It’s not often that champions come from all the way out of nowhere to the top of the League of Legends world in both solo queue and professional play. Even more rare is that they manage to stay on top for more than a patch or two. But somehow, that’s exactly what Skarner has done this season.
As one of the game’s most ignored champions, Skarner has never really been appreciated for more than a week or two at a time. With the advent of Runes Reforged, and the fact that the meta has been fairly stable over the last few months, means that Skarner is now finally getting his chance to shine.
For a lot of players, this new world where Skarner is good and people remember that he exists in League of Legends might seem scary, and is probably leaving you with quite a few questions. But don’t worry, we’re here to help with an explanation of who Skarner is and why exactly he’s been so powerful over the last several months.
What the hell is a Skarner?
This is a fair question. Like I said, he’s never really been a popular champion and chances are, even if you’ve been playing for the last several years you never saw him more than once in every few hundred games. So, now that Skarner is popular let’s talk a little bit about him.
First of all, he is scorpion, second of all he is a jungler. Those are the two big things to know right off the bat. Other important facts include that he is tanky and pretty slow, and has an ultimate that lets him grab an enemy champion with his tail, stunning them and dragging them behind him for a short duration. That last one is probably the most important thing to remember, to be honest.
How did Skarner get popular?
Skarner’s real rise to prominence started during Patch 8.3, but the truth is, he was always secretly waiting in the wings of season 8. After all, somewhat tanky junglers with good engage has been the name of the game since this season’s earliest days. So it wasn’t necessarily that things changed for him during that patch, but more like everyone else finally got out of his way. At that same time, Sejuani got a nerf, Jarvan IV got a nerf, and the entire Unsealed Spellbook rune got nerfed as well. With all those things cleared out, it was suddenly The Crystal Vanguard’s time to shine.
What makes Skarner good?
This one has a short answer, but it needs a bit of context. The truth about Skarner is that he has a lot of tools to get things done. Plenty of CC to lock down his opponents, good tankiness, and even a bit of damage. The only problem with Skarner, normally, is that it’s hard to get close enough to the enemy team to actually use any of his abilities. Nothing in his kit helps him get in. That’s where the Predator rune comes in.
With Predator on his side, Skarner has the perfect means of getting into the enemy team, grabbing the most important member with his ultimate, then dragging them back over to his side of the fight. It’s an incredible advantage that can lead to objectives being won just off of the threat of Predator without Skarner even using it.
Skarner Predator-ing his way into a team in professional play is almost always a good way to get a Flash or a kill, but in solo queue, where players aren’t highly trained and coordinated, it’s almost a guaranteed kill and sure to send the enemy team into disarray.
So, how do you counter Skarner?
Sure, things like careful coordination and positioning are nice, and they’ll definitely make things harder for Skarner, but the truth is the counter to him on paper is pretty simple.
Unlike almost every other champion in the game, all you really need to counter Skarner is one item: a Quicksilver Sash. Here’s the thing, that’s 1300 gold you can’t spend on items. Sure, at some point in the game, Skarner will probably run out of people to use his ultimate on because, well, they’ll all have a QSS. That’s a lot of gold to invest just to stop one ability, and by that time it’s taking up an item slot as well. This whole thing kind of makes him a pain in the ass to deal with and an excellent pick right now.