Janna is currently the most popular smite top laner in this League of Legends meta.

Just about one month after season 12 of League of Legends officially started, most players agree that this season 12 is the worst and messiest beginning to a League of Legends season ever. A slew of complaints first removes a major addition to the game, the Chemtech drake. Now, the teleport changes have taken full effect and highly rated players have found a game breaking and frustrating new strategy that has taken the game by storm.

To review the Teleport (TP) changes, at the beginning of the season on January 7, 2022, the summoner spell was changed so that it could only be used on allied towers before 14 minutes in the game. After the first 14 minutes are up, the TP becomes unleashed and is able to teleport to allied wards, minions and certain allied champion abilities. Before these changes, players with TP could use it on these items starting from minute one.

Due to the TP change, top laners who generally take the summoner spell have been weakened because they do not have the same pressure on the map. In prior seasons, losing bot lanes would often place a TP ward deep in their lane so that their top laner could TP in the early game and equalize or even turn the tides of the bot lane match up. However, this was made the bot lane one of the weakest lanes in the game because there was always the threat of the TP. The changes has now made the top lane of the weakest roles in the game and bot lane the strongest. So much so that smite support top lanes have the highest win rate in top lane right now.

The strategy only works with a few champions but put simply, top lane players are now picking champions that traditionally never go top lane, they are not taking TP, and they are barely even playing top. Instead, these player roam around the map, help their mid and bot lanes get ahead, and secure objectives. All the while, their opponent is farming, pushing and taking towers. The consensus is that if this smite support player is affecting the map enough, anything their opponent does in the top lane will not matter because the other lanes are too far ahead. This bet does not always pan out, but it does enough to make Janna the highest win rate top laner in patch 12.2.

This is arguably unhealthy for the game and there is a variety of reasons for this. First, correctly pulling of the smite top strategy is extremely difficult. Because the strategy is so popular, most enemy teams will know exactly what the player is trying to do right from the loading screen, so generally they will expect and play around it. Also, the allied team has to be on board and understanding of the strategy because they are the ones who will be getting the gold and dealing the damage. This leads into the second reason it is unhealthy, the top lane player is playing to get their teammates ahead. Normally, the top laner plays to get themselves ahead so they can use their lead to help get their other allies ahead as well. Now, top laners’ forgo getting themselves ahead and just use their early game presence to get their allies ahead. The problem with this is there is no back up plan or extra gold to fall back on if the early game fails for smite top players.

These two reasons lead to the third and final reason it is unhealthy for the League of Legends. Casual players try and play the smite top but because it is so difficult and risky to play, these players generally do not pull of the strategy and even worse, potentially put their team even further behind. Riot seems to be addressing this in patch 12.3 by changing smite, however players are still playing smite top.