Akshan is one of the recent champions Riot Games has released, and is having a strong showing in the solo queue ladder. The champion is now the No. 1 champion in the mid lane according to lolalytics. It has a 54% win rate in platinum and above. However, the landscape of competitive play is much different from solo queue. Upcomer talked to a few League of Legends Championship Series players to determine Akshan’s place in the competitive meta.
Akshan — top or mid?
While Akshan’s win rate in solo queue has skyrocketed, Counter Logic Gaming mid laner Cristian “Palafox” Palafox believes that his mid lane viability in the LCS is in question. According to him, the current mid lane meta does not suit Akshan’s strengths as a champion. Corki and Viktor are currently dominating the meta in the mid lane. Out of the 29 games played in the LCS Lock In tournament, 20 of them have featured either Corki or Viktor.
“I think that he’s too short range to have on your team a lot of the time,” Palafox said. “The only times you’re ever really gonna see him is if somebody takes a low range melee matchup or a low range mid matchup that he can really abuse.”
Palafox said he believes that Akshan will be more suited to the top lane because other champions can fill the ranged role in the mid lane. Champions like Orianna or Viktor allow Akshan to play the sidelines and get kills with his invisibility. If Akshan was played mid, it’s more than likely that a top laner would play a tank. If Akshan gets poked out mid, and the tank top laner isn’t winning the lane, there are very few moves that can be made by a team.
“In top lane, because you’re getting the range from your mid-lane champion teammate, you have a lot more freedom with how you’re gonna play [Akshan],” Palafox said.
On the other hand, Team Liquid top laner and League of Legends European Championship veteran Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau said he believes the opposite — that Akshan’s preferred spot would be mid over top. His argument stems from Akshan’s overall weakness as a blind pick in a draft. There are too many champions in the top lane that can give Akshan a hard time compared to mid.
“I think that as a blind pick top laner he’s pretty bad,” Bwipo said. “As a counter pick, I think is when he can shine. But if you’re just trying to play him and blind pick him in solo queue I think in mid lane you’re gonna have a lot more fun playing matchups than you are top lane.”
So far in the LCS Lock In tournament, Akshan has only been picked in the top lane and has a 2-1 record. Cloud9 top laner Darshan Upadhyaya is the only person that has piloted the champion in the entire tournament. Unsurprisingly, the two wins were when Akshan laned against tank top laners in Ornn and Aatrox. Against a melee matchup, Akshan’s range and mobility can really shine, taking favorable trades and being able to move away with his Heroic Swing before the enemy gets to respond.
Bjergsen on Akshan’s difficulty
A champion can have a lot of theory-crafted potential, but Team Liquid’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg said he thinks that Akshan’s execution is a large barrier to the champion’s implementation.
“I think that’s why we haven’t seen him that much yet, because it is a very hard champion to play,” Bjergsen said. “A lot of these other champions like Viktor or Corki, you can play an average game, not be at your best and still have game impact. In order to play Akshan, you need to be on top of your game and play exceptionally well. You need to play clean in every skirmish in the laning phase, and if you make mistakes, the champion becomes useless very fast.”
Bjergsen said that more time is needed before a proper conclusion can come about Akshan and his place in the meta. While the primary discussions have centered around his viability as a top or mid laner, Bjergsen said there is even potential in the AD carry position.
“The champion is difficult to execute,” Bjergsen said. “But I think he has potential mid, top, and maybe even AD Carry.”
A proper conclusion about Akshan’s place in the meta can only be reached with more time. The potential is clearly there, but his difficulty might hold him back from being more than a niche counter pick. As the meta develops and players get more comfortable with him, fans shouldn’t be surprised if Akshan comes out as one of the staples of the meta later in the season.