The Metagame Report: From tanks with love

The Metagame Report is a series that explores what is on the upswing in competitive play, why it’s happening, and how you can take those trends and apply them to your own game.

In the early throes of Season 7, the general feeling was that tanks dominated the top lane after all the purple side Camille bans were said and done. As we’ve gone through some minor patches, however, the sentiment of tanks as the end all and be all couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Reddit themselves seemed to malign the idea of a composition without a tank in various threads discussing the state of competitive play, thinking it was an auto-loss to not have one. And yet, Patch 7.5 has seen a meaningful shift away from tanks. Poppy and Maokai have been replaced more broadly with Rumble and Camille, and damage dealers in the top lane seem to be more of an option than before.

In fact, damage dealers in the top lane seem to have the greatest pick and ban phase presence across all major regions. Camille, despite her heavy nerfs, and Rumble sit in the top four of all champions, and are the highest two top laners in that statistic. Why is this?

Champion Picks Bans % pick or banned Win rate
Camille 15 141 92  60%
Rumble 47 94 83 40%
Maokai 34 9 25 40%
Poppy 9 0 5 33%

Most of this revolves around the idea of “pushing lanes,” which are lanes that will aggressively trade and push the wave in their favor. These lanes, while vulnerable to ganks, also allow for junglers to have priority on invading the quadrant of the jungle that is pushing. The average player can utilizing priority lanes in many ways.

First, when you aggressively shove your lane, the top laner that is pushed in faces the difficult task of rotating away from their own gold and experience, which they will lose if they go to help against an invade that they may not get anything out of. It’s a high-risk, low-reward situation that also deprives your jungler of pressure if you do not help.

Secondly, it’s best to take the overall lesson of having a “pushing lane,” so not necessarily a lane that will win out in a hard 1v1, but a lane that will shove your opponent in a force them to make a hard decision with respect to how they should spend their time while you’re able to roam the map and support others. So Yasuo may not be the best pushing lane pick, but something like Rumble, Ahri or Caitlyn might be if you want to exploit this strategy.

You see this trend as well with the introduction of bullies such as Renekton and Gnar as early as Patch 7.2. Tanks have also lost their laning prowess for the most part. Only Nautilus can really be considered the safest hard tank of the bunch, but he struggles in the face of aggressive pushers. Meanwhile, Maokai lost his sapling damage and Poppy struggles with her wave clear due to the short range of her Q and its segmented damage.

Pick and ban data collected from GamesOfLegends.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

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