LEC Summer Groups Meta is an interesting topic to theorize about now that the Group Stage is starting this Saturday, with a big jump in patches from 13.11 to 13.13 – what can we expect in terms of picks and strategies?
After a week-long hiatus, the LEC will return this Saturday with the Summer Group Stage, where only the top 8 teams will continue the fight for the Playoffs! Team Vitality and Astralis has all the rest of the year to rethink their strategy for 2024 (or according to some rumours, sell their spot), but for the other contenders, the toughest battles are still ahead of them – what will be the tools they will use to achieve their dreams after the LEC switches to the latest patch?
The entirety of the Summer Regular Season was played on a single patch, namely 13.11, which has received a lot of criticism from both fans and players. The community’s consensus is that the patch didn’t change enough after the Mid-Season Invitational, and the changes the patch brought were incredibly unhealthy and unfun for everyone, such as the Statikk Shiv midlaners. The players and the viewers couldn’t wait for the Group Stage, as the LEC will switch over to 13.13, the current live patch, which was aimed at proplay. While the LEC only adapt the new update this weekend, some leagues, such as the LFL, the LVP SuperLiga and most notably the LCS had a number of matches of 13.13, so we got a glimpse of what we can expect this weekend!
LEC Summer Groups Meta
Toplane – Tanks are out, Bruisers are in
One of the biggest change to the professional League of Legends meta was in the toplane, where Riot Games tried to end the reign of Tanks in order to bring Bruisers back. While that didn’t work 100%, the balance team achieved their goal partially: the tank vs tank matchups have disappeared, and the odd K’Sante and Malphite usually gets picked when the strongest toplaners are banned.
The meta currently revolves around 2 picks: Renekton and Rumble. Renekton has already made his return to the top LoL leagues such as the LPL, the LCK and the LEC, filling the gap that K’Sante was leaving behind. Thanks to his buffs, he’s much more mobile and stronger as well, becoming a menace after using his ultimate, Dominus. His laning phase is very strong, and as ADC’s are still very prominent, he is valuable in the lategame, flanking or diving the backline to stun a high priority target.
Rumble got a mid-scope update in the 13.12 patch, which tried to shift him from a burst mage to an AP bruiser. While that didn’t work out, he definitely became stronger, and a highly contested pick for the toplane, which picked or banned in most matches. Picks such as Jax and Fiora have also appeared in the LCS, so the lineup of champions is much more diverse than before.
Jungle – Vi and Wukong are gone
Two of the most prominent jungle picks, Vi and Wukong finally received enough nerfs to leave the meta. The Piltover Enforcer and the Monkey King were strong since the 2022 World Championship, with Vi having a 100% presence up until the LEC Summer Regular Season, but the changes targeted at proplay finally had some effect.
While Sejuani and Poppy (who returned to proplay at the 2023 MSI) stayed in the meta, new picks have also emerged: Ivern, the Green Father is one of the most contested junglers of the LCS since the swap to 13.13, while the other treant, Maokai is as strong as ever. Some brave souls picked even spicier characters such as Rell and Nautilus, so while the tanks have left the toplane for the most part, they found new homes in the jungle.
The most defining jungler of 13.13 will most likely be Sejuani, as she works great with Renekton thanks to her Permafrost, and can be a strong 2v2 partner for a number of midlaners as well.
Midlane – Against all odds, Statikk Shiv survived
Remember when I said that Statikk Shiv was one of the most hated items in the midlane? There’s a good reason for that, as the returning weapon was meant to be picked up by ADC’s, not midlane mages who need a bit more waveclear than their kit provides. Players and fans alike hated the sight of Ahris and LeBlancs running around with Statikk, one shotting sidewaves while gaining heaps of gold thanks to their incredible strong farming.
While Riot Games nerfed the item, giving it less AP scaling for the lightning damage, but it wasn’t enough to make it disappear. LeBlancs still run rampant in the LCS and other leagues that have switched over to the new patch, alongside Kai’Sas and Ahris.
But there are some new(ish) faces on the midlane as well: Tristana is in high demand, the Yordle gets picked or banned in almost every match, while Ziggs have made surprise appearances, and not just in the midlane. With the rise of Rumble, another AD midlaner was needed, so Jayce is getting picked up again, while Azir solidified his position as the playmaker midlaner at the moment. Neeko also stayed, although she’s a bit less prominent thanks to her nerfs, while Annie has returned to obscurity, and if she’s picked, she usually gets beaten very badly.
ADC – Aphelios is still the best, but there are some bright spots
Even though Aphelios was nerfed in 13.13, the nerfs weren’t enough – he’s still the ADC to pick for most situations in the LCS, and I imagine it won’t be very different for the LEC. While his survivability and early trading is down, he remained a monster in the lategame, destroying entire teams with a well-placed ultimate.
Zeri is finally out, but Jinx is back in if players can’t pick Aphelios (either because he’s picked or banned by the other team). Xayah, Varus and Draven also see some play as counters to those two, but if they can’t stomp the lane, they are usually outshined by the hyper-carry duo.
There are also some new picks, such as Kog’Maw, who pairs up greatly with Braum, Ashe, who got some hefty buffs for her ADC capabilities, and even Ziggs was picked once by Dignitas – although the Hexplosive Expert didn’t bring much success.
Overall, the ADC role feels almost the same as in 13.11, but there is room to experiment – which the LEC teams (especially G2 Esports) love!
Support – Enchanters are (mostly) gone
Riot Games tried and tried to remove enchanter supports from the top of the food chain, and while they succeeded, Lulu still gets picked sometimes and Milio is still a top pick, who is usually banned, and when he’s not, he autowins lanes thanks to his Cozy Campfire and his ult which cleanses everyone around him.
But other than those two, we see picks like Rell, Blitzcrank, Alistar, Braum and Nautilus, who are a breath of fresh air. We even see some picks like Zac in the botlane – but just as the Ziggs ADC, Zac support couldn’t win the game it was picked in. Still, it’s nice to see some diversity in the support role as for the best part of this year, we only saw Enchanters.
Overall, the 13.13 patch managed to shake up the meta, but not as much as I think it would’ve liked. The strongest picks are mostly gone, but this just meant that the less frequent, but still very capable champions just shot to the top of the ladder. Nevertheless, it’s good to see that Riot Games at least tries – but the sins of Statikk LeBlanc won’t be easily forgotten.
The LEC Summer Group Stage kicks off this Saturday at 18:00 CEST with the match between Excel Esports and MAD Lions – watch out for the newest picks, and don’t forget to follow ESTNN for all things League of Legends!