SafestBettingSites had the opportunity to interview League of Legends historian and podcast creator Xing Li, who has been following the game since it launched.
Below you can find some amazing insight into questions a lot have when it comes to the competitive scene. It also offers great insight for those that want to bet on League of Legends.
When did you become a fan of LoL and decided your profession would be to cover this eSport?
I began playing LoL in Season 3 alongside some old college friends, who had started with DotA. It was around that time that I discovered the eSports scene—I was blown away that the World Championship sold-out Staples Center. I guess you can say my rise with League matched SKT’s.
I have been writing a traditional sports blog since 2011 and had some success doing in-depth NFL research. In 2014, I started writing about LCS matches and in 2015, began writing for Blog of Legends.
It was near the end of that year that writing became more serious for me, and I joined Dot ESports as a freelancer. I more or less head Dot’s competitive League coverage team now.
What are your favorite LoL players to watch during tournaments?
Because of how eSports tournaments function, different players and teams can qualify for tournaments. If you want to start following the sport, definitely follow Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok of SKT.
He has won the most championships and is the most popular player in the world. ESPN wrote a feature on him years ago that is a good starting point for fans to learn about League eSports.
Faker is a mid laner, but I like to follow players that play the jungle role for their teams. It’s a role that’s a bit underappreciated in the community but has the most impact on the way teams play.
Most of the positions are pretty standard, and unless one side makes a big mistake, the first 15-20 minutes of a match tends to follow a pattern. Junglers are the ones that can disrupt that pattern with their decision making. They are the playmakers.
What are the top 3 teams that you would bet on getting to the Worlds this upcoming season and why?
It’s pretty much a lock that G2 and Team Liquid will qualify from Europe and North America, respectively. In South Korea, it’s looking like SKT will qualify as well after a pretty poor start to the Summer Split (season).
Those three teams have won the most consistently throughout the year and have earned the most qualifications points for Worlds.
G2 and SKT, should they make it, would be two favorites to win the event as well. SKT has won three World championships before, and G2 just won this year’s Mid Season Invitational.
Could you explain in simple terms what the meta is?
Meta stands for Most Effective Tactic Available. Within League of Legends, it refers to the champions that are good in competitive play and how those champions influence pre-game team building and in-game strategy.
For example, if champion A is extremely good right now and accomplishes a specific task, teams will practice that champion and how it will help them achieve that task. They will also practice both champions that work well with champion A. As well, as champions that can play against them.
And if they don’t have a good solution, they might try to ban that champion with one of their five bans.
Is knowing the meta important? Does it help predict who the winner is going to be?
It depends on what kind of meta we’re using. Some metas are more predictable than others, while more chaotic metas may allow for more creativity. Generally, teams need to know what the meta is, but the best teams know when and how to put aside that knowledge and play to their strengths, no matter what those are.
Right now, we are in one of the more boring metas, so pregame drafts are both predictable and can have significant impacts on the match. We’ve seen in recent weeks how mistakes made in the draft phase have led to defeat for specific teams. It honestly feels pretty bad.
What do you think about the speed at which the meta changes? Is it too fast or slow in regards to the eSport?
The answer depends on what Riot has done with the meta throughout the year. In the past, we’ve seen both too much and too little change. Right now, the meta hasn’t changed that much, but it’s also in a dangerous place.
Does The Speed At Which Metas Change Affect Strategizing In LoL?
Recent patches have brought many subtle but potentially game-changing effects. If Riot were to amplify those, we could be plunged into chaos very suddenly.
My basic assumption though is that we will not see much change through the rest of the season and the meta that exists now will more or less continue through Worlds. I’m probably wrong about that, and I’ll be happy if that’s the case, depending on how significant the changes are.
What would you say is the predominant strategy that teams are using at the moment?
The meta right now revolves around taking advantage of a handful of strong solo lane picks that have been problematic for Riot’s balance team for some time. These include Sylas, Akali, Irelia, and Aatrox.
If a team can get one of these champions, especially in top lane, they have the potential to just run over the map.
Otherwise, the name of the game is to stall and wait until late game. Waveclear champions like Azir, Corki, and Gangplank have risen because they don’t have clear answers in the early game. Riot is attempting to bring some assassins like LeBlanc back, so we’ll see if that is enough to counter what these champions like to do.
Ideally, you wait for late game, get a strong split pusher (someone who pushes minion waves split off from the rest of the team) going. Then you look to fight with late-game carries.
Seeing as League of Legends is a MOBA and primarily a knowledge-and-strategy based game, how much stock do you put in a team’s current form?
League of Legends and MOBAs, in general, are not knowledge/strategy-based games like Hearthstone or TFT. A lot of what players knew 6 or 12 months ago is completely irrelevant now. I put a lot of stock into a team’s current form, but it’s necessary to contextualize that performance within the conditions in the meta.
