Worlds 2022 Pick’Em Crystal Ball: Maokai spreads his roots in Play-Ins

Here's how the League of Legends Worlds 2022 Pick'Em Crystal Ball champion categories are looking at the end of the Play-Ins Stage of the competition

League of Legends Worlds 2022 Pick'Em Crystal Ball Play-Ins stats: Victorious Maokai

Over the 47 games played during the League of Legends Worlds 2022 Play-Ins Stage, fans of the MOBA game were treated to everything from major upsets, to turbo-stomps, to pentakills. But for those who have locked in their Worlds 2022 Pick’Em Crystal Ball predictions, where does this leave us at the end of the world championship’s first phase?

At the end of each LoL Worlds stage, we’re going to check in on the ‘Champions’ category to see how they’re faring. The category includes the most picked and banned champions, the champion with the highest win rate (with a minimum of five games played), the champion played in the most roles, and the champion who has the most deaths.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

League of Legends Worlds 2022 Pick'Em Crystal Ball Play-Ins stats: Aatrox

Most picked champion – Aatrox

Let’s start by talking about Worlds 2022’s hottest commodity so far, Aatrox. According to Oracles Elixir, Aatrox had the highest draft presence by a country mile, having been picked or banned in 95.7% of games. In fact, only Sylas (80.9%) reached the 80% mark.

With an astonishing 71% win rate over the 24 times he has actually appeared on the Rift, the Darkin Blade has clearly dominated the Worlds stage. And when considering the fact that he has few terrible matchups which makes him a solid blind pick, how much skirmishing in the mid-game – when he’s at his strongest – there is, and how little anti-heal there is in the meta right now, why wouldn’t he?

When it comes to countering, or at least finding alternate ways to impact a game to the same extent as Aatrox, the Play-In Stage became a giant puzzle-solving operation. Across those 24 games, a whopping 13 different champions were played into him: Camille, Fiora, Garen, Gnar, Irelia, Jax, Kennen, Renketon, Rumble, Sejuani, Teemo, Tryndamere, and Zilean.

Among these picks are traditional hard counters like Irelia, and dark technologies injected by more creative minor region stars like Kang ‘ADD’ Geon-mo in Teemo and Zilean. Yes, the latter didn’t quite work out but, in agreement with what The Chiefs midlaner James ‘Tally’ Shute told us, it’s great to see players are thinking outside the box about non-traditional counters and synergies.

Naturally, as we move into the Group Stage, Aatrox’s prevalence will be called into question. After all, putting strong counters in the hands of better players than those seen in Play-Ins could very well create a different result – at least in the laning phase.

League of Legends Worlds 2022 Pick'Em Crystal Ball Play-Ins stats: Kalista

Most banned champion – Kalista

Drawing 30 bans (according to across the 47 games, teams really don’t want Kalista on the Rift. Caitlyn (24), Aatrox (21), and Sylas (21) are the only champions to come close.

Kalista may have a negative win rate so far, with victory secured in only three out of the seven games she’s featured in, but there are, as always, a multitude of factors that impact the result of a game, especially in a volatile bracket where there are straight up skill disparities between teams.

Regardless, she remains an incredibly potent pick in the bot lane, with a powerful laning phase and strong synergies with the tank supports that have dominated the meta. Kalista also excels in skirmishes – something which, as we just discussed in the Aatrox section, is something teams are leaning heavily into at Worlds.

Heading into the Group Stage, we can imagine Kalista will continue to spend her time off the Rift.

League of Legends Worlds 2022 Pick'Em Crystal Ball Play-Ins stats: Tahm Kench

Highest win rate (minimum five games) – Tahm Kench

Although the Kench barely makes the cut in terms of games played – having only been unbenched five times at Worlds so far – The River King has won every game he’s featured in.

Typically partnered up with immobile carries like Jinx and Varus, Tahm Kench is the perfect get out of jail free card – especially in a highly-coordinated setting. With champions like Leona, Maokai, and Sejuani becoming meta mainstays, it’s unsurprising that everyone’s favourite catfish has cropped up in the draft.

Looking further afield to champions with 10+ games to their name, it’s certainly more impressive to see champions like Amumu (79% win rate over 14 games), Aatrox (71% over 24 games), and Maokai (67% over 18 games) performing far beyond their counterparts. However, in the world of Pick’Ems, those with the Kench locked in will be hoping he stays off the Rift for the rest of the tournament.

Champion played in the most different roles – Maokai

Ever since the buffs to Maokai’s jungling prowess appeared in LoL patch 12.18 notes, The Twisted Treant’s viability as a triple-flex has quickly been established. In fact, the spooky tree has uprooted from his usual home in the top lane, and ingrained his roots in the jungle more often than not, appearing there in 18 out of the 22 games in which he was piloted throughout the Play-Ins.

Considering that Maokai has a 66.7% win rate in the jungle so far, we’re not really surprised that teams keep playing him there, either. With an immense amount of utility to his name, including the ability to both initiate and peel away from skirmishes, and exert control over jungle bushes with his saplings, we can see Maokai continuing to flourish in this role.

Elsewhere, Maokai has two games in the top lane with a 50% win rate, and two in the support role with a 100% win rate – not bad.

Of course, there are other triple-flex options currently lurking around the draft. Seraphine for example has traditionally been played in the mid and bot lane, as well as in the support role. Sejuani, meanwhile, can also be picked as a support alongside her usual haunts in the top lane and jungle.

There are individual spices that could make for triple-flex possibilities heading into the Group Stage, too. Rasmus ‘caPs’ Winther’s Vayne mid (though she has yet to be picked in her native bot lane) and Ryu ‘Keria’ Min-seok’s Zac support both come to mind when we consider which other champions could achieve Maokai’s triple-role appearances.

League of Legends Worlds 2022 Pick'Em Crystal Ball Play-Ins stats: Leona

Champion with the most deaths – Leona

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an all-in support has totted up the most deaths. While we’re sure many would have opted for the likes of Nautilus or Amumu, it’s Leona who has been grey-screened the most at Worlds so far.

While Aatrox (61), Hecarim (55), and Amumu (54) have all been killed off over 50 times at this stage of the tournament, it is The Radiant Dawn who stands above them (or lies below six feet below them) with an unfortunate 70 trips to the Fountain.

As a perhaps not-so-fun bit of trivia, it is MAD Lions’ Norman ‘Kaiser’ Kaiser (17) who has died the most on Leona so far, followed by Istanbul Wildcats’ Berk ‘Farfetch’ Badur (14), and DetonatioN FocusMe’s Lee ‘Harp’ Ji-yoong (12). Meanwhile, Beyond Gaming’s Chu Wu ‘Kino’ Hsin-Jung receives the accolade – if you can call it that – for the most deaths on Leona in a single game, having been dispatched from the Rift 10 times.

We’ll be back with our next Worlds 2022 Pick’Em Crystal Ball update as soon as the Group Stage – which kicks off on October 7 – comes to an end. Considering the fact that there tends to be a meta evolution between Play-Ins and Groups, we can imagine that there may be a few new faces in the next edition.