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Can we predict the cycle of FotM?

Wubmeister January 20, 2014 User blog:Wubmeister

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Beware! This is a rather long read and basically all theory. A TL;DR version is available below.

With the introduction of Season 4 we've all seen the stagelight placed of a lot of new champs - some once happily sitting on borderline uncommon, like Lucian and Jinx, whilst some champions that haven't seen the sunlight for a while, like Shyvana and Dr. Mundo have arrived.

Yet even then, we saw champions like Darius and Olaf (who are counters to Shyvana and Dr. Mundo in a general kit-based sense) rise out of the ashes.

And it's got me thinking. A lot of us inevitably saw the few champions who could take on Shyvana and Dr. Mundo become popular picks. There is also a rising trend of Ezreal and Draven, of which kits keep Lucian and Jinx at bay. So essentially, I can assume (and I'm sticking to this theory) that Ezreal and Draven will soon become FotM, alongside champions that can take on Darius and Olaf - my personal bets are champs like Jayce and Kennen.

So unless I'm sporadically uncorrect, I've just suggested four champs that may (though I believe will) become FotM. And that's all from someone who still does not get the exact mechanics of League.

So I pose this question. Can we predict FotM - a major part of the League metagame - and use it to our advantage?

Some people may have caught on and gone further. "Well if Ezreal and Draven become FotM then I shall pick Varus who is trésbon and when he becomes FotM then I shall pick Graves for he is tréstrésbon." And on and on the cycle goes (plustrésbon).

But realize that it's not simply about champions and how kits affect each other. There are a lot of underlying factors that actually work towards what becomes FotM. The whole point of this blog post is to help discover and understand what exactly are these factors and what promotes them.

Let's take a very simple example but further it to suit our needs. In the mid-lane we all know Twisted Fate was once a very strong pick. Great utility and map presence, lots of hidden power, blahblahblah.

Like a lot of champions (however, Yorick Mr. OP, I'm watching you) Twisted Fate had a lot of natural counterpicks. Fizz, Diana, Ahri, for example. All these champs had powerful mobility skills that countered Twisted Fate's safe-poke gameplay. He was still able to outplay them. But a number of key changes absolutely disintegrated TF's dominance and whacked him out of the competitive scene). What were these changes?

  1. The buff to Deathfire Grasp enabled assassins to vastly strengthen their already insane killing potential. Ahri, an already powerful counter to Twisted Fate, had good synergy with the AP + CDR combo, which of course
  2. Nerfs to Twisted Fate's ultimate and W mechanics made a difficult pick even more troublesome to use.
  3. High-tier games during OGN broadcasted the destruction of Twisted Fate's potential. Misplays and incorrect usage of strategy (lack of vision control and weak laners) meant TF was not used to his greatest potential.

What am I trying to push? Some of you may have noticed that some of these reason are invariably, not direct. But I've realized that a lot of the current metagame doesn't necessarily have to be numbers or kits. It could all simply be the current rave. So I've discovered that one could, essentially, predict FotM, with the following factors:

  • Champion Strengths and Weaknesses: Espeically if a champion is a great counter to current FotM, it's a big reason to exploit this advantage. This means the cycle revolves and this new champion becomes FotM.
  • Synergy with Other League Changes: It's not necessarily items. It doesn't even have to be anything to do with actual gameplay. For example, some items may favor assassins over mages, promoting them, but changes to vision, lack of extremely-tanky champions due to the current metagame (BotRK, Last Whisper and Void Staff's prowess) meant assassins could thrive. Masteries (such as the rise of the Defensive tree) could also allow champions to gain invisible buffs to their defensive power, boosting previous problems such as poor earlygame which previously hindered them.
  • Performance of Champion in Competitive Play: We all seek to emulate players who are regarded for their skill. A lot of the current FotM revolves around what professionals play. Even if some champions like Elise and Jarvan IV have great potential now (utility and good early game), people may instead choose to play Vi and Lee Sin. Why? It's what the pros use.

TL;DR lrn2readlol

Champions that are popular now do indeed have disadvantages. Some champions well exploit these advantages and they in turn become popular. Can we abuse this to guess what becomes popular, and use this to our advantage. However, past experience has taught us that there are other factors to this 'prediction'. Among this include the current metagame, competitive play and forementioned champion counters.

So with this information and a message to further your own discovery, could you predict the metagame?

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