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9.23 - Strong Meta Champions
Yo! We're back with another 9.23 article as this patch is three weeks long compared to the usual two weeks. I'm going to go over champions that I consider strong regardless of their traits or that only require one or two other units to do extremely well. These are units that I look for to use as item holders for units later in the game, transitional front-liners that help my mid-game or just carries that help transition my composition. I don't buy these units every game but they are what I look for often. Disclaimer that these aren't the only units to play every game and if a unit isn't on this list it doesn't mean it's not good to play.
One cost units can be strong throughout the whole game if you're doing certain strategies like hyper-rolling but they generally serve as a transition from early game to mid-game. Renekton, Zyra and Nasus I like because they can be extremely good at holding items early on and still be relevant later into the game compared to other one cost units. So let's get into it!

Renekton is, to me, one of the strongest champions overall in set 2, especially since he's only a one cost unit. Finding him early on and getting him two-starred will usually make your early game a lot smoother and net you a win-streak. He is Desert/Berserker but honestly his traits don't matter much for him as you just want to play him because how good of a front-line he is.


What makes him good enough to have in your composition for a lot of the early and mid-game is due to defensive items scaling well with him. Give him a Phantom Dancer and Dragon's Claw to reduce the amount of damage he takes significantly and lets him get his ultimate off multiple times. This makes him able to solo front-line since he will heal more when he's surrounded by melee units and when he begins to get out-scaled later in the game you can easily transfer his items over to a different unit.

There are a few compositions that will run him all game, mostly hyper-roll builds such as Woodland/Assassin or Predator. Keep in mind though when hyper-rolling that he is fairly contested so scout to make sure you want to commit to rolling. A Renekton 3 can easily carry the entire game and with defensive items can even live forever against a unit like Zed 2 way late into the game.

If you aren't looking to hyper-roll try picking him up just to play as your front-line unit with pretty much any other early/mid-game composition. Your goal will be to sell him once you find good unit to replace his items with, generally a Singed or Zed work best.

For positioning Renekton, keep him at the front-line so he will be the one going in first. I find it best to stagger him back one or two rows from the very front of your board so that he will do his Berserker jump. This often makes it so the enemy units move forward enough so that he can jump further in and have more units surrounding him. Mountain works well for him since he can be stacked early in the game but outside of hyper-roll compositions you're likely to sell him, so keep that in mind when stacking him on Mountain. Cloud is good as well and opens up the possibility of running Iceborn Gauntlet on him.

Onto Zyra! She does fantastic damage throughout most of the game and her traits are great for keeping her relevant later in the game. While her summons don't contribute any extra health to your composition they do a lot of damage for a one cost unit, especially with items. Finding her early on, much like a Renekton, can often set you on the path to win-streaking.


She is another one cost unit that is great at being an item carry. Her best items are Morellonomicon and Shojin with her third item being flexible. Morellonomicon will apply the burn effect to her summons attacks and any ability power increase will also increase their damage which is why she works as an item carry. Once you reach mid/late-game it's often a good time to look for a replacement unit for her items such as Brand or Singed.

Zyra can be played in quite a few compositions all game, notably Ocean/Mage in the mid-game. She can serve as a stand-in for Brand until you find Brand 2 or just continue to play her in a three summoner build. Early game there isn't a need to focus on any particular composition to run her with but if you find three Inferno early enough or three Summoner she will carry. 

Position Zyra like most ranged carries, in the mid-back on row four or three. Scout to make sure you know what side Assassins are jumping to as she is quite squishy and easily killed by them. Ocean and Inferno elemental hexes can be great for her but if you are running  4 Ocean with her and have a Shojins it's more mana efficient to keep her off an Ocean hex.

Lastly for one cost units we have Nasus. He is similar to Renekton in being a strong front-line but he is overall a bit weaker and gets out-scaled earlier in the game. I generally suggest looking to replace him around the mid-game, between levels 6 and 7. Early Warden can do well for him to make him harder to kill early so look to pair him with another Warden. Light isn't as great of a trait in general right now outside of specific scenarios so I don't suggest looking to play Light just because you're running a Nasus.

Items will be front-line focused like Renekton but you can also run Morellonomicon since he does AoE magic damage when he ults. Phantom Dancer, Redemption and Guardian Angel all do well on him and transfer to other units later on. You'll most likely sell him before you hit units like Zed or Singed, though those are the ideal units to give his items to. Otherwise you can spread his items out to units that use them well which will mostly be on front-liners.

Compositions for Nasus in the early game can be a lot of things since he's just used as a strong front-liner but as mentioned playing him with another Warden can help him a lot. There are hyper-roll Light builds where you will three-star him but they aren't reliable to do often and in general I'd suggest not looking to three-star him. Once you hit level 6 around stage 3-2/3-3 you'll want to try and replace him with better front-line units like Nautilus, Thresh, Yorick or Malphite.

