Patch 7.1 marks the return of our League of Legends patch recaps! It's been a long pre-season, which has brought extensive changes to the jungle, a boat load of new support items, and the wrath of the assassin rework. 7.1 takes a hard look at the state of the game after the long absence, dealing the first of many strikes at the meta as it stands. Which, as expected, means hella nerfs.
The usual story for debuting champs is that their win rate dwindles out of the gate and normalizes after a patch or two. This is usually because it takes some time for people to acclimate themselves to this new way of play (like Kled). If things are looking rough for a champ (like Ivern), Riot will step in and buff them. On the rare occasion that a champion is over performing, like with the Camille, Riot will run in and put the fire out ASAP.
The Steel Shadow debuted with one of the highest win rates of a new champion ever. Mostly, it's because she is a diving, high damage assassin who can tailor-make her resistances to match her enemies' strengths on the fly. She's diving deep under towers for risky kills, but when her mobility and lethality fail her, her health and durability seem to save her. And that's not really the best friend of balance.
The solution? Snipping the length of the shielding Adaptive Defenses from 1.5/2.0/2.5 seconds to just 1.5 seconds flat. Though they did increase the knockaway speed of her ultimate to 1000 from 600, the stun is now tied to the length of time of the knockback - not just a flat time frame. To put another way, it's most often gonna be shorter than normal.
Nerf Your Heroes
Pretty much since the off-season started, several new titans have ascended in the Rift. Some were already known to be dangerous and popular, while others have risen quickly in the vacuum of the winter break. Riot took big steps to bring that runaway caste back down to Earth.
This includes Karma, whose star has slowly been rising since early in season 6, and she's now a mainstay in the support role. Riot identified that, even though her scaling spikes according to plan, the bonus shielding given by a Mantra'd E is maybe a bit too forgiving for her lane partners. They've clipped the shield's protective bonus back to pre-Patch 6.6 levels (30/100/170/240 to 30/90/150/210), while also changing how the damage dealt by her tethering W, Focused Resolve, registers damage. This keeps it in line with other abilities with similar attributes (LeBlanc's Etheral Chains, for example).
This also includes runaway mid lane dominators Ryze and Syndra. Ryze's remake put him in a great position to absolutely rock season 6, with great utility on top of all of his legendary late game damage. Unfortunately, this is what made him a target for the nerf bat. He gets great damage, but tricks like Overload's move speed and shield really don't make the journey to nuke launcher all that difficult for him. They've cut away at (and simplified the math behind) Ryze's Overload shield, and it now grants him only 65-150 points over levels 1-18, gaining 5 per level. The speed is reduced too, from 25/30/35/40/45/50% to 25/28/31/34/37/40%.
Syndra has become the burst mage since the big mage update last year, and that's mostly because of how easy it's become to make dark spheres and chuck them at people en masse via Force of Will and Unleashed Power. These are being toned down a bit. Now, Force of Will's Transcendent bonus gives the ability a 20% flat bonus in damage instead of picking up more spheres. The damage is lower (80/120/160/200/240 to 70/110/150/190/230) and the ratio is lower (0.8 ability power to 0.7 ability power). Additionally, the cooldown has been tweaked up a smidgen, from 100/90/80 seconds to 120/100/80 seconds.
Then there is Poppy, who is very much like a Terminator when she charges in to engage multiple enemies at once. As a tank, she is very good at getting people to hit her instead of squishier targets. Shes also a little too good at dueling people whose job is to be better than her at dueling. That might come from the length of her bonus shield from her passive, Iron Ambassador, especially when mixed with some of the more fashionable tank masteries. The duration of the shield is going down, from 5 seconds to 3 seconds.
Marksmen have been in a state of turmoil since the end of last season for a few reasons. The position doesn't really allow for too many creative ways to do the carry's job effectively (high auto attack damage from afar). It feels like the same marksmen have always been on top of the list (Jinx, Jhin, Caitlyn, etc.) because the room to add depth is so small. Pair that up with the big assassin update from last season, which made these single target killers way more effective at killing squishy targets like marksmen, and you have a field where you only want to pick the very few champions that can counter lethal divers. The fact that tanks have gotten harder to kill, thanks to new masteries, hasn't helped either.
What may help are buffs to key champions in the role to make them more desirable picks statistically, so that their other quirks can be seen as useful deterrents for these problems without having to sacrifice scaling. Champions like Draven, who - despite being the hardest hitting marksmen in the game at early levels - still finds himself at the bottom of the pile. His Spinning Axes provide him with the bulk of his incredible damage, giving him a bonus percentage of his attack power after every successfully caught axe. To make this more dangerous and to keep him lethal later on, Draven's Spinning Axes will now do base damage (30/35/40/45/50) and add bonus attack power to it (65/75/85/95/105%) as if it were a normal spell. His Blood Rush, which grants movement and attack speed, now costs less mana as he levels up (40/35/30/25/20).
Then there is Lucian, former king of the mid-game. Unless you're Doublelift, the Fervor and Armor Pen reworks probably have you feeling underwhelmed by his dueling potential after minute 20. He has seen a sharp and sudden decline because of it, and it is probably the single best example of the shape of the position as a whole. Riot is throwing him a bone, giving him his heavy power from his passive a little earlier (40/50/60% total attack damage at levels 1/7/13) instead of at (0/40/50/60% total attack damage at levels 1/6/11/16). Piecing Light got a straight forward buff as well, going to 80/115/150/185/220 from 80/110/140/170/200.
Jungle XP Tuning
The pre-season version of the jungle has changed the early game handily. Camps spawn less, and the assortment of monsters in them has changed a bit, but junglers gain more experience and gold, and the buffs last longer. This makes them gank-ready much faster, which in turn has made them incredibly powerful early game. I'm sure this at least has some small hand in why single target assassins like Shaco are some of the best junglers in the game again. The problem here is that it's given a good jungler pretty much free reign to dictate the pace of early game. Something's gotta give.
That something is the experience being given per camp. The overall effect here is that, even though you will still get to level 3 after three camps, you need three more to get to level 4, instead of the previous 2 more.
Warring Kingdom Skins
And this super fresh Azir!
For the rest of the changes, like the Zz' Rot's re-balance and Lee Sin's nerf, check out the patch notes on Riot's blog. Remember, the Spring Split starts January 20th, so keep your eyes glued on Leaguepedia for up-to-date, pro-level info.
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.