LoL Draft: What is Drafting in Esports? | RiftFeed
A quick explanation to one of the most important aspects in esports!

LoL Draft: What is Drafting in Esports?

Guides 13-09-2023 12:49

Before every single professional League of Legends match, teams have to go through a drafting phase. This drafting phase can be complicated, and there are countless factors each team has to take into account before picking a certain champion. Do not worry if this confuses you, though: we are here to give a quick overview of what a LoL draft is and what to pay attention to.

Liiv Sanbox Coach Draft
League of Legends Draft Phase: How does drafting work in League of Legends Esports? | © Riot Games

While most people would think the big team fights in the later stages of a League of Legends game are the most interesting, others would beg to differ, stating that the drafting phase right at the beginning is already one of the most intriguing parts of any LoL match. 

LoL Draft: Drafting in LoL Esports Explained 

Firstly let's quickly go over what the draft in League of Legends even is. Most will call it the pick-ban phase or champion select, where five champions get picked and five others get banned by each team. This means that we will get to see a total of twenty champions in each game. 

But, how is it decided which team gets to pick or ban a champion first? Well, it's not all random, there is a specific order to how things are done in a League of Legends draft and we will quickly go over the timers and order so you'll understand why a team is picking and when. 

Draft Order

Usually, in a best of five series, the higher seeded team gets side selection first, but what do we mean by side selection? Well, it means whether you decide to play blue side or red side on Summoner's Rift. The side of the map also decides the ban and draft order of every team. 

Blue side starts things off while red side has the final pick. Therefore, teams have to decide whether they want to first pick a very important champion for their composition, or whether they want to counter pick the opposition, and their draft. Either choice works and has success depending on the meta and the key picks for teams. 

Now, when going into the second game of a best of five, the team that lost the game beforehand will get to hve side selection. So if you're ever wondering why a team gets to choose multiple times their side, then now you know.

Ban Phase

In League of Legends we kick things off with a ban phase. Banning champions means that these are picks that neither team are allowed to play during this game. Some teams will scout ahead and ban specific champions that their opponents have been playing exceptionally well on. 

In the first ban phase a total of six champions will be banned, three by blue side and three by red side. The team on blue side starts off with the first ban, followed by a ban from red side. Each side alternates until we get to the first draft phase. 

There is a draft phase where six champions will be picked by the teams before we head back into a second ban phase of the match where the final four champions will be banned. In the second ban phase it is the red team that starts off. Four more champions get banned in alternating fashion before we enter the draft phase. 

Riot Ban and Pick Phase
This is the draft order in League of Legends tournament mode. | © Riot Games

Draft Phase

Now we move onto the most interesting part of it all. As already said, the blue side is the first to pick a champion. 

  • Pick Phase 1
    • Blue Team picks first champion
    • Red chooses 2 champions
    • Blue picks 2 champions
    • Red picks last champion
  • Pick Phase 2
    • Red picks first champion
    • Blue picks 2 champions
    • Red picks last champion

By this point each team has 5 champions that they will play and they will have a specific team comp in mind to try and take home the victory on Summoner's Rift. 

Seelenblumen Yasuo
But like who is going to go up against him? | © Riot Games

What is a counterpick? 

Counterpick is a champion that is able to counter one of the opposition. So, if the enemy locks in Yasuo on blue side, the last pick on the red side could be Taliyah since she is able to counter the mid laner. On the red side the team has the chance to choose the perfect counter, since the opposing team has already shown all their cards. 

Importance of Drafting in LoL

Of course, we have to look at the big picture when it comes to the LoL draft. Which champions are being picked, who is strong and what kind of a composition do you want to play? Certain champions have great synergies with others creating insane plays. In draft, you'll already be able to see what a teams win condition is going to be. 

Early Game - Snowball Team Comps

Some team comps are geared towards the early game in League of Legends. Teams will look to dominate the laning phase and then snowball from there to be able to quickly overrun the opposing team. Teams looking to play these comps will pick early priority champions that will be dominant in lane and early power spikes. 

5 vs. 5 Teamfight Team Comps

Now if a team is looking to fight your way to victory then these are the teamcomps to look out for. These will usually have a strong frontline with backline carries that are going to dish out the damage. Keeping the backline safe is the key here. 

Knowing what kind of engage you are facing is also important. Will the other team look to pick off one target before fighting with something like an Ashe Arrow or is Jarvan IV going to jump in with his ultimate to get the party started. It's important to know what the other team has planned in comparison to your own draft strategy. 

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Split Push team Comps

Split push basically means that while your team is off doing one thing, one champion is going to be on the opposite side of the map gaining control. This means you'll need to draft the right champion to do just that. Jax, Camille, Fiora, all of these champions can self-sustain in fights and take objectives quickly and easily, meaning they're perfect split push champions. 

Playing this style of game has its downside since it could backfire if your team is unable to 4 vs 5 or if the split pusher gets taken down. 

Is Draft Always the Same in LoL? 

Competitive League of Legends used to work on a 3-ban system instead of a 5-ban system until the end of 2016. In Season 2017, they adjusted the draft phase to 10 bans in total per match to create a higher variety of picks. Other than that, the drafting phase is the same each and every match. 

Though, in the Summer of 2022, the LDL, China's tier 2 league, officially revealed their 'fearless draft' which has shaken up the professional meta. In this draft type, teams are not allowed to pick a champion that was picked in the same series already. That means if you have picked Azir in game 1, your team will no longer be able to pick the Emperor of the Sands for the rest of the match.

This was added to make players expand their champion pools and make games more exciting. 

It is important to note that the LDL fearless draft was only used for best of three matches, but it has had the desired effect. If we ever see this draft type in the LPL, the LCK or even the LEC is yet to be seen, but it surely would be interesting for the future. 

Sabrina Ahn

Sabrina Ahn is the League of Legends and Riftfeed Lead. During her time at Concordia University in 2014 she fell in love with League of Legends and esports and has been playing LoL since then – how she hasn't lost...