High level Twisted Treeline is often cynically stated to be over after champion select. The implication here is that the combination of secured powerpicks and counters that happens during champ select is more important than proper play on the Treeline. Objectively, this isn’t exactly true, but nevertheless champ select is much more crucial in determining the outcome of the game in 3v3 than in 5v5.
This is because team comps in Summoner’s Rift have a lot more forgiveness for weak picks. Consider the situation where two control mages are picked for Top and Mid roles in 5v5. Its not ideal, but that team’s jungler can pick a tanky, physical engager like an Olaf or a Red Kayn, their support can likewise pick a ranged engage/tank like Thresh, Nautilus, or Rakan, and the ADC can take advantage of the heavy control on his team by picking some sort of scaling champion like Varus or Kog’maw. This isn’t to say that this auto-balancing frequently happens in solo queue, but rather that it can happen. Poor choices in 3’s at a high elo are nearly always a death sentence. A poor choice of mage will result in lacking consistent magic damage in teamfights, a poor tank jungler/support will result in low peeling or setup for the team’s carries, and a poor choice in hypercarry or top laner will result in low overall damage and a lack of a late game win condition.
And so the information provided in this guide is naturally aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of your team comp, which has increased importance the higher up in elo that you are. However, I think this information is fairly relevant across all ranks, and I’ve done my best to include advice for both metas in 3v3. For easy translation, where I talk about picking a support, this translates to your jungle pick in Jungle Meta, who should fill the same role as a tanky/support if your team comp is built correctly. Likewise, when I refer to a hypercarry, this also refers to your top laner in Jungle Meta, where most of your team’s power should be coming from. Without further ado, let’s dive into some of the theory behind champ select in Twisted Treeline.
For purposes of speaking about Champion Select phase, Team 1 will refer to the team picking/banning first, and Team 2 will refer to the team doing so second. I’ll also be speaking about draft phases, of which there are four. First Draft is the single pick for Team 1. Second Draft is the duo pick for Team 2. Third Draft is the duo pick for Team 1. And Fourth Draft is the single pick for Team 2. A “power pick” is any champion that is ranked highly in terms of the meta, usually a Hyper/AP but sometimes a support. A “counter pick” is any champion that directly counters all or part of the enemy strategy. Champion “synergy” refers to how well certain champions work together on a team.
Both teams have dramatically different goals in their ban phase. Team 1 should be trying to grab a power pick in First Draft, while denying power or counter picks for Team 2. On the other hand, Team 2 should be focused on taking away any particularly overwhelming power picks or team synergies from Team 1.
For example, Taric is currently a power pick support across all elos in every region. Outright banning him if you are Team 2 is almost necessary unless you are very confident in your matchup against him. He also happens to be very hard to counter, since he has relatively good synergy with practically all hypercarries and very few champions have good direct counters to hit kit. Regardless of where they plan to pick him or not, Team 1 should avoid banning Taric – at least until their Third Ban. This is because the threat to Team 2 of a First Draft Taric is extreme, and will likely result in a ban from them.
In general, bans for each team should be focused on removing power picks from your opponents, removing champions or synergies that directly counter your desired team comp, or for denying champions that you can read are likely to be picked by your opponent. This last point is often called “target banning”, which can be based on your opponent’s bans (aka making a “read”, but this is hard to do), your recent opponents (smart to do), or your friend’s list (which is the only instance where I will interject and say not to do this or names will star to go missing from your friend’s list).
At lower elos and in soloq, it can be hard to have a proper champ select without knowing what your team plans to do (“you banned my Anivia!”), so I would suggest hovering a champion and calling your role as soon as possible.
Since each of the Four Draft phases are important in their own way and worth talking about independent of each other, I will be writing a brief section on each of them.
The First Draft belongs to Team 1 and picks one champion. This draft is best used for picking a high power, hard to counter champion that will have some measure of synergy with the rest of your team comp without giving too much information away. Most often, Support (or Jungle) and AP will be picked here.
The Second Draft belongs to Team 2 and picks two champions. Crucially, this draft gives away a lot of information about your team comp without necessarily having much information about your opponent’s team other than their First Draft pick. Usually AP and Support are picked here, since this allows Team 2 to hide their Hyper pick until the Fourth Draft. Your Hyper pick is the most important counter pick you have.
The Third Draft belongs to Team 1 and picks two champions. This is the last draft for Team 1, and should work to shore up any glaring weaknesses in your comp as well as maximizing champion synergy. Usually, the Hyper carry and support are picked here, or the AP if support was picked in the First Draft. Something very important to keep in mind for the Third Draft is that Team 1 needs to try to use the information from the Second Draft to determine what a likely enemy Hyper choice would be. If you see a Braum support and a Ziggs AP picked in Second Draft, then you can expect a Yasuo Hypercarry, since that team is built very heavily around enabling a Yasuo pick. Likewise, champions like Leona can indicate a very aggressive Hyper, and Sejuani is a dead giveaway that a melee hyper pick is coming. Don’t make the mistake of picking champions that are easily preyed upon by the enemy team comp already clearly under construction during Second Draft. Too many low and high elo teams make this mistake.
The Fourth Draft belongs to Team 2, picks one champion, and is the final draft phase of the 3v3 champ select. By design, this draft is best used to pick a Hyper carry, since Team 2 will have the full knowledge of Team 1’s team comp at this point. Countering the enemy hyper with your own is the most important part of champ select. Knowing what champions counter what is important here, and comes with experience or from extensively reading guides on the topic. If you’re not sure how to counter the enemy team or your champion pool doesn’t support it, then just falling back on your team’s synergies is a safe bet. Team synergy is also an extremely important part of champ select, and shouldn’t be foregone just to counter an opposing strategy.
Did you get the comp you wanted? Do you feel that you have a decent matchup against the enemy team? If not, then try to figure out what went wrong. It might be that you gave away too much information in your draft phases – or maybe you failed to fully capitalize on all of the information given to you by your opponents picks/bans. It’s also possible that your champion pool isn’t wide enough to be good against every team in the meta, particularly if you’re getting target banned out. Also, keep in mind that the 3v3 community is fairly small, and sometimes new picks are found that completely reshape the meta – it’s possible that your opponents simply found a strong pick that hasn’t been analyzed before. Regardless, remember to have fun and do your best to learn from each match. This way, you’ll only ever improve as a player and as a team.