Champion types by role and league
tl;dr Players follow the meta, good players follow it more.
Riot has helpfully categorized the champions in League of Legends with six thought provoking tags: Tank, Fighter, Assassin, Mage, Support, and Marksman. They even have a neat page where you can filter the list of champions by these tags. Their choice of category for many of the champions is interesting and debatable in itself (e.g., is Ahri really a support?), but separate from those types of niggling concerns there is obvious, fun, and broad analysis to be done.
This week I looked at what types (according to these tags) of champions are picked for each role in games from each league (Bronze, Silver, Gold, ...). This analysis gives some insight into how the metagame varies at different levels of skill, and also how it does not.
The data behind these charts comes from 1,513,604 recent ranked NA solo-queue matches; including matches played by players of all skill levels on patches 5.3-5.10. One point five million matches is a pathetically tiny slice of all matches played world-wide, but it is quite a few more than you are likely to play in your lifetime. Take what is offered and that must sometimes be enough.
The first chart is for solo top laners:
As expected, top lane players choose very few marksmen and support champions. What I did not predict here is the increasing incidence of mage type champions in the top lane as player skill increases. I also expected to see more tanks in higher leagues, but it appears tanky champions are picked most frequently in silver and gold.
These percentile stacked bar charts are a decent way to present the 42 numbers behind each of these charts. They make comparison of the arbitrarily chosen top and bottom rows easy (Marksman and Tank in this case). Comparison of the other rows is a bit tougher, but... People face trade-offs.
Here is the chart for junglers:
There are no marksmen in the jungle, and very few supports. The main difference as skill increases here is the number of tanks falling off to be replaced by fighters and assassins in higher leagues. I also could not have predicted the shape of this chart, as I thought tanky junglers were more prevalent. Again, we see here that tanks are most popular in Silver league.
Here is the chart for solo mid laners:
Mage tagged champions are most popular in mid lane at every elo (MMR). They are also increasingly popular as skill increases. It is also interesting to see a small bump in the number of marskman style champions played in mid lane at master and challenger elo. There are also fewer fighter type champions played mid as players skill up. High skill mid lane players seem to prefer mages and assassins.
Here is the chart for bottom lane carries:
In all leagues the bottom lane carry is very likely to be a marksman. This is the current metagame in professional leagues, and it spills over into NA solo-queue as well. The fraction of marksmen also increases as players skill up, suggesting that higher-ranked players follow the meta more closely. There are essentially no fighter or tanks champions picked as bot lane carries. I wonder when there will be more varied choices for champion picks in this role.
Here is the chart for support picks:
Unsurprisingly, support style champions are the most popular here. Perhaps more interesting is the, again, decline in tank picks as players skill up, and in increase in mage picks. It is difficult to quantify, but I think on the whole champions tagged as mages are a bit tougher to play well than tanks. So, higher-skill players can, through better positioning, benefit from the added damage a mage style support can bring.
Thanks for reading this post. I enjoyed thinking about team compositions at a high level, and I hope you did too.
I flipped back and forth a lot on the presentation of these charts. I would love to hear from some of you about different ideas on how to present this data. It is definitely possible that a different chart/table style here would make the data more interesting and informative. We can discuss it on twitter.
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