League of Legends’ 2019 Mid-Season Invitational is on the horizon. Here, the best teams from each region battle it out for the chance at international fame. There are many different teams and play styles that will be played, with come exciting champion picks bound to be used as well. The current LoL meta is one of the most diverse the professional scene has ever seen, and is certain to lead to unique picks and strategies. There is a prioritization of not only power picks, but flex picks too. Though there are an abundance of champions that will be picked, five stand out. These five all have the potential to have a great impact in the tournament and should be picks to keep an eye on.
Hecarim is a powerhouse in the meta right now and will definitely be a contested pick in MSI. He was buffed twice recently, in patches 9.4 and 9.6, and is quite strong now. The biggest buff came to his Rampage (Q). It now stacks up with each use and does 10% more damage with each stack, up to two stacks. Pairing this stacking ability with Conqueror makes him a monster to deal with in 1v1s and skirmishes if they go on long enough.
Hecarim’s build traditionally was to buy an un-enchanted jungle item, rush a Trinity Force, then finish the jungle item with a Cinderhulk enchantment. This changed recently. Now Hecarim players are rushing a Warrior enchanted jungle item. This is because it gives a very gold efficient power spike and a whole ton of damage for him to work with. Trinity Force is still core of course, but generally comes after the Warrior for junglers.
The teams at MSI will probably place a lot of value on Hecarim first for his flexibility in the draft phase. The aforementioned build focused on the jungle, but there are a number of top laners who can utilize the pick too. Top lane Hecarim is usually drafted as a counter pick, but if a team is comfortable enough on it they could draft it early on and flex it. Furthermore, his value is increased based on the meta. Many of top teams play around winning lanes and early jungle pressure to create advantages and snowball them. Hecarim is fantastic in this respect because he can duel and skirmish effectively in the early and mid game. He can then push his lead through big Onslaught of Shadows (R) engages that set his team up for success.
The Titan of the Depths, Nautilus, is bound to make some waves in MSI. Nautilus has seen his fair share of metas and is likely to return to the forefront once again. He received two rather significant buffs in patch 9.8 and pro players are loving it. His Staggering Blow (passive) root duration is increased early on and his Dredge Line (Q) does more damage. In a meta dominated by the early game, these buffs feel great for him.
These buffs don’t appear to be that insane, but they’re enough to make Nautilus a force to be reckoned with. He isn’t much of a top laner right now, but is great in the middle and bottom lanes. The support Nautilus is fairly standard, building tank items like Knight’s Vow and Zeke’s Convergence and doing normal tank duties. However, the mid lane variant is much more exciting. Here, players build AP items like Hextech Protobelt-01 and smash their opponents. This gives him dueling power and the ability to make huge impacts in mid game fights.
Nautilus is expected to be played at MSI in some fashion. His mid lane impact can be great, acting like the Sion mid of the past and nullifying certain snowball matchups. It is risky in itself though, because a behind AP Nautilus lacks both damage and tankiness. The support variant is more likely to see play because its a reliable engage and lock-down option. This way he can have very effective roams and enable his team in team fights. There is a chance that he’s played in the top lane, but a lower once because of the prevalence of Conqueror users. Overall Nautilus is a decent pick for carrying and for setting up his team.
Vladimir is no surprise to see on this list. He’s steadily been seeing more pro play this season and is a true threat. He is infamous for his late game scaling, as having three or four items makes him a raid boss. As such, his early game is quite lackluster and can be bullied relatively easily. The thing with that is his early game really isn’t that bad. The introduction of the scaling Cool-down Reduction (CDR) rune, along with Transcendence and Cosmic Insight, gives Vladimir a ton of CDR, which in turn gives him more sustain.
The common build to further increase Vladimir’s CDR is rushing a Kindlegem and Fiendish Codex. This allows him to almost reach the max 40% (or 45% with Cosmic Insight) CDR at level 10, with 30% before that. Though he does certainly have rough matchups, its extremely difficult to punish Vladimir at this point or push him out of lane. His common rune, Phase Rush, also allows him to escape dangerous situations. After his CDR rush, he finishes the Hextech Protobelt-01 and moves into a Zhonya’s Hourglass or Rabadon’s Deathcap. Either way, his team fighting gets very strong and he allows him to dominate games.
Like the other picks, some of his value for MSI teams comes from his draft flexibility. He can easily swap between mid and top, with some viability in the bottom lane carry role too. Because he is difficult to punish, with great rewards in the mid and late game, there’s little chance Vladimir doesn’t see play in MSI. He saw play in all the regions in the Spring Split for a reason, and it would be strange if teams stopped picking him now because he is so powerful.
Renekton is a strong pick that may find some play in MSI. He fits a specific role in the meta and was recently buffed in patch 9.8. Some of his base stats were increased as was the healing from his Cull the Meek (Q). He is known for bullying other top lane champions and is set to do so once again. Early pressure is the name of the game for many teams, and its hard to find a champion that provides that as well as Renekton.
Renekton is traditionally the opposite of Vladimir. He has an oppressive early game but tends to fall off in the late game. But this weakness is significantly less visible now because of two things. First, the healing buff to his Q allows him to sustain more in team fights, which is invaluable as he has to front line. If the player brings Conqueror, he gets even more healing. Secondly, Spear of Shojin makes Renekton a menace to fight. The decreased cooldown reduction on his abilities in his ultimate means he has more heals, stuns and dashes available to him. This makes him a difficult opponent to fight in 1v1s or skirmishes.
There are a plethora of fantastic top laners attending MSI, and some will probably bring out the Renekton. His early game dominance can be a win condition to play around, as he can carry games handily. For teams that want to secure early turret plating and the Rift Herald, Renekton will prove to be a great choice. He won’t be a super high presence champion, but might be utilized as a counter pick from time to time.
Vayne, the Night Hunter, is another pick bound to experience some time on the big stage. She is a Solo Queue terror and saw play during the Spring Split. Her buffs were installed way back in patch 9.1, but she remains a decent pick if played properly. The focus is expected to be on the early game for many of the teams in this tournament, and though Vayne is regarded as a late game hyper carry, she is likely to have play time.
Her current build is to build Blade of the Ruined King and Guinsoo’s Rageblade. These two items give a ton of damage and synergize nicely with the on-hit True Damage of her Silver Bolts (W). They give her a great mid game power spike, ensuring she doesn’t require three or four items to be effective. The majority of Vayne players are opting for Press the Attack as their rune, as it gives a slight buff to her early game and makes her more useful in lane.
Like Renekton, Vayne isn’t likely to experience as high a presence as other champions. Despite that, she is a powerful pick and will be played at least occasionally. For teams like prefer to play through their bottom lane and team fight, Vayne is a perfect pick, so long as they can protect her. She can navigate fights with her invisibility and output massive damage if given the chance, and will make her a threat in the upcoming MSI.
Featured image via Riot Games.
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