The Metagame Report: Finding answers to tanks at Worlds

by theScore Staff Oct 11 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

With week one of the World Championship stage past us, teams have gotten more and more used to playing on the Worlds patch and discovering what does and doesn’t work. For the most part, the priorities that were cemented in the play-in stage seem to have remained relatively constant. Hypercarries have ruled the bot lane alongside Ardent Censer supports, but the top lane has seen visceral change from the expected tank meta.

In fact, teams have started to adapt to take care of those pesky tanks and either maintain their teamfight potential or blow the game out of proportion with their snowballing. No longer is it a guarantee that tanks will populate the top lane, and answers have even been found in the mid lane to curb the influence that top lane tanks have on the game.

Top lane answers

Three picks have emerged as comfortable answers to the top lane tank meta that features Maokai, Cho’Gath, Shen and Galio. The first of these is Jayce, popularized by Longzhu Gaming’s Khan but used to great effect by Immortals’ top laner Flame in Week 1. Jayce’s strengths have already been noted in many previous works. Most strikingly is his range advantage on most champions, which makes it much easier to zone melee champs, control the wave, and gain advantages in the lane that can snowball out of control.

Trundle, conversely, has a different game plan that involves neutralizing the effect of having massive tanks and creating a greater advantage for you and your team. His ultimate allows him to chew through tanks without any issue, and tanks also don’t have the laning strength on their own to actually deal with Trundle during his weaker early game stages. As such, his laning becomes a lot easier versus tanks and he can use his ultimate to efficiently and successfully splitpush against any tank.

Nasus also emerged as a strong pick into tanks. Similar to Trundle, laning into tanks gives Nasus free range to scale and become the Egyptian god dog monster he was always meant to be. In the Longzhu vs. Fnatic game below, Nasus is given the space to farm appropriately through the control that Cuzz exhibits on Gragas over the lower tempo Sejuani. As well, the double tank lineup that Fnatic drafts on the top side of the map actually doesn't have meaningful kill pressure on the Nasus, especially once champions like Galio come into play and can provide extra durability.

Mid lane answers

In the mid lane, we've seen some high profile answers to the tank top lane meta, in which heavy lane pushers and roamers can help activate side lanes, either to the benefit of a splitpushing top as seen in the above LZ-SKT video, or to benefit the hyper carry lanes by using their aggressive movement. The champions that have done this with the greatest efficiency are Ryze and Taliyah.

Taliyah is a classic roaming pick. She has the movement speed from her Q and passive, alongside great wave clear and high base damages. Once she has her ultimate, she doubles down on her ability to roam. Taliyah also scales fine in a tank meta thanks to her smooth itemization with Liandry's Torment and ability to maneuver around tanks and zone them as a control mage.

Ryze has seen a resurgence after Patch 7.18 because of his buffs on W, which allow him to scale even harder while leaving his W on one point. Realm Warp also has the ability to create dive situations that other mid champions don't have access to, as well as allow his team to rotate to make key plays towards isolated tanks, or away from them entirely. As shown in 31:16 game time in the below video, Ryze can rotate onto unsuspecting targets with ease.

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.