How will Kled affect the LCS?
The Cantankerous Cavalier has landed, but will he and Skaarl conquer League’s top flight?
Without the use of a crystal ball it’s impossible to know what will become of a champion when they enter pro play. They could debut as a trash-tier pick that lingers in obscurity for months, or they could immediately ascend to glory after one daring player struts their stuff. High-end League of Legends has a habit of defying the logic established lower in the ranks, which is what makes the introduction of Kled, and his affect on the meta, all the more intriguing. Will he explode the Road to Worlds? Or will he and Skaarl run into the brush, tail between legs?
First thing’s first: about Kled. This champion is all about focusing down lone opponents. He’s somewhere between a bruiser and a duelist, possessing significant health (depending on whether he’s mounted Skaarl, his steed) and moderate mobility. In-lane he’s going to be a huge threat to any pro player facing off against him because of great survivability, stickiness, and damage.
A champion’s initial impact in pro play partially depends on who is currently favoured in the game’s meta. This is in constant flux: what was hot in the Summer Split hasn’t necessarily rocked the Summer Playoffs, which finish in a few days. All we can do is tentatively stick our toe in the pool to judge its temperature. The top lane is currently populated by Gnar, Gangplank, Vlad, and to a lesser extent Irelia and Shen. The first two have been consistent picks, again and again from teams like G2 Esports; you don’t want to be caught anywhere near Expect when that Gnar Bar reaches full charge.
Unless, that is, you’re playing Kled. Though he hasn’t yet had chance to rock the pro scene his Diamond tier stats suggest that the Napoleonic Yordle is trouncing Gnar in top lane, with a significantly higher win rate in direct match ups. The same goes for Vladimir, who’s also feeling the sharp end of the lizard-mounted blade in higher ELO games. Kled has superb damage output thanks to his passive and is monstrously sticky when he goes all in, firing off Beartrap on a Rope followed by a couple of instances of Jousting.
Once you’re in his grasp it’s near-impossible to escape unless one of you dies and he seems to feed on many champions that have high health and moderate damage. If they don’t possess a natural escape or hard CC they are forced to burn flash in order to dart away, or simply crumble under the relentlessness of his attack.
What this could result in is a resurgence in mobile toplaners or those in possession of crowd control. None of the dominant picks in the Summer Playoffs have much of this to offer apart from Shen and Mega Gnar, and those abilities are hard to land against a champion who can dash twice in quick succession. One particular champion comes to mind: Kennen. He can auto attack, dart around and stun Kled with little fear of reprisal. Fiora will probably also have her chance to shine: a well timed Riposte can see her shrug off Beartrap and if Kled decides to dart through her with Jousting, she can initiate a Grand Challenge hitting him from each angle as he moves around and then soaking his immense damage.
The current meta favours tanky supports, which generally works in favour of Kled and Skaarl’s mechanic. When Skaarl disappears, Kled can restore his courage and get him to return by attacking towers and champions – if he’s got a large target with lots of health to chip away at, he can easily call back his steed, and all the extra protection and health he provides, without having to put himself too much at risk. If Kled comes to dominate, it wouldn’t be surprising to see teams favouring ranged supports and especially those with stuns or snares in order to keep Kled from recovering his partner.
What Kled is unlikely to change is the current pick / ban rate of Gangplank, who is currently an out of control monster resting at a cool 100 percent for the Summer Playoffs. He doesn’t possess any escapes, but he can poke Kled with ease and zone him out, keeping his CS low. The meta is always shifting, but Gangplank, it seems is forever, and it’s unlikely that either will have the advantage over the other in a straight-up 1vs1 trade.
Though assessing a champion’s effectiveness in duelling is reductive to say the least, and where Kled is likely to have an enormous impact is through his ultimate: Chaaaaaaaarge!!! Not only does it make him a map-wide threat, as he careers from one side to the other at great speed, it also makes mass movement of players a whole lot easier. There is no limit to the amount of champions that can receive his ultimate’s speed buff, meaning that quick, full-complement transitions between Dragon and Baron are a possibility or more importantly, three-person ganks between lanes. Add Sona’s Song of Celerity to the mix, and you’ve got a high-speed deathball that can career toward objectives at immense speed.
Kled’s R is just one more reason for teams to continue taking a double teleport in order to respond to map-wide mobility. Aurelion Sol, Taliyah, and now Ryze can all move massive distances quickly, and with another player on the field who can quickly transition, teams need to be able to respond fast. Rek’Sai is no longer the auto-pick for any jungler, her pick / ban rate having dropped a huge amount since World’s last year to 60 percent within the EU Summer Playoffs, but she could become a necessary counter-pick, along with double teleport, in order to quickly dart to the scene of a fight.
Of course, this all depends on how pro-players choose to make use of the new yordle’s abilities. Lest we forget last year’s Worlds where Tahm Kench completely shifted the metagame with his defensive Devour shenanigans. ADCs in his shadow proved near-impossible to kill and as the tournament evolved, Kench became a must-pick champion.
It seems unlikely that this will happen with Kled unless something dramatic changes, but there’s always the chance that someone will find a way to abuse his abilities. Expect players to make last-minute recoveries as Skaarl comes running back to Kled, bringing all that extra health with him. We don’t know exactly what will happen when he arrives, but we can be sure that watching this champion will never be boring.