There has been a recent discussion in the League of Legends community related to how rigid the competitive meta in Europe has become lately. This opens the question of whether a tough meta is better for the game or high volatility makes the game more exciting and easier to watch.
For example, in LEC Spring 2022, Jinx and Aphelios were the 1st and 3rd most picked champions in the regular season, with weeks like Week 7, where out of 10 matches, 7 of them consisted of Aphelios against Jinx on the bot lane, with 2 out of the three remaining not happening because of an Aphelios ban but keeping the Jinx.In the midst of all of this Xin Zhao/Jinx/Aphelios, there's a team in Spanish ERL Superliga that has caught the attention of a lot of League personalities such as LS because of a Nasus counterpick against Zeri, which was done twice in a playoff series against G2 Arctic, G2 Spanish academy in Superliga.
BISONS ECLUB, a newly formed Spanish organization that competes in League of Legends and Valorant, has stood out because of their abnormal approach to the current meta. Apart from the Nasus, as mentioned earlier bot lane, we can also see weird picks such as Xerath bot lane against Caitlyn, Ivern mid-lane against Viktor, or even Ahri top AD against Tryndamere.
This kind of playstyle, which some people qualify as “just trying to cheese all games” while other consider it one of their strongest pillars, has undoubtedly made a lot of fans even outside of the Spanish scene. Because of that, I sat down with Pablo “Marhoder” Menéndez Martín, Bisons Head Coach, and Frederick “Guubi” Mortensen, Bisons botlaner, to ask them about how they feel about current meta and their playstyle.
- Do you consider the actual meta to be too rigid, or is it just an issue of how most of the teams read it?
Marhoder: Current meta is extremely rigid; you are forced to pick the same 3/4 picks and comps, either a ranged comp or a snowball comp through mid/jgl using Twisted Fate, Ryze, Volibear, or Lee Sin. Sadly, that’s the truth. Inside this range, you can either try to counter the matchups or try to adjust to it and change (to more innovative) picks to gain advantages in exchange for more instability. It is not necessarily a reactive playstyle, but rather finding match-ups that no one is looking for.
- Do you consider Bisons as a unique team in the European scene? Was it your plan to keep this kind of playstyle for all the split, or was it because of the good results? How much responsibility do you give to the players, and how much to the coaching staff?
Marhoder: I would say so; I think we are the only team that plays this way alongside Macko Esports in the Italian League. We have got to a point where drafting Jayce in the mid lane, which has only been picked nine times worldwide this split, has become a “normal” draft compared to what we usually draft.I would say the responsibility is split 50/50 between players and coaching staff.
When we started working on the project (after closing roster), we sat down and realized we had a lot of flex picks and a big champion pool, so me and Machuki (Bisons’ Assistant coach) started drafting three flex picks per scrim and inting like animals (laughs). From that point, we started improving drafting and discussing smart picks with the players. After all, every draft can always be improved in some way.
- Was your roster planned with flexibility and a wide champion pool in mind? Why is the jungle an exception to this matter?
Marhoder: When we created the project, one of the first botlaners we had in mind was Guubi. If you check his LoLPros profile (https://lolpros.gg/player/guubi), you can see one of its most played champions are Sion and Yassuo, and if we paired this with Oscure (Bisons’ support), who was a main Senna, we started drafting Senna until we got her permabanned, so we again started inting in scrims until we improved again (laughs).
I wouldn’t say Albetrayber (Bisons’ jungler) is less adaptable to our playstyle, but rather him and Oscure had a lot of catch up to do with the rest of the team in terms of macro game and basics, so we have to rely more on comfort so they dont int the map completely. They also have their key picks, but less that the others.
- Was it your plan to keep this kind of playstyle for all the split, or was it because of the good results?
Marhoder: It does help, certainly. We can play a standard playstyle and still hold our weight perfectly. But, winning with these crazy ideas helps to ensure we are on the right path, although we still keep ourselves very self-critical. We haven’t stopped looking for crazy picks besided the results; for example, we started 2-5 in regular season and that did not stop us. I would say the moment someone stops believing in how we play, we immediately stop everything we are doing to discuss whether it is right.
- Talking about last Thursday's series, why did you pick Nasus twice against G2?
Guubi: We picked Nasus twice against G2 Arctic because of a few reasons. First of all, Nasus into Zeri is a really fine matchup, because she can’t auto attack through the wave early and you out sustain her in lane and outscale her. We picked him a second time because we did not want to reveal our “hand”.
Marhoder: Zeri is a champion that needs to scale a lot, and it gets to a point where she profits off his mobility, like Kalista does. Picking Nasus generates a lot of doubts in the opposite team, and you can play whatever support is needed. It can also go to the sideline and even be unkillable depending on the jungle matchup. Cleanse can counter it, but Nasus W can be used every 10 seconds.
- How comfortable do you feel drafting non meta picks constantly? Would you have preferred playing a more conventional playstyle like most of Superliga?
Guubi: I am very comfortable playing different things than normal ADCs. I would kind of say it’s my trait as a player. I’ve always played tanks with Senna and mages in botlane in general. I am happy without playstyle; I can do both normal ADCs and unconventional picks.
- Do you think it is better to play a few champions at a great level, or a lot of champions at a good level?
Guubi: I think if you are professional at the game, it is expected of you to be able to play every champion in your role to a high level. Obviously, you will be playing the ones you are best at the most. For casual people who wants to get better, they should stick to a few champions.
- Should we expect even more surprising picks against KOI this Monday?
Marhoder: We always have things prepared. For example, we started trying Nasus on February, and we did not get to try it until a few days ago. We even have some situational picks that have not even been played once this split.
Guubi: We always have an ace up our sleeve, you will see on Monday ;)