With the new League of Legends preseason underway, the game's tier system has naturally been changed, as you would expect. So which champions work best in top, mid, and bot lane? And what about the elusive jungler? Here's our guide.
The rather controversial League of Legends season nine came to an end just over a week ago, and many elo climbers have turned their heads towards the new season since Riot have introduced some exciting new changes during the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.
Over the last couple of days, the changes to the game’s map, items, runes, and champions turned the meta on its head and if we exclude the highest ranks, we can say that the current state of the game is pretty chaotic since no one really knows how these changes have affected each champion. Then again, that's what the preseason is there for - so don't be surprised if you find yourself playing with or against a Singed support trying to abuse the new Aftershock cooldown or some similar shenanigans.
To save you from becoming that AP Malphite mid who gets the "x9 report" in chat, we have done our research and prepared a tier list for each role in the game.
S tier: Garen
Out of all the champions, Garen is the one who welcomed the new Conqueror changes the most. Increasing the number of stacks gave some champions a harder time abusing the full potential of this rune, but since Garen's E skill (Judgment) gets him to max stacks in virtually no time - he will probably have the upper hand in most trades.
The only downside to this change is the removal of true damage from the rune so you will probably have to start with the Black Cleaver as opposed to the previously used Trinity Force rush. Some may think that by doing so his assassination potential for squishy targets would get a small hit because the Sheen damage from his Q skill (Decisive Strike) would be removed, but the extra attack damage you get by stacking will more than make up for it.
A tier: Fiora, Darius, Pantheon
Fiora hasn't seen any changes since the 9.19 patch where her Q (Lunge) and E skill (Bladework) got some decent buffs enabling her to do extra damage to the towers. With an early game focused meta, these changes have a bigger impact than it may seem. If you had any doubts about your keystone pick in the previous season - Press the Attack or Conqueror – the latter is the clear choice now since her auto-attack resets are very good and easy to execute. Also, by removing the Spear of Shojin from the game, Jax - arguably Fiora's biggest counter - got absolutely gutted in mid-game.
Darius and Pantheon have seen the best of both worlds when it comes to choosing the rune, as they can successfully use either the Aftershock or Conqueror. Depending on the match-up, they can easily swap between the two keystones in champion selection to suit their opponent and avoid being hard countered.
Pantheon is one of the few - if not the only top laner - who will find use of the new lethality changes without being negated too much by his armor stacking opponent. His E skill (Aegis Assault) still counts as one of the strongest and yet easiest abilities since it enables him to correctly execute any turret dives by tanking and letting the jungler do his magic.
B tier: Heimerdinger, Singed
If this was an early game tier list, Heimerdinger would definitely be our top pick. The lane pressure and zoning that his turrets provide are a nightmare for nearly every top laner. The Conqueror stacks which he acquires pretty easily give him the needed sustain and makes a number of potentially dangerous all-in match-ups less of a threat. But even though he brings a truly obnoxious laning phase to deal with, he lacks some late game carry potential unlike our previous picks and that's why the highest place we can place him in is the B tier.
Singed found his place in the A tier thanks to the previously mentioned Aftershock change. Having its cooldown reduced by as many as 15 seconds, this rune has become the enabler for the Mad Scientist in the top lane. Playing against poke-heavy champions was his biggest problem in the laning phase and being able to engage every 20 seconds gives him a higher window of opportunity to counter champions like Teemo, Kayle or Jayce.
Furthermore, his unique playstyle can cause multiple problems to all the Conqueror users since activating the rune requires the chasing down of the target and thus breaking the League's number one rule: Never. Chase. Singed!
Honourable mentions: Malphite, Kled, Illoai, Irelia
S tier: Master Yi and Taric
First of all, let's all hope funnel comps are not coming back because these two as a mid-jungle duo have the biggest win rate of all the champions. Combining Yi's Alpha Strike aggro reset mechanics with Taric's kit is almost impossible to win against since they can easily execute dives against nearly any opponent.
Taric's sustain prevents him from falling too far behind in the lane and all they have to do is track the enemy jungler to make sure a counter gank isn't happening. If that's accomplished, the result will probably be a kill for the hyper-carry jungler, especially when they both hit level six.
