As competitive play sits on patch 7.18, the current World Championships have brought about a meta focused on Ardent Censer. However, that's not something that the live servers are completely in tune with. Instead, patch 7.19 has brought some much needed nerfs to Worlds picks, and with that, a new and different sense of what's strong and what can be abused in the game.
By far the biggest changes on 7.19 went to Xin Zhao and Azir, who were compeltely remade, but a smaller change has propelled a tinier, more evil champion into the spotlight. That's right, Veigar has found his way back into the mid lane meta in part because of new buffs to his W that synergize well with some of his old passive changes, as well as buffs and nerfs to other champions.
First and foremost, Veigar is a control mage with some unique attributes: he has infinite scaling and is one of only a few champions with that feature. This makes him more accessible to players who are looking for a way to carry and become a juggernaut through that. Secondly, Veigar is a control mage with poor early farming and laning, something that isn't common for most control mages like Orianna, Taliyah and Syndra who can normally hold their own in the laning phase.
What makes Veigar so compelling in this mid lane meta is that the laning phase is no longer as relevant when it comes to snowballing a game. Unless you lose lane by an absurd margin (think three or more deaths in lane), it's no longer difficult to come back from that deficit. For this, playing Veigar gives you access to a number of comeback tools, most notably his E which has a massive area of effect stun, and his ultimate which has the properties of an execute.
However, a new comeback tool has come into play thanks to 7.19, which is the buff to his W. With every 50 stacks, your W cooldown goes down multiplicatively by 10 percent. This means that, if you were to get 300 stacks (which is incredibly reasonable), that would give 160 percent of the cooldown reduction value you have onto your W. This means that if you have 40 percent cooldown reduction, your W would have its cooldown reduced by 64 percent, or have a 2.88 second cooldown on it.
With that, your Q and W will have roughly the same cooldown, meaning your main burst combo is constantly lined up and available for you. As well, the combo has high base damage, to the tune of 530 before AP ratios are factored in. After that, and including a Lich Bane which synergizes well with your infinite AP scaling means that before your ultimate you can potentially burst down a target. At that point in the W stacks as well, it's wholly possible to line up a second Q and W targets stunned by event horizon.
Overall, Veigar is set up incredibly well in the current meta, as accented by his absurd win rate despite a marked increase in his play rate. Even further, most of those wins are from players who are playing him for the first few times and have low experience with the champion so far. If you join the fray, you won't be doing it from a lower vantage point than other Veigar players. And that's not a short joke.
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.