LoL: Where are the competitive champs

One of these toons doesn't belong.I understand that balancing a game like League of Legends must be pretty tough. If you cater too much to the best players you’ll make a lot of casual players extremely unhappy. The skill ceiling for many toons will simply be too high, exacerbating the gap between competitive players and casuals. Too far in the other direction and the game seems to lack a team dynamic.

As things currently stand, most players organize the champs into tier lists to give a sense of where they fit within a team dynamic. Since the holidays, Riot has released a fair number of champs, only one of which really makes the highest tiers – Nidalee. She’s often first pick in competitive play and typically swings the battle in a big way. With every new champion announcement I always wonder if we’ll see a new competitive champion, but it has yet to happen. Ezreal is probably the closest, but next to Nidalee he seems fairly lackluster. She has many of his benefits plus better map control and more gankability. She’s also much more mana efficient.

In part, I think the lack of more “top tier” champions is that competitive play typically involves a ban system. Implement too strong a hero and it gets banned immediately. Since the Jax buff I see him banned first in every draft game I play and for good reason. If he gets any farm at all he kills entire teams. I would like to see the release of a some top tier champions, though. Currently the best picks for tanks are Alistar, Taric, Malphite and Amumu, probably in that order (Taric and Alistar could be reversed depending on your team). Most games see two of those banned, leaving few options for either team.

I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for the next champion release after Shen. Shen, like Gragas, will likely be in an odd position with regard to a team. He could fit well with other AOE disable toons, like a Malphite, but there will likely be better options. Malphite ult with an Annie ult is infinitely better because of the AOE damage from Tibbers. More often than not, if you’re living for more than 10 seconds or so in a team fight it’s because your team is dying or the other team is woefully low on DPS, in which case you were likely going to win anyway.


LoL: The state of Sivir

An original Sivir skin.I decided to try something new recently and give Sivir a go. I’ve always hated her, mostly because I’ve seen her pushing power completely dominate a game. She’s always seemed like an unstoppable force in the right hands, so I figured I should see if it’s really the toon.

Let me just say that I think Sivir might be the best character for mid in the game. She bulldozes creeps for very little mana and has no trouble with champions that aren’t built for extremely high survivability. I’ve faced casters, tanks, and carries all mid and had very little trouble, even against the good players. Some of them slowed my farm, forcing me to take Spell Shield over Boomerang Blade, but no one has been able to completely shut me down.

As of this post I’ve won 80% of my games as Sivir. My losses were actually in premades during which I suffered from unskilled teammates. In one game I was paired with a level 13 Annie. We lost. Badly. In the other games, though, I’ve been such a force mid that I have to wonder about her balance. I don’t think she’s particularly good for solo queue. Without solid team coordination she has too much pushing power that, when coupled with a move speed modifier and a spell shield, gives her the survivability to truly own a game.

Really, I think this latest patch has caused most of the problems. She has always been strong, but with the heavy prioritization on farming, Sivir can easily level gap people in ways only the best gankers could previously do. The upcoming patch should help, reducing the range at which she can farm and increasing gank XP. I’ll update this post with a little more in-depth match detail when I’ve spent more time with her.


LoL: Is top 500 play worth it?

Anivia.I found an interesting post last night that asked what it takes to be a top-tier player. The consensus is that somewhere around 50 games over .500 you’ll start to see names from the top 500 player list, provided you’ve played a couple hundred games. I’m not quite to that 50+ mark, but I know from the way my losses go that I could get there if I was willing to play someone like TF or Twitch repeatedly to carry teams over the edge. For me, though, it’s just not worth it.

A big part of the reason I play LoL is for the competition. After graduating college it has only gotten harder to put together a competitive game of basketball or volleyball. Most of the time pickup games degenerate into friendly matches among less-than-fit friends. It’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t fulfill that competitive desire. There are rare occasions, though, when a friend brings a friend and suddenly we have a really solid game going.

LoL is the same way for me. When I have those 70-80 minute games I have a blast, but they are the exception. Most of the time I’m watching teammates feed 1-5 and leave (happened to me like 25 minutes ago) or try an AP Gangplank build because a friend said the ults were lolrape. So much of the competition in this game is out of my hands that I’m content to be happy with the good games and just try to play well for myself in the bad ones.

There is one thing that could change my mind: matchmaking. I know everyone is always bitching about it in the forums, but this is really the thing that keeps me from caring about top 500 play. In the past week I’ve been paired with players under level 15 on multiple occasions. I’ve been level 30 for at least a month now with more than 400 games under my belt. These aren’t smurf accounts either, where players have boosted ELO by trashing new players. These are players who, like the aforementioned, try building Ashe for AP (not kidding, this has happened to me) or spend 15 minutes building a Heimer turret nest in a remote patch of brush and then luring the overleveled opponent and promptly dying (again, actually happened). As long as I’m getting paired with this type of player there is no incentive to get to higher play. The landslide will likely be that much worse, if only because higher tier players are better at exploiting the unskilled.

I’m also put off by the method for achieving the ELO necessary for top tier play. When I first started, I played a lot of TF. He was fun, felt strong, and helped me win a lot of games. I’ve since stopped, mostly because it just isn’t enjoyable for me to exploit a broken toon for gain. I really do like a challenge, and nothing about his playstyle feels challenging to me. The same can be said for Twitch, who can easily roll over a team with very little farm. For me, it’s not a fun way to play (okay, every now and again it’s pretty fun), and if the end result is bad matchmaking of a higher order, I’m going to stick to playing toons I enjoy.


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