The bot lane has become the focal point of MSI 2023, and two champions in particular have risen above the rest, dominating the competition: Aphelios and Jinx.
We are well into the MSI 2023 with less than a week and only six best-of-five series left to play. While the hype was at an all-time high leading up to the tournament due to the format changes and the increased number of major region teams, MSI so far failed to reach the highest fan expectations.
The audiences got somewhat unlucky with the Bracket Stage draw that led to four intraregional matchups in the second round of the Bracket Stage and multiple 3-0 series, the only series that went to five games was between T1 and Gen.G. The tournament meta also hasn’t helped to raise excitement so far, especially with the extreme focus on the bot lane and ADCs.
The last two international tournaments, MSI and Worlds 2022, each saw nearly 100 unique champions picked in the pick/ban stage. Despite some pocket picks popping up here and there during MSI 2023 like Kha’Zix and Rengar in the jungle or Morgana and Janna in the support role, this number dropped below 80 unique champions, the lowest it’s been since MSI 2019.
Bot lane has been the defining factor throughout MSI 2023
One big target for the fans online has been the impact of the bot lane on the game. It’s become common to see teams draft one hyper-carry and four tanks or supportive champions to protect them. The red side strategy of invading level one with a Sion to take enemy camps and dive the opponent’s bot lane became a strategy so prevalent, we saw games where neither top laner started the game on their own side of the Rift.
yes it is a bot lane focused meta, how could you tell pic.twitter.com/ru6j7Kw5Kx
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) May 13, 2023
And in this meta where the bot laners are the most important, two champions have risen above the competition by a considerable margin. In the 53 games played in MSI 2023 so far, only 10 unique champions were played in the bot lane, the least for any role. More than half of these picks have been either Aphelios (picked 32 times) or Jinx (picked 28 times). The next two closest champions are picked nearly half as much, with 16 games each for Zeri and Xayah. Aside from these four, no other marksman saw more than six games on the Rift.
During the first game of the Cloud9 vs Golden Guardians series, the fans got to watch the 21st time Aphelios and Jinx went head-to-head in the bot lane during MSI 2023, which accounts for nearly 40% of the total games (21 out of 53). While this is the highest percentage in the history of Riot’s international tournaments, the highest number of games with the same bot lane matchup belongs to the MSI 2021 when Kai’sa and Tristana faced each other 30 times (37% of the games).
Arcane buffs are still going strong for the sisters
After Riot released their hit Netflix animated series Arcane, many champions who appeared in it rose in prominence in the game. Players jokingly referred to this as champions getting “Arcane buffs.” Now nearly a year and a half after the Arcane’s release, some of these champions are still dominating the meta. Jinx is one of the rulers of the bot lane as mentioned, but the title of the “highest presence champion” goes to her sister, Vi.
While picked in only 14 games so far, Vi has been banned 35 times during the London Mid-Season Invitational. She is the only champion with over 90% presence. Vi is a common first pick for the blue side when not banned, as she offers guaranteed crowd control with her Ultimate (Cease and Desist), especially valuable in a hyper carry bot lane meta.
Following Vi, K’Sante and Rakan are the second and third highest presence champions so far, along with being the third and fourth most picked champions behind the previously mentioned bot lane duo. K’Sante also rose in prominence as a flex pick, picked 18 times in the top lane and seven in the mid.
Another side affect of the bot lane dominance has been the mid lane meta. With supportive picks getting more and more play, a lot of flex picks emerged in the center of the Rift. Annie and Nautilus are the two most common flex picks along with K’Sante in the tournament, but their mid lane play rate is almost double of their support pick rate.
Kha’Zix is emerging as the pick of the tournament
While not as popular as some other champions, Kha’Zix has seen surprisingly high amount of play. At nearly 20% presence, Kha’Zix has been played nine times and won seven of these games. The champion is especially strong in contesting and stealing objectives, which helped increase the number of stolen Barons during MSI so far. There is only one other champion played more than once with a higher win rate: Bliztcrank, who has won all three games he was picked in. Maokai, Gragas and Poppy are three other notable champions, all with over 10 games played and over 60% win rates.
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) May 10, 2023
When it comes to flops of the tournament, there are seven champions still winless despite being picked: Malphite (0/7), Jax (0/5), Aurelions Sol (0/3), Draven (0/2), Renata Glasc (0/2), Ezreal (0/2) and Pyke (0/1). Braum, Lee Sin, Rell and Fiora follows these four as the champions with the next worst win rates. All four of these picks are below 30%, but they at least saw some victory screens.
Last but not least, 16 champions were picked just once so far in the 53 games, some more off-meta than others and with varying success rates. Picks like Bel’Veth jungle from G2 Esports, Swain mid lane from LOUD and Heimerdinger support from Cloud9 found wins for their respective teams, while other champions like Golden Guardians’ jungle Rengar, LOUD’s Ryze top and MAD Lions’ Irelia top remains winless.
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