League Meta Guide: Meaning, History, Changes, Champion Picks and Bans
Probably, you often hear “meta” term during LoL games. In the following guide we open a discussion about meta in LoL and will try to explain what is it.
WHAT IS LOL META? THE DEFINITION
As previously said, lol meta is a popular term among LoL players and usually refers to the metagaming. Metagaming is much wider term thus it relates to many other. Let’s just quote the wikipedia:
Metagaming is any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself. Metagaming differs from strategy in that metagaming is making decisions based upon out of game knowledge, whereas strategies are decisions made based upon in-game actions and knowledge.
As you can see a lot of things fit the definition of metagaming. When it comes to LoL then definition of lol meta will be:
By LoL meta can be considered the information that comes outside of the game and which affects ingame decisions (strategies, patch notes, item builds, pro players picks etc). Btw, our LoL coaches are good at meta picks, strategies and item builds thus can teach you.
LoL META BREAKDOWN: EXAMPLES, HISTORY AND EVOLUTION
There are many examples of meta in LoL: picks, bans, item builds, champion roles, summoner spells, runes etc. In this guide, we will give some examples of meta and how it changes to make everything more clear.
LOL META CHAMPIONS AND PICKS
Usually, about only 20-30 champions are getting the most love when it comes to the champion pick. Moreover, the difference in the pick rate between the first and last one is really huge. For example, on 30/11/2017 (we use lolking.net champion data) Vayne pick rate is equals to 7% while Skaner is being picked only with 0.2% rate. Meanwhile Skarner has bigger win rate: 49,7% vs 50,2%. And such situation occur regularly, thus at any time you can find top meta pick in LoL with lower win rate than one of least popular champions has.
There are few major factors that affect popularity of lol meta champions in league.
- Major tournaments almost always shift LoL meta to the certain champion picks. Players looking for new ways of play executed by pro players and want to follow it in their games. Usually, it’s enough to start of certain champion pick rate to start snowballing and that champion becomes popular among all playerbase and not only among players who watch tournaments. Tournaments are main cause of formation of the new meta in LoL, especially when it comes to lol meta champions.
- The same situation happens when popular streamers starting to play effectively an unpopular champion with non-standart builds. This can shift meta and make that champion and build become a standart in LoL.
- Champion considered to be imbalanced by community. Often, it leads to the high popularity of champions which demands high-skill and such popularity cuts off the win rate of champion. Good examples here are Yasuo and Zed.
META IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT! PICK AND BANS OF ZIGGS, ZED AND YASUO
We decided to consider these three champions separately because they showing one of the important facts – there is no guarantee of getting higher chances to win when you follow lol meta. Zed and Yasuo are in the very top among most banned and most picked champions. However, their win rates are incredibly low and are negative for very long time. Right now, Zed has 49.4% win rate and Yasuo has only 47.9% win rate! That happens because both of these champions demand high skill and great mechanics. But because they are being incredible popular people consider them as OP champions and pick them in hope that champion itself will carry the game.
There is opposite situation with some unpopular champions in the current meta. Lets discuss one of them, it’s Ziggs. When he was released, over a year he was on the very bottom of pickrate and haven’t got any buffs. Then Ziggs appeared on the LCS league and become incredible popular for a while and got several significant nerfs. Right now, Ziggs is not popular champion with 0.9% pickrate, but has incredible 53.2% win rate!
If you sort champion statistics by win rate you will that half of champions in the top aren’t part of meta picks (their pickrate is less than 2%). This means that there are many underrated champions which are actually stronger than most people think and can be the actual carry champions.
Just because champion is hyped among the community that doesn’t mean that he would brings positive outcome in your games. Moreover, very often it affects negatively your chances to win.
LoL META BANS
If you check statistics of most bannable champions in the LoL you will be surprised. Almost at any time, you will see that nearly half of most banned or picked champions have negative winrate while champions with amazingly high winrate don’t get banned at all. This means that meta not always transfers the real situation in champion potential. Often, it happens because good picks for premade team of pro players aren’t that good in solo queue game.
