Patch 5.2 Forecast – DFG Removal, State of Ahri & LeBlanc, Meddler on Urgot, Yorick, Evelynn, Diana and Akali, Fantasy LCS Issues & More
We’re entering the PBE cycle for Patch 5.2 and the major change here is the removal of Deathfire Grasp; below you can find a discussion on what Riot plans to do for mages reliant on that item. Also, Lead Champion Designer Meddler jumped on the forums to address unpopular picks like Yorick, Urgot and Evelynn and where they are on the priority list for reworks. Lastly, the newly-overhauled Fantasy LCS is currently experiencing issues and Patch 5.1 has been delayed for at least a day.
[ !Â ] Deathfire Grasp has been removed from the store on the PBE.
The biggest change we’re making in 5.2 is that we’re removing Deathfire Grasp from Summoner’s Rift. There are two major reasons we felt we had to do this, so I’ll run through both:
First, DFG tends to make burst patterns even more bursty. The item effectively adds another nuke spell on top of kits that are already designed to have strong up-front damage and aggravates the “whoa, I got one shot out of nowhere” frustration of playing against certain champions. A good example is LeBlanc; DFG adds reliability to her assassination patterns and ends up removing counterplay (she gets to rely on her Q, E, and DFG spells for damage, and can use dashes to reposition or escape instead of making more risky plays).
The second reason is strongly tied to the first; removing this item gives us room to buff champion kits that would otherwise be overpowered if they could use DFG. The most obvious example is Ahri; more ‘magey’ elements of the character, like her sustained damage or kiting, end up getting washed out because she has so much power to blow up charmed targets with a DFG burst. This ends up forcing us to balance Ahri around her assassin playstyle because there’s always the “I can buy DFG” route to consider; removing the item means we can buff her in more interesting ways while still keeping some of her burst because she can’t just pick up a DFG and double down on a single playstyle.
As far as champions that purchase DFG are concerned, some will get some love now that DFG is gone (I mentioned Ahri; expect Veigar to get attention either this patch or next); some are strong enough that losing DFG is a healthy nerf; some rely on alternate item builds sufficiently that they won’t be affected too much. When 5.2 goes live, if we feel there is an itemization gap for mages, then we’ll address that further.
One of the other character classes we’re looking at in 5.2 in Assassins. Some assassins have top tier burst potential that is loaded onto high reliability spells (think Akali or Fizz here) and don’t have enough real weaknesses to compensate. Others may simply be too strong along a variety of dimensions; Zed being one of the best 1v1 champions in the game and an extremely efficient tower diver helps make him a super split pusher. However, him having such strong tower killing statistics (e.g. AS, bonus AD from W passive) on top of that makes for an overwhelming combination.
Last point regarding jungle; we have seen the jungle receive a huge amount of changes since the start of the preseason, and Patch 5.1 was no exception with the addition of the Smite charging system. We want to keep a close eye on what happens when 5.1 hits live servers and we will continue to make changes to jungle as appropriate.
Mordekaiser is a guy we’re still looking at. He’s an interesting problem because admittedly it seems like DFG is core to his late game team fight objectives, but on the other hand it’s really hard to play up some of his basic play patterns (especially in lane) without aggravating the “this guy is miserable to play against” experience.
The interesting issue with DFG is that despite being a nuke scaling off of percentage health and therefore in theory being a tank shredder, it ends up being arguably more potent on squishies since it reduces the threshold required to one shot a carry’s low health pool by 20%.
Your point suggests to me that maybe there’s an itemization hole for mages that want to deal with health stacking (that Liandry’s is not currently serving). I think that’s a good issue for us to keep an eye on.
So I can comment on this a bit. We’re looking at some longer term changes to the itemization system this will probably result in some additional active items though I wouldn’t expect anything in 5.2. A lot of the work on the Active Item UI (making active items more prominently displayed on your cast bar) had the goal of allowing us the ability to make more active items. Any additional actives we add would most likely be targeted at classes or roles that currently have a lack of activated items (ie- probably not supports as they can often be overloaded with actives though we had some ideas there as well)
There are also a few active items we had experimented with during Preseason that we liked (like ZzRot Portal) but were delayed due to scope which we might be able to get ship ready sooner.
Annie is another story. We’re working through some changes that can make her still feel good about bursting people without so heavily relying on “drop Tibbers, cast spells, enemy explodes” pattern.
Cassio is an interesting topic that I’d like to dive deeper on later. But to start I’d ask what you perceive she needs fixed, as she is trending quite strong since 4.21 (she’s popping up as a real force top lane).
