Breaking the Meta - mid lane Sejuani | LoL Esports
Breaking the Meta - mid lane Sejuani
Remember the first time you saw Annie support?
At the Season 3 World Championships, Tabe brought the much maligned mage to center stage, and Tibbers ignited the imagination of support players everywhere.
Sometimes, a team or player throws a curveball that makes everybody sit back and say “whoa”. And when the stars align, these picks change the game forever.
These innovations take time to catch on. We’d like to speed up the process.
In Breaking the Meta, we will introduce you to a champion long forgotten or in the shadows, and show you why it works (or fails) in a new role, and how to play it.
MisterOink is a Diamond 1 Sejuani mid main who served as an information expert for this article. He has played with Complexity’s Bubbadub on Reality Check Gaming, although he wasn’t playing Sejuani mid at the time.
Sejuani is a strong initiator traditionally played in the jungle for her mobility, heavy AoE slows, and hard initiates. She has an extreme amount of CC, with a knockback, an AoE slow, and an AoE stun/slow, which allows her to gank well pre or post-6. Her utility-heavy kit makes her a perfect tank jungler, although she has never seen much competitive play.
Why Sejuani Mid?
Where did Sejuani mid come from? Mister Oink was once an ordinary mid laner, who enjoyed long walks on the beach and jumping on people’s heads as Kha’Zix. However, after a name change to Mr. Oink, he “thought about how he could use his name to his advantage”, and “fell in love with Sejuani the second he tried her”.
What made Sejuani so compelling?
For Mister Oink, it’s all about “the rush that [he] gets when [he] locks in Sejuani”. He mused fondly that he has “become known for Sejuani, and when people see that it’s ‘Mister Oink’ playing a mid Sejuani, they get scared”. On top of that, he thinks that Sejuani is a good champion to master, because she “actually has a large amount of outplay potential between the ability to chain Arctic Assault and Flash and her massive control of teamfights with Permafrost”.
"The same tools that make Sejuani a strong jungler make her a unique mid laner"
It may sound crazy, but the same tools that make Sejuani a strong jungler make her a unique mid laner. When I first thought about Sejuani mid, the champion I first compared her to was Annie, as both revolve around a large AoE initiation. And while Annie hasn’t been a meta mid laner for a long time, her kit has the tools you’d expect: good AoE, burst, and sustained damage. However, some differences mean she plays somewhat differently during the laning phase, the mid game, and the late game.
Early inability to farm
When we first started playing Sejuani, we noticed a few glaring weaknesses immediately. First, she has no farming ability early on, especially before level 3. Yes, an early point in Flail of the Northern Winds will make last-hitting under tower slightly easier thanks to the on-hit effect, but her complete lack of range can cause her to be bullied by ranged auto-attacks and abilities. For the sake of our sanity, we banned Ziggs and Syndra, to avoid our mid laner being harassed at every turn and pushed under tower. Of course, other champions could harass her, but not enough to account for her later strengths.
Powerful Early Ganks
Due to the lack of ranged abilities, Sejuani almost always gets pushed in early, and this is where she shines. Once she has leveled Arctic Assault, she can take the fight to the enemy laner, and that’s where things get fun. As MisterOink put it, “you effectively force the mid laner to flash to get away from you, because if they don’t, they just get slowed and killed anyway”.
This reminded me of jungle Skarner’s strengths, and so I decided to pair mid Sejuani with a jungle Skarner. As you can imagine, if we ever got onto anybody, they weren’t getting away. This allowed us to snowball mid in almost every game.
However, you have to be very careful in those ganks, because if they fail, Sejuani finds herself out of mana, and almost useless.
As well, there are some lanes Sejuani finds it hard to go in on pre-6, namely those with long range, knockbacks, and mobility. As a 5s team, we lacked the expertise with Sejuani mid to effectively deal with those lanes, but watching MisterOink play revealed another strength of Sejuani.