There are some teams and players for which knowledge and strategy drive most of their value, but these are usually not top teams.
The one place where more experienced teams have an advantage is in the latter stages of big tournaments, like Worlds when the meta can all of a sudden shift. Also, as things get tense in big moments, teams tend to revert to more safe styles of play centered around late-game fights.
That can benefit those with experience in those types of moments.
Why do you dislike Tank Metas?
There are a lot of issues with tank metas.
Generally, a tank meta refers to one in which tanks play at multiple positions.
Most common positions: jungle, top lane, or support.
Tanks are champions whose primary role is to soak damage and disrupt enemies. They might have some abilities to engage for their team and have ways to keep enemy champions off of vulnerable carries.
Because of the nature of those roles, tank champions generally do less damage and have fewer mechanical options than more aggressive champions.
- So, tank metas lower the overall skill cap in the game, something I don’t like to see for professional players.
- Tank metas also promote a style of play that’s pretty boring. A team with three tanks and enough waveclear in a tank-friendly meta can generally stall out their games and prevent fun stuff from happening. And then when you get to the late game, one teamfight can decide the match in spite of everything that happened before.It is fun to watch players who have a keen strategy play tanks because they know when to go all-in and make those plays happen. It’s just not fun to see that game after game.
- Finally, several tank champions are always problematic and always seem to rise to the top of the meta whenever tanks are en vogue. Champions like Sejuani and Cho’Gath are extremely well-suited for the professional game. So, when tank metas arise, you generally see a lot of them.
You generally don’t get much diversity in the type of tanks that are good at the highest levels.
Have you seen great win rates when teams successfully bait Baron?
Baiting is just one strategy that can be effective around Baron. Good teams know how to play around that objective. They also know what strategy – bait, rush, or something in between – is best for both them and their opponents at that moment.
My opinion is teams that screw up around Baron are ones that mess around with Baron when they don’t need to. Either they have another way to win the game, such as through a side lane split pusher. Or they don’t have the correct setup. The enemy team may also secretly want them to go for Baron and make a mistake.
It’s always fun to see a good Baron bait pay off in the form of a big teamfight win. I don’t know which is the more effective strategy. I prefer teams to set up well for the objective and rush it down without necessarily needing the fight.
How would you recommend a new player or someone who wants to start in eSports get to know the meta as fast as possible?
You can read my pieces! I write about the meta pretty regularly and also discuss it on Twitter. There are also good tools out there like Games of Legends that help you understand what the most popular champions are.
After that, I would watch the games and ask questions like,
“Why is this champion being picked in this role? How does this team win with this team composition, what are they trying to do?”
The ability to think critically about champions, sides of the map, and the teams themselves are more useful than knowledge of what is good right now.
Are there individual skill mechanics that can tilt a selection in a particular team’s favor?
Yes, historically, this is a big part of the pregame strategy.
For example, some champions have extremely high skill caps and are most effective in players who are good on them. I’m thinking of champions like Draven and Ezreal.
There is a huge difference, even among professional players, between a good Draven and just an average one.
If a team doesn’t have an answer for a great Draven, that might force a ban during the draft phase that could have been used better on another champion.
Difference In Skill Of Individual Players Is Important
G2 are a great example of a team where the individual skill levels of the five players are very high, which allows them to play a huge array of champions. In that way, they can surprise teams and create their meta.
For a while, teams tried to copy them before they realized that strategy only works if you have players of the same caliber as G2’s.
Player Skill Capped Causing Struggles
Recently, you’ve seen a lot of solo lane players capped by their skill on champions like Aatrox, Irelia, and Akali. A lot of mid lane players grew up playing mages like Cassiopeia, Ryze, and Orianna, and outside of Ryze, those champions haven’t been meta for some time.
You’ve probably seen some players previously known for reliable mechanics that have struggled in the past year or so.
Teleport Is A Big Asset
Finally, one mechanic that I’ve alluded to but haven’t explicitly addressed is teleport. Teleport is an easy spell; you press your key while selecting an ally minion, turret, or ward. But a lot of players struggle with when to teleport and to which location to teleport.
The best players have a keen sense for that and know how to use their teleports to win games.
How likely is the current patch or meta to affect a prediction?
Patches vary in their impact to the meta. Also, the meta is built over time as an accumulation of several patches, so a patch like 9.14 that is not impactful now may become surprisingly so over time.
Overall, the last few patches have targeted champions that are too far outside the pro meta to really have an impact. My worry is that all of a sudden Riot will apply some of those concepts to champions inside the meta and throw things off again.
You recently launched a podcast. What can fans of the game find here?
Our format is to take questions from our community; Twitter and other social media, as well as Reddit and the League forums. We do this to discuss what’s most interesting to fans that week. We talk about eSports and metas a fair bit but also try to make it light and fun.