League of Legends is an ever evolving game full of champions that constantly sway back and forth in power. Singular patches and minor stat tweaks to a certain player’s favourite champion can see their success at worlds diminish in the blink of a health bar or the tick of an ultimate. It may sound over dramatic, but League of Legends meta is never more important than during the limbo that is the weeks leading up to the world finals. It’s also potentially one of the most fun aspects about the worlds hype, hearing rumours of certain players practising surprise picks to cheese opponents or even seeing players falling back onto old faithful champs *cough* ‘Rumble’ to try and pick up the win.  It’s also my favourite element of League of Legends, and nothing excites me more in competitive league than the roar of the crowd as someone hovers over a unique champion pick, only send the crowd into a frenzy and baffle the casters who are calling the match. So let’s take a look at who will be picked this worlds finals, including some wild speculations that may or may not come to fruition.

TOP

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Rumble

As everyone knows, lane swaps are a thing of the past, meaning both top and bot have become much more skill matchups rather than farming lanes.  On top of that with recent nerfs old guard champions like Rumble are seeing more play and I would be VERY surprised if we didn’t see him played. Both Ekko and Gnar have seen nerfs recently, so the Rumble blind pick is one of the safer options for many top laners. Rumbles ultimate, adequately named ‘The Equalizer’ is one of the most impactful ults in the game and his ‘Scrap Shield’ and ‘Electro Harpoon’ make turret dives on Rumble a little tricky if he isn’t overheated. He is also one of the beast team fighting champions in the game and can melt through both front and backlines alike. On top of that he plays well into Shen, so the potential for him to be picked into that matchup is high. Rumble is however susceptible to ganks when his flash is down, so teams may have strategies to nullify this crazy Yordle before he gets out of control.

Gnar

Okay this picks a little obvious. This little guy has been seen tearing up in almost every region and despite his recent nerfs in patch 6.18 to his Hyper damage and further nerfs to his staple item the ‘Frozen Mallet’ Gnar can still be a lane bully. His skirmish potential is still high and he has the distinct advantage of being a ranged farmer in the top lane. The Yasuo, who was the answer to Gnar also recently received nerfs that hurt his ability to purely build tank and still cut you in half. This isn’t to say it won’t be picked into Gnar at all, but it’s now much riskier, besides if Gnar can survive the lane phase and farm adequately he can still cause terror in the team fights with his ultimate and constant damage output. Another huge factor is that many top laners like Impact and Smeb are feeling really comfortable on Gnar at the moment, so expect to see this guy being blind picked and banned a lot.

Kennen

It’s been a while since Kennen has run amuck on the rift and I think this world championship might be his chance to see play again. When ahead he’s a colossal threat who can stun your entire team and then simultaneously nuke you. He combo’s well will aggressive junglers (which we will see plenty of) so I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see him picked. He’s also historically been a fall back pick for top carries in Asian regions. I also get the inclination that Royal Never Gives Up top laner Looper may play him as he is fond of AP tops and has been seen practicing him in solo que.

Other picks to look out for: Ekko, Shen, Ryze, Gangplank.

Jungle

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Graves

As I mentioned before, aggressive junglers will take centre stage at Worlds this year, and whose more aggressive than a guy with a giant double barrelled shotgun? With Rek Sai and Gragas nerfs it goes without saying Graves will see more play. Graves is a hard farming jungler who is great in duals and can put out a deceptive amount of damage whilst also remaining pretty hearty in the health department. He is great in early brawls and can really increase the snowball effect winning lanes may already have by pushing turrets and counter jungling. Aggressive junglers like Flash Wolves Karsa or G2’s Trick thrive on this pick, plus its reasonably safe in a blind pick.

Elise

I love seeing competitive Elise play. She creates so many great situations in competitive play with her early ganks and damage. She isn’t as strong as junglers as Graves and Lee Sin in regards in one on one duelling (unless she gets the jump” but she ticks most the boxes you need in a jungler. Good clear, check. High early damage, check. Good ganks, check. Good turret pusher and diver, check. You get what I’m trying to say, she’s the perfect safe pick that is the ultimate package for the jungle and a certain pick for any team trying to become champions.

