Hello! My name is DXI Edge and I’m the current Coach/Analyst for Team Malicious Intent. My role on the team is focusing on optimizing item builds, drafts, macro play adjustments, watching VODs from pro play and seeing how we can translate that into our games, as well as finding possible champion picks that are underrated.
One of the major aspects of League of Legends, especially in team play, is the draft. Just to give a brief rundown of what I mean, the draft is the pick and ban phase at the beginning of the game, and how each team approaches this strategy. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how good a team is. If you do not draft properly, (according to the meta and according to an unwritten set of “rules” which I will get into) your team will lose. It is just that simple. If you can outdraft your opponent, you can set yourself up for success in the game at minute zero, and put yourself at a significant advantage.
The set of rules I mentioned earlier assumes a few things:
- There is a clear “meta”
- Members of the team CAN play almost all of the “power picks” in the meta
Very rarely does the first rule ever not happen, since due to pro play and analysts (aka, people like me), clear “best” champions or strategies are identified. Due to League of Legends being as old and popular as it is, it is very easy to watch what works and what doesn’t, and base strategies for teams based on this information.
NOW. What are these rules? I’m going to be going over these one by one in articles over the next few months, but we’re going to start with the most important rule in my opinion.
Your comp must have wave-clear.
Before I go in depth on how to draft wave-clear, what is wave-clear? Wave-clear is the ability for a wave of minions to be killed (or cleared) quickly and effectively. This can be done either by one skill, or a couple of skills with low cooldown/mana costs. I DO NOT CLASSIFY ULTIMATES AS WAVE-CLEAR and this is an important aspect to mention for one of the champions in the “meta” right now.
Why is wave-clear so important? Simple: turrets are the single easiest way to collect large sums of gold for your team, and having a turret up effectively says “This area of the map belongs to us”. Keeping your turrets alive while destroying the enemies’ turrets is the basic component of this game, and is the base of which this game was built on. So what does wave-clear have to do with turrets?
When you are looking to take turrets, you want your minion wave to get to the tower as fast as possible to remove the Armor/MR buff from towers, as well as have the minions tank the damage while you destroy the tower.
When you are looking to defend turrets, you want your opponents’ minion wave to be eliminated as fast as possible to add the Armor/MR buff for your towers, as well as have the enemy champions take damage from your tower.
There are two levels of wave-clear for a draft: S tier and A tier. Your composition for a draft should have NO LOWER than two points, but the most optimal number is three points. If you have two points, there needs to be a champion included in your composition that can use an ultimate for wave-clear (ex: Ryze) or has pseudo-wave clear in their kit (ex: Kalista). However, for optimal drafts the number should be three.
Now that we know why wave clear is important, let’s take a look at what I believe are the best champions for wave-clear in the meta as of now (Patch 6.6 and 6.7).
S Tier (2 points):
Mid: Azir, Lissandra, Lulu, Lux, Varus
ADC: Sivir, Jhin
A Tier (1 point):
Top: Gangplank, Ekko, Graves
Mid: Twisted Fate, Zilean, Orianna, Corki
ADC: Lucian, Corki, Caitlyn
Lets start with S Tier. Why are these champions in S Tier? These champions can clear waves with two skills typically, on relatively low cooldown. Another major aspect, however, is their role. All champions in S Tier are mid/ADC. Why is this? Very rarely do you have mid laners or ADCs split push. Most of the time you will have your ADC and mid laner together, or be collecting waves with your team to approach a split pusher. Seven champions are the bread and butter of destroying waves quickly, and when it comes to the tier list of power picks in the current meta, these champions are at the top of the “power picks”, due in part to their ability to clear waves.
For Azir, it isn’t so much his skills as much as his ability to place soldiers down and attack them from such a distance that he is safe.
Lissandra can Q waves on very quick cooldown, or even use her E (although not recommended) to clear waves. Lulu can use 2 quick Qs, Lux can bind the first two melee minions and then throw her E down, and Varus can use Qs or even his E.
For ADCs, Sivir is the queen of wave-clear. Turn on bouncing blade, throw a Q, and the wave disappears. For Jhin, using his traps, his W, or his Q can clear waves effectively as well. Although he is not as effective as Sivir, he gets the job done.
In my opinion, one S tier champion is the same as having two A tier champions. If you have one S tier champion and one A tier champion in your comp, your draft has the appropriate amount of wave-clear.
