A Level Rise – A Look at Why Karma May Be the Next Support Power Pick
Thu 26th Mar 2020 - 4:45pm
Over the last few years, Karma has seen more appearances in the top lane as a support bruiser than her utility-focused support variant. However, the recent changes to League may be the precise setup to allow the Enlightened One to make a glorious return to the bottom lane support role. Therefore, in this piece, I will break down why Karma may be a hidden OP in the current state of League of Legends.
Nowadays, it is very rare that any champion shoots into the meta with no changes in the patches beforehand. The only example that comes to memory for myself is Morgana in season 4, where she shot to S+ tier status upon her reveal to the world as a counter to (at the time S tier support) Leona (shoutout to Vander there for revealing the pick that I would make my main for many a season). But this is not the case for Karma. Karma got minor damage buffs to her Q and W which are a straight buff to her support laning phase as over recent seasons we have seen the support role become the primary source of damage in the lane, so these buffs are a direct buff to support Karma and not top lane Karma. These buffs may be what’s required to push her back to the forefront of the meta.
Unlike Morgana's rise in the Support role, Karma may be doing so with buffs from Riot.
A Happy Go-Between
The support meta over the last few months has seen a prevalence of engaging supports with Nautilus and Leona being the king and queen of the support role over recent patches. However, the support role is one of, if not the most dynamic of the five roles in the game, as it has seen every type of champion grace its allocation from mages such as Brand, to enchanters (such as Nami) and everything else in-between. As for now, we are beginning to see the return of an enchanter meta with champions such as Nami, Soraka, and Yuumi all seeing buffs to their support playstyle. So why does this help Karma? Well, Karma definitely has potential as an enchanter support thanks to the low cooldown of her shielding/targeted MS buff E, Inspire, but this spell can also be combined with the Ulti, Mantra (creating Defiance), to make it teamwide and this combo can be used as a devastating engage tool. This combination is unique to Karma and may make her the next OP pick in LoL.
Karma is very unique in the fact she is an enchanter who can create engaging scenarios for her team.
After the nerfs to Ardent Censer a few years back, we have seen the item's priority and power as a first item for supports drop dramatically. With the fall of Ardent has come the rise of a replacement, Athene’s Unholy Grail. Athene’s has slowly become one of the most powerful items in the game again, as its healing upon shielding is a lot more powerful than people realize... provided you can charge it by damaging enemies, which is where Karma’s Q, Inner Flame, really maximizes its usefulness. This all combined with Karma’s full utilization of Athene’s stats of Mana regeneration, Ability Power, and Magic Resist (in support versus support combat) makes the combination very powerful.
Ardent's drop in Priority has allowed Athene's to rise as a first item choice.
Now while Ardent Censer has seen its power and priority drop to the point that it isn’t the first item must-buy, that does not make the item entirely bad. The item is still useful as a second/third item and the reasoning is twofold. The first reason why users of Censer can still make great use of it is because of one of the passives which it has in the form of 10% enhanced healing/shielding, which is just nice for those champions who spam out heals/shields (such as Karma and Soraka). Also, note that this also has a synergy with Athene’s.
The second comes from the fact that it still applies the Frenzy buff, which may not be as strong as it was two years ago, but it is still useful for any ally that makes use of the bonus attack speed or on-hit damage (this buff is more synergetic with the new Lethal tempo Ezreal than you might think). This also makes those champions whom can use its effect repeatedly more powerful, even though Ardent doesn’t sit on the same pedestal that it did in season 7 (when a game is decided by who gets one item on their team first like Ardent Censer, Old Aegis of the Legion, and Runic Bulwark [veterans of the first few seasons will know it results in a un-fun game state]), it is still useful in the game today as second or third item.
While Ardent was nerfed like these items it is still viable itemization choice latter on in support builds.
To conclude, the lady who shares a name with the concept of what goes around comes around is in a position right now where she could be on the verge of dominating the support meta for the first time in a long time, and it could be for a variety of reasons. Whether it be the buffs that Riot gave to her that are designed to give her some power but not as a solo laner, or the fact that she snugly fits the transitional shift undergoing currently in the support role as she plays both sides of the line, and it could even be the fact that is one of the best users of Athene’s Unholy Grail and Ardent Censer which are both underrated right now. Whatever does bring support Karma back to the forefront of the LoL meta, it may be an idea to pick her up ahead of time so that you can exploit her for that sweet LP gain in ranked. With that, I once again leave you with the thoughts of GL, HF, and GG.