Evolution of Mid Lane: The Age of Mobility

When I started playing League of Legends Kog’Maw had just been released. At the time, ADC was the common pick for mid lane. Obviously, since that time the game has changed tremendously. Many items have come and gone, and many champions have changed considerably. Back then, I was the pariah that went mages mid lane. People would laugh when I picked Karthus, or AP Kog’Maw. I was breaking the meta. The game is so much different now than it was back then. Season 3 really did change the landscape of the game. However, the biggest reason for mid lane changing in the champion pool was, and is to this day, the increase of mobility based champions.

Why is mobility so good? I explained the concept of zones and zone control in a previous article about the patterns of the enemy. Essentially, mobility allows you to conceal your potential threat range. This is why Flash is taken as a summoner spell EVERY game by mid laners. It allows for more offensive options AND defensive options. Mobility allows a player to conceal the patterns that make them predictable for a much longer amount of time. It also allows you to escape from junglers more easily than a champion with only crowd control at their disposal.

Riot started this snowball of mobility in mid lane with the first true mobility character: Ahri. I remember her release vividly. Not only was she competitively viable, but at the time she was practically ungankable. Why? Listen to the popular junglers back then:

  • Fiddlesticks
  • Alistar
  • Warwick
  • Evelynn
  • Amumu
  • Rammus
  • Dr. Mundo
  • Shaco
  • Udyr
  • Xin Zhao
  • Trundle
  • Maokai
  • Jarvan IV
  • Lee Sin

Notice anything? Only four champions have a gap closer pre-six that do anything meaningful. What’s more, Riot clumped junglers with pre-six gap closers close together by release date. When you clump up similar types of champions like this, you are bound to impact the game by being forced to bring in other champions that can deal with the new toolsets. Before Ahri, mid lane was filled with actual mage champions:

  • Annie
  • Morgana
  • Ryze
  • Twisted Fate
  • Karthus
  • Anivia
  • Veigar
  • Kassadin
  • Katarina
  • Gragas
  • Kennen
  • Vladimir
  • Galio
  • Swain
  • Lux
  • Cassiopoeia
  • Brand
  • Orianna

Only 3 of those mages are still commonly picked today at a professional level in the MID lane. In addition, the two most competitive and viable mid laners in the game aren’t even mage champions. Zed has the mobility to facilitate pretty much everything, and Jayce has both mobility AND disengage. Zed and Jayce don’t have to worry about low mobility champions because ganking low mobility champions is easier now than ever.

Currently you’ll see the odd Morgana or Lux pick, however they’re not very common. Why? Let’s look at the champion releases this season:

  • Aatrox
  • Lissandra
  • Zac
  • Quinn
  • Thresh
  • Vi
  • Nami
  • Zed
  • Elise
  • Kha’Zix
  • Syndra

Look at the density of mobility JUST since preseason. This trend of mobility has made mages like Brand or Cassiopeia incredibly outdated. Syndra is our last true mage champion. As Lucian comes into the horizon I want people to stop and think about this. Mobility is great, but we have champions that excel without it. We have champions like Karthus. Faker is proving that champions like Syndra CAN be played viably. All of the non-mobile mids have been pushed into top lane nowadays. You won’t be seeing Ryze mid as a common pick unless it’s as a counter pick.

It’s not just the mid lane champions; It’s the junglers. I think that mid lane would still be filled with champions like Anivia or Annie if there were less junglers that had pre-six mobility. The mobility creep in the jungle is the primary reason mid lane started to develop a necessity for mobility. It wasn’t until AFTER the clump of mobile junglers came out that Ahri was released.

This is the age of mobility. It’s not just a meta shift. It’s a character design mentality. Riot is giving champions more and more tools to deal with non-mobile champions. This is why champions like Olaf have such a low win rate. So what then can we do? Well, to some degree, nothing. We CAN start asking Riot for more traditional mages! Mobility isn’t the only way to dominate as a mage. Look at Karthus. Look at Orianna. Both are still highly chosen picks that are completely viable. We need more champions with similar levels of game impact.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like the skill sets of the new mobile breed of champion. I just wish that they had staggered the release of those champions with other equally effective NON-mobile champions. For every Ahri or Zed that get’s released there should be a Syndra or Veigar. We don’t have a NON-mobile attack damage caster. Think about that for a second. An AD caster who isn’t mobile! Even graves has mobility.

We should be getting a variety of champions that are interesting without every champion having some sort of mobility creep. Lissandra is probably the biggest offender in this category. A 900 range teleport, pre-six, is ridiculous. Not only for escaping, but for engaging as well.

I’d like to see Riot think outside of the box on their future champion releases. Mobility is fun, but it gets stale when everyone has it. The game is starting to turn into “who-has-the-stronger-engage”. I’d like to see a champion released before worlds that REALLY impacts the scene in a way that counteracts the mobility creep. I just want more variety. Don’t you?


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My name is Chris "Acerunner" Young. I've been playing League since 2010 and have played mid exclusively since then. 4700 games later I'm here writing to you guys about mid lane.

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