We’re only one patch away from the League of Legends (LoL) World Championship, and developer Riot Games has introduced more balance changes ahead of the competition.
This means some of the favourite picks for pro player’s may be affected.
“This patch, we’ll be focusing on pulling some power out of picks that have been dominating playoffs throughout the world,” Riot said in the Patch 12.17 notes.
Here are the biggest changes in 12.17
Massive changes to Hecarim, Maokai, and Miss Fortune have been implemented.
Hecarim is a great champion for pros, but sometimes terrible in solo queue. His Q and W now work better with Fighter items, although his tanky traits have been reduced. The changes "should lead to more damage-oriented builds for Hecarim".
Maokai, on the other hand, has been quiet in both pro play and solo queue for a while now. The developers said that they're "helping this tree rediscover his roots in the top lane and jungle without removing his support ability". His Passive, Q, E, and Ultimate are all being adjusted.
Meanwhile, Miss Fortune's Q and W were buffed, while her E was nerfed. Riot wanted to make her crit and attack speed "hit a bit harder", so Miss Fortune players will be encouraged to prioritise marksman-style items over lethality builds.
Most nerfs for this patch target popular pro-League champs, and solo queue power picks like Sivir, Trundle, and Taric.
Given this, it seems like devs are trying to shift the mid lane meta. Pro mid lane picks like Ahri and Azir are being nerfed. Sylas, a top solo queue mid laner for months, is also getting nerfed.
Instead, mid laners like Twisted Fate and Kassadin have received buffs in this patch. Other changes include buffs for Camille, Ezreal, Graves, Nocturne, Rell, and Sett.
We’re also surprised that powerful yordles like Vex, Amumu, and Heimerdinger remain untouched, so we think they’ll be in a good spot in 12.17.
For the full patch notes, click here.
Given these changes, which champions are the best to play moving forward? Here’s the list of who we think will dominate the Summoner’s Rift post 12.17.
The script seems to be the same for the top lane for a couple of patches now.
Aatrox’s Eclipse build brought him back to the spotlight, so he can now keep up with scaling champions. The Lethality also allows him to one-shot squishier targets.
Since this champion remains untouched, we expect him to remain as the number 1 pick in the top lane.
The Hand of Noxus has been one of the best picks in the top lane since we started this list, especially after he ended up a big winner of the durability and healing updates.
Darius thrives in prolonged teamfights and with healing nerfs implemented in 12.15, he’s having the time of his life.
The Freljordian Berserker will also continue to be the third-best pick in the top lane.
He’s a strong early-game skirmishing champion and some of his biggest counter picks have been nerfed.
This means Olaf will continue to be a solid pick without a nerf going his way. If you want to know what build and spells work well with Olaf, check out our article from patch 12.16.
Honourable Mentions: Udyr, Shen, Sejuani, Fiora, Warwick
The ageless horror will continue to be a terror in the jungle, especially since he’s escaped Riot’s nerf list for the nth time now.
Fiddlesticks still has the highest win rate in the jungle, and his pick/ban rates are pretty low.
Hecarim can be a good or bad pick with a few tweaks.
But we think the major upgrades to his kit could boost his win rate. Riot is avoiding tankier Hecarim builds by rewarding players who use bruiser/fighter builds instead.
We're definitely not looking forward to a high-damage Hecarim in the jungle.
The Wuju Bladesman has been on and off our list, but he's still strong. The buff he got in 12.13 and the Alpha strike adjustment, which lets players control direction, became a problem for most.
It's not impossible to counter him if you use champions like Elise, Warwick, Morgana, Fiddlesticks, and Volibear.
Honourable Mentions: Amumu, Diana, Kayn
Some nerfs to previous top midlaners like Sylas have helped our Machine Herald quite a bit.
To be successful with Viktor, we suggest you use Scorch and First Strike as your keystone.
Viktor's Gravity Field (W) or Chaos Storm (R) is useful in close teamfights.
His build flexibility makes him great against different enemy team compositions, so you're rarely stuck (a Singed ban would help, though).
However, if you're not familiar with the Machine Herald, practise his kit first before locking him for some ranked games, because he’s not that easy to master.
The Voidwalker got buffed in 12.17, and while he struggles in low elo, his win rates in Platinum and Diamond are solid at 51-52%.
Kassadin is a hyper-scaling champion — almost useless in the early gam,e but a nightmare when he snowballs in the mid-to-late game.
If you ignore Kassadin until mid-game, you're in trouble. And with a lower Q cooldown and mana cost, he can now keep up better in the early game.
Since Sylas was nerfed, the mid lane meta is shifting more in favour of Vex.
She also received an indirect buff from the Seeker's Arm Guard changes.
Vex's passive and ability to counter mobile champs is so powerful even against midlaners with a dash.
That said, Vex struggles against champions with a longer range, so Heimerdinger, Viktor, and Swain can counter her.
Honourable Mentions: Zed, Sylas, Seraphine, Swain, Brand
Miss Fortune has actually been successful in the bottom lane for the last couple of patches, and the buffs will continue to help her more.
With buffed crit rates and attack speed, she will “hit (really) hard” as intended by the devs.
Miss Fortune will also be a great pick against Zeri (who fares way better in pro matches than solo queue).
As enchanters are still being played at a much higher rate than melee supports, Twitch is a fantastic choice, as he can thrive with just a few items.
Leverage his increased mobility in team fights by using the Flash-Ghost combo.
His stealth amplifies his catch power, too, through this combination.
Beyond that, Twitch is one of the few ADCs who does well against Sivir, because he has no high-impact abilities she can shield.
Speaking of the Battle Mistress, she's still on our list despite being nerfed, but we're dropping her to number three.
Her mid game scaling will decrease, but that doesn't mean she will be useless.
Sivir is nearly unbeatable if paired with Yuumi, Lulu, Janna, or any enchanter that boosts attack speed.
If you're struggling when facing her, Miss Fortune and Twitch are great counter picks against Sivir.
With MF getting a buff this patch and Twitch thriving in the current meta, we think Sivir mains may have a bit of trouble playing against them.
Honourable Mentions: Samira, Tristana, Seraphine, Kalista, Nilah
The Sad Mummy's tantrums have lasted over two months, and he'll continue to cause trouble as a jungler and support.
His kit may be one of the oldest, but it's not outdated. And he's a lethal kill lane champion as a support.
The Double Bandage Toss is OP with high damage and the chance to stun twice, but after level 6, you have the crowd control and damage to bring down foes on your own.
Meanwhile, expect jungle Amumu to be a late-game threat that can double as a tank and damage dealer.
Janna may not have the most playmaking potential in the game, but she can certainly deny the enemy anything if you're good enough with her Q and ult.
Ever since Riot buffed Zyra in 12.16, her already good win rate shot up even more.
Changes to Zyra's E cooldown mean she can quickly combo E + ultimate in the late game, giving her more escape options.
The Scorch buff also benefits her.
When you pair this with Arcane Comet, she will even be more frustrating to play against.
Honourable Mentions: Vel’koz, Renata Glasc, Leona, Lulu
Are there any champions that you think should be on this list?
Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.