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Better Nerf Irelia!

March 7th, 2013 Leave a comment


Have you ever wondered what caused the infamous “Better Nerf Irelia!” meme? Check out the history of Ionia’s champion from the very day she entered the League!


Original Spotlight!


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!

Irelia original


  • 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.


v1.0.0.108 – 2011-01-03


  • BladesurgeBladesurge cast range increased to 650 from 600
  • Equilibrium_StrikeEquilibrium Strike cast range increased to 425 from 375
  • Transcendent_Blades 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.


v1.0.0.111 – 2011-02-16


  • Fixed a bug where the Transcendent_BladesTranscendent Blades cooldown tooltip was incorrect


v1.0.0.113 – 2011-03-15


  • Equilibrium_StrikeEquilibrium 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 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.


v1.0.0.118b – 2011-05-24


  • BladesurgeBladesurge damage reduced to 20/50/80/110/140 from 20/55/90/125/160
  • Transcendent_Blades 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)


v1.0.0.147-Hotfix – 2012-09-18


  • BladesurgeBladesurge no longer fails to refresh or grant mana return when killing certain enemies


v1.0.0.139 – 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.


v1.0.0.138 – 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_BladesTranscendent Blades


v1.0.0.136 – 2012-03-20


  • Hiten_StyleHiten 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 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.


v1.0.0.135 – 2012-02-29


  • Fixed a particle issue with Transcendent_Blades Transcendent Blades (Hotfixed 2/21)

I admit, she did look pretty funny, what with that Transcendent Blade sticking out above her for most of the game ^.^


v1.0.0.134 – 2012-02-14


  • Transcendent_BladesTranscendent Blades’ allied ultimate HUD indicator will now remain green until all 4 spell casts are used


v1.0.0.123 – 2011-08-09


  • Irelia will now attempt to attack the target after dashing to an enemy champion with BladesurgeBladesurge


v1.0.0.121 – 2011-07-08


  • BladesurgeBladesurge mana cost changed to 60/65/70/75/80 from 70
  • Transcendent_Blades Transcendent Blades damage reduced to 80/120/160 from 85/135/185


v1.0.0.120 – 2011-06-22


  • Transcendent_Blades Transcendent Blades
    • Now heals Irelia based on the actual damage dealt (instead of a % of the raw damage dealt), but the heal is not reduced if the damage is shielded
    • Heal versus Champions increased to 25% from 20%


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!

  • http://newsoflegends.com ulol

    dame nyo alam. try nyo maglaro sa ph server mawawala yabang nyo kakaen kayo ng trashtalk dun sa sobrang toxic ng. community

  • http://idonthave Killer234

    Sorry no xin wtf i said xin is arleady nerfed i needed to say nerf fizz q dmg and w dmg please:)

  • http://idonthave Killer234

    Please riot nerf xin zhao q and w!!!

  • http://idonthave Killer234

    And… no irelia need nerf and fiora ulti dmg.

  • http://idonthave Killer234

    And who is that feeder to feed Irelia so much?

  • http://idonthave Killer234

    And im Irelia player and rlly is too OP with 10-15 kills

  • http://idonthave Killer234

    Nah Irelia is no OP but is ok in late game

  • dudeperfect

    Next let’s make a thread about Vayne’s change-hinstory.

    There you’ll see nerfs, compared to that Irelia’s changes are nice and small…

  • Chefo

    @João Henrique – Tohru

    Thank you very much. =)

  • http://lasthit.com.br João Henrique – Tohru

    Very nice article! :)
    Congratulations from a Brazilian player. HUE

  • RedJokerFTW

    I’m also an Irelia player and also had trubble whit here in season 3 but I found that if you build 2 dorans in lane and than go for a BOTRK into triforce and zephyr you become very strong.

  • FichteFoll

    If she only looked like on that art. Well, I like her blades as they are now but the rest feels … too casual.

    Anyway, it seems you messed up the patch order because to are in reversed order.

