Over the years, League of Legends has had a ton of bad metas. The Ziggs/Azir waveclear meta. The assassin meta. The Feral Flare meta. The Devourer meta. The Lethality AD carry meta. The three years of permaban Kassadin meta. The Juggernaut meta. The Stopwatch meta. The hypertank meta. The second hypertank meta. The third hypertank meta.
And according to most of the League of Legends world, the current Banner of Command meta has entered that infamous list. For a bit, I was among them. I was angry at how easy it was to close out games, how Baron instantly became the most important thing in the game, how every top laner and support player was prioritizing Banner above all else.
But you know what? The more I think about it, the more I’m into it. It’s refreshing to have a “bad” meta in League of Legends that actively encourages brawls and quick match finishes. Whereas most other metas caused long, drawn-out games, the Banner meta has forced teams to play fast and loose, resulting in some of the most exciting games we’ve seen in months.
For those unaware, it works like this: For a long time, there was a bug in which the bonus attack damage given to siege minions from both the Hand of Baron buff and the Banner of Command buff wasn’t happening. In Patch 8.4, Riot Games fixed the problem, fully empowering the double-buffed minions to do what they were intended to do.
The result? Siege minions can destroy a turret from outside said turret’s range in just a handful of shots. And they can’t be damaged by magic damage. It’s a caster’s worst nightmare. Wave clear mages were all but useless in stalling out Baron pushes. But for those looking to close out games with quick baron takes and hard pushes, it’s a dream.
Most pro players are calling for a nerf. And that should probably happen. But for me, it’s been reveling in the lunacy that the change has caused.
Players are taking the oft-mocked Minion Dematerializer rune and saving stacks for the late game. Teams are forcing teamfights on defense just so they don’t have to sit there and wait for a single muscle-bound minion to take down objective after objective.
On the other side of the coin, teams who do manage to combine the Baron buff and Banner of Command buffs are working to protect a minion. Yes, teams are spending time and effort to keep the most disposable things in League of Legends actually alive. This actually requires a strong amount of mechanical prowess. This is a strategy we’ve never seen before in League of Legends, and it’s fascinating to watch.
Plus, it puts a huge emphasis on Baron. The big purple worm has always been an important objective for teams looking to close out a game, but now it’s vital for both sides. With top laners and supports rushing Banner of Command at the earliest possible convenience (it helps that it’s a solid tank item, as well), the first team to get both in their grubby little hands tends to win the game outright.
That means skirmishes over vision control, jungle picks meaning more than ever, and more outright fights around the Baron pit. It’s a blast to watch, and results in some hilariously bad plays as junglers get desperate to take down League of Legends’ most notorious raid boss.
All of that adds up to some of the most fun games I’ve seen in competitive League of Legends for quite some time. Plus, it’s nice to have game lengths dropping below the 30-minute mark with regularity. Remember the hour-plus games from early this season? Those days are long gone, and quite frankly, I’m here for it. For spectators, League of Legends is at its best when it’s exciting, and this is one of the most exciting metas we’ve ever seen.
Do I think Banner of Command should be nerfed? Absolutely. And I do wish that it didn’t happen right smack in the middle of a competitive season. But for now, I’m going to revel in the chaos, the bloodshed, the questionable jungle plays. And I’m going to love it.