Every team has tendencies. When thinking about League of Legends, that’s the easy part to figure out. But what does it all mean? By looking at the picks and bans of teams in the League of Legends Championship Series, we can develop a better understanding of how each pick dictates the style, strategy and, ultimately, success of LCS teams in both Europe and North America.
In a recurring feature, here’s a look at the most popular picks in both regions and what, exactly, the data might suggest.
Through one week, EU games have been shorter due to EU teams pressing their advantages better, but the champions the regions are picking also contribute to game length. EU’s picks favor aggression and early pressure, while NA’s are based around disengage or scaling.
It’s no surprise Gangplank is the most banned champion in both regions. Riot increased the amount of gold in game in Season 6, which lets Gangplank build his expensive items quicker. With poke, siege, a global aoe ult, free armor shred, a CC remover, and true damage in his kit, he won’t be removed from bans until he receives serious nerfs.
After Gangplank, the regions differ. Europe heavily bans jungle Kindred, appropriate given the region’s carry jungle talent. NA preferred to ban Ryze out, whereas he’s been a frequent EU pick(with mediocre results). Both Lulu and Tahm Kench are banned frequently, though their rates differ between the regions. Lissandra was banned often in EU but NA let her through bans to select her often.
Top lane looks far different in EU. If Tahm Kench slipped through bans he was sent top. In NA, meanwhile, he was only picked a single time in Week 1. EU’s other general top picks are filled by Fiora, Lissandra, and Ryze. While Fiora boasted a positive win rate of 66 percent, Lissandra and Ryze won only a third of the time (when in the top lane).
NA is unable to deal with Fiora’s split push pressure, evidenced by her undefeated scoreline while being used by a different top laner in each of her games. After Fiora, no other top lane champions stand out, as Mundo and Gnar have below average win rates, and CLG Top laner Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya’s Jax pick was the last top laner with multiple appearances.
EU’s most picked champion pool in top is similar to other major regions like Korea where Fiora, Lissandra, Ryze, and Tahm Kench were favoured, while NA’s strays wildly. It’s not that all NA top laners can play only single champions or have outdated champion pools (though that is true for some). Teams in the first week had different strategies prepared, and are more likely to conform to global trends in the second week.
In recent years, the jungle meta has been focused around a small number of champions, and Season 6 is no different. Elise, Rek’Sai, Lee Sin are the primary junglers right now, with Kindred being included through their high ban rates around the world.
Na and EU both gravitate to Elise because she is flexible with her AP or tank build options. Rek’Sai is another great pick up because her passive — Tremor Sense — detects the location of the enemy, which is important now that there is less vision in the game. NA prioritized Rek’Sai more than EU last week, probably due to her simpler mechanics compared to Lee Sin. EU has plenty of proficient Lee Sin players such as Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider, Berk “Gilius” Demir, and Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski, resulting in his higher pick in the region.
After the top three, the pool diverges. EU showed jungle Graves last week to great effect, while NA floundered with a weak Poppy jungle. Kindred and Nidalee round out the last picks, and both could easily become more contested if teams pick up on their strength. Note that though NA has a low ban rate for Kindred, they are not picked often, suggesting most teams haven’t practiced them.
When looking for a reason games in NA ran longer, the mid lane champion pool is somewhat telling. EU has three assassins in its most contested mid laners, while NA has 3 wave clear mages. NA’s slower macro play is also a reason, but NA’s picks are influencing the games to be longer because of the champions’ kits.
Ryze is contested pick in both top and mid lane for EU, yet his win rate all together is a measly 37 percent. Does EU have a fascination with a weak champion? No. Ryze is very powerful, but the players and teams who are getting to play him are not capable of utilizing him to his fullest. Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire of Elements showed how not to play Ryze by overextending in lane to be crushed by G2 Esports’ Kim “Trick” Gang-yun and Luka “PerkZ” Perković.
Twisted Fate is a hot pick in NA. With teams preferring a split push approach, Twisted Fate fits right in with his ultimate and can be used to either punish or make up for bad rotations, depending on what his team is doing.
Lucian is the most contested worldwide AD carrypick, but he has subpar win rates in both regions. This is explained by who is getting to play him. In EU, for example, weaker teams like Giants and Splyce selected the mobile marksmen, and when they were defeated by superior teams, his win rate plummeted. Lucian is a powerful pick but must be in the right hands.
The second most contested AD carries differ wildly. In EU, Corki was used heavily for his mixed damage poke and safety. NA, on the other hand, ignored the bombardier as teams like Renegades favored the mobile team-fighter Kalista. Once again, with NA games being longer, Corki has a risk of falling off, while Kalista scales well into the late game.
Ezreal returns with his blue build in both regions, providing poke and slows for his allies. Miss Fortune, who was nerfed in patch 6.1, gained little attention now as her lack of escapes leaves her too open to dives, and her damage isn’t overpowering anymore. Her ultimate is still fantastic for team fights, and maybe teams will give her a second chance, but she’s not going to be the most popular AD carry.
EU is ahead of the curve with usage of Poppy support. Whereas NA tried her in the jungle unsuccessfully, Poppy as a support made marks in EU, even recieving a few bans. Her utility makes her a strong anti-mobility champion capable of making picks with her Heroic Charge or disengage fights with Keeper’s Verdict. With so much in her kit, it’s better to let her take a low-income role.
Alistar is the most picked support in NA, yet his win rate is low, though that has more to do with the teams surrounding him and his rival supports. Janna and Trundle both deny Alistar engage opportunities, and Trundle can even steal stats from Alistar.
Braum is not doing well in either region right now. With the lack of poke in game, his Unbreakable doesn’t block much, and his lack of instant hard CC outside his ultimate can give enemies enough time to finish his allies. As of now, Janna is a better alternative for disengage than Braum, and NA at least has picked up on that.
Regional Pocket Picks
Picks specific to EU last week focus on engage. Shen, Kennen, and Zac were utilized for their long range engages, though Kennen failed to win in either of his games. Zac and Graves jungled to great effectiveness, and even Taric support made an appearance. The most notable of all regional picks is Poppy support, which will catch on in other regions. Most of EU’s regional picks fared well overall.
NA, on the other hand, hasn’t innovated like EU. It’s attempt at Poppy jungle doesn’t compare to EU’s Poppy support, and NA also gave Anivia a try. Despite a strong scoreline from Dignitas’ Danny “Shiphtur” Le, the frost bird didn’t win, and had a worst performance from Echo Fox’s Henrik “Froggen” Hansen. Kindred ADC was also debuted by Team Impulse, but that speaks to how bad that particular team is.
EU utilized more aggressive picks in almost every position, while NA favored wave clearers and disengage champions. EU has a grasp on what’s good and has innovated in 6.1 well, while NA is lagging behind. As teams get more practice, perhaps some champions win rates will improve and more adaptations will show.