  • ArcaneEye

    Damn, i’d almost forgotten about her, haven’t played her in ages. i’ll have to take a look at her jungle and top again, for sure!

    i think she could have some awesome synergies with the new items, not least BotrK and Iceborne…

  • serenity

    I played a game as jungle Irelia before seeing this post and I still think that she is viable in the jungle, going with a fairly normal build, rushing Botrk and then getting a bit Tanky into a zephyr. I still like jungle Irelia as much as top

  • slevin

    I really like this information. It was very informative, however, i believe that it is still possible to jungle irelia after riot finally settled on the jungle scaling. The first clear is more difficult than most but it does not require anything special. Just thought i should note.

  • Easterlol

    so.. with the “BUFF”in the previous that u guys had mention, it will be ok to nerf irelia, nice RIOT…..

  • Ack0o


  • Jio Derako

    I will disagree with Razeluxe just slightly, there is some intelligence required to play her – messing up E can shift a 1v1 into your opponent’s favor, not knowing the damage on Q can leave you without a dash on occasion, and if you do decide to use Q for last-hitting, prepare for mana problems. But otherwise, she requires very little skill to actually play, and relatively effectively; she can have a higher skill cap due to the jukes and tricks she can pull off, but her mechanics are very easy to master. (similar to Akali, who’s quite straightforward offensively, but has a lot of room for a high-skill player to take advantage of her kit.)
    I first started playing League back in 2011, somewhere after the first slew of nerfs… I can still remember one of my early games with her (I started playing during a week she was free), ending up with 20+ kills in a 3v3 game. Let me stress, I was pretty bad at the game at this point; my usual build on Irelia was to rush a Wit’s End, then follow up with another Wit’s End. And despite this, I was able to do great on her.

    I’m a little bummed that she’s not quite at that level of power anymore, since she’s one of my first favorites (and still a champ I go back to every so often when I feel like playing something more comfortable). But if you can get around her fairly weak early-game, she’s still just as impressive as ever. Doesn’t hurt that she gets a stun when the opponent’s harassing her too much, and she has probably one of the easiest times last-hitting under tower thanks to Q and/or W.

    Really liking the early BotRK on her at the moment, Cutlass is perfect for early farming as well as the active for chasing/escaping. Zephyr is great on her too, since it allows her to go Ninja Tabi early and still have the Tenacity later. And she can still go Warmog’s without hurting her damage by much, thanks to W.
    The health meta does hurt her a lot (counters her true damage), but despite all she’s been through… I’d say she’s still in a pretty good position.

  • C

    She’s too stronk, better nerf irelia again and again and again.

  • Razeluxe

    Here’s a much better telling of the story.

    Irelia was previewed like the article states and then got huge changes to her look and play to basically make her easier to play. There was an ability that let you trade DMG for HP with your attacks but that was removed and there were a few other things also.

    Anyways for the real part of the story, when Irelia came out everyone tried to build her DPS and it was pretty much trash. Then a few people started coming out with AP builds which were decent, but she didnt find her niche until Atlanta put a Trinity Force on her. This build kept catching on, and eventually solo top Irelia with Cloth + 5 was nearly unstoppable. Impossible to remove from lain with Pots + W and once she farmed Trinity Force could solo the team with that and 4 other tank items.

    Nobody really paid attention to this until HotShotGG made a famous thread after getting owned by Chaox as Irelia. This post was downvoted into oblivion at first (like every single LoL nerf thread in history, seriously people do not learn from the past and still like to pretend that everything is perfect and nothing needs to be nerfed) but eventually caught traction.

    She’s been nerfed a bunch of times since then but at the end of the day will always be strong because of two things:
    1) Literally the easiest champion to play in the game. Has a dash and CC, and even if you suck at last hitting, boom there’s Q for you.
    2) Her kit is just broken, this is during the era where they wanted every champion to do everything (Look at like Nocturne for example). She cant be CC’d due to passive + Mercs, cant be killed easily because of tank builds, and even with tank builds, cant be ignored because of innate damages on her kit.

    TL;DR Irelia was bad, then good, then Morello got hated for nerfing a blatantly OP champion, now she’s apparently bad even though she can still wreck with 0 IQ used.

  • http://www.gayriot.com imgugi

    better nerf irelia