Grading the Champion Updates of 2017

As was the case in 2016, Riot has reworked the gameplay (and in most cases, visuals) of four older champions in the past year. Overhauls of this kind are typically subject to mixed reactions across the League community, but inevitably certain ones age better than others — both in solo queue and in professional play. So once again, let’s take a look at how each one did, with the same criteria as last year:

  • How much better does the new champion fare in-game than its previous iteration?
  • How well does the updated champion stay true to its background or role?
  • How much better does the champion feel to play for the person playing it?

Warwick

Old Warwick used to be the go-to pick for new junglers learning to pick up the role due to his good clear speed and great sustain. While he may no longer be quite as simple as he was before, his new iteration has added some pizzazz to the outdated werewolf. His kit still isn’t very complex — as Warwick master Sinickle put it “Warwick’s complexity comes from decision-making… his kit is full of tradeoffs.” Using his new abilities trains users in the strategic elements of the game, making him still very useful for learning. Exhilarating moments of pursuit are made possible by his Blood Hunt ability. And his strengths are kept largely intact, making him a huge threat in a small skirmish.

Because his kit is still reasonably one-dimensional, he hasn’t seen a ton of success (or play) at the professional level (he sports only a 19-22 record in all regions this season). But his role in solo queue is strengthened for those who choose to main him, and community reaction to the rework has largely been positive. His niche following has been somewhat vocal about having more fun playing him. And as far as balance goes, he hasn’t seen any direct changes since the rework. As the first update of the year, we’ve had some time to see how this change has aged. Overall, the rework for Warwick seems to have only updated his visuals and his interactivity, which are really the hallmarks of a solid update.

Gameplay: B

Identity: B+

User Experience: A

Overall grade: A-

Galio

In true blockbuster fashion, the new Galio made a very loud entrance to all levels of the League community. Unlike the case with Warwick, you don’t even have to play Galio to have been affected (read: hurt) by him this season. Even at the pro level, Galio has seen a surge in popularity, from literally nothing. He was played almost 400 times across all regions, becoming pick/ban worthy for a time. Opinions have been mixed about whether his kit changes are good or not. While most believe his kit currently feels more cohesive, it has often been loaded with much inherent damage, while also granting and scaling with his signature stat, magic resistance. This has led to him receiving multiple changes throughout the year.

Despite the gargoyle’s indisputable usefulness in many team comps, it is his sudden change in personality that draws the most confusion. With his lore completely revamped, Galio went from grim sentinel to actual superhero cliche. He’s funny to a degree, but many weren’t sure about the change. It has at least proven, though, to be a cohesive package. And by a longshot, this goal was accomplished. However, the unbalanced effects on the game are still being felt, and were a recurring theme this season.

Gameplay: A

Identity: C

User Experience: B+

Overall grade: B

Urgot

As the last completely obscure champion left to fix, Urgot was an obvious choice for a rework. His kit was another example of something that didn’t quite make sense. He had an awkward medium range that typically causes problems for champions, with low speed and a shield but also a lock-on ability, and and ult that essentially just created a one-for-one trade. The mess that was his old skillset has been swapped out to make an in-your-face battle tank that is truly terrifying, provided his slow moving butt can get to you. Hit kit comes with the frequent decision between damage and safety, as his very unique passive in combination with his W packs a punch, but also limits his already stunted ability to move anywhere. And of course Fear Beyond Death is a one-of-a-kind execution that fits extremely well with his lore, which didn’t change much.

Of course, Urgot still doesn’t have an excess of utility, and this makes him a rather unappealing pick at the pro level, and with an 0-1 pre-update record and that turned into 1-3 afterward, we don’t expect to hear casters saying his name much in the future. But he could turn into a niche pick on some patches, and his consistent role in games makes him moderately popular in solo queue. And for his few fans, it was a welcome treat to have his background changed very little, as many believe the number of grim champions in League is diminishing (I disagree). This update isn’t showstopping, but it is an upgrade.

Gameplay: C

Identity: A-

User Experience: C

Overall grade: C+

Evelynn

With all the really — and I mean really — obscure champions out of the way, Riot turned to a champion that still could use some improving. Lore-wise, Evelynn is still very much the same champion. However, the update team went all-in on her seductive assassin persona, adding the game’s third charm in with her signature invisibility. But the biggest change is is her ultimate which, though a suicide trap for less experienced players, is a powerful tool in the hands of her mains.

Her update was pretty recent, and no pro has dared to play her since then. Heck, only two players played her before it. One of those players though, Galen “Moon” Holgate, has been very adamant about the success of the rework. “Overall, I really like this rework,” Holgate said. “They fixed a lot of old Evelynn’s problems, and I think she’s a lot more enjoyable to play now. I think she’s one of the best champions to climb with in solo queue.” And if LCS’s resident Evelynn main feels that way, then there’s gotta be some truth to it, right? Of course only time will tell if her update excels in the changing meta, but for now, it looks alright for the average player, even if she still isn’t viable at the highest level.

Gameplay: B

Identity: A

User Experience: B

Overall grade: B+

Riot’s next champion update comes for Swain, The Master Tactician. Until then, you can look forward to the conclusion of the preseason, and the changes that follow in Season 8!

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Mr Fidori

Obsesses over League of Legends a little too much. Writes for Break the Game. In that order.