Keep Nasus in the front-line where he will take the most initial damage so his ultimate goes off early as it gives him a lot of extra health. Cloud is the best hex to play him on but an Ocean hex near the front-line can be okay in helping get his ultimate off sooner. You can play him on a Mountain hex but keep in mind you're likely to sell him later so don't prioritize stacking him too much.
Individually, two cost units in set 2 aren't as powerful as some were in set 1. Most of the time you will want to play compositions around two cost units such as Woodlands for Leblanc & Neeko or Predators for Rek'sai & Skarner. Thresh and Malzahar, though, work well with just one other unit to really shine. Let's get into why that is!

Thresh did receive several buffs going into 9.23 that overall helped stabilize him as a staple front-line unit. Warden, Ocean and his ultimate all got buffs that made him more appealing than before. While you don't often use him for holding onto items he still provides a solid front-line presence and the shield from his ultimate can be incredibly useful at saving your units from being killed.

I won't often put items on him but typical defensive ones work best like Redemption, Phantom Dancer or Iceborn Gauntlet on Cloud map. Another reason I don't often put items on him is he will likely be kept in your composition for most the game although it is common to see him sold in the late-late game. Most popular unit to replace him late game with is Nami since at that point of the game the Warden buff won't be doing as much and Nami opens up the possibility of splashing in Mystic while keeping Ocean.

While items are less important on Thresh he truly shines with his traits paired with Nautilus. Warden and Ocean are fantastic early in the game and provide just enough extra defense and utility to make him worth grabbing early on. Ocean/Mage is still quite popular to play and he is an important piece to that but it's common to see just Thresh played with Nautilus in other compositions. If you are entering the mid-game, around stage 3-2/3-4 and are in need of a good front-line you can buy Thresh when you find him and pair him with a Nautilus.

In general Cloud hex is the best for him though only if it's near the front. Ocean at the front is more ideal for other front-liners like Nautilus or Malphite since they have CC ultimate's. Mountain works well when you find him early in the game to stack his health for late game but keep in mind you may end up selling him so don't stack him too long.

Similar to Zyra, Malzahar provides a decent early game if you manage to two-star him and can hold onto items quite well. His summons also provide a good amount of damage soaking as they have good health and he summons three of them when he's two-starred. While Zyra can be played without her traits, Malzahar is much better when he has either Shadow or Summoner. He can be played without those but his usefulness will fall off rather quickly.


Malzahar is good to pick-up alongside Zyra since they are both Summoner but most of the time I'd suggest looking for him when you are unable to find the Zyra. It's a common pairing to pick up Kindred with Malzahar as they are both Shadow and between the two of them will do a lot of damage. Items are the same you will run on a Zyra; Shojins, Morellonomicon and the third item being flexible.

Two Shadow is often when you'll run Malzahar while you look for three Summoner. Malzahar is a unit you can keep all game if you go four Shadow or if you want to keep playing him with three Summoner, otherwise look to phase him out after 4-1 when you're hitting level 7 and looking for four cost units. Yorick and Annie are the two Summoners you will likely replace him with if you're staying on Summoner, though his items are best to go on a Brand, Nami or Singed

For positioning you can keep him in the mid-back fourth row but he's flexible enough to be placed near the front-line (around row two). What's most important is placing him in a position he will guarantee get his ult off at least once. This means Ocean hex is great for him as he can instant cast with the hex and a Tear item. Inferno can be okay to give him extra attack-speed if you have a Shojin so that he ults multiple times in a fight.
Three cost units are quite strong in set 2 with quite a few that are great to pick up every game if you get them two-starred. A lot of them require specific compositions though, such as Nocturne, and some of them are just overall really meh and only used for their trait like Veigar.

Qiyana is one of the most flexible champions currently and works really well as standalone too. Her ultimate and being an Assassin means she can jump to the back-line and stun a carry for four seconds when she's two-starred. Because her trait changes every game she is easily put into multiple different compositions and opens up a lot of possibilities in the mid-game. Pick her up early and two-star her by level 7 and she can carry you through the mid-game.

While items can be good on her they aren't necessary to play her. If you do make any on her it's usually items like Shojin or Deathcap that help her ultimate do a bit more. Since she is an Assassin she works well with both magical and physical based items so Thieve's Gloves works great on her.