A tier: Karthus, Nunu
Karthus has been in a good place for quite some time now and the jungle timer updates will only improve his state in the game. Hard-farming junglers will always be a safe choice in an inconsistent meta and there's no better pick for that than Karthus. His global ultimate will cause assassins to second guess themselves before trying to all-in their opponent because if they fail – odds are good that they will end up being both a kill and a Dark Harvest stack for our undead friend.
Also, since we are likely to have an invasion of AD champions, having a consistent magic damage source even after being taken down will surely benefit any team composition.
Nunu will hugely benefit from the new changes because he can abuse the new Aftershock which will probably be off cooldown whenever he decides to visit a lane. Also, the increase of XP the jungle camps provide will benefit any champion who can farm fast.
As it is widely known, there’s no stronger champion to do exactly that than Nunu, especially camps like Gromp or Scuttle. Dragon and Herald are a big priority right now and there will most certainly be many fights around these objectives. If used correctly, his ultimate ability can be a game-changer in the Baron/Dragon pit.
It should also be noted that it’s almost impossible to lose a smite fight with Nunu since you can burst down any camp or monster with your Smite-Q skill (Consume) combo.
B tier: Kayn, Lee Sin
Lee Sin has probably been the most consistent champion in every meta we’ve had so far and this one is no exception. Improving the jungle role in general with XP and timer changes will give him more openings to have a lane impact since his time spent in the jungle will be lowered by quite a lot.
Kayn has found his place so high on the list because his assassin form got buffed by the lethality changes. Moreover, the new map changes will benefit him in a rather peculiar way. For example, the eight bluffs of rock that now emerge on the map (two in each map quadrant) will make his previously buffed E skill (Shadow Step) even more powerful since he will essentially be able to use the jungle terrain as a racing track.
Honourable mentions: Rengar, Graves, Kha’Zix, Ekko, Shaco
S tier: Talon, Pantheon
Pantheron was probably the strongest champion by the end of season nine and the fact that he was permanently banned during the World Championship fortifies that fact that much more. Even though he got some minor nerfs, he was still a force to be reckoned with. Like every other assassin, he will hugely benefit from the recent upgrades to lethality items.
The absence of tanks in the mid lane, since Nautilus got some previous nerfs, is enough for us to classify him as an S tier pick for this specific lane. The rune to go with in this lane should be Aftershock, since the trades that take place here are not as extended.
Talon, another lethality based champion, will probably try to find advantages in the side lanes, since his mobility and roaming potential are absolutely unmatched. We’re not taking anything away from his laning phase by saying this - it's just that the way he can assist his jungler or cover the map in general exceeds any other champion.
A tier: Zed, LeBlanc, Ahri
After a very long time, Zed will finally see the light of the day again. His unique playstyle and ability to outplay any opponent will not be negated by an armor stacking mid laner like Malphite anymore. The diversity of item paths he now has, as opposed to the old Duskblade – Youmu’s Ghostblade rush, can make him adapt to many mid lane scenarios he finds himself in. Also, his ability to roam or somewhat match the roams in the mid-game will prevent him to get blown away by our S-tier picks.
Ahri and LeBlanc are a safe pick in almost every meta because of the things they bring with their kit. They both have a solid laning phase, escape tools, assassination and roaming potential. Luckily for them, they have essentially been untouched in the recent patches.
B tier: Malzahar, Ekko
The recent buffs to Ekko’s stun duration and overall damage output caused him to increase in popularity by the end of the season. The new changes won’t affect him in a big way because he can still stand shoulder to shoulder with almost any champion mentioned above. Both his W (Parallel Convergence) and R skill (Chronobreak) give him the necessary sustain, especially in the assassin matchups.
Malzahar is the only mage we will feature on this tier list and rightfully so, considering that the somewhat early-game focused meta will almost certainly be overflown by assassins. He has great wave pressure, doesn’t get pushed in and his passive ability grants him the much needed protection in case he finds himself in danger of getting all-ined.
Honourable mentions: Quiyana, Fizz, Akali, Kassadin
S tier: Kai'Sa
Due to the changes to Stormrazor, Kai'Sa will probably be the strongest ADC in the preseason even if she receives some nerfs with the upcoming patches. These direct buffs will come in handy since they will improve her early game which was probably the only phase where she was unable to dominate her opponents. The ability to access the enemy backline in team fights and clean up is her unique trait.