Most banned LoL meta champions
Significant part of the champions who are popular among ordinary players and what are supposed to be game breakers actually have negative affection on winrate. For example, Zed whose mechanics are really hard therefore he is needed good practice to provide decent performance, has strictly negative winrate below 50% for ages. However, he is always in the list of most popular picks and bans. In terms of simple numbers this is complete nonsense. Why would someone tend to pick or ban a champion who are more likely to lose than win. But most people don’t know these numbers and think that Zed would bring them victory no matter what. Why does this happen? Because of meta!
SUMMONER SPELLS AND LOL META
There is a more simple example of meta in LoL: Summoner Spells. There are only few of them thus there is no big variety of choice thus meta is staying almost the same for years. Usually all champions have a Flash, Top Laner have a Teleport in 90% of cases etc. You can check Summoner Spell statistics with winrate here.
LOL META ITEMS AND BUILDS
Situation with the item builds almost the same as with the champion picks. Some item builds are considered good while others can be negatively perceived by the community despite their effectiveness. It very often happens on low elo (you get a lol boost from low elo with our service) because players there are usually more affected by meta. However, it’s much better to adapt your item build to current situation than just blindly follow the current meta build. It’s especially important on top lane when you are losing the lane. In such situation, it’s much better to start to build your champion tanky than buying damage even if that it’s considered as standart way of playing. This way you will stop your lane enemy from snowballing and later will be useful in team fights.
Even default team setup (solo top lane, mid lane, jungle and two people on bottom lane) is part of metagaming because there are no directions for players to stick to that setup. At LoL first years you could often see Ashe, Pantheon at mid lane or two random champions at top lane/bottom lane both of which are trying to creep slain chaotically. Players who are starting to play LoL pass through the same stages which you can see in games with players whose summoners level is below 10.
LoL META RUNES BUILDS
When it comes to rune builds for champions many players are going to probuilds.net where it’s possible to see what builds are being used by pros. Websites like that are another source of meta formation because they are making connection between usual players and pro players much more easier. The same happens with runes and item builds. If you explore probuilds.net you will notice that many pros and high-skilled players using the same rune build on the certain champion. Such rune build is close to optimal and can be called rune meta build. You can read about season 8 rune builds here.
LoL meta runes for Ashe
META LANE POSITION: WHY THERE IS NO PLACE IN META FOR DUO TOP
Even default distribution by lanes in LoL (solo top lane, ADc and support on the bottom lane, solo mid lane and jungler) wasn’t always so obvious. In the very beginning you could easily see a two tank champion on the bottom lane before it became hard meta to follow the significant roles. You could even see the same kind of duo on the top lane. This leads us to the question: “Why there are always two champions on the bottom but no on the top lane?” The answer is simple because of ability to control dragon and early team fights on the river around dragon spawn. Some period of time duo top was a meta on the NA LCS. Pro teams were swapping lanes to get the top turret as fast as possible with champions like Caitlyn and Lulu and were swapping back to defend their turret on the bottom. This strategy was nerfed by developers and now during the early game turrets are getting reduced damage from the champions. Therefore there is no place left for duo top in the current.
SERVER META IN LoL
Meta can be different in each region. That’s why picks and strategies on different servers may vary significantly. However, meta can transfer itself from a server to server. There is a story that proves it. For the first months after his release, Lucian was absolutely not popular and he wasn’t seem to be picked in the ranked games. Almost no one was playing him until korean teams started to pick him on proleagues. After that, he became incredibly popular (initially at the korean server and then in the rest regions). Since that time, Lucian survived several solid nerfs and his popularity went back to the abyss.
WHY PEOPLE FOLLOW META IN LoL
Most players follow lol meta and there are several psychological reasons for that, let’s list them:
- Most people feel much more comfortable when they are part of the majority. Thus it’s much easier for us to copy the dominant trends they see. Also sometimes people fear that they will be condemned if they do not follow the general course.
- We tend to believe the authorities. When pro team shows new picks on popular league, these picks are at the same time becoming popular among ordinary players.
- It was proved that most people can only keep in mind 7±2 objects in their mind simultaneously. This leads to a very limited pool of popular champions for each role among majority of LoL players.
- We prefer order over chaos, and meta in any game provides us with the order.
However, we don’t say that following meta is bad. Often, meta shows a way of playing which is close to optimal (and certainly much closer to optimal way than random choices).
