Barely any competitive play has surfaced in the past week, but Patch 7.18 has come around, giving us insight on what to expect at the World Championship. This week, I'm going to take a look at what I believe we will see at all stages of Worlds.
A massive patch in its own right, going through each position will glean insight on what's strong in the patch and which champions will inevitably rise because of the changes. In particular, the items that got nerfed have shifted Worlds slightly away from tankier compositions. We can reasonably expect carry champions in all three lanes.
Changes to the top lane revolve mostly around teamfight-oriented champions and the Gargoyle Stoneplate and Locket combo. Jarvan had slight nerfs in durability in lane and teamfighting, while Gnar has had his laning weakened through health nerfs. The biggest change is a reversion of Fiora's nerfs, which can unlock splitpushers as a more viable tactic for teams not named Longzhu. This patch has ensured that no one top lane champion has blind-pickable strength in all situations. As it stands, Jarvan will still likely be the jack-of-all-trades in the top lane, but many champions can perform against him and outshine him in particular ways if drafted correctly.
Champions trending upward: Renekton, Fiora, Camille
Current meta picks: Jarvan IV, Maokai, Gnar, Shen
A variety of playstyles have been unlocked for junglers at Worlds. Buffs to Lee Sin, Rengar and Nidalee means that more high-tempo skirmishers can have greater tools to snowball the game in their favor before the tanks get unlocked with teamfighting prowess. The best example of this is the rise of Ezreal.
As well, nerfs to items such as Stoneplate and Knight's Vow make these more early game focused junglers more threatening for much longer. Ivern and Nidalee have seen buffs and can be early game junglers that transition into supportive threats that rival tanks thanks to their synergy with Ardent Censer.
Champions trending upward: Lee Sin, Nidalee, Rengar, Kha'Zix, Ezreal, Ivern
Current meta picks: Sejuani, Rek'Sai, Zac, Elise, Gragas
If there's one champion that can't keep his grubby hands off of Worlds relevancy, it's Ryze. An abyssal mask build has surfaced as very popular thanks to the ability for Ryze to delay ability power with his new W buff. This durability in lane despite his short range makes him more viable.
As for mid lane, it should roughly be the same pool we've seen for the past couple of patches. Cassiopeia, Lucian, Syndra, Taliyah, Galio, Orianna and Corki seem like very safe picks for mid laners. Champions like Talon and Viktor could also see play as either prominent kill threats against squishier teams (thanks to tank nerfs and item nerfs) or late game teamfighting monsters respectively.
Champions trending upward: Viktor, Talon, Ryze, Vladimir
Current meta picks: Cassiopeia, Lucian, Corki, Orianna, Galio, Taliyah, Syndra
When people think of AD Carries, they think of positioning and massive teamfighting impact, as well as late game outplays. All this will come in spades on 7.18, as hypercarries take the stage in China. Tristana, Xayah and Kog'maw are probably the three picks to expect, as Kalista had substantial nerfs to her early dive potential and safety. Kalista, however, will still be played or banned for her early game pressure in some team compositions.
Along with these picks come regional preferences. The LPL has seen Ashe used often, while NA LCS has flexed the Lucian into the bottom lane as well. Europe has drifted towards having occasional Sivir priority thanks to her lane push, tank synergy and late game scaling, something which is not necessarily reflected in other regions.
Champions trending upward: Twitch, Sivir, Lucian, Caitlyn
Current meta picks: Xayah, Tristana, Kalista, Kog'Maw
Support has gone from the protection of Lulu and Karma to a more varied role of protection through the likes of Tahm Kench and Thresh. Now, support has a balanced need to protect and initiate, with a slight focus towards initiation. Champions such as Rakan and Alistar should completely dominate pick and ban. With Knight's Vow nerfs and a greater need to carry Locket on supports, these initiators have great value.
Ardent Censer is still incredibly strong, especially because hypercarries are so prevalent. Rakan can use it effectively, but champions like Janna and Lulu will see themselves as great peel supports with the item because of all the initation available to teams at Worlds.
Champions trending upward: Lulu, Blitzcrank, Tahm Kench, Taric
Current meta picks: Rakan, Alistar, Janna
Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.