In League of Legends, the meta is often defined by certain champions throughout the course of any given split. In the Spring of 2018, some champions stuck out much more than others and subsequently defined how the game was played at the highest level.
While the meta can vary from region to region, champions and play-styles are usually stable across the board. But for North America, these five particular champions defined how the game has been played at the highest level for the past 9 weeks.
Throughout the course of the 2018 Spring Split, North America’s top lane meta was dominated by Gangplank, a champion that had the highest overall pick/ban presence of any character in the entire game. With 31 picks and 51 bans, Gangplank was a part of 86% of all NA LCS games this Spring, with a presence of 96% before he was nerfed in Patch 8.4. Even after the nerfs to Parrrley and Powder Keg, skilled Gangplank players like Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell and Lee “Flame” Ho-jong were able to take him into the top lane and find success. Throughout the entire Spring split, Gangplank had been selected by each team at least once, with TSM’s Hauntzer leading the way with 6 picks, a 100% win rate, and a KDA of 5.9 while on the champion this Spring. Look for Gangplank to still hold some sort of sway over the top lane during the postseason, as the six top laners in playoffs accounted for 22 of Gangplank’s 31 selections this split.
Not one game passed where it didn’t feel like a jungler was forced onto Sejuani this Spring. With 61 picks throughout the course of the split, Sejuani was the most picked champion in the entire game, and her 80% total presence was 18% higher than the next highest jungler, Skarner, who posted a presence of 62% in comparison. Those 61 picks were miles higher than nearly any other champion in the jungle, as the second most picked jungler this Spring was Zac, who only garnered 30 picks, less than half of Sejuani’s. The most telling statistic surrounding Sejuani, however, is that 8 of the 10 junglers in the NALCS had at least 6 games on Sejuani this split, while Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin alone picked her 10 times, making his Sejuani the only champion to be picked at least 10 times by one single player. Sejuani was by far the safest, most reliable pick in the jungle this split, and she doesn’t seem to be dropping out of the meta any time soon.
Throughout nearly all of 2017, the Emperor of the Sands had been seen as a running joke. With a competitive win rate of just 38.1% over 42 games last year, Azir was globally perceived as one of the worst possible options for mid laners in 2017. However, in just a year, Shurima has risen once again, as Azir garnered 50 picks and 25 bans in North America this Spring, good enough for a total presence of 78.9% across the entire league. This massive number was higher than the pick/ban presences of both Galio and Zoe, two champions that seemingly dominated the mid lane all split long. However, it was Azir who controlled the meta this Spring and performed the best out of every mid lane champion with at least 15 picks. The Emperor held the highest DPM, CS/M and KDA out of qualified mid lane champions this Spring, making him a highly contested pick when in the hands of the region’s strongest mid laners.
Although it was actually Varus who held the highest pick/ban presence for AD Carries this Spring with 62%, it was Ezreal who led the league when it came to most statistical categories. With a 57% win rate across 37 games, Ezreal was not only the most popular AD Carry this season, but one of the most effective as well. North American ADC’s posted a 5.9 KDA on Ezreal this split, the 2nd highest KDA for any AD Carry champion behind only Xayah. Look for Ezreal to have a major impact on the playoffs, as well. All six of the AD Carries in the playoffs have played Ezreal at least twice this season, combining for 24 total games, while Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen leads the charge with 10 total selections and a win rate of 80%.
For years now, Braum has been one of, if not, the safest selections at the support position, as a combination of solid engage tools and raw tankiness have always made him a reasonably strong selection for the bottom lane. However, in 2018, his presence in North America shot up, as the Heart of the Freljord had the highest pick/ban presence among all support champions with a whopping 82%, the third highest in the entire game, only behind Gangplank and Ryze, respectively. In comparison, Braum’s pick/ban presence sat at 37% last Summer in NA, and just 5% last Spring. Throughout the course of the season, Braum has proven that he can work with nearly any AD Carry, as over the past 2 weeks alone, he’s been picked alongside Jhin, Ezreal, Kog’Maw, Tristana, Caitlyn, and even Xayah. In addition to his versatility, Braum’s sheer ability to serve as an incredibly strong tank made him a desirable pick across the LCS, and with playoffs right around the corner, his presence in North America could stay just as prominent as it has been.