League enchanters are taking Smite top lane and it's breaking the game - Dexerto
League of Legends

League enchanters are taking Smite top lane and it’s breaking the game

Published: 28/Jan/2022 13:06 Updated: 1/Feb/2022 0:12

by Andrew Amos

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Janna is taking over the League of Legends meta, but not as a support. She is one of a handful of League enchanters decimating in the “Smite top lane” meta which has broken the game after a perfect storm of reworks and changes.

The enchanter top meta of yesteryear has reared its ugly head in League of Legends again, and it has broken Summoner’s Rift. It has been transformed coming into Season 12, though, with a handful of champions taking Smite top lane while playing enchanters, and win rates are skyrocketing.

Newly-reworked Janna is at the top of the list, with the Storm’s Fury boasting a win rate above 54% in high elo solo queue abusing the new meta. However, she’s not the only champion that can take advantage of the strategy.

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It’s as crazy as it sounds, but breaking it down reveals fundamental flaws with League of Legends Season 12 that must be patched over.

Star Guardian Janna splash art for League of Legends
Riot Games
Janna top is meta again, but now with Smite.

A perfect storm leading to broken Smite top lane meta

Former LCS top laner Samson ‘Lourlo’ Jackson has been one of the early adopters of the Janna Smite top lane meta. It wasn’t without a bit of help ⁠— inspiration from former EU Masters top laner Rosendo ‘Send0o’ Fuentes Bóveda pushed Lourlo to test the new strategy after falling out of Challenger in solo queue.

“He came to my stream when he saw I went on a seven game loss streak playing mostly carry tops, winning lane, taking full tower solo, but ultimately losing the game,” Lourlo told Dexerto.

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“He told me to try Janna cause he has been having insane success with it in Europe, reaching top 10 and winning most of his games. I gave it a try and my first game resulted in me stealing red and I was hooked.”

The former Liquid and Golden Guardians player broke down the circumstances that have led to this meta: Teleport changes, Objective Bounties, a lack of top lane impact, and the broken status of supports.

Without any agency before 14 minutes nowadays, top laners have very little roaming impact. However, enchanter supports can operate on very little gold. So, they can take Smite top lane, roam the map, and dictate the pace of the game like a second jungler.

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“The way it works is basically to have the threat of invading enemy jungle with smite while aiming to get your mid and bot lane exponentially ahead in gold and items,” Lourlo explained.

“You just spam ganks, taking summoners, and denying as much as possible from the other lanes while marking the jungle for your laners.”

It doesn’t matter if they give up towers and CS ⁠— if you “fall behind” on gold, you can fly ahead with Objective Bounties relatively easily, even if your carries are fed.

If you’re worried about not being able to get your items, don’t worry, that’s what Future’s Market is for. It can be a tax when you take the full game into account, but it means you hit your power spikes at the same time as the laner you’re abandoning to help the rest of your team.

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With it, Lourlo has seen resounding success. He has catapulted back up the ladder, decimating solo queue games with the strategy. It’s not been without its detractors ⁠— he has been target inted more than a handful of times during his week-long experimentation. But, it’s catching on ⁠— and might just turn League of Legends on its head once others jump on the bandwagon.

“This way of playing the game is extremely broken and has very little counter play from what I see right now,” he stated.

“With tower fortification being put in top lane along with AD carry and jungle being the most influential roles in the game, it’s a no brainer to me to play this, especially with the amount of games I put into solo queue recently and seeing how useless my role is.”

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Has the Smite top lane meta broken League of Legends like funneling?

Questions have been raised by some about whether the new Smite top lane meta is healthy. It’s refreshing, sure, but it’s not how League of Legends was intended to be played. Things like Fasting Senna and funnel meta have had to cross this bridge. This might be a step too far though.

“It’s a creative strategy but clearly abusive and opts both your team and the enemy team into a super weird game of League,” caster Isaac ‘Azael’ Cummings Bentley said on Twitter. “At a baseline I don’t think teams with multiple support items should be able to spawn objective bounties, but potentially other changes are needed.

“The fact that it’s winning almost concerns me more because I don’t want it to be more popular,” he added on The Dive podcast. “If that’s the right way to play the game, there’s huge problems with top lane and you need big changes.”

The related segment begins at 7:52.

The biggest issue isn’t that it’s powerful ⁠— it’s how you fix it. You can nerf the enchanter supports, but it’ll have an impact on the bot lane meta. Support is a very strong role in modern League of Legends and enchanters already struggle to match against tanks in a competitive setting.

The next option is looking at nerfing Spellthief’s Edge again, like Riot did when enchanter supports first broke into the top lane.

Whatever the solution, it’s clear the strategy has broken the game, but that doesn’t mean players shouldn’t have fun with it while it sticks around, says Lourlo.

“I think overall it’s pretty unhealthy for the game,” he said, “but I have been playing League for over 12 years so being able to experiment and try different strategies like this is pretty interesting.

“I definitely expect changes in the future though.”

Riot Games
Karma can also abuse the new Smite top lane meta in League of Legends.

How to play enchanter Smite top lane in League of Legends

So, if you want to play enchanter support top lane with Smite in League of Legends, you can do it. Just be sure to pick the right champions ⁠— because not all enchanters are made equal for this strategy.

“Janna is the best for this strategy definitely at S tier, but I think right under it are champs like Karma, Zilean, Lulu, Rakan, Taric, Bard, and a few more that I still need to try,” Lourlo explained.

“I do think the champs like Bard, Zilean, and Taric take some more champion mastery than a champion like Janna or Karma, but if you could pull those off you could definitely make some crazy impact in the game.”

Running either Glacial Augment for its strong teamfighting power (especially early on hard CC supports like Janna) or Summon: Aery (extra shielding on Karma) are good options. Then you just build conventional support builds: Shurelya’s Battlesong, Chemtech Putrifier, Mikael’s Blessing, whatever the team needs.

Janna smite top lane rune example with glacial augment in league of legends season 12
Riot Games
These are the runes you should run on Janna when playing the Smite top lane strategy, according to Lourlo.

Hit Level 3 top lane, start roaming to mid and bot, and make sure you can snowball the game out of control before the enemy top laner gets ahead. Roam with your jungler, invade the enemy’s camps, and secure objectives with ease with the double Smite cast. If your carries get fed, then you’ve done your job.

The Smite top lane meta looks set to stay at least for now; no nerfs are lined up in patch 12.3 on February 1. However, if this catches wind any harder, expect Riot to start coming out with big changes that’ll not just impact top lane, but the entire League of Legends ecosystem.