Deathfire Grasp is a core item on Ahri and the team is looking for ways to compensate for its removal.
We are testing some changes to Ahri that support the kite mage pattern she used to use sometimes. Those changes (not guaranteed, but being experimented with at the moment) include things like removing the damage amp on charm, buffing her other damage sources and giving her a speed boost while her Q’s in the air to allow more reposition plays and kiting while casting.
Short term: Nothing major planned. We’re looking at small changes to her as DFG follow up and kite pattern support, not significant changes to core functionality of skills right now.
I’m with you there, both on the value of non champion defining skills sometimes being fairly simple (e.g. Rek’Sai’s burrowed Q) and that Ahri’s W’s an example of such a skill. Even on a simple skill though I’d argue there’s a lot of value in adding a bit of distinctiveness/ways to optimize things a bit more. Putting something there basically to enable a person that’s played 200 games on Ahri to pull off the occasional cool play with Foxfire that a player with only 20 games might not be aware of or able to execute at the right time.
Using Vayne’s tumble directly into a piece of terrain to AA as soon as possible’s a good example of that to my mind. A lot of the time it’s not the right call, or not relevant, and new Vayne players won’t do it deliberately. It does add an extra option to the skill, making it a bit richer though, without making the skill’s core concept or tooltip more difficult to understand.
Similarly Ezreal’s Essence Flux being able to hit himself’s often irrelevant or a poor idea to utilize. Occasionally though it’s worth playing into and, pardon the now horribly cliched phrase, is one of the sort of things that separates good players from great.
We did actually test Ahri during her initial development with an ammo system on her ult, with separate use/recharge, rather than the current 3 casts in X seconds approach. Conclusion we came to’s the same point you’ve made – high mobility, within a limited period of time, results in both healthier and more interesting gameplay. Ammo system Ahri always had a dash charge up to escape with, so was much harder for opponents to deal with and was disincentivized from trying to make cool multi dash plays.
I’d be more inclined to find ways to give her other mobility or access her ult a bit more often. Having those gaps results in a longer combat pattern, with more kiting and thought for both sides about where she’ll go and when. Reducing them incentivizes her to spam them to move quickly in a direction or get damage out as fast as possible.
Akali – Lot of fun and a good alignment between her kit and theme, Lacks sufficient counterplay, resulting in frustrating playing against experience especially when she’s ahead. Removal of the mitigation stats from her W’s reduced her dueling power against tankier champs which is a positive, squishy targets still struggle with a lack of options sometimes however. The live balance team’s currently experimenting with her ult range to see if reducing that’s an appropriate lever to put her into a better spot (her having high reliability’s less of an issue if it’s more practical to stay out of her zone of threat or at least force her to use another ult charge before getting to you).
Diana – Would benefit from being more clearly an assassin or a fighter, rather than a generalized mixture of the two (a good fit for her personality that unfortunately results in her being hard to give sufficiently clear strengths and weaknesses when strong enough to be picked). In an ok state, would probably require that work be done to get her to what you’d call a really good state/be a character we felt was good for the game if a really common pick. Not currently being worked on.
Both of them – Bit much overlap between the two, both utilizing a similar combat approach through their ults, Q’s and cleaves. Ensuring the two of them end up with a few more points of distinction would do both some good (which personally suggests Diana should be pushed towards being more of a fighter, though I can see the argument for assassin as well).
How badly does this champion need a visual/audio update?
The more out of place (or out of date) they currently look/sound the more reason we have to rework them. A champion that gets played a lot and really needs a visual upgrade is particularly significant – since they’re in games a lot they’ll be seen a lot and therefore contribute substantially to the overall average visual quality of the game. Tristana’s a good example of this – she’s a popular character, who’s also really easy to acquire (Facebook or 1350IP), with quite a few visual/audio upgrade needs.
How problematic is this champion’s gameplay?
Champions with a lack of counterplay, that result in degenerate lane picks, that suppress interesting play etc can be rework priorities because they make the game worse overall. Xerath and Soraka are good examples of this category.
How much untapped potential does this champion have?
These are characters with cool themes that aren’t properly executed on, unsatisfying kits etc. Stuff that could be really cool, but isn’t, usually for a number of reasons (gameplay+aesthetics+personality for example). There’s a good seed of a champion in there, but it’s not done right. Sion’s the best example of this.
