To say the competitive scene has become a bit stale over the last couple weeks may be an understatement. With the same bans on red side almost every game and a clearly established tier list, Riot Games needed to make changes to refresh the current meta. Patch 7.3 delivered these changes in a big way, targeting almost every top tier pick and balancing the strength of champions at the top of almost every role.
We all know that scene in a movie, just when it seems like there’s no hope, the protagonist somehow overcomes all the odds and finally collapses to their knees. Broken, tired, (probably wet or dirty) they hang their head for a quiet moment only to finally look up towards the skies. In that moment, the cloudy skies open up and a beam of light shines down upon them drawing a faint smile to their lips.
That beam of light is Patch 7.3.
Three weeks into the season, and some very clear trends have quickly emerged within the competitive scene. The same three bans on red side every game (Camille, Rengar, and Leblanc) clearly show specific champions who need tuning, and Patch 7.3 delivered. The OP trinity has been broken, opening up multiple new strategies and possibilities for teams forced to pick second in the draft.
But it’s not just the trinity. The other S tier junglers, Kha’zix and Ivern, have also been nerfed, equalizing the jungle pool and creating opportunities for teams to draft from a diverse group specific champions to fit their strategies or needs. The new top tier of junglers could easily include up to ten different champions which should strongly enhance diversity. Players such as Team Liquid’s Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin could benefit greatly, no longer forced to play Kha’zix and Rengar he can once again return to comfortable picks such as Rek’sai and Olaf.
The support pool has also been equalized, with nerfs to Malzahar and Zyra creating a deep pool of strong support options. Expect a rise in Karma, Tahm Kench, Thresh, and even Bard as teams stray away from what had been overpowering picks in Zyra and Malzahar.
Just as teams were beginning to settle into a rhythm, the drafting phase has once again been reinvented. In a patch that is surprisingly comprehensive for a few weeks into a season, Riot was able to effectively address many of the balancing issues prevalent in competitive play, while still keeping those affected champions strong and viable picks for the competitive scene.
The timing is also pristine – by not yielding to any knee-jerk reactions from the first week of competitive play – Riot waited three weeks until they could be assured of the changes that were needed and react accordingly. Three weeks gives them a wealth of information to analyze across multiple regions of play, and as the meta has evolved over three weeks, it has become clear what the dominant trends are.
The patch is far from perfect, but the changes in Patch 7.3 highlight issues that the majority of the community can identify and agree with. If a month from now it becomes evident that something was missed, or that the dominant champions have been replaced with new “must ban” picks, they will be addressed once again… though don’t expect the problems to be immediately addressed.
Like a sequel to a movie, these next few weeks may prove better to be better than the original. New strategies and new champion picks should delight both fans and analysts alike. Teams will naturally be forced to adapt, as players once again find themselves on comfortable champions or inversely on champions they have struggled with. This is an exciting time of the season, and Patch 7.3 should resculpt the competitive landscape for many weeks to come.