Vi

Alright this is my ‘craziest’ speculation pick on this list, but I say why the hell not? Sure maybe her potential to be counter jungled is high, and yeah maybe she might dive too deep into a team fight and be instantly blown up, but you can’t become world champs without taking risks, right? The tatted Piltovian puncher recently received a slew of buffs that increased the uptime on her passive shield and lowered the cooldown on her ‘Vault Breaker’, meaning she can slide on in and punch you in the face a whole lot more often. Okay for real, this picks a little wild, but if there comes a game where junglers have received multiple bans we might see Vi, just maybe. We are more likely to see Lee Sin in a situation like this, but a boy can dream right? Besides she also has a point and click ultimate that either results in a disastrous dive or the enemy teams carry evaporating under focused damage.

Other picks: Nidalee, Evelynn, Rek Sai

Mid

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Jayce

Jayce is busted. Yeah you read that right, this one took me by surprise too, so I chose to do the math myself. Yep, divide his Q damage, carry the one…yep Jayce does a metric shit tonne of damage. This guy downright blows people up, if you don’t believe me load up your client and check him out yourself. His recent changes in patch 6.17 saw his AP ratio on his ultimate turn to AD and his Thundering blow cost lowered to 40 at all ranks. What’s surprising about Jayce is not his tremendous poke but his incredible burst damage when transforming into his melee for, flipping into the skies and blowing up whoever he lands on. I can envision Jayce combined with a Karma support or Ezreal ADC for some disgustingly potent poke damage.

Ryze

Ryze is a champion I’m not particularly fond of watching as his duals generally consist of him throwing 44 abilities in 1.2 seconds flat and destroying whoever is in front of him, it doesn’t make for good viewing, but with Ryzes recent alterations this has changed. He now is slightly weaker and has a greater emphasis on mobility with his new ultimate that teleports himself and his surrounding teammates. Ryzes wave clear with spell flux is underappreciated and his ludicrous damage and flex pick potential with the top lane more than justify his play at the moment. It appears that most mid laners attending worlds have been practicing this powerhouse and I look forward to seeing what Faker can do with him if he is allowed to get his hands on him.

Cassiopeia

Constant damage, crowd control, sustainability, great scaling. What doesn’t Cassiopeia have? I mean besides legs. This snake lady is probably the strongest mid laner coming into Worlds 2016 and I can see why.  She is a scary pick into nearly all matchups and several pros consider that she has no true counter pick in the mid lane. Expect to see Cassiopeia in the lock in screen a lot come this worlds, especially considering she can still potentially, unlikely, but potentially flex picked for the top lane.

Other picks: Syndra, Orianna, Aurelion Sol

Marksmen

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Jhin

I love myself some Jhin. He too like many others recently saw nerfs but is still seeing play. His ability to turn losing fights into winning ones with his ultimate is unparalleled in the bot and cannot be forgotten about. Many others are saying Tristana will take Jhin’s place but I honestly don’t think so. Jihn’s ult is also great for making picks and helps deal with enemy carrys, picking them off at long distance either killing them or forcing them to use summoners.

Ezreal   

Ezreal is seeing a lot more play these days and is considered the new benchmark for marksmens, issue here is that he has a slow ramp up. He suffers in damage early in the game compared to other attack damage carries but once he hits his two item Tear and Iceborn combo he really takes off. He is hard to catch and dive and has tremendous kite potential. I expect to see SKT T1’s Bang excel on this guy at worlds considering he carried SKT in several games during the recent LCK split.

Other picks: Lucian, Tristana, Caitlyn

Support

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Karma

Karma is a down right bully. She is oppressive in lane and is a great support for carrying weaker lane marksmen like Twitch and Ezreal. Karma saw a surge in play earlier in the year once pro players figured out she was Lulu but on steroids. She has a huge speed boost and damage in lane that puts Lulu to shame. Expect to see her amongst the supports we see.

Tahm Kench

The Kench will indeed be unbenched come champion selection come game time. The big southern cat fish is an amazing early pick and is flexible in every comp. His ability to absorb damage and save carries in sticky situations is never not handy and his ultimate is great for moving around the map quickly, especially in a one three one lane split.

Other picks: Taric, Nami, Braum, Bard