Yorick/Urgot – Both Sion levels of rework in terms of amount of work. We talked a lot about which champion was the best fit for that level of update next and conclusion we came to was Poppy was the best overall choice. Lot of good points in favor of Yorick, and especially Urgot, but Poppy felt like the best choice for the next slot.
Lee Sin – We feel his problem’s that he’s a generalist who crowds out other picks if you’ve got a player able to take proper advantage of him. That means the work he needs is a combination of accentuating (or creating) weaknesses (and potentially strengths) and possibly a bit more counterplay. Some of that work at least’s going to be an issue of balance, as much or more than rework.
Eve/Olaf – Could do with some work, agreed. I don’t personally feel Olaf’s too far off being playable, amount he leaves some champions without options when he’s strong though’s pretty problematic.
Xerath – I’ll have to disagree with you on Xerath, I feel his rework overall left him in a pretty good spot. Would be nice to improve the visual satisfaction on his ult at some point though, the current visual effect was designed for a somewhat different style of ult so doesn’t sync up well with the feel of the current gameplay.
Alistar’s a champ we’d like to do some light gameplay work on at some point. He’s in a reasonably good spot overall though and there are a lot of other champions we felt needed gameplay reworks more. That left us in a spot where we had the option of shipping some visual improvements, and doing some further work at an undetermined date, or delaying the visual changes until everything else could be worked on (probably quite a long time).
Getting those model/texture changes out felt like a clear win, so that’s what we decided to go for, given we had a spot in our schedule where we had enough free artist time for a job of this size and type.
I’m quite confident we’ll do some work on Alistar at some point. To be quite open I’m not sure that that’ll be this year necessarily though (talking about skill functionality changes specifically, I would expect some balance changes sometime this year of course as needed). Alistar’s overall very impactful, fun to play, and reasonably well differentiated from other champs. Sure, his passive’s a bit uninspiring, as is his E in some circumstances (powerful though it be). When he’s significantly too strong he’s also basically must pick/ban (see last year’s World Champs).
Overall though he’s in a pretty good spot, and other champs need gameplay work done a lot more than he does.
These lower scope visual updates are almost always in addition to the other, larger upgrades, not instead of them. If we’re limited by how many champs we make can new character animations and spell effects for at one time, but have the capability to do some more texture/model work, doing those smaller upgrades seems like a good way to help out an extra set of champions that would otherwise not be getting visual upgrades at all at the moment.
[ Note ] You can check out everything that’ll be in Patch 5.1 here.
Due to an unforeseen delay we're delaying the deploy of 5.1 for at least 24 hours. Updates will be on http://t.co/rBLXxyEUMq.
— Triggs (@RiotTriggs) January 13, 2015
Due to a last minute bug we're delaying 5.1, at least 24hrs. Sorry folks! Always better to find these things *before* we release, though.
— Donna (@RiotFeithen) January 13, 2015
[ Note ] Warring Kingdoms Kata is a new skin introduced in yesterday’s PBE update. You can check out a full preview here.
There’s been a bit of positive feedback, yes. I think one of the larger complaints I’ve seen is that her back is pretty flat, since her hair is dark, and her pants are, too. At this point, we’re still collecting feedback, and will be looking at analyzing them in the next meeting for her. It’s possible there will be changes, but I don’t have an answer for that one yet since she only went out to PBE several hours ago.
If you’ve got some specific feedback about what you don’t like about the skin, I’d be happy to take it!
[ Note ] Fantasy LCS recently received an overhaul, you can read more about it here.
Update | January 13, 11:05 PM PST | 14 January, 08:05 CET : We’re continuing to investigate the issue where players are getting stuck in draft.Â Unfortunately, we don’t have an updated ETA at the moment. Once we have a fix in place, we’ll be looking into ways to reset the leagues affected by this issue to the pre-draft state.
Update | January 13, 7:40 PM PST | 14 January, 04:40 CET : We’re still investigating the issue where players are getting stuck in draft.Â We don’t have an ETA at this time, but we’re hard at work at bringing things back to normal ASAP.
Update | January 13, 4:38 PM PST | 14 January, 01:38 CET : We’ve temporarily turned off drafting to resolve an issue where some players are getting stuck when the timer reaches 0 on their turn and multiple picks for a single player are made in a row. For those of you who ran into this issue, we’re looking into figuring out a way to roll back your leagues to the state it was in pre-draft.
We’re also aware of another issue where after creating a league, some players aren’t able to share the link to others to join the league.
We’ll keep this thread updated as we find out more information and resolve these issues.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me atÂ @NoL_ChefoÂ or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.