There is a phenomena going around the professional circuit that I like to call the “deceptive pick.” This can be a powerful strategy to throwing off team compositions, lane matchups and mindsets. They also allow your team to wriggle out of counter picks in lane, as long as you can coordinate properly. So what exactly is a deceptive pick and how can it benefit you and your team?
Pick Order and You
Picking order in League of Legends is one of the most interesting dynamics in the game. Through having first pick or first ban, your team is able to convey strategy and pace. There are “safe” first picks such as the support as well as the hasty first picks, grabbing a character that will do well and isn’t banned. This can sometimes fall apart when the other team has last pick, however, because they have opportunity to see what you’re doing and counter.
After seeing this happen, some of the pro teams decided to shake things up. This cat and mouse game of countering had a wrench thrown into it – the deceptive pick. A deceptive pick is choosing a character that can play many roles, however typically is found in one role. What this accomplishes is having the enemy choose a laner to respond to that pick when, in fact, that character won’t be where they think. It isn’t as simple as “pick a character that does top or jungle and pray they respond,” your jungler and top need to be versatile enough to switch in the event it does happen.
There are a ton of characters that are versatile, however in the professional scene only a small pool is actually played. The main perpetrators of the deceptive picks are Shen, Malphite, Alistar and Lee Sin. These characters are almost always picked or banned in the recent tournaments and solo queue and it’s not entirely because they’re “overpowered.” They provide a challenge in forming a team composition on the fly as well as unique challenges to the lane they are entering.
Evolution and Adaptation
While the deceptive pick is an old bag at this point, it still continues to influence the team compositions and character selections. The reason this tactic arose was the creation of counters to lanes and dodging hard matchups, taking advantage of the knee-jerk champion selection and pick order. Now what we see in most picking is team compositions that can play well off of each other and work despite the counter picks. Pro teams are back to selecting what champions fit into their grand strategy instead of picking a lane to win and countering it. This has diverged from the solo queue roots and to into the hearts of team synergy.
Using it in Solo Queue
Trying to implement this strategy in solo queue can be a challenge and is best accomplished with a partner. You will then be able to pick a top laner and switch out if they counterpick that person. I recently did this when my friend picked Cho’Gath and was counter picked on top lane. I was able to use my last pick to switch around their expectations and jungle Cho with ease. You can accomplish this in solo queue as long as you have competency in your characters and have their team counterpicking you.
So next time you’re queueing up, take a look at the picks and pick order. Through picking versatile champions, you can set other lanes up for failure or success. Approach the champion select wisely and you will see a flexibility in your games that can give you the edge you need to win a game.