If you’ve spent any significant amount of time playing League of Legends, you’ve probably heard the word “meta” being thrown around by other players.
Maybe you tried locking in Yasuo while playing Support, and your friends called you out for playing an “off-meta pick,” or perhaps you’ve seen your teammates exchange colorful words with the enemy Jungler for playing Viego and being a “meta abuser.”
If you find yourself confused in situations like these, you’ll want to read the rest of this article to understand what is a “meta.”
In most video games, players use the word “meta” to refer to the optimal way to play the game to maximize their chances of securing a victory. For League of Legends, this includes champion picks, item builds, rune setups, team compositions, strategizing around objectives, and general game concepts such as “split pushing” and “freezing waves.”
With how competitive League games can get, it’s understandable that players have poured countless hours into testing every possible combination of setups and theorizing strategies to get any slight advantage they can find.
Over the years, League players have developed an immense collection of information on every part of the game. Some people have built their careers around teaching people how to get better at the game, and you could even write an entire book to describe how one champion plays against every other possible lane matchup.
Some champions can be adapted through specific rune setups and item paths to have a better chance of coming out on top against a particular team composition. Other champions, like Sion or Tryndamere, can force the enemy to invest time and resources into stopping them by constantly threatening to break into their base through fierce side lane pressure.
The more knowledge you have, the better you’ll be able to adapt appropriately and find the optimal response to your enemies’ actions and team compositions. Over the long run, this will pay off by helping you win more games through consistent, correct play.
You can optimize nearly every game aspect to give you an edge over the competition. At the highest levels of play, amongst countless other concepts, the players know champion playstyles, win conditions, optimal strategies, counter picks, and what to expect and when to expect it.
For example, the best Junglers will assess lane matchups during champ selection, know which lanes are likely to lead to a successful gank, and even predict the path the enemy Jungler will take based on how they would play from their perspective.
Can you imagine how massive of an advantage it is to predict where your enemy will be consistently? That kind of benefit is only available to those dedicated enough to learn the optimal game plan for all champions they might face.
Also read: Most Popular Roles in League of Legends
How Do I Learn The “Meta”?
You might think this sounds like there is a lot of information to catch up on if you want to learn the game and play at the level that veteran players do. You’d be correct, sort of. At this point, League of Legends has been out for 13 years, and there are more than 150 champions.
Players have had plenty of time to get ahead of the curve by learning all there is to know. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to spend years researching to increase your knowledge of the game.
Thanks to how popular the game has gotten over the years, you can now find many guides, coaching services, and databases online that will teach you the fundamentals and the finer points of the game.
You can search right now and find an explanation on any subject related to League of Legends. There are guides for beginner, intermediate, and expert-level concepts provided by all sorts of organizations and independent coaches.
Most of this information is free and easily accessible, so it has never been easier for a new player to acquire all the knowledge necessary to understand game concepts. Those looking for more intensive, individual tutoring can book one of the hundreds of high-level coaches for as many sessions as they’d like until they’re satisfied with their skills.
Does The “Meta” Ever Change?
Yes! Riot Games tries to shake up the “meta” by putting out patches to the game about every two weeks. These patches will often nerf the raw stats of champions, items, or runes that appear to be dominating the game and buff the ones that aren’t seeing much play or success.
Although these patches don’t fundamentally change the game’s core mechanics, they provide an opportunity for more playstyles and choices to become viable.
If you want to find out what champs are currently popular, you can visit sites like op.gg and check their database of champion statistics. For instance, at this moment, we can see that Ezreal is one of the most popular Bottom lane champions for the current patch.
With a 29% pick rate, the higher-level players see Ezreal nearly once every three games! That is insanely high for a game with over 150 champions available.
If you’re the kind of player that likes to give yourself the best chance of winning at all times, then this should tell you Ezreal is worth trying out in your games. Just be aware that Riot might choose to give him a couple of tweaks to bring down his power levels.
Also read: Exhaust vs Barrier
What Happens if I Don’t Follow The “Meta”?
While knowing the “meta” is essential for optimal competitive play, particularly at the highest ranks and professional level, it’s important to remember that much of this information is theoretical. League of Legends is just a game with a human behind every champion. This means that everyone is prone to making mistakes and playing sub-optimally, especially if you’re playing at the lower ranks.
You may be the most well-read League player, but if you are too focused on theoretical outcomes, you won’t be able to properly assess what is happening in the game and work as a team towards victory. For most players, perfectly following the “meta” is not necessary to win a game.
It’s also important to recognize that your teammates may be confused and act rude because of how you choose to play the game. Many people take League of Legends extremely seriously and expect their teammates to do so, too.
Sometimes you’ll receive constructive commentary on the viability of your pick, and other times you’ll get aggressive remarks from your teammates for not locking in the best possible choice. Make sure you put that Mute button to good use for any obnoxious individuals.
If you love playing Corki or Rell, you shouldn’t let other players discourage you from locking them in. At the end of the day, a champion is only as strong as the player piloting them.
So if you’ve spent a lot of time mastering your “off-meta champ,” you might find that you have better and more consistent results than someone who plays whatever is considered strong or “broken” at that moment.
Personally, I fell in love with Bard from the moment I first tried him, and I never bothered playing other Supports after that.
Although some players have called me a troll during champ select for my pick, I pay them no mind and simply have a blast zooming through Summoner’s Rift while collecting chimes and pulling off cheeky plays with one of the most peculiar kits in the game.
Learning to play League of Legends can be a rewarding experience, but it can become frustrating if you don’t allow yourself to also have fun with it.
Good luck on the Rift!