Now let;s look at A tier. A tier differs immediately from S tier due to the inclusion of tops and junglers. Although tops and junglers may have as strong wave clear as those in S tier (Graves, for example), due to junglers having to roam/flank and top laners needing to use teleport appropriately, these champions cannot be S tier and cannot be the fundamental wave clear of a team comp.
Gangplank, Ekko, and Graves all want to teamfight and split push, so they can use TP on cooldown. They can push waves very quickly (Gangplank barrels, Graves/Ekko Qs) and are good duelists and teamfighters. Gangplank is also very proficient in that he can use his ultimate anywhere on the map to help clear a wave.
Graves as a jungler is, in my opinion, the best jungler in the game right now. Although Kindred/Nidalee/Graves are the top three, Graves gets the edge as number one for me due to his flexibility and his spot in A tier for waveclear. His Q and autos are both AoE and can clear waves quickly.
Zilean, Orianna, and Corki are all good wave clearers, however they aren’t AS strong as S tier champions. Zilean wants to use his bombs for stuns and as such it’s not optimal to use them as waveclear. Orianna needs to be a little bit closer and wants to place her ball in specific positions due to her ultimate, so she loses a point. Corki cannot insta-clear waves and has to use a lot of his rockets for clearing waves, so he cannot be in S-tier.
Twisted Fate, although has the wave clear of an S tier champion, wants to use his ultimate for flanking and wants to split push. So although the wave-clear is S tier status, the champion wants to be played as a split pusher, so he loses a point.
Lastly, Lucian has very short range. Although his Q and double-tap can clear waves effectively, his ultimate is what his “defining” wave-clear skill is, and as such cannot be placed in S tier.
Now that we know the defining champions in the current meta, let’s take a look at some example drafts from both pro play and SKL, and see if we can predict the result of the game based purely on wave-clear. We are going to examine drafts done where one team drafts less than three points of wave-clear based on my scoring system compared to one team that does, and see if the wave-clear team won.
H2K vs Fnatic – 3rd place match
Games 1 / 2 (same drafts)
0 points 4 points
Predicted winner: Fnatic
Actual winner: Fnatic
Although this draft from H2K was called “very strong”, in my opinion this draft was horrible. They rely completely on snowballing and picks, with no way to out-siege/defend against Fnatic’s team comp.
H2K vs Fnatic – 3rd place match
3 points 1 point
Predicted winner: H2K
Actual winner: H2K
This was just an overall bad draft by Fnatic for a few reasons, but this article is solely looking at waveclear.
Jin Air vs SKT – Korean Playoffs
Alistar Tahm Kench
2 point 2 points
Predicted winner: JAG
Actual winner: SKT
Here is where my system becomes not so foolproof, and I wanted to include this decision for a very specific reason.
Although the point system is tied, I have JAG as predicted winner. Why? The inclusions of Kalista and Ryze. These two champions, although not on either of my tier lists, are “tie-tippers”. These champions are just below A tier and as such, if I were to analyze this comp based purely on wave clear, I would predict JAG to win. However, Faker is a god and SKT pulled out the old school Ryze counter and won a perfect game.
KT vs SKT – Korean Playoffs
Alistar Tahm Kench
1 point 3 points
Predicted winner: SKT
Actual winner: SKT
Very strong picks from KT’s side, however they did not include enough wave-clear in their comp compared to SKT’s. I will say this though: Kalista does have some amounts of wave clear, however not enough to compensate for a one point draft. As I said earlier, a two point draft can be mitigated with a Kalista, not a one point draft.
FOTN vs TMI – SKLeague Week 6
2 points 4 points
Predicted winner: TMI
Actual winner: TMI
Hey, this is one of my drafts! Our early pick included an S tier wave clear right off the bat in Jhin, setting us up for flexibility in the draft and only needing one more point. We follow it up with another S tier pick, while our opponents picked only two points of wave-clear.
RDS vs A53 – SKLeague Week 6
2 points 3 points
Predicted winner: A53
Actual winner: A53
This game was looking to break my rule for a little while! However, the wave-clear allowed A53 to sit back, farm up, and catch up slowly while RDS could not push through.
Well, that’s it for today. I hope this helps the drafts of SKL and your dynamic queue games in the future! I’ll be back soon for the next rule: Engage.