It is common to keep Qiyana all game but it depends on the element of the game. For example she is amazing on the Mountain map since she and Taliyah can get you early Mountain while later in the game you can replace Taliyah with Malphite. She can be played on Ocean in the mid-game and can get you really early Inferno but she will likely be replaced later in the game by other units for those two traits. This flexibility is what makes her so good to pick up. If you are able to two-star early enough she can carry you in the mid-game and depending on her trait and your composition you can run her the entire game.

Paired with Thresh, Nautilus is run quite often as a front-liner. Being Warden and Ocean he is splashed in with Thresh as a good front-line and his ultimate provides good CC. Nautilus can be a bit expensive since he is a three cost so running him too early may end up costing you econ but if you're able to find him and Thresh it will be enough front-line for most of the game.

Nautilus doesn't really need or want to hold onto items but typical defensive items work well. Ocean hex is great for him so he gets his ultimate off earlier meaning he can CC a back-line unit (or Assassin, depending how far away a unit is) early on in the fight. Mountain is a bit better on him than Thresh since he is often kept in your composition all game.

As mentioned he's a bit hard to justify buying early in the game but when you're hitting level 6 (3-2) it's a good time to start picking him up for your front-line. From then on it's easy to keep him in your composition all game even as a standalone front-liner.

One of the best mid-game carries, Kindred provides a lot of damage and utility with their ultimate. They can be okay for holding onto your items but the itemization for Kindred is often a bit different than what you'll run on other units as the two best items for them are Seraphs and Deathcap. 

While Kindred is playable without Shadow they will do much better if you run them with at least one other Shadow unit. Often this will be with Malzahar or Sion. Inferno can be good but it isn't necessary for them to carry. Much like Malzahar you want to run them early and mid-game and will look to phase them out later in the game, usually when you're transitioning to level 8. Kindred can be played all game though especially if you are running a four Shadow composition. If you keep Kindred late game you will often want to look to three-star them.

Ocean map is great since they have a low mana pool meaning having them on the hex will help their ultimate get off earlier. Inferno is also good since they scale well with attack-speed.

Another Summoner, Azir, can be used as a mid-game carry. Not quite as strong as Kindred or a Zyra he still does a good amount of damage. Most often you will see him run with a Renekton or Kha'zix for an easy two Desert splash or played with three Summoner. He isn't usually an item carry but can definitely hold onto them if needed as typical carry items work on him (Shojin, Morellonomicon).

Look to buy him around the same time you would a Kindred or Qiyana so between 3-2 and 4-1. Getting him two-starred around then (or after level 7) will give you a good back-line unit that pairs well with other Summoners. One of the most common builds you will see him in is Summoner/Assassin which you can see a variation of here:

Keep him to the mid-back of your composition and watch for any Assassins that may try to get on him. Ocean hex is great so he ults earlier and Inferno scales well with him since his summons mimic his attack. Azir isn't often sold in your composition if you run Summoner/Assassin so putting him on a Mountain hex is fine to do since he will benefit from the stacking all game.
In general there aren't many four cost units you will run without building a specific composition around them such as Brand. A lot of the four cost units are also only used for their trait such as Ashe for Crystal or Twitch for Poison but aren't units you'd want to pick up outside of those scenarios.

Continuing the theme of Summoners, Yorick is a great four cost unit to pick up even if you aren't running Light or Summoner. His summons just provide so much extra fodder that the enemy has to kill on top of doing a lot of damage. While Yorick 1 is a bit weaker, especially after he was nerfed, finding him early in the game can be amazing for win-streaking. A super early two-starred Yorick can often help you win-streak all the way to Raptors.

Items on Yorick work really well as a placeholder for Zed. Guardian Angel, Redemption and Phantom Dancer make him be a strong front-liner and those items transfer over to Zed amazingly. Guardian Angel has the added benefit that if he casts his ultimate on himself and dies it will proc the summon even though he is being resurrected by Guardian Angel.

Yorick works really well in any Summoner composition, especially in Ocean/Mage. He also makes Light compositions viable since his minions get the trait as well. Overall you can play him anytime you need a strong front-liner or want to play three Summoner.

For elemental hexes you can play him on most of them but Cloud can be great at keeping him alive. Mountain is okay but it's common to sell him later on if you find Zed 2 so be wary of over-prioritizing stacking on him. Ocean and Inferno are only worth if they are near or on the front row.

Once again a Summoner! Annie is great because Tibbers is an amazing tank. Not only does he have a lot of health he also does a lot of damage. Annie is one of the best four cost units to play in the mid-game as Tibbers can carry fights by himself even when she is only a one-star.

Annie isn't usually given items though she works fantastically with Mage's Cap. You can stack magic damage items on her but overall she is strong enough to not need any. She is run most often in Ocean/Mage but works well in any composition running Summoner or three Inferno. Finding her at level 6 will help you stabilize your economy and board and two-starring her after level 7 will net you a strong mid-game. Annie will generally stay in your composition all game if you are running Summoners.

