The New Champion Dilemma
Sun 3rd Jun 2018 - 5:47pm
Pyke, the new assassin support in the game, is being released very shortly on this patch. The release of a champion in the game is usually a good time for most players who can enjoy the new champion and learn about all of the new synergies and combos that can be accomplished. However, the release of a champion can also have some downsides in the balance department. Obviously trying to balance a champion perfectly for live is difficult, and this has been on display with the last few champion releases. As Pyke is released shortly onto the live servers, it’s a good time to take a look back and review the recent champion releases into the game and how they impacted the game.
Kai’sa, Daughter of the Void
Kai’sa was the last champion to be released into the game. She was released in March of 2018. On release, Kai’sa was an extremely underwhelming champion to play. Her short range caused her to fair very poorly in the bot lane, and she felt almost impossible to succeed with and reach her late game fantasy because of her short range and low early game damage. Her ultimate was also a very unique ability for an ADC that saw many people put themselves in dangerous situations and basically lose the game.
On her release patch, Kai’sa had an abysmal 44.95% win rate, one of the worst in the game. However, after she was hotfixed, heavily buffed, and people learned how to properly utilize her kit, her win rate shot up to 53.23%, an incredible climb. Since then, she has been a prominent pick in competitive play and a terror for solo queue because of her incredible scaling and ability to outplay. The problem with Kai’sa is that she was a difficult champion to play and the buffs coincided with the player’s ability to understand her kit, which made it a problem. Since 8.6, she has received minor nerfs but continues to be one of the highest win rate ADCs in the game despite her very high risk/high reward playstyle.
Zoe, the Aspect of Twilight
Definitely the most nightmarish of a recent champion that Riot has had to balance, this burst mage has been a very interesting challenge in the mid lane since her release. At first, Zoe had to be hotfixed buffed because she just wasn’t doing enough damage, but it didn’t take long before the player base had many complaints. Her ability to 100-0 basically anybody with just a single item completion made her a menace on the rift, and she was basically a pick or ban champion in competitive play. As a burst mage with, like Kai’sa, a high risk/high reward playstyle, it was a surprise to see her in professional play given her risky gameplay. However, the raw strength this character possessed at the time caused pro teams to play her regardless. After a few patches, Riot had had enough and laid down the hammer.
They nerfed several of her abilities, and she plummeted from a 50.17% win rate in Patch 8.3 to a 41.12% win rate, an extremely poor win rate. Realizing their mistake, Zoe was buffed and she has remained at or close to a 50% win rate ever since. However, being at a 50% win rate for such a high risk champion is not necessarily a good thing, and means that she probably isn’t getting punished for her mistakes as much as she should be. She is beginning to take over the mid lane again, much to the dismay of many mid laners. It’ll be interesting to watch what direction they take with Zoe, but for now, we can successfully label her as a messy release like Kai’sa.
Ornn, the Fire Below The Mountain
Ornn on release was almost comical. His release win rate was somewhere around 30-32%, by far one of the lowest win rates that has ever been seen in League of Legends. His playstyle wasn’t complicated but different, his numbers were awfully low, and he was unforgivably clunky. Every single ability felt awful to use and his win rate reflected that. He received three hotfixes, all giving Ornn significant buffs to allow him to even survive on the rift. However, after that, his numbers started to rise and he saw a ton of play in three roles. He became a prominent professional pick due to his absurd tank ability, his unreal utility, and his versatility. After this time in the spotlight, Ornn was nerfed and has rested at a 46-48% win rate. Unlike Zoe, Riot did a very good job after they got over the release hump with Ornn, and his win rate and professional pick rate has been successful, steady, but not overbearing.
Basically, releases in League doesn’t always go to plan. A lot of the time they are too weak and then are buffed out of proportion to make them too powerful. Some problems like Zoe persist, and other problems like Ornn gradually go away after enough time has passed. Basically, be careful in your next few games with Pyke, because there’s a good chance he’s either going to be completely useless or way too overpowered. Lastly, do not flame Riot for the unbalanced win rate on release. Releasing new champions to such a large game like League is extremely difficult and balancing them after release is all a part of the process.
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