In League of Legends, ranked solo queue and leagues are generally considered different things. What makes the biggest difference is communication and cooperation with teammates.
However, solo queue is still important for pro gamers. They can get an idea of how to counter a difficult pick, and repeatedly practice with a champion that they wouldn’t be able to find in scrims. Players with their names on the challenger list also generally show good performance in leagues.
It was the same in the LCK. In the Summer Split this year, Longzhu Gaming was ranked 3rd and made its way to victory with most players in the team in the top 10 solo queue challengers. Despite losing 4 times consecutively after Rift Rivals, SKT T1 also returned to its original condition by performing more solo queue games and placing themselves in the top challengers list. In fact, the late Summer Split was when Untara was placed No. 1 within the challengers of solo queue. Players in LPL or LMS often play solo queue on the Korean server, and that’s how you sometimes end up seeing a meta at the league which is viral in solo queue, such as Ezreal jungle.
Already determined to enter the Group Stages, how are LCK teams preparing with their spare time in solo ranked? Let us take a look at each player’s characteristics and possible picks that might be used in the league, based on their most-played champions in the recent 100 games. First up, it’s SKT T1, the winner of the last championship.
* Statistics are based on 100 games before 3:00 PM on September 21st (PDT). Multiple accounts are counted separately.
◎ Faker - Do not give LeBlanc to him! Distinct picks with overwhelming performance
One could say that Faker’s LeBlanc is in the best condition it has ever been. Not only does he play her a lot, but his win ratio is 83%. It is a considerable number compared to the average win ratio of 64% in the Season 7.
Of course, the win ratios of Galio and Vladimir, who are placed at No. 2 and 3 respectively, aren’t that bad, but they are somewhat inferior to LeBlanc. The results with these two champions in the league were 3 wins 4 losses and 0 wins 1 loss, so fans are hardly expecting them to appear again in the league.
Although they lost the 1st round at the last Summer Finals, his LeBlanc performed tremendously more than any other teammates, and went on to lead the game in the 3rd round. From the opponent team’s perspective, it would be quite troublesome to deal with Faker’s LeBlanc, and any other unusual champions he picks, whenever it’s the WCS season.
◎ Huni - Jayce with top Karma and Yasuo
Though his entrance to Worlds was uncertain until the very last moment, he finally grasped the opportunity to show his plays in front of worldwide fans this year. His recent most-played champion is Jayce.
The increase in the number of tanky jungle champions eased the burden of choosing a champion with sustain for top laners, and Jayce is suitable for Huni’s aggressive playstyle, which involves poking in teamfights and split pushing in the late game. He would probably want to get payback with this champion because Khan’s Jayce is considered the reason why SKT lost the finals.
However, it seems a bit peculiar when you look at his second and third picks: Karma, the champion who is usually taken either as a mid or support role, and Yasuo, who is generally considered a troll pick.
Even though it is extremely rare to see Karma in the top lane, her reasonable laning phase, survivability, and sustainability in the mid-late game might justify it. Also, the effect of Ardent Censer, the most popular item nowadays, can also be applied to her shield, which would have great synergy with bot lane champions.
Of course, the pick is quite experimental and thus the win ratio is not as good as expected. However, Karma might be viable and would likely be better than Rumble, who can only do well if he survives long enough and uses Equalizer well. Considering SKT T1’s usual strategy of focusing on mid or bot laners without investing their resources in top lane, Rumble wouldn’t get much help. It would also confuse the opposing team if they thought Karma was going either mid or support.
However, the champion we need to pay attention to is Yasuo. His Yasuo shows a better win rate than Jayce, Huni’s most-played champion. The question is whether kkOma would give permission to pick him.
◎ Peanut - Sejuani as expected, but possibly Ezreal or Kayn for an aggressive play
The champion that represents Peanut was Lee Sin during the Split and MSI. However, his performance deteriorated in the Summer Split when Lee Sin dropped out of the meta.
He played mostly with his SKT T1 Peanut account, and his champion with a solid win ratio is Sejuani, one of the representative tanky junglers. However, mobile junglers who are also quick at jungling such as Ezreal and Kayn were often played recently. The NA and EU junglers who have visited South Korea are also interested in jungle Ezreal, but it’s only Trick from G2 who actually focused on practicing jungle Ezreal as much as Peanut.
Fans will soon find out whether Ezreal can be a solution to his awkward management in the near future.
◎ Blank - prefers tanky jungle champions, but note Kha'Zix being on the list
Unlike Peanut, who prefers mobile and aggressive champions such as Ezreal and Kayn, Blank’s preference is tanks such as Sejuani, Gragas, and Cho’Gath, the champions suitable for the current meta. They may lack power, but their stability can lead a team to victory, and their win rates reflect that.
Of course, he seems to also be learning the popular jungle Ezreal. Moreover, although his win ratio is not as high, the number of Kha’Zix plays is the same as that of Sejuani and Gragas.
He will likely pick a safe champion unlike Peanut’s aggressive pick. However, he can still consider having an aggressive choice such as Kha’Zix if the circumstances do not favor a safe pick.
◎ Bang - okay with carry champions, but when they are immobile? Well...
Twitch is his best champion, with a solid win ratio in his 100 recent games. Twitch’s scaling power, which can turn the tides of battle in the late game, matches quite well with the current Ardent Censer meta.
However, the win rates of Ashe and Jhin, placed 2nd and 3rd in terms of the number of plays, are not that good. Although he scored 7 wins 5 losses in the Summer Split with Ashe, he didn’t deliver much impact and was criticized as being not suitable for aggressive lane management in the bot lane.
Kog’Maw is another champion he plays frequently. Kog’Maw is one of the champions that represents the late carry, and can provide an advantage against tanky champions. However, he rarely uses Kog’Maw in the league, and he even lost two times with Kog’Maw in the last Summer Split.
Considering Huni is practicing top Karma, who can utilize Ardent Censer, it seems that he will most likely choose late carry champions such as Twitch or Kog’Maw.
◎ Wolf - not extraordinary, but powerful champions in the league
The 3 most-played champions of Wolf, SKT’s support, are Alistar, Janna, and Rakan; nothing extraordinary. The win ratios are almost 50:50, but that’s nothing to worry about considering his position.
Although the Alistar plays carry more weight than any other champions, since the current meta favors those with Ardent Censer. Alistar is still an excellent and sustainable champion who can create many opportunities during teamfights, thus he wouldn’t have much problem with any champion.
Wolf has finally listed his name on the World Championship Top 20, and is expected to show the same result he showed in the MSI.
(Source of players’ images: lolesports.com)