Contrary to what many people believe, Riot does actually test out changes to champions before they make them official. Personally, I mostly just use the PBE to try out new champions. Thankfully, the good folks over at Surrender at 20 actually take a look at all of the changes Riot is trying out on the PBE. The full post, with all of its glorious data, can be found somewhere here. Please allow me to look at a few of the changes that are either large in scope or have been made to popular champions.
For all of you Cho’Gath fans (and I know a few of my friends are), the duration of his silence is being reduced slightly. This will slightly weaken his combo and give his opponents a slightly larger window to escape his strong CC. I don’t think this will hurt his combo greatly though, as the lynchpin remains the successful landing of Rupture.
One of the champs I have recently started enjoying supporting with is getting a boost. The mana cost on Galio’s Q (Resolute Smite) is now being reduced to 60 mana at all levels. Support Galio has two major weaknesses: High early mana costs and high cooldowns. Reducing the mana cost on Resolute Smite will make it that much easier for Galio to use this ability to poke his opponents out of lane, which is the real strength of him as a support. Mark my words, you will be seeing more support Galio in the near future (and might even get a writeup from me on how to use him 😉 )
Someone I think you will soon be seeing more of (again) in the top and mid lanes is Kennen. He has always been able to deal decently well with AD casters, and as more and more AP casters are rendered useless by mid Jayce’s and Jarvans, Kennen becomes a much more appealing choice. Helping out the case to use Kennen is the fact that his ult will no longer cost any energy to cast. You may think this is not a huge deal for an energy mage, but Kennen can burn through mana quite quickly in a prolonged firefight.
Master Yi has become a popular player choice in the mid lane thanks to his ability to deal decent damage and then meditate back any health he has lost. This will no longer be so easy, as the amount of healing and the AP ratio on the heal is being reduced significantly. This should actually bring Yi closer to a balanced state, and shouldn’t hinder Yi more than requiring him to actually invest in a few health pots.
One of the two biggest nerfs that we may see in the next patch will be handed out to…Nunu. I know, of all of the champions out there that are currently terrorizing you Nunu is the one who gets nerfed. With attack speed being more valuable in the pre season, Nunu has recently seen an increase in play time. Always popular in a lane with Kog Maw, we have also seen the rise of Blood Boiled Caitlyns and various other ADC’s. I would not have appreciated these nerfs until I saw what a Caitlyn with 2.6 attack speed is capable of. The duration of Blood Boil, the movement speed bonus and the attack speed bonus are all being significantly reduced.
Other than his recent peak in popularity, Nunu has always been a situational support. You use him when you need good peal and an attack speed burst. This nerf should confirm Nunu’s status as a situational support and keep him from becoming a consistent pick to buff every ADC out there into an OP state. I don’t think he will be useless, (his E and Ult still offer a lot of decent damage and utility) but we will have to wait and see.
It’s looking like the second biggest nerf will be handed out to Shaco. The annoying little jester (I’m a bit biased) will find the active and passive slow on his E lowered significantly, and the range on his blink will be reduced down to the same range as flash. Riot stated that their reasons for these nerfs was that Shaco, fueled by quick and efficient clears of the preseason jungle, was able to apply too much early game pressure.
By weakening his kit, Riot hopes that Shaco won’t be able to force his opponents to choose between hugging their turrets or facing a high chance of being killed by a Shaco gank. The reduction of the slow and limiting the blink to flash range should make it easier to escape. I believe there is a chance that it could make it easy to the point that Shaco, who already faces a very difficult late game, could be made more irrelevant in the early game and fall out of style. With that said, Shaco players are crazy and will probably continue to try to use him no matter what.
If you have seen my lovely little thumb nail, you probably realize that Olaf is one of my favorite champions. I’m always a little bit afraid when they change him up and change is coming. Gone will be the passive armor pen granted by his ultimate (it will now be applied when activated), and the cooldown on his Vicious Strikes is being increased at all ranks. I think the W nerf is more of a preemptive nerf than anything. Most Olafs tend to max their E and then Q, leaving W until last. With health becoming much more popular in the preseason, I believe Riot was concerned that players would be able to abuse his W with all of the health he would be stacking.
I will definitely miss the passive armor pen. Having it allowed Olaf to worry even less about building damage items than anyone else. I already feel like Olaf now needs to build some damage items (or at least go 21-9 instead of 9-21) to keep up with the heavy damage being dealt in the preseason top lanes, and this nerf will make that even more necessary. I don’t think we will see less of Olaf, but we will see him continue to max his E and Q first, and we will probably see more Brutalizers being built on him for the pen and cooldown.
While Ez is getting hit with a few minor nerfs that I did not get into (trust me, they are nothing compared to what has been done to him recently), Tristana remains an ADC on the rise (or literally on the Ryze if she happens to jump on him). The cost of her Rapid Fire (Q) is being decreased and the damage dealt by her explosive shot’s active is being increased. These things should make Trist even easier to play, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she begins to work her way into being one of the more popular ADC’s.
Anyone who has ever had to deal with an Elise likely respects how much she can poke you with her neurotoxin. The mana cost of this ability is now being increased per level (from a flat rate). As I have said before, Elise has an amazing kit, amazing damage and we have seen her become a lot more popular as players have really began to master her. This cost increase will help to control her poke in lane and cause her to focus more on mana regen and less on building straight magic penetration. Her strong kit will still ensure she continues to get lots of play time, but these nerfs will bring her early game damage output down to a more normalized level.
Finally, I want to touch briefly on some of the item changes – namely the extremely popular health items. Warmogs will cost more and provide slightly less health and Sunfire will cost more. Black Cleaver is being tinkered with again, though not overly much compared to previous nerfs. Honestly, I see nothing in these changes that will stop people from continuing to stack health and build cleavers. Riot has talked about balancing out defense a little bit more, but I don’t believe that these are the changes that will do that. As long as armor and mr remain expensive and easy to shred, health with remain the defensive stat of choice.
Hopefully this has covered all of the major proposed changes and some of their impacts. Keep in mind that these changes could themselves be changed before they are finally applied for real in a future patch. Often, the spirit of the changes does tend to remain intact through the PBE testing. So if Elise is your main I would definitely recommend taking a look at your mana levels and beginning to plan any changes you might need to make to your build. And if you play Shaco… well, I can’t say I will be too sad that you can’t kill me twice before I reach level six. I will try and keep an eye on the changes and provide an update before an official patch is released!
And if you need something LoL related to watch this weekend, turn into the EU Season Three offline qualifiers. Fnatic and a few other former notable teams will be there, so it should be well worth checking out.