If we take a look back at the competitive history of League of Legends we can determine one thing, its meta is very strict. Almost every professional player sticks to a 4-5 champion rotation because they think those champions are strong and work in most situations. Said champion rotation might or might not change every few patches, depending on how Riot is balancing the game. It’s extremely rare for a professional player to venture into the unknown and pick champions that haven’t seen the light of pro play in a long time.
But every once in a while, we have an adventurous soul deciding that it’s time for a change. Those players are the ones we are always looking out for, just for the slim chance to see them play something we haven’t seen in a while. Most of the time, those unusual champions are picked by a top team when they are facing a team sitting at the bottom of the standings. But sometimes, those picks are picked strategically as they can counter certain aspects of “meta champions”, those are the ones worth talking about.
The jungle pick that no one expected
This is one of the most recent cases of one champion single-handedly changing the meta. We can all thank DRX’s jungler Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon for this. Back in LCK Spring 2021 he picked Udyr for the first time in a major region and had success with it. Udyr hadn’t received any major buffs or big changes around that time. Pyosik was being considered something of a mad scientist after not only picking Udyr but absolutely demolishing Nongshim Redforce with it.
Maybe he knew something we didn’t know at that time, maybe he simply lost to an Udyr in a solo queue game. But he noticed something, Udyr’s ability to clear the jungle at turbo speed was a solid enough reason by itself to pick the champion. In combination with the tank item Turbo Chemtank recently added, Udyr was a bear-phoenix lethal — but extremely tanky — champion killing machine. After we saw Udyr for the first time, all junglers had to learn how to play it, although if we are being honest, it wasn’t the hardest champion to master. The jungle was never the same as players had to either ban it, pick it, or play champions that could compete against Udyr’s scaling and jungle clearing capabilities.
When a support player transformed into a carry
Back in the early days of season 3, all supports were used to playing enchanters like Janna, Nami, and Lulu. Noone thought that support could be the star player of a team, except one Korean player. Hong “MadLife” Min-gi decided that it was time for a change. He was tired of always being in the backline sitting next to his AD carry and decided to take the protagonist role. On March 7, 2013, everything changed for the support role as MadLife picked Thresh for the first time in his competitive career. He realized the true potential of the support players when they are not limited to certain champions.
MadLife’s Thresh will go down the history books as he proved that supports are able to carry their team. He even has a technique named after him. To pull off a “madlife” you have to hook in the direction which you predict your enemy would flash, if you land your hook then congratulations, you’ve successfully pulled off a “madlife”. He will forever be remembered as he gave hope to all the support players in the world. This might sound crazy now that Riot has released a plethora of champions that have the potential to carry and don’t necessarily have to rely on your team, but back in the day, this was a game-changer.