With the 2016 League of Legends World Championships raging on, Patch 6.20 may seem somewhat tame and run-of-the-mill in comparison to others. Patch Notes mainstay Ashe make her regularly scheduled appearance, but a couple of other very interesting champion tweaks are happening here. Let's take a look.
1. Ashe Balancing
Since last season, putting Ashe in the box Riot has built for her has been the team's pet project. She should be a master kiter, frustrating pursuers with her combination of long range Volleys and devastating slows. They didn't want her to do incredible damage on top of that, as her job is more utilitarian than, say, Lucian. This has put her in a strange position in comparison to other Marksmen, as a class that is in its own sort of malaise. Great Ashe players are mastering the kiting that her kit encourages, and they're doing damage in such capacity that it feels impossible to counter play when trapped in her "sweet spot."
6.20's tweaks are a bit more significant than in 6.18 or 6.4, which adjusted the cooldown on Volley and made the stack decay of Ranger's Focus more lenient. The base slow on her passive, Frost Shot, is stronger early game and weaker late game, from 5%-25% to 10%-20% across levels 1-18. This sounds like a nerf to her late game, but the bonus slow applied when criting is now triple, as opposed to double. So at level 18, every critical hit slows for 60%. Crit-focused Ashe builds will reach Sejuani levels of annoying, but far more deadly.
There's also this:
This reads to me like an effective attack speed buff on the attacks surrounding the activation of Ranger's Flurry as opposed to a full reset, but the wording makes me believe I'm missing something. The flurry damage nerf, keeping the critical slows in mind, isn't so devastating considering you'll have more time to get more hits in late game.
2. A Nunu Buff!?
Anecdotally, there are few more confusing champions in my group of League players than Nunu. What niche does he fill? What exactly are his strengths? Why pick him over, literally, anyone else? Besides being a real big pain to the enemy jungler, Nunu could never truly stack up in any significant way against the enemy. His little mini-game, where Nunu's yeti, Willump, gains its own specific buffs based on what it eats, was always a neat idea. But his ability to gain certain stat boost based on his meal was limited to the meals' availability. If there were no Elementals on the board, he'd be beat out of a size increase and 10% Maximum HP for however long. Besides missing out on a Red or Blue buff, invading Nunu's jungle was extra punishing to him. How rude.
Riot is removing these Nunu-specific buffs and replacing them with a more modern system. He now gets a stack of Well Fed after munching on a large monster with Consume, which gives him a size boost, as well as an out-of-combat move speed buff (10 per stack) and 3% maximum health. These can stack up to 5 times, and the buffs trail off after 50/55/60/65/70 seconds (but the timer refreshes after every activation of Consume). The cooldown of Consume itself shrinks from 13/12/11/10/9 seconds to 12/11/10/9/8 seconds.
In other Nunu news, his passive, Visionary, starts activated now, meaning your first spell is free. His Ultimate, Absolute Zero, no longer has a cast time, which is fair considering it is a charge ability that takes a long time to be lethal. The slow it provides also scales up with the time invested in channeling, just like the damage does, to a maximum of 90%.
3. Debugging Cho'gath
People still play Cho'gath, right? Not really, according to Champ.gg. It's not that the Void Terror is a bad champion, per se'. But he is definitely an Old League sort staple who hasn't found a place to call home in modern team compositions. The AP-based super tank isn't the voidcat's meow in Season 6, and Cho's relegation to the low end of top lane picks frequency accentuates both the hodgepodgey nature of character viability up top and the skew away from old mechanics that players seem to display when non-assassin champions are considered.
Riot has been doing its best to keep some of what is old new. Champion Visual Gameplay Updates have done wonders for older, decidedly antiquated champs like Taric and Yorick. There's also been some movement on just how specific mechanics work and the frequency in which they appear. As evident in the rapid disappearance of click-on abilities in newer champions, some abilities targeting attributes just aren't as great or healthy now as they used to be. This also applies to cone attacks, which brings us back to Cho'Gath.
As targeting patterns for abilities continue to grow more and more unique (Like Diana's Crescent Strike), they have to become more and more precise and reliable. The space that's covered in the template has to be the space you're affecting. This wasn't always the case with Cho's Feral Scream. When determining what gets targeted, it would affect whomever was in the template of the cone when the ability was activated, not when it actually went off. So if you managed to get out of range of the spell during the cast time, you'd still be hit by it. #feelsbadman
Simply changing the timing of the ability really brings down the reliability of it on the caster side. It is essentially closing the loop on an exploit that has made Cho strong against very mobile targets, but without it, he's significantly weaker. So in exchange, Riot is giving Feral Scream some new bells and whistles. Namely, the cooldown now scales down by level. Instead of simply being 13 seconds flat at all levels, its 13/12/11/10/9 seconds. The range gets a boost as well, to 650 from 585.
4. More Quality of Life Changes
Animation cancelling is a pivotal part of high level play in League (as it similarly is with fighting games and even some first-person shooters). To get any good at it, though, one needs to be able to practice a lot under stable conditions. Cancelling in League involves issuing a movement order right as an attack begins, so that the attack happens, but there's no wait time right after the attack before moving happens. This allows you to chase and escape more quickly, and it keeps you open to do way more follow-ups sooner. You can't do it too early, though, or you'll move before attacking and do no damage. leDachs has a great article on the topic on Team Dignitas' website, but recognize that the window in front of an attack to cancel it in is now twice as large, removing the previously mentioned "too early" scenario.
5. Star Guardians Assemble
Sometimes, Riot gets serious about their skins, and other times, they shoot for the stars as far as quality and overall hype is concerned. Consider the new Star Guardian skins the latter. It started off as just a Lux skin that riffed off of the timeless classic anime, Sailor Moon. Now, Lux is joined by her very own "Sailor Scouts" - Janna, Poppy, Lulu, and Jinx. There's even a music video. No Star Guardian Urgot, though...
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.