Shen has climbed into the top lane S tier after his Patch 10.15 buff
With an inbuilt global Teleport and a potential five-man Taunt in his kit, it’s quite surprising that Shen isn’t a staple of both solo queue and pro play metas. Building an early advantage in League of Legends relies on making cross-map plays and creating a numbers advantage, something that the Eye of Twilight excels at.
Nevertheless, Shen has recently found himself as a much more niche pick, reserved for the support role in pro play or certain scenarios in which his Spirit’s Refuge is powerful. That was until Patch 10.15 in which the top laner received an incredibly helpful Ki Barrier buff.
Shen’s passive shield was increased by 20 at all levels on Patch 10.15, resulting in his win rate climbing from 50.89% to 51.49% in just one week. This was due to his improved laning sustain and trading ability due to the mitigated damage provided by using Ki Barrier during the early stages of the game.
Ki Barrier is vital in dueling with opposing laners and blocking burst damage
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Although it may not seem like a lot, 20 extra damage blocked in every trade is huge during the laning phase. Not only is this excellent for Shen in extended duels, but it also allows him to auto attack his lane opponent twice and not take any meaningful damage in return through the early levels.
This means that Shen is no longer punished for being picked into aggressive, early game champions and is allowed to navigate the opening ten minutes of the game without being at too much risk of dying in lane. As a result, the Eye of Twilight can reach level 6, look for openings around the map, and cast Stand United when required.
Both solo queue and pro players will benefit from this buff as the top lane meta was getting relatively stale of recent and Shen offers a unique option in the role.
However, the one downside to Shen’s return to the top lane S tier is the resurgence of 5v5s in the bottom lane due to the ease at which Shen can join a skirmish and Shadow Dash through multiple enemies. While early action is by no means a bad thing, it often results in very chaotic games with little to no macro strategy involved.
Regardless of the potential downsides, one thing is for sure, a larger top lane champion pool is positive for a healthier game state. Shen’s revival will no doubt be welcome as top laners finally get the chance to leave Darius and Wukong aside for a while.