The mobility of her Arctic Assault means that she can gank top lane or invade even pre-6, just like jungle Sejuani might.
However, in general, it seems best to play the early game safe, starting with a Crystalline Flask and health potions, and farming under tower until your jungler ganks. Arctic Assault also makes you a relatively safe lane against ganks, as you can just dash away, and use your CC under tower to prevent kills (or secure your own).
Finally, once she hits level 6, Sejuani really shifts into overdrive, and I started to camp mid knowing that I could get a kill whenever our ultimates were up. The range on her ultimate makes it impossible to stay in lane without being at threat of her going in on you. Between her dash and her ultimate, she has around 1800 range of initiation power. For comparison, Annie has about 1290 range on her Flash/Tibbers combo.
Sejuani’s ultimate brings a stun, and the followup slow from Permafrost almost guarantees a kill as your jungler comes in, especially if Sejuani did not need to use Arctic Assault to get in range.
Once you group up, Sejuani really shines. She serves two primary functions at this point, picks, and teamfight control.
All of the same tools Sejuani brings to ganks can be used in the mid-game to punish bad rotations or poor positioning. If any target is ever isolated from their team in range of you, you can initiate on them and use your many slows to allow your team to catch up (if your combo doesn’t kill them).
However, what makes Sejuani’s pick potential particularly dangerous is Sejuani’s ult explodes at the first target it hits, which means that if even one target gets caught of position, the whole team can be caught in the resulting AoE slow. The end result is a champion who can take advantage of even the smallest positional mistake to make a pick. On top of that, Glacial Prison allows her to cast Permafrost on all targets hit for massive burst., as Mister Oink showed on his stream.
However, this does mean that a lot of her potential is tied up in the ability to make picks, and any champions who can shut down her pick potential perform quite well against her. According to MisterOink, she’s pretty worthless against a good Yasuo courtesy of Wind Wall, and we had been banning him under similar reasoning.
This also means that any smart team will rush Banshee’s Veil against her, but more on that later.
Sejuani can’t afford to build like most mid laners, due to low AP ratios. Comparing her burst combo ratios to a champion like Annie, she falls way behind, at 2.0 to 2.6. As such, you’re much better off building to her base values by stacking Magic Penetration (MPen). Accordingly, MPen Quints are a much stronger choice than hybrid Pen.
"Comparing [Sejuani's] burst combo ratios to a champion like Annie, she falls way behind, at 2.0 to 2.6. You're much better off building her base values by stacking magic penetration"
Both MisterOink and our team agree that rushing Haunting Guise is the choice to make: not only does the MPen boost your damage, but the Health both makes you tankier and buffs the damage of your W. After that, Sorc Shoes gives you more MPen, and then DFG gives you more AP scaling and burst. With these three items and penetration from runes and masteries, we found ourselves able to consistently combo down carries, especially if we caught them out of position.
From there, Banshee’s Veil will be a must-buy for the enemy team, which makes Void Staff a more than acceptable next item. However, without it, Rabadon’s will boost your damage, while Zhonya’s will make up for such a squishy build on a melee champion.
So are we likely to see Sejuani hit the Rift in the pro scene or even in the meta? Perhaps not. Between her weakness to poke in lane, and the high number of abilities which allow you to nullify pick or initiation abilities, we found ourselves spending all of our bans to enable Sejuani.
All of these factors make Sejuani an unlikely pick at all, let alone in the mid lane. But worse, the meta is trending towards longer and longer ranged mid laners, with Xerath being particularly common at the moment, and that range allows for a lot of laning abuse vs Sejuani. This means that even despite bans, Sejuani could be in a weak position. It’s unlikely we’ll see this pick come up in the near future without a meta shift. But of course, the right team could always run her in the right composition.
Mattias "Gentleman Gustaf" Lehman is a League of Legends math-crafter turned esports journalist who spends his spare time staring at mountains of League of Legends data. Tweet the next champion you’d like to see on Breaking the Meta @GentlemanGustaf.