Why Does Udyr Have A High Pick Rate In League of Legends Pro Play?
League of Legends' professional season has begun in all regions, and many champions have come up with interesting choices that weren't exactly meta. These picks surprised the casters, the analysts, and the League of Legends community as well. Typically, professional esports players refrain from playing champions that have low play-rates. Still, in addition to that, some champions simply stay away from the current meta but come to the spotlight during competitive matches.
Hailing from Freljord, Udyr has caught the eyes of many analysts and professional teams worldwide. He hasn't been a meta pick for quite some time, and when many teams in LCK and LPL selected him, people were shocked at how beneficial he was. He hasn't been a go-to priority pick for teams, but some teams have used him in certain team comps where the enemy doesn't have much mobility to kite the champion.
Udyr becoming a popular jungle pick in the current meta becomes even more impressive because he was one of the champions who are supposed to be getting a rework in the future, as they have a low play-rate and out-dated champion design. The champion has received some visual makeovers on his special abilities in the past, but when the champion is witnessing some play-time in regional leagues, he becomes a bit hard to rework, as many players still think his kit is not out-dated and is still strong in his current state.
UDYR - THE ICONIC LEAGUE OF LEGENDS CHAMPION
Udyr has one of the most unique and iconic kits in the game, with a unique auto-attack stressed kit. His abilities/stances have different effects attached to them - Udyr can level up his stances and switch between them to gain various benefits for each stance he uses. He has access to stun, extra burst damage, enhanced attack speed, and healing through his different stances, making him a complete-package champion.
Moreover, his passive, Monkey's Agility, allows Udyr to put an extra point into one of the stances, and gives him movement speed to close the gap between the enemies. Therefore, he is an excellent pick for junglers, but he needs to reach his power-spike fast in the matches and tank up damage for his team to help the AD carry or top lane to secure kills quickly.
Despite these qualities, many players do not go for him in high-stake matches, and enemies can easily kite him with many champions who have some form of mobility in their kit. His current success in Korea and China has undoubtedly ignited current esports teams' interest, as his play-rate has hiked due to players deeming him a potential counter to many meta junglers such as Nidalee, Olaf, and more.
WHO ARE THE TEAMS THAT ARE RUNNING WITH UDYR PICKS?
He has been everywhere, with esports players trying out new tank items on him. Korea has definitely seen many Udyr picks in the LCK, and DRX's Hong "Pyosik" Chang-hyeon has been the one to showcase his usage with a perfect KDA of 2/0/16 in one of his matches. He picked the champion twice and stomped the opponent with this pick. T1, one of Korea's most popular teams, has also seen rookie jungler T1 Choi "Ellim" El-lim using Udyr and doing reasonably well with it.
Moving to China, LPL teams have also showcased why Udyr is a daunting champion waiting to be discovered by the teams. V5's Wei "Weiwei" Bo-Han had a dominant performance with this pick and ended the match on 5/1/13 KDA.
The LEC has certainly picked up on the Udyr trend as well. Excel Esports' Daniel "Dan" Hockley used it against G2 Esports, and XL using this pick against the best team in Europe further showcases the skill that Udyr brings to the teams.
Last but not least, Team Liquid's Lucas "Santorin" Tao Kilmer Larsen also used it against FLY in the LCS and had a decent performance with the champion, where his clear speed was phenomenal. As a result of this, he ganked for many lanes, which made the pick even more annoying for the enemies to deal with.
IS UDYR POTENT IN THE CURRENT META?
If it is not evident by now, Udyr is definitely a meta choice, and he is powerful at the moment due to the scaling on his stances. He has a tremendous clear speed, and his ganks can prove to be lethal if he can get on the enemies. However, there are scarce situations where the enemy team doesn't have a proper mobility tool in their arsenal; and this is where Udyr falls off in the meta.
Therefore, the champion needs to have to clear purpose and doesn't have the capability to become a high priority pick in the current meta. However, glass cannon builds around him would be a great place to test the real capability of Udyr in team fights as a tank.
Sadly, Riot Games have noticed this trait in the champion as well, and he is set to receive a nerf in the upcoming 11.3 patch, which should restrict players from using him in competitive matches.
Images via Riot Games