Riot Games specifically made Irelia to counter the heavy anti-melee metagame currently dominating League of Legends. Did they succeed? Find out!
For the past two champions now, Riot Games has been behaving rather oddly. While it's not to say that they've completely lost their senses or that I believe myself to be more qualified than them, I just find it rather baffling that Riot is trying so hard to move away from the community's current focus on ranged DPS carries in competitive League of Legends games, but instead of making improvements to fix the older melee DPS champions, Riot has chosen to, instead, release a few new champions that are much better equipped to thrive. Thus, one of their latest champion releases, Irelia, the Will of the Blades, is a great example of Riot Games trying to introduce more viable melee DPS champions into the competitive League of Legends scene. Whether or not they've succeeded currently remains to be seen.
To give a little bit more back story here, if you've ever played competitively in any online game then, chances are, you've probably heard of something called a "meta-game." While the name in itself isn't particularly descriptive, referring to the meta-game of League of Legends means you're talking about the 'game within the game.'
Let me explain here.
Whenever a game is designed, developers always have a specific way they 'see' players approaching their concepts. Unfortunately, it's quite rare when a player base completely adheres to a developer's wishes and, often times, a really innovative community of competitive players can utilize in-game mechanics in some very surprising ways! There is always the gaming platform in itself (League of Legends in its current incarnation), but on top of the game, there is a community mindset that adopts common strategies and popular champions to dictate how they will play League of Legends.
For example; while melee DPS champions may actually be more powerful than their ranged DPS counterparts, the competitive League of Legends community has adopted a style of play where, after fifteen minutes or so, teams begin to travel together and, from then on, they never stray too far from each other for the rest of the game. In this way, defensively weak but offensively powerful ranged DPS champions are actually the best choice for teams like this, because teams can begin to mold themselves around supporting that one champion. An example of a perfect team here would something like Kog'maw, Janna, Morgana, Galio and Shen / Amumu. With a team like this, everyone simply forms a wall around Kog'maw and doesn't let anybody through while Kog'maw uses his powerful long-range attacks to decimate his opposition.