Welcome to the League of Draven. Wait, I’m 32 patches and a month’s salary in champion skins late for that joke; Volibear with me and we’ll sort through it. With every change introduced in a new patch, there are bound to be balance issues. Whether your champ becomes less desirable in most situations or flat-out unplayable, you can always play whatever you want and have fun. Still, having an off-meta champion pool really hinders your ability to climb ranked ladders due to sheer imbalances. So, in an attempt to save you from the nerf hammer, let’s dive into the League meta and see what nuggets of wisdom we can walk—or jungle—away with.
Meta? Never heard of him
Meta by definition is a prefix meaning more comprehensive or transcending (shout out to the dictionary.) In gaming terminology, meta more commonly means Most Effective Tactic Available. As the League meta changes with each patch, it directly affects us players. Say you find an in-meta champion you really like to play; you lucked out. For a while, you have a great time dominating lane, annihilating team fights, and shoving side lanes so hard the enemy team surrenders at 15 minutes. But one week later, a new patch drops, and your favorite champion that was destroying everything the week before? Yeah, not anymore. Your champion catches the nerf bat, making the champion almost unplayable in the new meta. Because a lot of meta changes are made due to pro play, the regular gamer is hurt more due to an inability to adapt to rampant, far-reaching gameplay changes.
You ≠ Pro
With each patch, the Riot dev team compiles tons of data via pro play, tournaments, and “player feedback” (though I don’t think the last part happens.) Regardless, this is where they gather information for nerfing, balancing, and changing champions, editing and scaling base stats with surgical precision. In addition to champions, sometimes Riot will change item stats or simply remove an item due to being “overpowered” (looking at you Zz’Rot portal.) The most recent aspect of the game to be centrally changed is certain masteries and summoner spells, which shy players away from using the same masteries across all lanes or playstyles. Even the slightest change to a mastery shifts the meta entirely, and that’s not including any kind of change to champions, which then creates another meta shift, which would only mean that champions need to be balanced and re-worked with new masteries. It’s a never-ending cycle of “fix this, change that,” and it’s all predicated on pro play. That means that as a non-pro player, you have to be prepared for the meta to change on the fly. Theory-craft a little bit, experiment with some different things, and keep up on patch notes, current news, or announcements from Riot games as much as possible. Even when a new patch is released and in current play, the new patch is already being worked on in the League PBE servers (another solid source of information on change).
The Draven Meta
I’m a support main and play champions that have been dubbed “low-tier” or “non-meta,” but I continue to play them because I can adapt with meta shifts. Draven mains, on the other hand, know one thing and one thing only: catch axe, throw axe, rinse and repeat. I make it sound simple, but it’s not; Draven is a mechanical champion that requires great micro and macro play, and there is a definite difference between a good and bad Draven player. In season 8, the adoration stacks on his passive were nerfed, making his gold gain slower to the point that they were only slightly higher than the regular pool of ADCs. Why play something that requires so much more effort for the same payoff? Well, Draven saw a huge decrease in pro scene play but only a slight decrease in solo queues. That means that while pro players recognized the sunk-cost fallacy attached to the champion, regular players decided that even though Draven was now off-meta, he was still worth playing. Champion reworks and new champion releases constantly change play style across all tiers of play, so when a champion rework is announced, get ahead of the shift. As already established, you’re not a pro player, so if you’re forced into a situation where your champion is no longer “playable,” you may just want to shrug your shoulders, chug a pint of Mt. Dew Code Red, and throw those axes anyway.
The League of Legends fandom has provided a list of a patch history since the alpha of the game (above), and as you can see, there’s an overwhelming number of patches. Keep in mind that the meta is always shifting and educate yourself on the current state of affairs if you want to remain competitive in the game. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop playing your favorite champion, it just means that your favorite champion may not be the best choice (unless you are a Teemo one-trick, in which case you can’t play Teemo again. Ever.)
To sum things up, League of Legends is constantly changing, pushing players to their limits as they evolve and adapt. If you’re able to adapt quickly, you’ll benefit more than someone who isn’t. If you want, your game can always be League of Draven. So keep playing catch with your axes and save the League of “I’m uninstalling” for someone else.