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Saturday, 4 January 2014

Striking a Balance

For a long time we have shown (some) affection towards supports and what they do. In the Pre-Season 4 patch, we saw a large variety of changes aimed at support scaling and their gold income as well as big changes to how warding works in the game.
In addition to these changes, we also see changes and new additions to the masteries which a large number of champions absolutely adore.

Right now we've got a thing going on for very tanky top-laners that focus on sustained damage rather than burst with Shyvana being a prime example of this. That's not saying that we don't like burstier top-laners, we're just really fond of the sustained damage and, let's face it, as long as we like tanky top-laners, we're gonna have some variety there.

Jungle changes were designed to open up the jungle to more carry/damage oriented junglers but unfortunately I think it pushed us even further away from them. We can still have early damage dealers for junglers but in most cases you'll see them shift into a beefier tanking role eventually.
Then there's the glorious middle lane. What is, in my opinion, the most terrifying lane in the game. Make one mistake and that's going to follow you around for a good long time. Pull ahead and you're going to be painting a nice big bullseye right on your back. For the most part, mid hasn't changed all too much. We're seeing a few more AP champions become more popular but I think we've reached a fair balance between AD and AP mid-laners.

Finally, we go back to the beginning and take a look at bottom lane.
AD Carries(or Marksmen if you prefer) are in a tough spot. They're being pushed further and further out of the meta due to the popularity of assassins, divers, and bursters. This is also due to the fact that games became a lot shorter in Season 3 since first blood could easily decide a game at top level play and while Season 4 has less snowballing, the increased gold generation for supports means more items and more power for supports who were already in control of the lane early on in most cases.
Now the thing is that most of the marksmen that are still popular aren't traditional carries. They peak at mid-game rather than late-game. Lucian, Ezreal, and Corki are examples of a caster style of marksmen while Jinx and Draven are more traditional carries that can still perform exceptionally well early on.
With the exception of Jinx, all of these champions have at least one active ability that can help them become more mobile thus can be more difficult to catch.

In Season 4 we may not see the bot lane that evolved from the late Season 1/early Season 2 European metagame which was the marksman/support we've come to understand as standard.
What I think has a high chance of becoming standard is swapping the positions of the marksman and the mid-laner.
Draven, Ezreal, and Corki occasionally see mid play already although it's more of a niche pick. Mind you, Annie support was considered a niche/troll pick for a long time as well.

The pros to having Draven, Lucian, Ezreal, or Corki mid is that they all have plenty of poke and harassing abilities already as well as a decent amount of burst(especially Corki and Lucian). They're all fairly safe laners and Draven can fairly easily avoid ganks between the usage of his Blood Rush and Stand Aside and Corki and Ezreal have no issues with just escaping.

Unfortunately the cons to this setup can be pretty punishing.
The players have to be exceptionally careful of being all-in'd as they don't have as much burst damage as a mage or assassin to turn on fights all the time. If they fall behind, it's going to be incredibly difficult for them to get back into the fight. Finally, they're extremely position reliant(especially Draven and Ezreal) so there are times when you could drastically lose a trade by moving into what you may think is a good position.
That being said, the only real difference between a tradition assassin/burst mid laner and the marksmen mid is the size of the burst. Pretty much all of the cons also apply to traditional mid-laners so there's that.

Next, with the marksman going mid, that means we have a space to fill bottom lane.
How would you feel about laning against Leona and Annie as a Marksman? What about Galio and Cassiopeia? Would Fiddlesticks and Talon be more your cup of tea?
The best thing about having this kind of lane setup is that every move you make causes a reaction in the enemy. Every time you see Galio walk into that bush, you know that if he taunts you, it's a free stun for Cassiopeia. The moment that ray of sunlight hits you, you know a bear is about to as well. Where Talon goes, a murder follows.
Even if you both leave lane, the enemy will be terrified to get close enough to that bush to ward. The jungler won't be able to help them, they'll just die as well.

That being said, champions that typically buy magic-resistance or have some forms of magic damage mitigation are exceptionally good picks against this. While he's a niche pick, Galio support is strong against the lanes of duo mages(such as Leona and Annie) as well as Sivir for a carry. All in all, the same way you counter any other AP heavy setup.

The rest of the team composition is pretty straightforward. Try to find a balance between AD and AP for your top and jungler. As far as picks go, it doesn't really stray far from anything else.

Here I'll give you some team compositions that have potential to be interesting at the least and I hope you'll give some thought to and try out!

Early game teamfight comp: Renekton top.
Zac jungle.
Corki or Sivir mid.
Annie/Leona bot.

Wombo Combo: Wukong/Riven top.
Wukong/Lee Sin jungle.
Ezreal or Draven mid.
Galio/Cassiopeia bot or Orianna/Annie.

Split Push comp: Renekton, Nasus, or Rumble top(someone who can fight well when outnumbered).
A jungler like Lee Sin or Udyr that can be a splitpusher later and good ganker early.
Sivir mid.
Fiddlesticks/Talon or Galio/Cassiopeia

Please note that this post is based purely on the opinion of a single person and I am not saying anything is good or bad, right or wrong, just that there's a lot of options to think about in this game.

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