As the 2017 League of Legends meta continues to grow and evolve, Riot introduces their next attempt at universal game balance. Will they ever achieve perfect harmony amongst the players and champions? Probably not, but at least they’re persistent in their efforts. Unlike the last patch, which focused more on items, with some lighter changes across the board, patch 7.5 is all about the champions and keystone masteries. Here, I will break down some of the changes that I think will have a big impact on the state of the game.
First up on the table is Aatrox. One of the older champions, and a prime example of a feast or famine character, Aatrox has been neglected by just about everyone for a few years now. If he gets ahead, he’s virtually unkillable. If he gets behind, he’s a liability for his team. Riot have openly admitted that Aatrox needs a long-term solution, but this is the bandage that they’ve decided to slap on the problem for now. To start with, they changed his passive, shortening the window that it’s available, but giving Aatrox some extra stats during that window to compensate. They also lowered the damage on Aatrox’s Dark Flight and Blood Price, while increasing the healing from Bloodthirst. They also removed the health costs of Aatrox’s abilities, with the expressed intention of allowing him to become a kind of a lifesteal tank character. The problem with this, is that Riot didn’t change any of Aatrox’s base stats to compensate. With how well old Aatrox scaled with attack speed and attack damage, his base stats were kept purposefully low to ensure that he didn’t trample all over his lane opponents. Now however, with the attack speed component removed from his passive, and a lot of the damage sucked from his kit, I find it unlikely that Aatrox will be able to survive against most lane opponents long enough to reach that late game, unkillable drain tank dream. I don’t know what Riot plans to do with Aatrox in the long run, but I don’t think that this is the right answer. If anything, I think that he’s been made even less viable than he already was.
Moving from the top lane to the jungle, Rengar was hit with his second set of nerfs in the last two patches. In 7.4, the crowd control immunity was removed from his empowered Battle Roar, and this week, Riot both reduced his starting armor and nerfed the gray health conversion that Rengar gets from taking damage from monsters and minions, from one hundred percent, to just seventy-five percent. Whiles seemingly minor hits, these changes greatly decrease the safety with which he can clear the jungle, especially at early levels. Before, Rengar could make his first clear, reach level three and then gank a lane at nearly full health. Now, he’ll need to be a little more careful, both when clearing his jungle camps and when choosing his gank targets. While still a strong champion, hopefully these changes will take some of the bite out of the Pridestalker and give his victims a little more breathing room.
Continuing our discussion of champions, let’s talk about mid laners. LeBlanc and Ryze have both been near the top of the food chain in both professional and casual play, with LeBlanc in particular being banned out in ninety-two percent of games in the North American League Championship Series, and picked in the remaining eight percent. She’s simply too strong to be ignored, and as such is a must ban or first round pick in almost all circumstance. A big part of this has to do with the changes to her passive and her new Q spell, Shatter Orb. In the past, LeBlanc’s biggest problem was her wave clear, relying entirely on her distortion to take out big waves. Now however, she’s not only able to clear effectively, but she actually out-pushes some champions who used to be able to beat her, allowing her to roam more easily, which is where she truly excels as an assassin. Despite this, Riot seems to believe that the answer to fixing her is to nerf the damage on her Distortion, and increase the dame Shatter Orb does to minions. While I agree that Distortion’s damage was far too high for what should be a mobility spell, the buff to Shatter Orb more than compensates for that, allowing her to shove waves even more effectively and roam more easily. If anything, this might actually be a buff to LeBlanc, depending on how players utilize her new strengths. As for Ryze, they hit him with a one-two nerf and in case this I fully support their decision. They decreased the base duration of the root on Rune Prison, as well as increased the cooldown on his Spell Flux at early levels. These are big changes, as it makes it harder for Ryze to spam spells early on and lock down opponents for a seemingly endless amount of time. He will still grow to be the absurd, late game monster that he’s meant to be, but now players can’t bully their opponents out of lane early on with minimal items. I think this is a great way to help give players a chance to punish Ryze in lane and try to keep him from getting out of hand later on. It’s certainly a better set of changes than the ones for LeBlanc, and hopefully Riot realizes this by the time patch 7.6 rolls around.
The last lane to cover is the bottom lane, where two champions were hit, both by targeted nerfs and by changes to Edge of Night and Deathfire Touch. Starting with the champions themselves, Miss Fortune and Varus have been reaching absurd levels, mostly as a result of how strong lethality is. Varus’ long range poke has made him a terror to deal with, both in lane and in extended sieges. To combat this, Riot reduced the damage on his maximum charged Piercing Arrow, as well as increasing the cooldown on the ability. The cooldown changes in particular are pretty heavy, but to balance things out a little, Riot added in a new passive, where the cooldown of Piercing Arrow is reduced if it detonates a Blight stack on a champion. These changes will keep Varus from being able to just fire off arrows blindly and chunk out opponents for large portions of their health. Hopefully they’ll be enough to keep tone down the archer’s dominance in the game. Miss Fortune’s problems also have to do with poke, but it more has to do with the absurdly high base damage that her kit has, allowing her to be played as a high damage support that bullied opponents out of lane. This patch, Riot hit her Double Up, making it so that it only gets bonus damage when it kills the first target. Before this, both support and adc Miss Fortune were able to harass opponents with a lot of free damage, which was only exacerbated by the strength of lethality items. Now, it will mostly be adc Miss Fortune who chunks people out, although it still won’t be quite as oppressive as the old numbers.
The other half of this nerf also serves as a big nerf to Jhin, which is part of the reason why he wasn’t directly hit in this patch. Deathfire Touch’s attack damage ratio was hit, going from sixty percent to forty-five percent. This is a fairly significant nerf, and the trio of adcs who made the most use of it (Miss Fortune, Jhin, and Varus) will all suffer because of it. They haven’t been gutted completely, but hopefully this will help to release the stranglehold that these three champions have had on the bottom lane in the past few weeks, opening up the pool for other marksmen to be picked up. The last part of this multi-part nerf was to further reduce the power of Edge of Night. This was a necessary change, as the item was far too strong on release, and was in fact hot-fixed in patch 7.4, having its attack damage and active cooldown reduced. In this patch, the shield duration was also decreased, from ten seconds to five seconds. Now, instead of being able to have the spell shield up almost constantly, adcs and assassins who build this item will have to be more careful about when and where they activate their shield. All of these changes combine to make the item much more balanced, and require actual judgment on when to use the active or even if a player should buy it in the first place.
While this doesn’t cover everything in patch 7.5, these are some of the changes that I thought were the most significant. Obviously it remains to be seen how these changes actually affect the overall meta and state of the game, but as always, I’m excited to start testing things out and see what still works, and what new tricks I can come up with. If you’d like to read the full patch notes, they can be found here. If you have thoughts on my judgments, or some ideas of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Until next, good luck on the Rift, summoners.