In 2022, Legends of Runeterra saw two main expansions: Worldwalker and The Darkin Saga. While the former added seven champions to the game, the latter added eight, netting a total of fifteen new champions added throughout the year.
This list aims to bring forward the eight best champions of 2022, bearing in mind three main things: how much inherent value it provides, how niche it is, and how much play it saw throughout the year. But, it is important to note that the champions that don’t make this list are not bad by any means. After all, all champions can become win conditions in their own right, especially if left unchecked. However, not all of them can be the best, so let’s get into the rankings.
Jhin just barely beats out the champions that are not on this list. Although he is typically only used in one deck – the Jhin and Annie aggro deck – it is an incredibly effective (not to mention, meta), deck.
At the same time, Jhin himself is not only one of the win conditions, but he plays a pivotal role in enabling the other aggressive cards to put more pressure on your opponent. That said, because of how niche his function was throughout the year, he didn’t get placed higher.
Although in a very similar situation as Jhin, Annie comes right after him. Her effectiveness in the aforementioned Jhin and Annie aggro deck is clear, however, she was also used in a small array of other Noxus decks that were aggro to mid-range.
In particular, she saw some play with the likes of Darius, Swain, and even Twisted Fate. Due to her having slightly more flexibility than Jhin, she is ranked higher than him.
Gwen is an interesting champion when it comes to 2022. While her popularity started relatively slow, it picked up over time as her flexibility became more apparent.
Make no mistake, she is extremely powerful in the Elise Gwen Katarina deck, but the new cards added throughout the Darkin Saga enabled her to be just as powerful in even more decks, namely the Vayne Gwen deck, or even the Sejuani Gwen deck.
She has even proven to be great against aggro decks, thanks to her attack effect. Overall, she is one of the stronger champions added this year due to her power and flexibility, but by no means was she the strongest or the most popular.
Norra is inherently one of the stronger champions from 2022 by virtue of her being an Elusive unit. As if she weren’t already difficult enough to deal with, she’s even got two health as a base stat, making her resistant to the many one-damage spells.
She has seen a great deal of play in control decks, such as the Veigar Norra Darkness deck and the Heimerdinger Norra deck, and even in more mid-range decks, such as the Swain Norra and Lulu Norra pair-ups.
Thus, between her flexibility, popularity, and inherent power, she makes her way to a higher spot on this list than the other champions so far.
Kayn is undoubtedly one of the best champions in the game when it comes to mid-range decks. However, it took him a bit of time to reach this status, as when he first came out, he didn’t see all that much play. Post Seraphine nerf, however, is a very different story.
The reason for this is that Kayn is extremely susceptible to removal spells of all costs, since he only has two attack.
Playing a five-mana champion and having them slain by a three-mana Culling Strike or one mana Quietus doesn’t feel too great. On top of that, with the meta favoring control decks thanks to Seraphine and Norra, he felt very underwhelming. However, once the Seraphine nerfs (and other nerfs in that round of changes) came through, Kayn’s potential really shone, allowing him to be played far more often as his strengths became more obvious.
As strong as Varus can be with his one-turn-kill potential, the truth of the matter is he didn’t see much play outside a couple of key decks: Pantheon Varus and Akshan Varus (the latter of which took longer to catch on than the former).
That said, these decks quickly became very dominant options in the meta (especially after Seraphine’s nerf), and consequently, they became quite popular.
As the year went on, more variants of Varus decks popped up, pairing him up with champions like Riven or Vayne, but it did take a bit of time for his potential to be realized. This didn’t take as long as Kayn though, which is why he’s higher up on the list than him.
Let’s get something clear: Seraphine single-handedly shaped the meta of the game as soon as she came out. She became a staple of practically any good control deck, getting paired up with the likes of Viktor, Ezreal, and Karma mainly, as these became some of the most dominant decks in the game.
So you might be wondering why she isn’t the best champion on the list and instead is only the second best. Well, the answer is simply because she was nerfed sometime after she came out due to how dominant she was.
While this didn’t kill her popularity per se (she did see less play, though), she became considerably less powerful as compared to other decks as a result.
Finally, we reach the best champion of 2022: Vayne. She has proven to hold the greatest amount of value, even after her nerf, and is likely one of the most flexible champions in the whole game. She can synergize with any champion who has a powerful attack effect thanks to her Tumble spell, which gives a unit a free attack.
As a result, she was paired up with loads of champions, the strongest of which being Pantheon, Zed, and Rumble, but certainly not limited to these guys. Decks arose with her alongside Hecarim, Jax, Kayn, Kai’sa, Ornn, and Quinn, to name a few more.
Her flexibility and power are unparalleled, and the community quickly realized this as she became one of the most popular champions in the game.
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