Since her attack damage stats got improved (with Stormrazor) we recommend going for the AD build. However, if your team lacks magic damage, she can easily change to ability power items.
A tier: Xayah, Draven
With the indirect assassin buffs, all marksmen are put in danger of being one-shot and champions will benefit from any escape mechanics they might possess. Xayah’s ultimate being the best example of that is probably the best you can have in the so called lethality hell. Being paired with an engage support and the outplay potential she has with her feathers gives her a way to consistently find picks in the lane. If her late game was just a tad stronger she would probably be placed in our S tier rank.
If there was ever any doubt as to who the strongest 1v1 AD carry has been as of late, the change to the Conqueror to also suit the Marksman role puts Draven at the very top of that list. After a rather lengthy period, he has finally received a keystone to fit his playstyle and overall strength which makes it almost impossible to successfully trade against this champion in the laning phase. Even if the enemy team plays passively, you can still gain advantages by managing the wave properly by either shoving or freezing the lane.
B tier: Heimerdinger, Ezreal, Lucian
Heimerdinger is probably the only mage we'll consistently see in the bot lane taking on the role of carry. If he's not up against some hard engage bot lane duo, he can probably lane solo and enable roaming supports like Pyke or Bard to gain advantages in other lanes or assist junglers in dangerous camp invades.
His turrets are a consistent damage source in the lane and will prevent him from being shoved in. You don't have to be Heisendong to capitalize on the diverse playstyle this champion can provide with his ultimate ability. Even tyler1 dropped his main for our little scientist during the last couple of days.
Both Ezreal and Lucian have found their place in our B tier because the mobility they possess will be crucial in the pre-season clown fiestas that we are sure to find ourselves in at some point. The option to rush the Iceborn Gauntlet as his first item will benefit Ezreal largely since it will prevent the roaming AD assassins to essentially steal the game.
Lucian will probably have to gain some advantages in the early game if he wants to have a bigger impact because he still lacks the late game hyper-carry potential. Luckily for him, with the new Herald and Dragon changes, Riot are giving their best to shorten the game length as much as they can.
Honourable mentions: Caitlyn, Jinx, Ashe, Tristana
S tier: Leona, Nautilus
All engage supports got buffed by the Aftershock changes but Leona and Nautilus are our top picks given the fact that they were a big priority for any team composition in both the solo queue and pro play even before the changes.
The sole fact that Nautilus was picked by FunPlus Phoenix’s mid laner Doinb during their journey to becoming the World Champions speaks volumes. The ability of these two champions to easily lock up foes even from distance or to do the same thing from the fog of war while playing around vision and not get burst in the process puts them at the very top of this category.
A tier: Senna, Morgana
Ever since her introduction, Senna has been fairly strong in the bot lane and the newly added AD support item will push her even more towards the S tier. The reason she didn’t make the cut as our top pick is the fact that some of her success came from her enemies not really knowing how the champion worked which therefore put her in a slightly advantageous position.
With the invasion of engage supports, Morgana’s E skill (Black Shield) will come in handy more than ever before. She can also help with clearing waves since her W skill (Tormented Shadow) can easily set up minions for her AD carry. Also, the changes to the support item reward system enable her to achieve her item spikes even more quickly, and if she maxes out the Q skill (Dark Binding), she will be able to take a big chunk of the enemy AD carry’s health bar.
B tier: Pyke, Bard
Roaming supports will be a good answer to the new mobile mid lane trend introduced in the later stages of the World Championship. Out of all the other supports, these two probably have the fastest and most consistent way to assist their jungler or mid laner if necessary.
Paired with a safe AD carry that won't be exposed if left alone in the lane can even give you the luxury of going for a top lane visit after you've recalled back to the base, considering that the enemy top laner will most likely not be expecting a surprise lane gank.
Honourable mentions: Thresh, Blitzcrank, Rakan, Alistar
This concludes our tier list for each role, but bear in mind that these are merely our predictions for the foreseeable future of the game. So don’t be surprised if you encounter some other OP picks like the deadly Taric and Master Yi combo who are still hiding behind their low play rate.