Patch for Kassadin, Gragas, and Kha’zix

Included in the coming patch (4.3), we’re about to see nerfs to three heavy hitters that may impact the champions you play — assuming you play the most OP champs.

The change to Doran’s Shield seemed aimed to help Doran’s Blade starters in top lane remain dominant. I have mixed feelings about this. I prefer aggressive laners to passive laners, but I worry that Renekton is going to be that much more difficult to deal with for some champs top lane. It wasn’t that easy with the old Doran’s Shield. Now it is going to really suck. They could have at least reduced the price. I wonder if we’ll start seeing cloth armor and 5 potions again. At least the armor builds into something useful and the potions give you sustain for quite awhile. The justification was it had become a “must buy” for certain champions, but they didn’t give us a replacement item to keep those champions viable. Irritating. Maybe Renekton will go to ban jail for a few months. (Don’t count on it — unless the top laner is doing picks and bans and isn’t first pick.)

Kassadin has been in ban jail since Season 4 pre-season. These nerfs seems a little superficial and aimed more at taming some of the fears of this champion. To be sure, he is a ridiculously strong champ in the mid game, but his early game is pretty miserable. I think that they could remove or reduce his silence further and simply leave his damage intact and he might be fine. The silence is one of the most stifling aspects of him, because once he lands that, you have no hope of fighting back. I’ll continue to watch and see how this plays out. We’ll see if people stop playing him altogether or whether he’s still banned out. I don’t think there will be a middle ground. It isn’t like they can nerf him “just right.” They’ll likely need to make him useless before people let him through ban phase. We’ll see.

The Gragas changes were fine, I suppose, but the body slam changes really makes it harder to play against Yasou (who was also nerfed.) I would have rather that his drunken rage didn’t give him bonus AD. The change to explosive cask also seems a bit odd to me. That was his primary utility and it had a huge skill cap to it. They didn’t change it much, but the change seemed gratuitous. Gragas is a still a good champ, but (other than drunken rage) all of his abilities are skill shots and screwing them up has serious consequences. He simply didn’t seem dominant enough to warrant a nerf — or, if anything, maybe nerf drunken rage or take away his ad ratios and boost his ap ratios, if that is what you are worried about. I generally don’t like that Riot gives abilities mixed ratios since they send a mixed message: Riot is begging you to try to build the champ counter intuitively and then they get upset when you abuse it. (See AP Master Yi as a prime example.) Either make a champion with intentional hybrid scaling and embrace it, or stop tacking on ratios that are begging to become imbalanced.

I welcome the changes to Kha’zix, since he was becoming a real problem in solo queue. I suspect that they may have gone just far enough with his nerfs to not make him worthless, but also bring him back under control. Sure, he’s going to see a lot less play and I’m not going to miss him, but give it a few months and he’ll resurface. He’s not so much weaker that he’s worthless, in my opinion, but sufficiently weaker that people won’t want to play him for awhile.

The changes to Teemo are welcome, but they probably should have gone farther with the mushroom damage nerf, but maybe made them have a more powerful slowing effect and a faster activation. I think that using the mushrooms for vision and as a kiting tool would be fine, if they didn’t give penta kills when the little jerk was already dead.

They broke Ryze awhile back and seem to be trying to make him viable again. I wonder if the changes to Tear of the Goddess will help. I’m a tad skeptical, but will keep an eye on the situation. And though the changes to Tear seem targeted specifically at Ryze, my biggest fear with Tear being upgraded is that we’ll see more Nidalee and Jayce and get poked to death from a billion miles away.

I don’t think we’ll see much Skarner play in the current meta. Tanks in Season 4 play top lane and Skarner isn’t looking like much of a top laner, yet. In the same way that increases to Volibear and Sejuani are probably not going to be enough to help them make appearances in the LCS. That isn’t to say that these champions aren’t playable, it is just that they don’t fit very well into our current understanding of optimal play: you want a carry jungler so that he can help all of the lanes get ahead — rather than a tank jungler who is just around for team fights. Your team still needs a tank, and so the top lane has been saddled with that job.

Final word on the terror changes. I like that they will be more predictable. I wonder if they’ll impact Shaco or Fiddlesticks much. These are two champions that I’d be happy seeing less of, so I guess I can hope that it makes them terrible, but I sort of doubt it.

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