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With the NA and EU LCS Playoffs less than a week away, teams are gearing up to take to the rift and fight for their spot at the 2016 World Championship. These matches will be a whole new ball game however, as playoffs will be played on patch 6.15, which introduces some big changes and meta shifts. Which teams will be able to adapt to these new changes, and which ones will left to fall in the dust? Let’s take a look at the changes coming into the playoffs, and what the effect they will bring.
First Tower Gold, and Tower Damage Reduction
The biggest change coming into patch 6.15 is the changes to towers. In an effort to cut down on lane swapping, Riot has implemented two changes that will prioritize staying in proper lanes. The first is that towers now have a first blood gold bonus, giving the player that drops the first tower of the game a bonus 400 gold. The second is that the damage reduction on towers for the first few minutes of the game has been increased to 50% reduction, except in bottom lane, where the damage reduction has been removed. This means that the bottom tower will be the most vulnerable tower, and teams will want to prioritize it for the first tower gold.
This change is going to be a large benefit for teams that have a strong bottom lane, while hindering teams whose strengths lie elsewhere. Teams like Team Solo Mid and G2 Esports, with powerhouse bottom lane duos, can expect to benefit greatly from this change, as they will be able bully lane opponents and potentially get out to quick early leads. Meanwhile, teams with weaker bottom lanes, such as Team Liquid and Unicorns of Love, will need to look for Jungle or Mid roams to prevent their opponents from securing that early pressure and gold.
Another change that we will likely see due to the tower changes is that the pool of ADC’s will likely open up a bit. At the end of the Summer Split, most teams where picking between the three utility Marksmen of Sivir, Ashe, and Jhin. Now that bottom tower will become a priority, and with the safety of proper lanes and possibility of snowballing off of early gold, we can expect to see more Marksmen coming into the meta. Champions who excel at lane bullying, such as Caitlyn and Lucian, or who are quick at taking towers, like Tristana or Kog’maw, may once again see some serious play.
Patch 6.15 also brings about several nerfs to three of the most played supports: Braum, Sona, and Karma. While none of the nerfs are huge, they are enough to see a bit of shift in the support meta. While Braum’s nerfs are largely inconsequential, focused around some early damage, Karma and Sona both took some utility hits. Sona, who was hot fixed in patch 6.14 already, is getting a bug fix that will reduce her over all healing, while Karma is taking hits to her shield strength, and the movement buff on her empowered shield.
These changes alone are not huge, but when combined with the changes to lane swaps and potential changes to the marksman pool, they herald a bit of a change up for supports as well. With the ADC position potentially moving away from utility marksmen, crowd control and initiation of supports will become even more important. Largely defensive supports such as Sona, Soraka, and Karma, will most likely begin to phase out in favor of more aggressive and CC heavy supports, like Tresh, Alistar, and Tahm Kench.
Minor Changes, and Conclusions
There are a few other changes that take place in 6.15, but none of them call for any large meta shifting. Small changes to some mid lane champions may change who is prioritized, but with mid lane already having the largest champion pool, things won’t change as much. Similarly, a few jungle champions are taking hits, but you can expect for the tanky, CC heavy jungles of Gragas, Rek’sai, and Hecarim to continue being prioritized. Top lane has been left largely alone in this patch, and while the lack of lane swaps may bring out some new picks here and there, I would expect the majority of champions to stay the same up there.
Patch 6.15 looks to bring bloodier games and an evolving bottom lane into the rift just in time for playoffs. Teams that are quick to adapt and who have strong bottom lane carries will look to profit heavily from this patch, and every team will need to evolve the way they play the map. With early aggression becoming more rewarding, and a more contested Dragon area, the macro element of the game will become even more important. Whatever the teams come up with to adapt, expect to see some incredibly intense games this weekend.
Art courtesy of Riot Games