This guide focuses on the concept of bans and rotations during drafting. This applies to Ranked matches, as well as premade games that utilized Ranked draft and competitive/tournament matches. Examples and definitions used in the guide will be based off patch 2.10, A Tigron’s Tale. Glossary for unfamiliar terms will be included at the bottom of the guide.
Drafting is one of those more obscure aspects of this game. You may be familiar with countering champions during draft. For example, picking totem Grohk into CC heavy teams, counter picking stealth champions with Cassie, Vivian, or Tyra, etc etc. However, picking certain champions too soon will inevitably put you and your team in a situation vulnerable to the various strategies Paladins has to offer. Maybe you took that totem Grohk and thought it was a great idea, only to later look at your screen in disbelief as the enemy team picks up Willo. You sigh in defeat and wonder why you didn’t think of that earlier before locking in the Grohk.
Drafting changes and evolves as the meta changes and evolves. What is currently written in this guide may age very well, but equally may become obsolete the very next day as players find new strategies and develop new metas. Don’t panic if you read this guide and it doesn’t work on the current meta you’re playing in, just remember that most of drafting is like playing poker; maximize your chances of winning by hiding your hands, building your strategy, deceive your opponents, predict and anticipate (even manipulate) your opponent’s line of thought.
To determine champions to ban, it’s easy to just ban the most OP champion. However, it’s a bit more advanced than what we see on the surface. Banning allows you to remove a champion from the match. You can use this to target one trick ponies you know on the other team, remove OP champions that most players aren’t able to deal with, or removing annoying matchups that puts your strategy at a disadvantage.
In the current high MMR matches, the core bans are Torvald, Zhin, and Koga. I’ll explain why that is one by one.
Torvald’s ability to hard pocket carries with a personal shield, as well as prevent ability activation at a distance using Direct Current-boosted silence makes him a high-risk, high-reward champion. Good players will be running a support Torvald loadout to maximize the impact of the player/champion he is pocketing. Such loadout includes Glyph of Freedom, Lifegiver, and Winddancer as core cards. With each elimination his carry gets, the more bubbles and silences he’s able to use, making it easy for his offlane duo to snowball the game.
Zhin is a flank that has it all; Mobility to get in and get out of fights, good range, high base damage, cooldown resets and reductions for all his abilities for his loadouts, and an execution ability. A good Zhin will kill everyone and anyone, with the talent "Guillotine," he’s hands down the best flank this patch. You either ban him or take him.
Koga is the ultimate pub stomper champion. He has 3 dashes that makes him invulnerable for its duration, lots of ammo and high rate of fire to output damage, has mobility to get in and out of fights, has vertical mobility, has loadout cards that amplifies the effectiveness of his kit, and a damage immunity ultimate that allows him to kill multiple champions caught in it. A good Koga at this MMR will be running Surprise!, Tenacious, and Trigger Happy with the talent "Adrenaline Junkie". If you absolutely don’t know every person on your team and whether they know how to play against Koga, best get rid of him as it’s easy for him to farm your teammates.
Rotations and priorities go hand in hand; Some champions you want to secure as soon as possible for certain strategies, as well as leaving some for last pick so you don’t get counter picked.
There are 6 rotations in a game. First rotation is commonly known as first pick, second rotation as second pick, and sixth rotation as last pick.
First rotation focuses on securing the strongest, least counter-able pick that will not give away your intended strategy. This usually is a spot for main tanks as counter drafting main tanks are very inefficient.
Common first rotation picks are:
- 3 core ban champions - Obvious reasons.
- Barik - He is a very strong main tank in this meta, his reworked Double Time card synergizes with Bowling Bowl incredibly well, allowing him to rival Inara in the game of sustain.
- Jenos - He’s often picked with Barik due to champion synergy, as well as damage boost from Luminary talent.
- Strix/Kinessa - On sniper maps, you generally want to ban one of the snipers and take the other.
Second rotation is the same as first rotation. However, as you get an additional pick to secure a strong DPS, offtank, or healer of choice to build your composition with.
Common second rotation picks are:
- Barik + Jenos - Champion synergy.
- Priority DPS + offtank - Gives you the ability to change the pace of the game, as well as securing a strong foundation for the team composition.
- Priority DPS + Jenos - Securing a strong DPS and damage boost.
- Main tank + priority support - Stable picks to figure out and anticipate opponent's strategy.
- Priority support + offtank - Forcing certain DPS matchups with offtanks and secure desired support.
- Priority DPS + priority support - Giving room for potential offmeta offtank picks while securing priority DPS.
Third rotation is the foundation rotation. After securing first pick, you want to build a strong core without giving too much of your strategy away. This is also the same rotation where you could take away possible synergy picks from the enemy team.
Common third rotation picks are:
- Main tank + priority support - Deny counter-picks for champion(s) of your choice.
- Main tank + priority DPS - Securing a priority DPS for your composition and a mid for contesting objective.
- Priority DPS + priority support - Saving main tank slot for later or another offtank to run double offtank.
- Offtank + priority support - Securing desired offtank and flex DPS picks.
- Offtank + priority DPS - Allows your team to set pace of the offlane.
Fourth rotation and fifth rotation are strategy rotations. Champions drafted in these rotations determine the strategy and playstyle your team composition is going for. These picks will not only round off your lineup, but also influence the last pick. No more additional details will be provided for these two rotations as they vary the most from match to match.
Sixth rotation is the wildcard rotation. This is where you can round off your composition with a stable DPS like Cassie, Lian, or Viktor. You can also opt to choose any champion that would normally be counter-picked any other rotations. However, this is also the rotation where you’d reveal the secret pocket pick for your unique strategy (a second support in a double support sustain comp as an example), thus the wildcard aspect of last pick.
Hopefully you're able to get a good idea of drafting. While a majority of it is mental game and setup for the match, your mileage may vary from game to game and rank to rank as there are plenty of strategies out there, whether unknown or without form. Feel free to leave any questions, comments, and concerns below and we can have a discussion.
Main tank – Frontline champions that excel at contesting the objective. Barik, Fernando, Inara, and Terminus are examples of main tanks.
Priority DPS – Damage and flank champions that has high mobility and high burst damage. Androxus, Bomb King, Evie, Maeve, and Strix are examples of priority DPS champions.
Priority Support – Strong, highly contested support champions in the meta. Jenos, Furia, Mal’Damba, and Ying are examples of priority supports.
Offtank – Frontline champions that excel at contesting areas outside of the objective, such areas are also known as offlanes. Ash, Atlas, Fernando, Khan, Makoa, Raum, Ruckus, and Torvald are examples offtanks.