Ocean hex is the best hex for her as it helps her get Tibbers out sooner. Cloud can be okay but once Tibbers is out it doesn't matter too much if Annie is alive so giving her health from Mountain or the dodge chance from Cloud isn't necessary. For positioning put her around the second row near or behind the front-line so that she will take a bit of damage to ult slightly faster.
Five cost units! Not much needs to be said here other than Singed and Zed are two of the best units in the game and often are your win condition. Nami is also incredibly strong but isn't as much of a win condition as the other two.

As mentioned, Singed is one of two win conditions in the late, late game. He can be run without Poison or need for any traits as long as you get him two-starred. It's a mix of how hard he can be to kill between his health pool and causing enemy units to mess up their pathing by chasing him and that he does a ton of damage.

Most often you will sell a previous unit holding onto Singed items once you get him two-starred though it's not uncommon to run him as a one-star. Morellonomicon is hands down one of his best items as he runs through units spreading the burn effect and tank items are fantastic at keeping him alive such as Phantom Dancer and Dragon's Claw. You can also run Deathcap on him to make him do a lot of damage. Keep in mind certain items do nothing for him like Quicksilver or making him an Assassin/Berserker.

Generally you won't shouldn't roll to find Singed at level 7, it's best to wait until level 8 but it is possible to find one earlier naturally. Singed works best with Poison but is usable with almost any composition late game. Once you find Singed you can sell your previous item carry and put him in but I recommend trying to two-star him before you do so. Transitioning your composition to Poison if you aren't running it already is good to do as well. Position him near the front to the side so he runs at a diagonal and only place him on Mountain or Cloud hexes since he gets nothing from the other two.

Your other late game win-condition champion is Zed. Zed 2 can carry by himself almost although he works much better if you have Summoner or Electric with him. Assassin is useful but overall is not required for him to do well, it's mostly items that matter for Zed.

Phantom Dancer and Dragon's Claw are amazing on him as it makes both him and his clones insanely hard to kill. The other items can be quite flexible but Guardian Angel and Redemption are also fantastic on him. Lastly you can also run Talisman of Light to make him a Light unit and put in a Yorick/Soraka late game so he gets the trait bonus. This makes both him and his clones Light units which works really well.

One of the better compositions you can play that transitions into Zed is Summoner/Assassin. Other compositions that do well for him are Predator/Poison into Electric and Ocean/Mage where you replace the Yorick with Zed 2. Overall he's very flexible in what compositions you can run him in but he will work the best either with Summoners or Electric. Much like Singed you don't want to roll for him prior to level 8 but it is possible to find and play him at level 7.

Usually you want to be running full items on him late game but all of the elemental hexes can work well for him. Keep in mind that putting him on an elemental hex makes him an easy target for a Zephyr so scout around to check if anyone is running it as Zephyr is a huge counter to him.
Wanted to do a quick section with mentions of champions that can be good to put in but aren't ones you should go out of your way to look for. Soraka, Malphite and Lux can all do fairly well but are mainly good to splash in because of either CC or their traits.

Mystic is a great late game two trait splash and Soraka fits the bill quite well. Play her around level 9 with another Mystic (usually Nami). I'd play her over a Janna mostly because her ultimate provides a good amount of CC with the silence effect, especially late in the game. Also she can be used in games where you find Zed with a Talisman of Light and play a third Light unit (usually Yorick)

Mountain is a good mid-game trait to play and Malphite enables it well especially on the Mountain elemental map when you're able to play Qiyana with him. His ultimate also provides a decent amount of CC. With Mountain you can keep him towards the late game but generally begin to phase him out of your composition when you're going into late late game like after Dragon or when you hit level 9.

Basically Lux is just there for whatever trait you need her for and nothing else. She can carry but it's not why you buy her. I recommend playing Lux when you're late in the game and whatever trait you buy happens to help you a lot. Most often you will see Ocean or Electric Lux as those are two of the better late game traits that she boosts especially if you have a Zed in your composition. Level 9 is around when you will put her into your composition though it can be done at level 8 if it really benefits your build.

Thanks for reading! This week I wanted to touch on specific units more so than the wider picture of the meta. Win conditions like Zed and Singed are useful to know and mid-game carry units like Qiyana or Azir help a lot in transitioning towards the late game. I recommend trying out these units and see what works best for you. Next week will be a new patch so keep an eye out for my patch notes review after they get released next Tuesday!

As always thanks to https://lolchess.gg/ as the resource I use for unit graphics and the composition builder.
Tagged in: Teamfight Tactics
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