2017 Preseason: Best Champions to Play in the New Season (Season 7)

There are many changes coming to the game this Preseason, and these momentous changes are certain to change the meta, but how?

Well, we expect it to shift in favor of the Assassins following their huge update. In many cases, the updates for the assassin champions being targeted add a higher level of difficulty to their kit, and in turn, a higher reward (I.E. More Damages). With the distinct increase to damage and the introduction of “lethality” to the game, assassins are sure to be attractive to many players, and the meta should shift dramatically while these assassins become the core of many teams, especially at higher elo.

We mentioned details about the Assassin Update, the item updates, other champion updates, and stealth updates in our other Preseason articles (listed below), so be sure to check those out if you haven’t before reading any further.

2017 Preseason: The Assassin Update

2017 Preseason: Jungle Changes

Now, we’re going to get into who we think will rise above the rest in terms of champions among the new meta, including some of the new assassins. These predictions are made based on careful observation in the PBE, where the changes are able to be played, and studying the current meta. This is pure theorycrafting, meaning entirely speculation, so it could end up shifting in an entirely different direction.

Zed:

Zed has a new passive, and it’s pretty scary. He lost his passive AD gain on his shadow ability, but in its place, he gained a passive on his Ultimate. Whenever he kills a target with his Ult, he gains a portion of their AD permanently. If he kills a target with more AD than the last, it just replaces his current boost with the boost from his new target. This means that if he continues to target the ADC, with his already high AD from items, he can scale very frighteningly well into late-game.

Katarina:

Katarina’s new dagger-throwing mechanics add a ton more difficulty to her kit, but when learned and executed properly, she does SO MUCH DAMAGE. In the PBE, she is dealing a ton more damage with this new system than she currently deals on live. That’s saying a lot, seeing as though she can deal a scary amount of damage already, this new system makes her trickier to pin down and deal way more damage.

Kha’zix:

Kha’s changes weren’t as huge as some of the big changes mentioned in our Assassin’s article, but his small change seems to have a huge impact on his carry potential. Basically, when he sits in a bush, after a few seconds his ult will reset and he can turn invisible again. If he positions himself properly in a fight, he can seriously carry fights by himself, and we’ve seen it happen a few times in the PBE already. Kha’zix will definitely be a top-tier jungler in the upcoming meta, so we recommend any jungle mains out there to start practicing.

Nasus:

That’s right, he’s back. The King of Top Lane Season 3 is returning in full swing in the PBE. Why? Because the new assassin meta is going to require a ton of tankiness and crowd-control to counter. Nasus with some stacks deals a ton of damage, the new passive on his Ultimate makes him seriously tanky, and his Wither is one of the hardest slows and damage nerfs in the game, slowing more than exhaust and reducing attack speed of the target. Nasus seems to be resurging.

Riven:

Riven has always been pretty strong, but she’s excelling in this assassin meta due to being able to put out comparable damage as well as a clutch shield and an insta-cast AoE stun that can be used on all of those tricky assassins that can get in and get out quickly. That stun makes her able to lock them down long enough to deal some damage and more importantly, long enough for her team to notice. We’ll put it this way: it’s hard to dash in as a Katarina on a Riven who can instantly pop a shield and stun her out of her combo.

Olaf:

Olaf can be played in a couple roles, but his usefulness shines through no matter where he is played. With the assassin meta inbound, the ultimate carry-killer himself is a clutch pick. Being able to barrel through CC at top-speed with his ult at any carry he wants has always been his strength, and when the enemy team is composed of more carries than usual, he becomes more and more viable.

Ezreal, Tristana, and Sivir:

We’ve clumped the ADCs together into one group due to them all having the same reason for slipping back into the meta in the PBE, and why we expect them to continue to be more popular when the Preseason hits. With all of these big-time damage-vomit assassins coming around with higher damage than before (in the right hands), the “safe” ADCs are being picked more much. Expect Blue-Build Ezreal, Tristana (with her leap and ult), and Sivir (with her spell shield) to make a resurgence for the first time since last season when the tank meta came about. Other ADCs with small disrupts could be enough to stop an incoming assassin, like Draven or Jinx, but we don’t see them played quite as much in the PBE.

Alistar:

Dang, you really can’t milk those. With Alistar’s changes coming, he is looking much more formidable. Alistar is not simply benefitting from his individual changes, but he will benefit greatly from the new support items as well.

For a comprehensive list of changes, check out Riot’s post on the PBE forums about the Cow-man himself.

Janna:

Janna will probably ALWAYS be useful, but she is really shining more now that the assassins are more popular. The goal of bot lane will most likely shift into a “Get out of dodge” style of gameplay and away from “Fire all teh lazors” that seems to be the Support meta currently (looking at you, Brand). Janna is, and always has been, the Queen of “Get out of dodge” so expect to see her impressive peel kit around much more often. Expect to see more Lulu for this reason, as well as her ability to synergize with her mid laner (who is most likely an assassin) with her speed buffs and ultimate. Bard will be more popular for his peel as well, as well as his ability to punish squishy carries while remaining very safe himself.

Summary:

Expect to see a lot more assassins. They’re more fun to play, and most of them deal more damage if executed properly. Because of that, their counters will join them in the meta. Any tanks with a ton of lockdown will be more frequent, like Nasus, Renekton, Kennen, Leona, and Braum.

The Support meta will shift from the immobile damage-vomit that takes over the role currently. Expect to see less Karma, Brand, and Vel’koz in the support role, and more CC tanks like Alistar, Thresh, and Leona, and more peel-masters like Lulu and Janna.

ADCs will shift this way as well. Jinx, Miss Fortune, and Ashe will likely become much less relevant. With more tricky assassins and crazy gap-closers, the immobile ADC meta will end. Jhin is extremely immobile, but we don’t expect him to fall off completely due to his innate ability to fire off more damage than any other carry currently. He might take a hit to his performance, but he won’t go away completely. Expect a lot of Blue Build Ezreals to resurface, Tristana, Sivir, Cait as well. Vayne is very mobile and tricky, and may benefit from the Stealth changes, but the meta will likely be too squishy for her % Max Health damage on her W to be very useful.

Mid lane will see the most change. With the damage spike of the assassins, the slow and deliberate casters like Syndra, Cass, Brand, and Viktor will likely go away unless they can adapt quickly to harassing the assassins out of lane before they ramp up. With the assassins having higher skill ceilings and being generally harder to predict, we think it will go in favor of the assassins.

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Editor-in-Chief and Owner of Smite Steal Esports | Follow me on Twitter @aaronmickunas

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