Fists, flasks, and fire: 5 champions expected to make an impact at MSI 2023

If you weren't tired of them already, you might be after these next three weeks.

The 2023 League of Legends season has seen some of the most volatile metas rise and fall in a matter of weeks. From double-marksman bot lanes to the resurgence of unkillable tanks that deal immense burst damage, as well as new and reworked champions, casual and professional players have had to adjust to a plethora of changes so farand its only May.

As the halfway point of the season quickly approaches, fans will finally be able to see the various professional leagues from around the world compete on the same stage at MSI from May 2 to 21, complete with an entirely new structure resembling that of Worlds.

Related: The 5 best LoL teams to miss MSI 2023

This years MSI will take place entirely on Patch 13.8, which was released earlier this month with a plethora of balance changes targeting champions, items, and systemscomplete with a hint of extra flavor as Riot seeks to change things up for the first international tournament of the year. While the patch did resolve some long-standing issues impacting the meta, there were notably no pro-centric changes included, something that has been fairly common over the past several months.

Instead, Riot opted to buff a handful of champions in nearly every role to provide players with more options than picking or contesting the same champs over and over. But these buffs havent necessarily increased the pick rates of these champions, meaning fans are more than likely to see similar strategies and team compositions that have proved successful over the first few months of 2023 throughout each region.

Heres a look at some of the champions that are sure to make an impact throughout the entire duration of MSI (and maybe even afterward)though prepare to see some faces youve definitely become used to in recent months.


Image via Riot Games

Its times like these where its best to reflect on the latter half of last year, when the ridiculously unbalanceable ball of electricity known as Zeri was nerfed to levels she never had been before, leading to her being completely sidelined from the World Championship.

But that didnt last very long. Subsequent buffs in the preseason gave her back an ample amount of strength, leading towho wouldve guessedthe champion running the meta in professional play for yet another entire split to start 2023.

The combination of damage and mobility packed into this single champion has once more made Zeri the most-contested ADC in multiple regions around the world, most notably having the highest presence of any champion in the LPLs Spring Split and Spring Playoffs. While the newly-reworked Yuumi is not yet available for pros to pick, Zeri has been coupled with options like Rakan, Lulu, and Renata Glasc, all of whom are capable of enhancing her ability to snowball leads.

Prepare to see some certified Zeri moments throughout the duration of MSI, and likely even a pentakill or two as the legacy of this champion that was released only a year ago continues to be written.


Image via Riot Games

And if players arent picking Zeri, theyre more than likely picking Jinx.

The Loose Cannon has been experiencing a major increase in her play rate in solo queuepushing nearly 31 percent, according to OP.GGthanks to similar reasons as her resurgence early last year: Games are getting shorter and as a hyper-scaling champion that can snowball leads, she can completely take control of a game within just a few minutes.

And thanks to changes to Infinity Edge earlier this year that allow nearly every ADC to build the item second instead of in their third/fourth slot, Jinxs damage is capable of coming online before mid-game fights ensue. Since the nerfs to her damage were released in Patch 13.9, which wont be used at MSI whatsoever, the only thing stopping Jinx from reaching Zeri-esque play rates at the tournament is whether or not teams decide to fit her into a team composition or work one around her.

Yet Jinx has not been as popular as other options like Aphelios, Xayah, and Lucian in most regions outside of the LEC. Though in combination with a recently-buffed Thresh, we may see other teams at least attempting to try the pick and fulfill their destructive fantasies.

Related: Guns blazing: The 5 best AD carries at MSI 2023


Image via Riot Games

There are times when champions become so popular in both solo queue and professional play due to their flexibility in roles and strengths in team-oriented settings but just get completely ignored by Riot in favor of changes for other champions. This has been true for Gragas for a number of patches now, and between casual and professional players, plenty of people have had enough.

Outside of this champions role flexibility, Gragas can opt for a number of different builds that all have meta relevance and dont take away from the influence he can have on a game. Gragas in lane tends to opt for a poke build with Arcane Comet and Rod of Ages that turns into massive burst damage, while jungle Gragas builds full damage with a Night Harvester and Dark Harvest, basically one-shotting any squishy target after he unlocks his ultimate.

Add a nigh-interruptible dash and constant self-healing into the fray and you have a champion that is perfect for nearly any situation. Though whether or not pro players opt to use Gragas on his own or pair it with Yasuoa popular combination that has existed for yearshas yet to be seen.


Image via Riot Games

Thanks to the massive changes Annie received to her kit just a few patches ago, shes become an omnipresent pick in solo queue whether that be in the mid lane or support position. But shes become an even more important pick in professional play due to this flexibility, with teams not wanting to have to guess where shell be playedresulting in a 100-percent pick/ban rate for the champion in the LCS Spring Playoffs, LCK Spring Playoffs, and LEC Spring group stage.

In the times Annie has been picked, shes been capable of completely rolling over teams with her immense burst damage and newly-increased damage done by Tibbers, though her damage mitigation/reflection has truly been where this champion shines. Whether she gives her shield to herself or an ally, Annie remains a team player who fits nicely into nearly any composition.

And since Annie didnt make the nerf list in Patch 13.8, its almost certain shell be making an appearance in nearly every game of MSI in some capacityunless teams are able to find a suitable counter that somehow removes her effectiveness.

Related: A battle for supremacy: The 5 best mid laners at MSI 2023


Image via Riot Games

The queen of the jungle is bound to sit on her throne for a little while longer.

Vi has remained near the top of the pro pick rates of all champions internationally, sitting within the top five presence rates of every major regions Spring Playoffs. This is not only thanks to her damage and mobility but the fact that her ultimate can render a single enemy completely immobile and helplessparticularly useful if the target is a certain yellow-haired, bolt-zapping, wall-skating ADC.

At the end of last year and the beginning of this year, players fiddled with a Vi build centered around Radiant Virtue, making the champion a bit more team-oriented when paired with items like Chempunk Chainsword. Now, players are taking full advantage of the damage Vi is capable of dealing with some overturned fighter items, rushing Black Cleaver to quickly remove most top laners from the fray, then Divine Sunderer for even more burst damage.

Vis mobility also makes her a very difficult champion to jungle against since she can fly through the wilderness on a rather short cooldown to not only clear any remaining camps but venture in and out of the lanes. Coupled with a keystone like Conqueror and her already-innate sustain, Vi fits into numerous types of team compositions and will inevitably appear a number of times in either the pick or ban sides of draft phases.

Competitive League fans should expect to see these champions and a handful of others during MSI 2023, taking place from May 2 to 21 in London.

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