because of their raw power, which is showcased clearly in champion win pick and ban. Join us as we breakdown this year's most popular picks and discuss why the pros are prioritising them.

Top-lane: Cho'Gath, Maokai, Galio, and Shen

Artwork of the champion Cho'Gath from League of Legends.
Cho'Gath
The top-lane meta is all about tanky teamfighters at Worlds 2017, and the top four picks are all tanks: Cho'Gath, Maokai, Galio, and Shen. Bruiser and carry champions like Rumble, Camille and Gnar have seen play this year, but they have a consistently lower play rate. This is because they don't have the health or sustain to reliably help their team during prolonged fights and skirmishes. The mid-season updates have given our beefy friends the chance to truly shine in the top-lane, while the popular ADC crit builds have only helped cement their place at the top.
Watch IMT's Flame use Shen's tanky plays to devastating effect against GAM in the video below.
There's also a greater focus on objective play thanks to the introduction of the new Rift Herald, which has greatly increased opportunities for teams to spill even more blood in the jungle. As a result, there's often huge risk involved for those looking to play squishy carry champions like Camille and Fiora. However, there are a lot of counter picks to tanks like Irelia, Kled, Jayce and Kennen so expect players to counter these popular picks with devastating carry plays.

Jungle: Jarvan IV, Gragas and Sejuani

Artwork of the Gragas champion from League of Legends.
Gragas
Jungling is one of the most complex roles to master and holds great tactical depth in all competitive levels of play. The role requires tremendous amounts of map awareness and teamplay, as ganks and objective control can have a huge impact on the overall outcome of a game. This year's World Championship has seen a huge increase in jungle flex picks, with the popular junglers being played in both top-lane and jungle. For example, Jarvan IV is the seventh most popular pick in top-lane, with a total of six games played, while being the third most popular pick in the jungle.
Meanwhile, Gragas and Sejuani dominate the top of the scoreboard with a massive 55.6% and 42.9% play rate. Their impact in the game is monumental and it's not hard to see why both picks nearly have 100% pick or ban rate.
See FB use Sejuani's icy CC to gift mid-laner Frozen a decisive double kill below.
Pro teams clearly think these two champions are overpowered, and this is largely down to their ability to engage with their fantastic crowd control abilities. Cloud9's jungler Contractz displayed excellent usage of Gragas and Sejuani during the Play-In stage and beat Lyon Gaming by constantly locking down key threats, disengaging team fights and zoning Lyon away from game-changing buffs.

Mid-lane: Corki, Lucian, Syndra, Orianna

Artwork of the champion Syndra from League of Legends.
Syndra
The pre-Worlds patch saw Riot nerf a handful of popular mid-laners to help diversify the lane and stop the likes of Syndra, Orianna and Taliyah from running rampant. Riot's recent nerfs seemed to have helped with mid-lane diversity and despite Syndra remaining on top with an 85.7% pick and ban rate, there's a lot more champions being played. Because of the tanky top-laners and CC heavy junglers, mid-laners are now required to deal consistent damage during prolonged team fights. This has led to picks like Corki and Lucian being played, while Syndra and Orianna offer high burst damage twinned with excellent lockdown for engages.
Watch Cloud9's Jensen show off his scintillating Syndra plays in this video.
These mid-laners excel in high pressure lanes and can instantly shut down AD Carries, and shred through tanks without the fear of falling off during the late-game. Cloud9's Jensen demonstrated just how scary Syndra could be when he obliterated EDG's bot-lane and jungler with huge amounts of AP burst damage. His masterful mid-lane plays prove that the Dark Sovereign should be a priority pick for teams looking to crush their opponents.

ADC: Tristana, Kog'Maw, Varus, Xayah

Artwork of the Tristana champion from League of Legends.
Tristana
ADC is the most stagnant role, as Tristana continues to dominate bot-lane with her excellent scaling, long-range poke and incredibly safe play style. Her ability to melt objectives and buffs with her Explosive Charge, and insanely high DPS with Rapid Fire, has led to her having a 77.7% play rate among the pros.
Meanwhile, other picks like Kog'Maw and Varus have great synergy with their team, especially when paired with a support that utilises Ardent Censer to buff up their damage. Kog'Maw requires a great deal of support, with teams often needing to pick and ban around him, but with the right comp the machine gun marksman can quickly snowball out of control.
Misfits player Hans Sama delivered a feathery blow to fan-favourite Doublelift in the video below.
However, the latest ADC to make her mark on the Rift is Xayah. The pesky Rebel currently has a whopping 82.5% pick and ban rate thanks to her stun and game-changing ultimate, which allows her to strike multiple enemies. Misfits' Hans Sama demonstrated just how deadly the Rebel could be on day four of the Group stage, when he secured a deathless 8–0–6 scoreline against TSM. His dominant performance gave Misfits the power they needed to dismantle their foes and deliver a decisive win.

Support: Janna, Alistar, Rakan, Xayah

Artwork of the champion Janna from League of Legends.
Janna
Aggressive engages and team fights are commonplace this meta so having a support that can disengage and provide peel is vital. As a result, Janna is currently the most played support champion at Worlds, with a massive 30 games and an impressive 80% win rate. The Storm's Fury can slow enemies with Zephyr, knock up multiple foes with Howling Gale and even knock back hungry carries with Monsoon.
It isn't hard to see why Janna continues to be one of the most popular picks at Worlds. The buffs from Ardent Censer have only increased her viability on the Rift, but that hasn't stopped tanky engagers like Alistar and Rakan from making a splash in the bot-lane.
See Longzhu's GorillA make tower diving look easy with his flashy Rakan plays here.
Rakan is currently the most banned support in Worlds (46.0%), which is largely down to his overall synergy and kill potential. He may not be the tankiest support when compared to the likes of Alistar and Leona, but his mobility, charm and knock-up make for a great secondary engage. With Xayah being such a prominent pick, and with heavy emphasis on team fighting, it was only a matter of time before Rakan charmed his way into the spotlight.
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