Tier lists are a common practice in various competitive and even non-competitive games to help the community gain a sense of strength or ability behind the topics being covered. If you’ve been a League fan for long, you’ve likely tuned in to some regular tier-list content on YouTube, or even watch how your favorite Champions rise and fall up and down the tiering ladder to know if now’s a great time to climb for you personally. Well, today we’re doing just that with DIG’s Mid Laner, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, and we’re going to discuss his thoughts on the current meta and what he thinks are the strongest strategies within solo queue.
But, at the same time, there’s always a controversial take on tiering. Some players often say, “play what you have fun with, and it’ll all come naturally,” while others are ride or die tiering players, relying heavily on the displayed strength of champions in a given time. So, what are our thoughts on that?
I think some Champions are just better geared to solo queue than others. A lot of that has to do with how snowbally they are, but there are different ways to approach things depending on your draft. Most of the time, you want that snowbally type of Champion in your hands as a carry, but some Champions are good because they provide a lot of crowd-control or are great at helping their Jungle snowball as a point of focus. But there are always just going to be Champions that are consistently better. So, while in most ELOs you can play what you want, picking from upper tiers is going to be more beneficial to you in most cases.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right into our qualifications and the first tier of our list!
The S-Tier Picks
I’ve mentioned before that I think that there are two strong approaches to the game right now. One is going for more scaling. The other is going for more early game fighting. Both paths, I think, are extremely viable, it just depends on your preference. But, overall, I prefer the more proactive play, so that’s why I rate Annie and Tristana in S-Tier due to their ability to really snowball and take over the game. For Annie, she’s just really strong in lane, has good CC, and she scales decently well. She fits into pretty much every composition you can find, and her only real weakness is her range. But, smart play makes that not a problem. She’s probably the strongest and most blindable pick you can make right now.
The next pick we have listed in S-Tier is Tristana. Trist is a bit more situational than Annie, in large part to being an AD Mid, but when the conditions are right for her, she’s quite strong as a pick that excels in catching leads early or playing for scaling. The largest downside to Trist is her relatively weak early game in comparison to most picks. She really has to get that early lead to help her transition through her early game. Then there’s her status as a Marksmen, which makes her quite squishy in comparison to other Mid Laners you can pick, and with only one evasive tool at her disposal, she has to be extremely sure about her all-ins or she can be punished heavily once she dives. But, again, if push comes to shove and you need to play to scale, Tristana benefits from increased range as the game goes on, and she’s one of the best at destroying turrets and split-pushing if the situation calls for it.
The A-Tier Picks & Their Playstyles
The A-tier is filled with a good number of Champions that I think are great but a bit more inconsistent than the S-Tier picks. Some of these Champions you’d like to have good matchups with or have a team that they really fit into. If I were to pick a Champion to focus on in this tier, I think it would be Gangplank. He’s just one of those Champions that’s able to produce an insane amount of damage when you can play him well, and despite the nerfs that are aimed towards him in 13.5, I think he’s still going to be quite strong. And there’s always the potential of getting a good matchup due to a flex pick.
The next pick we have for you to pick up is Sylas! Sylas has come to be a classic addition to the pro play Meta, but he also is quite capable of taking advantage of the chaotic nature of solo queue. A seemingly jack-of-all-trades in solo queue, Sylas can operate in many roles and utilize various Keystones to round out or follow along with what sort of composition he has been picked into.
Masterful Sylas players will come to make the most of his resource economy by not only taking advantage of enemy ultimates in clutch moments, but also master landing his skillshots and taking advantage of the subtle weaving of his enhanced autos to lay down the maximum amount of damage he can dish out. Additionally, with both his off-roles being quite popular, the flex potential for Sylas can net you positive matchups or draft flexibility if you need to shift for the sake of yourself or your team.
Otherwise, within the A-Tier, you’ll find popular picks that capitalize on heavy scaling, heavy snowballing, or are just great deterrents to the other picks within the S or A-Tiers. For snowball focused Champions, try out Akali and Irelia. Put some time into these Champs to really learn their kit in and out. For scaling picks, we recommend Aurelion Sol and Viktor, classic Mage archetypes with the ability to take over games if the opponent doesn’t end fast. And for a more counter-meta perspective, Cassiopeia and Taliyah are excellent options against high mobility compositions.
The B and C-Tiers of Play
At this tier, I don’t really recommend playing the Champions here since the options in A and S are just far more consistent. But, if you have a lot of experience on a Champion here and can make up for their weaknesses with your own skill, then these Champions can do a lot of what the upper tiers do. It just might be more difficult for them to come online in comparison. From B-tier, I’d say look at LeBlanc. She’s got some buffs coming up that look nice in 13.5, and I think she’ll do really well after. But I’m hesitant to say you should play her over someone above, since she may be adjusted down or [if] the buffs don’t feel as good as I think they will.
Our other recommendations in this tier are Ahri and Pantheon. Ahri is a jack-of-all-trades Champion that Riot tends to favor with buffs since she’s one of the game’s mascot characters. She’ll always be in a state where she is quite viable for solo queue, and her playstyles blend between both Mage and Assassin styles so you can really slot her into most compositions and take the approach of one style over the other to compensate for matchups or win conditions.
Pantheon is our next recommendation, but this comes from a strict counter-pick perspective. High mobility Assassins like Zed, Qiyana, Irelia, and Yasuo/Yone are extremely popular in solo queue. And, as it goes with these higher skill expression/edgier themed Champions, their player base tends to be a bit more volatile in terms of focus. So, a Champion like Pantheon which excels at punishing these exact Champions is a great pick to have in your pocket for ladder play since you can easily slap him down into one of these matchups and just dominate the lane from as early as level 2. He additionally carries some flexibility between Top, Jungle, and Support too, so he’s quite capable of flexing around the map if need be.
And, before we close out, here is your full tier list of choices including the D-Tier, which are Champions that we do not recommend playing or are better suited in other roles at the moment.
So, there you have it folks! Our early Season 13 Tier list! While the power of the Champions may rise and fall through the remainder of the year, we expect these Champions to remain in their current tiers for the next few patches, barring any major item adjustments or Champion buffs. With that, thanks to Jensen for sitting with me for this piece! You can follow more of Jensen on Twitter!