The Cycle of Nerfs
Tue 22nd Oct 2013 - 2:12pm
Nerfs are ever-present. Our rightful lord of the hammer and author of the dread book the Morellonomicon keeps us on the verge of breakdowns when his gaze shifts to our most favoured champions. However, when one falls, others must rise to take it's place.
For an easy example, lets observe the lane of most contention these days - Mid Lane. During the Season 3 championships, we saw an abundance of Fizz, Ahri, Orianna, and Gragas. Every game from the quarterfinals to the finals contained one of these champions. But how did this come about? What led to the dominance of these 4 picks? I'll just tell you - Zed.
Zed is an incredibly strong champion, able to melt traditional Season 2 AP carries easily. With his high mobility and insane ramping damage, he found his place in the League almost instantly. All of his strengths - mobility, fast waveclear, and dive potential - worked neatly into the newly evolving Pre-Season 3 Meta of fast-paced matches emulating the Chinese and Korean styles. In answer to this, champions that could match his mobility and dive power were sought and found in the forms of Ahri and Kassadin - joining them was the tanky faceroller Ryze. Twisted Fate was also a popular pick against Zed, although reliant on snowballing other lanes through his ganks rather than straight up fights with Zed.
Now with Zed almost perma-banned by the majorty of players and as more and more dive assassins became popular thanks to favourable conditions, Morello sitting on his throne of skulls declared a holy decree - thou shalt not play Twisted Fate and Ryze. Patch 3.10 heavily nerfed Ryze by reducing the range on all his spells and reduced the flexibility of Twisted Fate in an already rough ecosystem for him. Twisted Fate's popularity also encouraged the mobile assassin meta, with his nerfs leaving him almost impossible to pull off - as shown by Alex Ich's questionable performances on him following his changes.
Ryze was the last bastion of defence against Ahri and her ilk, which left a big void where a counter used to be. After some fiddling, Fizz became the agreed-upon counter to Ahri. Able to dodge the catch potential that Ahri holds while also able to out-damage and out-mobility her, Fizz quickly became a staple chosen not only for his strength against Ahri, but because he was so damn good. Now people were stuck trying to figure out how to counter Fizz, until the clockwork Queen pirouetted back into the scene. Able to constantly harass Fizz with her auto-attacker modifier and low-cooldown spells while being able to protect herself from being all-in'ed, Orianna is also strong against Ahri - reducing her mobility and punishing her for attempting to catch people out.
So heading into Worlds we had a Big 3 scenario. Fizz, Ahri, and Orianna - with Zed looming ever-present above them. Then came Gragas, bigger than all 3 combined. Long-range, high mobility and an incredible catch potential meant that while it was difficult for the melee range Fizz or position reliant Ahri to catch onto him, Gragas could freely push farm and roam around to take your ADC and support from behind. Able to disengage or engage at will, Gragas is currently sitting pretty with an impressive win ratio from Worlds.
There you have it, Ahri - Fizz - Orianna - Zed - Gragas. Your 5 mid kings and queens. But don't get complacent. Ahri has a few nerfs inbound from the Public Beta Environment - and Dread King Morello always has the last laugh.