Morello turns to community to change the meta

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For a while there, I was thinking Riot was happy with the current metagame. It looks like they might like to see a little more change than has happened over the past six months, so they’ve turned to the community for ideas. Morello started a thread called “Morello challenge: bust open the meta (AP mid edition),” hoping to stir up some new ideas for changing the current meta.

I like the idea as whole – I think it would be great to see the community come up with new ideas for changing the game – but I think he’s asking the wrong people. The current meta didn’t just evolve naturally. It came from tournaments. It came from the pros. It came from livestreams. Those are the people we need to have pumping out new ideas, but unfortunately new ideas don’t really fit with what they’re doing.

The current meta evolved for a few reasons, but I think the basic theme is consistency. Pro teams were looking for a way to maximize map control, farm, and objective contest power while minimizing the ability for the other team to influence those goals. Perhaps the one wild card in the current meta is the AP mid, but the AP mid is mostly there to provide burst and control in fights, both of which can be overcome in the late game with a farmed top lane and bottom lane carry. You could say the jungler is a wild card, but the evolution of jungling into yet another tanky DPS is just another move toward consistency. Pros want reliable performance, and they’ve found the best way to get it.

Feedback from the rest of the playerbase is going to be mostly anecdotal. For starters, there is very little consistency in skill between games. Every game I play has a wild swing in either the positive or the negative. I sometimes play with very good players, I sometimes play with very bad players. In either case, this is obviously going to have a serious impact on whether a selected champion can beat out an AP mid. I’ve taken loads of champions mid and been very successful – anyone from Talon to Kayle, Shaco to Sona – but that isn’t going to bring about a shift in the meta. In most cases these matchups come down to player skill, and it is that variable that inevitably thwarts most attempts to shake up the meta.

I’m not trying to say that you can’t play outside the meta and win. You totally can. But doing so on a regular basis requires a level of coordination that most players just don’t get in their average game. You certainly aren’t going to see it much in solo queue. This is why Morello’s thread puzzles me – he’s asking a group of people that really have no influence over the meta to come up with ways to usurp the meta. Do you think M5 is reading that discussion thread thinking “omg gaiz, we should totally put Taric mid?’ They aren’t. Even if they are thinking that, they sure as hell didn’t read it in that thread.

If Riot really wants to break up the current meta, they need to do a couple things. First, incentivize top players and streamers to try new things. If those guys aren’t doing things outside the current meta and doing it on a highly regular basis, no one else will do it either. The best way to incentivize this kind of play is to make it viable for winning games. That’s number two on the “break the meta” to-do list. Make more options viable. Return some of the experience to champion kills. Stop the diminishing gold returns on killing players. Encourage teamfighting. Release some strong pushers. Encourage players to use spells thoughtfully instead of spamming them for farm and big harass. Return creep damage so that players have to think before engaging in a lane fight because they might actually lose health.

Those things will break up the meta. They will probably require some significant balance tweaks if implemented, but they could actually have an effect on the way the game is played. Asking players to rethink a method that has been advertised to them by top players for a year? That’s not going to cut it.

  

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