With the Preseason now officially a week in, and players scrambling to figure out the most prominent builds, it makes for an interesting discussion compared to the end of the 2017 season. Whereas in 2017, it felt like the ardent censor meta ruled for the latter half of the season, this time, it feels like the gates have been blown completely open on every available outlet for possible picks and combinations. Although it seems to still be in the testing phases, there are a few things that have seen complete dominance and clarity in terms of how they are balanced. Here are a few of the definitive styles that have emerged this preseason.
With the introduction of Kleptomancy and Aerie Fairy, the support role keystones are stronger than even before the ardent censor meta, which seems strange to say. It is not meant to say that the ardent censor meta is less impactful in the game, but more that it feels more diverse. The Kleptomancy keystone within the inspiration tree grants 5 gold per auto attack on an enemy champion after an ability is used, and the possibility of a random item being slotted into your items. Although this may seem like a small amount, for supports, extra gold income is extremely important. The cooldown for this skill is around 3-4 seconds, meaning that, if spells are used in a certain fashion, gold stacking and item stacking can become extremely snowball-y. Second is the Aerie Fairy. Originally a supposed support poke keystone, the power that comes from the aerie fairy is akin to that of the comet in the sorcery tree, which is the primary poke keystone for power picks. What makes it more viable is that it also shields allies when used, meaning that it can be both offensive and defensive, with the output of the offensive side being much more reliable than most of the sorcery keystones. The versatility and poke damage even makes it viable on some such champions as ADCs even, such as Miss Fortune.
Assassins are back
With the recent introduction of the new runes, as well as the absence of flat armor and magic resist runes, assassins have made an absolute comeback. This is not only due to the nature of not having any flat health or armor/magic resistance runes and masteries to help mitigate the early game damage, the new runes also help out to amplify the damage coming out of assassins. With such things as the predator and electrocute keystones available to help dish out the damage, Assassins have seen a absolute monstrous resurgence. Currently, Katarina and Zed are sitting at the top of the mid-lane powerhouses, with Fizz rolling along in the full AP position.
Top Lane Turmoil
Although it seems weird to say, the tank meta is somewhat of a toss-up. Currently, with the precision tree’s Press the Attack and the Resolve tree’s Aftershock, it seems that both bruisers and tanks have a place currently. With the introduction of precision encompassing both melee’s and ranged, such attacks like Irelia, Gnar, and Wukong have gained additional spotlight in both destroying enemies, as well as toughing it out. With the longevity of games, though, there is a possibility of tanks and the like becoming extremely overweight in a sense, with many of the runes and keystones allowing for permanent gains in health and damage. This can be seen in such things as the grasp of the undying, as it grants permanent health after attacking an enemy after four seconds of in combat. Although there are limits to how high some of these stacking stats will go, that does not take away from the fact that the stat increases from permanent gains can be monstrous, especially with someone going full damage bearing down on you with more than twice your full health.
Anger over Loot
The main drawback to the preseason currently is the new currency transactions. Although one is still able to buy Riot Points to buy things such as cosmetics and champions, Riot fused both Influence points and Blue Essence into one, having Blue essence be the primary currency for, say, unlocking skins from chests, as well as unlocking champions permanently. The problem comes with how much Blue essence is made per game, as well as per level. Currently, the amount needed to unlock champions that a person has shards for increased by quite a bit, going up to around 3250 blue essence needed. This would not be such a large and glaring factor, if it weren’t for the fact that a person can only gain blue essence through leveling, and not through completing games. Along with this factor is the issue of upgrading champion masteries. When upgrading from mastery level 5 to mastery level 6, it used to only take the shards, as well as around 500 blue essence. Now, it sits at about 3250, which is almost as much as a full champion if one doesn’t have all of the champions unlocked. Although Riot is attempting to look into ways to help cushion this blow, it still caused a massive uproar within the community, and is still seen as a massive downside to the preseason so far.