As the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational approached, a new strategy had begun to take root in multiple regions across the globe. Taric and Sona in the bot lane caught many in the League of Legends community by surprise, but as the first few games developed it was clearly a strategy that could not be ignored.
The Taric/Sona bot lane is built on a passive early game that ramps up into an impressive mid game and team fighting ability. Both players purchase support style gold generation items, with Sona also taking the Kleptomancy keystone in most games for additional gold potential. Taric takes the minion gold early in the game until Sona to upgrade her support item and begin taking the minions herself. In many cases, this strategy will end up with Sona reaching the mid-game ahead or at least even in gold to the opposing bot carry.
From there, the mid-game is where a Taric/Sona team composition shines. With excessive healing and fantastic team fighting ultimates, a Sona Taric composition is hard to beat in most mid game team fights. Paired with champions who can poke such as Jayce, the team turns into an excellent siege composition, using their ability to sustain and poke to take turrets rapidly and continuing to snowball any gold advantage.
In addition, the combination of ultimates can be terrifying if used in concert with Champions who can hard engage. It is common to see Taric and Sona paired with a pick like Hecarim, who using the speed boosts, shields, and healing can gallop fearlessly into the enemy team with devastating effect.
In addition, a Taric and Sona composition can be a challenge for enemy teams to engage upon later in the game. With great tools to disengage and the shields and healing to both withstand an initial burst and quickly reset after a fight, teams are forced to either fully commit to a fight or watch as Taric and Sona make any evidence of the fight disappear.
Taric and Sona bot lane found immediate success at the pro level, drawing bans and winning multiple matches at both the individual regional finals and at MSI. Even when played poorly, the combination seemed so strong it was able to pull out many undeserved victories. But as teams grew more accustomed and practiced against the combination, strategies to counter it began to emerge and be refined.
Most of the strategies revolve around a lane dominant bot lane that refuses to let the Taric and Sona combination ever take off by putting them dramatically behind. picks like Draven or the combinations with high early kill potential are common when teams are faced off against Taric and Sona. Still, while many teams have tried to employ these compositions, they have often failed to find success as the Taric and Sona bot combination still enjoys a win rate significantly over 50% across all regions.
While this strategy continues to shine in competitive play, it begs the question “is Taric and Sona bot lane a problem for professional play?”There have been multiple strategies over the years that have been quickly dealt with by Riot Games, by either nerfing or altering the champions or items they use. Yet, as the Taric and Sona combination now enters months of play, it does not appear that the combination will disappear any time soon.
The true test of whether a composition is good for competitive play is whether or not there are strategies that can be used by their opponents with a reasonable chance of success against that composition. If an opponent telegraphs a specific strategy or composition early in the draft, there should be a significant way for an opponent to counter or punish that strategy.
For Taric and Sona in the bot lane, it appears teams may still be finding their way against the strategy. When Taric is first picked in a draft, it is clear what a team is trying to do but more often than not opponents still fall to the combination. Whether this means teams just need more time to refine their counters or that tuning needs to be done by Riot is yet to be seen.
On the other hand, the combination has brought a creative new side to competitive play that has opened up multiple combinations that were not feasible before. Taric and Sona cater to high damage carries in other lanes, and can bolster exciting team fighting strategies.
Still, with a meta that is constantly evolving, it is likely that this new wrinkle in strategy will ultimately be short-lived.