META IN LOL IS NOT THE UNIVERSAL KEY TO THE ALL DOORS
Metagaming brings common logic in LoL and helps to avoid chaos during the regular games. However, this doesn’t mean that following meta is best way to win the game. Even if you freeze current game balance most popular picks and strategies will not stand still and would change over time. LoL has too many variables to make the path of finding the ideal strategy easily found.
There are champions what constantly jumping frothe m top of the popularity to the abyss and back: Ahri, Graves, Fizz, Jarvan IV, Katarina, Renekton, Kha’Zix etc. There are may be for various reasons for this. It can be balance fix or new champions who are coming to the top of popularity to replace old ones in people’s minds (7±2 objects rule).
The best way to succeed in LoL is to analyze your own mistakes, picks, item builds etc. In the moment, you will be able to make your own successful decision you will be able to decide what you can take for your own good from the current meta and what is better to avoid.
BUT SHOULD I FOLLOW THE LOL META?
At least you shouldn’t do it blindly. Obviously, it’s better to be aware of the current LoL meta to adjust to it. But don’t pick or ban champion only because he/she is considered as overpowered by other people. It’s much better to play a champion with you are good at and ban champions which .
Also you have to be tolerant to uncommon picks of other players. By the way, according to our observations the higher league is the more various picks you will see. It’s really rare when players start to resent about uncommon pick on diamond league. Meanwhile it often happens on the silver – gold leagues.
Metagaming is the main driving force behind the evolution of LoL and we should appreciate it. Also it brings order to the game and prevents people from chaotically running around the map like it happens with new players. However, we have to be critical and most importantly to think for themselves rather than blindly follow general course.
P.S. This video about history of LoL. It can be interesting if you want to know how game and it’s meta was changing.
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well, i also think that meta is not that important
Meta is still important because it affects all game aspects but you shouldn’t follow anything without seeking for answers!
I like that meta changes constantly and game always looks fresh
Yes, what one of the reasons why game lives for so long and still feels fresh as u said!
F*ck meta, i play Urgot! :D
Urgot also can be in the meta, mate. Especially in the moment when he becomes popular on LCS. Urgot is fun champion but range of his auto really suck
Yes, Urgot became incredible popular after he got rework. Now he is one of the best picks on the top lane! So meta was shifted to the Urgot side!
I aslo don’t like Zeds in solo queue. Seems like many people pick / ban him because they think he is OP while he really demands high skill to play decent. I think simple champions with huge impact in team fights prevail in solo queue like Amumu or Naut
Yeah, now the same happens with Yasuos. There are so many of them but most people have no idea how to play them. So sometimes meta in lol brings negative impact :)
I also don’t like when people pick so champ becaue he is “OP” while have no idea how to play it. Or when someone says: “champ X is not banned, gg lose”. Like there are some champs that are so strong that can bring the win only by themselves, if there is some imbalance in the game, it’s affects game outcome very slightly, especially when one champ is only 1/5 of all roster.
Yeah, that’s right most champions are nearly balanced the difference in the winrate varies between 48-52% for the most champions and outcome depends more on your skill and teamplay, than on meta pick.
Well meta obsessed people in ranked games making game less fun and often are starting raging since the very begining. What if my best champion is Garen or any other not such popular champ?
Well, stick to your choice and don’t let meta obsessed people to control your game and your fun :)
Garen has high win rate actually.
Meta is created by players who are much better than the average player in lol. Of course, by picking the Meta Champions you can get the very best winstreak that you’ve ever seen, but it’s extremely boring. Yes, winning the first 10-20 games will be extremely fun, but then all this will slide down to monotony.
The same champions, the same assembly, the same counter picks. Where is all the fun then? I personally use next method: obtain a decent rating with Meta champions until you begin to get bored, and then play in your pleasure, waiting until new meta champions are forming.
Yes, sometimes meta is really boring because over and over you see the same champions against the same champions during your games. It makes look everything the same. But then meta shifts and many things changes or you can stick to your own choices :)
How much i hame these meta bois. If i will pick a champion that not popular on the pro-stage then everyone will lose their minds, but if I will pick the meta-champ on which i totally suck, then everything will be ok. I just do not understand peoples and their behaviour in the game….
Sad panda, but i wouldn’t say that people are reacting so harsh on non-meta picks in comparison with what was 2 years ago or later :)
I don’t like new meta when everything in early game is about these crabs on the river :(
Team which mid laner prevails has insane advantage now.