After three weeks of hype, one of the most anticipated mid lane picks finally made itself known at the Mid-Season Invitational. Ever since that play-in stage, Lucian has hovered over the entire event like a dark specter, with every game's champion select serving as a guessing game as to whether he would finally appear. Well, at long last he has appeared during one of the final games of the group stage, as Xiye, the mid laner of the LPL's Team WE, picked Lucian as a counter for Faker's Orianna.
Any doubts that might have existed about the pick prior to this game were burned away by Xiye's fiery performance, as he practically solo carried Team WE to an outstanding upset against SK Telecom T1. While he was, at times, overly aggressive, he still managed to display just how strong the pick is, especially in the early game.
So what makes mid lane Lucian so strong? While the entirety of his viability isn't tied up in his early game, it is definitely his biggest strength. Most mid laner mages are good at trading against each other, but they struggle to deal with a highly mobile ADC that can match their burst damage. Mages traditionally rely on their cooldowns for damage, so it's much easier to predict their trades and plan accordingly. Lucian, on the other hand, has the luxury of being able to simply continuing to auto attack during a trade, which gives him a huge edge, especially after he starts building his Blade of the Ruined King. Champions that have easily juked abilities or who have exceptionally long cooldowns are even more vulnerable to a Lucian, as in the former case he can easily dodge the return damage when he goes in for a trade, and in the latter, he can often trade much more frequently than the enemy can withstand. Orianna, who falls somewhat into both categories, is just about the dream matchup for Lucian, which is how Xiye managed to manhandle the best player in the world so thoroughly.
What about weaknesses, though? Well, in terms of lane matchups there aren't many. Lucian is one of the strongest duelist champions in the entire game unless he's getting deleted, and that is where his weakness lies. Specifically, champions like Syndra are excellent against him in the later stages of the laning phase. Anyone with overwhelming burst can ignore the sustained trading that Lucian is so good at by simply removing him from the map instantly, but few champions can really manage that without hitting