Better Nerf Irelia!
Irelia was released way back in November 2010- when men were men and female champions had somewhat normal proportions. Troubles began early for our Ionian heroine when she received a nerf before even being released! Her model shifted in a completely new, less inspired direction. Purely an artistic change, I should say, but one that her earliest fans found most unnecessary. See for yourself!
- Chest decreased by 2 cup sizes
- Originality decreased by 43%
- Blandness improved by 7 points
- Unique style removed for balance purposes
Aside from a change of character, Irelia had very interesting potential roles to fill. Lead game designer Ezreal wanted to push the bruiser envelope with Irelia by letting players choose how to best use their skills. For example, Hiten Style would lose its on-hit heal when active and Transcendent Blades would each give Irelia an Armor and Magic Resistance bonus, provided they were not used. Ionian Fervor was originally intended to give her increased attack speed, based on nearby enemy champions.
Burst melee DPS character
This is how she was described and viewed as way back in 2010, when the term “meta” was absent from LoL. PC Gamer revealed her in a November article and, needless to say, Irelia got a fair bit of hype surrounding her pre- release. I was on the bandwagon of fans who were eagerly waiting for her to be available for purchase and the first thing I did when I bought her was to dive into the jungle!
That’s right, Irelia was (and still is) a terrific jungler! With Attack Speed marks, quints and a Cloth Armor/five pots start, I barely lost health and could pressure other lanes with a simple Bladesurge/Equilibrium strike combo. I think diversity in builds and roles is what made Irelia so popular and loved by the community back then. You could go for regular tank items, mix it up a bit with a Spirit Visage and Attack Speed, stack AD and become an assassin or even go for a burst AP build! (more on that later). Whereas before she was free to pick any lane and do anything; now she’s been shoehorned to the role of a bruiser on top. That and the numerous nerfs ultimately led to Irelia losing a lot of her charm as Ionia’s finest.
The Nerf Log (2010 – 2012)
I’ve included my impressions and opinion on the major changes that followed Irelia’s balancing.
v18.104.22.168 – 2011-01-03
- Bladesurge cast range increased to 650 from 600
- Equilibrium Strike cast range increased to 425 from 375
- Transcendent Blades base damage increased to 90/140/190 from 80/130/180
- Title changed from ‘the Will of the Blades’ to ‘The Will of the Blades’
Bet you weren’t expecting those changes! That’s right, Irelia actually got buffed at first! Back then she didn’t feel as fluid as she does now. Think Diana when her Lunar Rush was completely destroyed by NerfMasterSuckTown.
v22.214.171.124 – 2011-02-16
v126.96.36.199 – 2011-03-15
- Equilibrium Strike
- Damage reduced to 80/130/180/230/280 from 80/135/190/245/300
- Cooldown reduced to 8 seconds from 9
- Ability ratio reduced to 0.5 from 1
- Transcendent Blades damage reduced to 85/135/185 from 90/140/190
- Base health reduced to 515 from 575
- Movement speed reduced to 320 from 330
Woah. This was arguably the biggest hit Irelia took in her history of nerfs. Notice anything odd in these notes? That’s right, back then Irelia could be played as an AP nuker! Her ratios, CC and durability were absolutely perfect for the job. With Bladesurge applying Lich Bane and Equilibrium Strike and Transcendent Blades both hitting like a truck, Irelia could burst and tank to an incredible extent. It was one of the most fun and unique things in League of Legends back then and even though this unorthodox build was quite powerful, it definitely didn’t deserve to be completely destroyed.
The other massive change was the reduction of her base health. Losing 60 HP and 10 movement speed brought Irelia’s early game down from Queen of Tanks to just below average. The small damage nerfs might have been noticeable, but again, AP viability is what this patch was primarily about.
You can check out the patch preview where Morello talks about nerfing the dominance of bruisers in general, not Irelia in particular.
v188.8.131.52b – 2011-05-24
- Bladesurge damage reduced to 20/50/80/110/140 from 20/55/90/125/160
- Transcendent Blades
- Now heals for 10% vs minions, and 20% vs champions.
- Ability Power ratio increased to 0.5 from 0.4
- Deals physical damage instead of magic damage.
- Scales with attack damage and ability power
Another big set of changes, which Phreak explained very well in the patch preview. Basically, Riot found her to be immovable in lane due to the amount of sustain she had when farming creep waves with her ultimate, while lacking survivability in teamfights. The damage type of Transcendent Blades was also changed. She had sort of a Darius syndrome back then, where she would deal magical, physical and true damage. Take one out of the equation and you get easier counters! (and a very sad Irelia)
v184.108.40.206-Hotfix – 2012-09-18
v220.127.116.11 – 2012-05-01
- Base health increased to 546 from 515
- Health per level increased to 90 from 85
- Base health regen per 5 increased to 7.5 from 6.5
- Base damage increased to 59.3 from 56.3
Buffs to base stats! In my opinion she was in dire need of those, as most bruisers back then (release Jarvan IV ._.) would flat out pummel her without mercy in the early game.
v18.104.22.168 – 2012-04-17
- Fixed a bug where Irelia was reducing the duration of Blinds and Silences by too much
- Fixed a bug around failing to fire any extra Transcendent Blades
v22.214.171.124 – 2012-03-20
- Hiten Style
- Passive health restore reduced to 5/7/9/11/13 from 10/14/18/22/26
- While active, health restore doubles to 10/14/18/22/26
- Transcendent Blades cooldown increased to 70/60/50 seconds from 60/50/40
Many tears were shed at the sight of this patch preview. More huge nerfs to Irelia’s sustain in lane, while nothing was increased in return. For me, the difference between Hiten Style before and after the patch was one of the most difficult things I had to cope with in LoL. It just didn’t feel anywhere as amazing as it did a few days ago.
v126.96.36.199 – 2012-02-29
I admit, she did look pretty funny, what with that Transcendent Blade sticking out above her for most of the game ^.^
v188.8.131.52 – 2012-02-14
v184.108.40.206 – 2011-08-09
v220.127.116.11 – 2011-07-08
v18.104.22.168 – 2011-06-22
So where are we now?
Irelia is still an iconic champion in LoL, even if you disregard her quarrels with Morello. She is defined in her role as a carry and anti-carry and doing well with her is always satisfying. But she has lost a lot of what made her unique and special to play. You’re no longer allowed to jungle her, the AP potential of her abilities is destroyed and in the end she has become very straight-forward in builds and roles.
Currently Irelia sits a bit on the weaker side. She definitely has a rough time surviving most top lanes in the early levels and can easily be bullied out of gold and experience. However, she’s still completely viable and can carry with ease if left to farm. As already mentioned, her itemization has undergone a fair bit of streamlining to where it mostly matches bruisers such as Jax and Hecarim. Although Trinity Force and Guardian Angel are still the most popular choice, Irelia can put many of the new Season 3 items to good use. Warmog’s Armor and Iceborn Gauntlet make her significantly harder to kill, while a Blade of the Ruined King synergizes lovely with Hiten Style and her tendency to jump on squishies. Her core strength- the unrivaled anti- carry potential she has in the late game, is what continues to her a viable choice, even after two years of nerfs.
I hope you enjoyed reading the story of Irelia!