League Playoffs patch preview: How the meta is changing in patch 10.16


The most recent League of Legends patch was directly aimed at changing and balancing gameplay at the professional level. Champs who saw incredibly high pick/ban rates like Bard, Sett, and Syndra got nerfed, while others who have been seemingly nonexistent in recent metas, like Jinx, Neeko, and Ziggs, received a buff.


Most of the buffed champions accomplish one of two things: Either they're exciting, pop-off champions, or they bring some sort of twist or gimmick that requires players to alter their strategy in order to take advantage of the champs' kits. Most of the buffs are aimed at the side lanes, bot and top, with a few junglers and mages thrown in the mix. 



Taking a glance at the bot lane shows buffs to:

Lucian - An exciting playmaker and perhaps the most flashy AD Carry.

Jinx and Tristana - Reset champions that patiently scale to roll through late game teamfights. 

Miss Fortune and Jhin - AD Caster Marksmen who provide an alternate to Ashe.

Yasuo? - Not a traditional Bot Laner, but definitely viable when strong.

Ziggs - A mage Bot Laner who can never be left alone in lane and will one-shot turrets late game.


Not only should the buffs bring more variety to what has been an extraordinarily stale bot lane meta for much of 2020, but they specifically provide excitement and nuance to pro play. Lucian's high risk, high reward playstyle can be exhilarating as is Tristana goomba stomping 5 times in a fight. And Ziggs' tower-taking potential completely changes the game.



The top lane buffs feature a bunch of strong splitpushing duelists, like Fiora, Jax, and Neeko. They don't often provide a ton in teamfights, but when they gain an advantage over their opponent, teams must make quick and conscious decisions on whether to match the splitpush or engage with a man advantage elsewhere. The push and pull and mind games are a large part of what makes the game entertaining to watch, and hard-hitting duelists usually contribute a lot in the tug of war. Hecarim and Skarner were also buffed, and while they're traditionally Junglers, both have seen random periods of niche top lane play, and the buffs could give them an edge over certain matchups to provide more depth and flexibility for teams with large enough champ pools.


While many engage champs in the 10.14 and 10.15 meta were nerfed, 10.16 helps balance that out with buffs to others who just can't wait to start the fight. The combination of buffs to heavy teamfight starters - like Rakan and Hecarim - alongside buffs to splitpushers makes for a more risky draft phase as well. Locking in a 1-3-1 comp against a team with Rakan, Hecarim, and Tristana spells disaster if the enemy ever decides to pull the trigger. Failing to ban out certain picks could easily result in a loss. 


Finally, there was a much needed nerf to Nimbus Cloak, which has been used on nearly every champ for most of the season. This change alone may make certain champs and strategies weak enough to fall out of the meta, but it should also make other rune choices and secondary trees more appealing, which can help other champs that need those to function well. For example, Phase Rush, Nimbus Cloak, Ignite Graves may be a thing of the past. If Nimbus Cloak is less valuable, the blue tree is less valuable, and he now has more flexibility to switch to Fleet Footwork or otherwise. 



While the patch will definitely bring more champions into viability and reduce some of the stale picks, it does pose problems for the health of the scene as well. First, there are no Caitlyn nerfs, who was nearly the highest picked AD Carry in 10.15. She will almost certainly be at or near 100% pick/banned. Additionally, with all of the variance added in, teams will need time to adjust. Not only do teams need to see what it strong, but they also need to find what they are good at specifically and what others are doing, and then they need time to practice on top of that.



While this is possible for the LEC, whose playoffs start two weeks after the end of their regular split, the LCS and LPL's playoffs began only a few days after the regular split. That gives an extremely small amount of time to prepare for every different viable strategy that this patch provides. (Meanwhile, the LCK won't even end their regular season for another couple of weeks, and may even play the last few games of the regular season on the new patch.)


Regardless of the teams and regions you watch, be prepared for a decent shakeup in the meta, and be prepared to see a lot of Caitlyn in the draft. 




For more LoL Esports news and content, head over to our dedicated League of Legends section!

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