Today’s red post collection includes Meddler’s quick gameplay thoughts for January 24th, including thoughts at length on top lane, a new Patch Chat with the Playtest Team for Patch 8.2, and more!
- Red Post Collection: Swain Champion Update Discussion, Battlecast Illaoi: Visuals and Sound Effects, & More
- 1/23 PBE Update: Swain Update, new Icons, and more!
Table of Contents
Quick Gameplay Thoughts: January 24th
Here’s Meddler’s quick gameplay thoughts for January 24th, including lengthy thoughts on top lane, as well as thoughts on Pro play:
These posts will often contain talk about future work we’re doing, or planning to do, that isn’t yet guaranteed to ship. The nature of the work could change or, depending on what we discover, projects mentioned may get put delayed or even stopped. If you’d like to see a Tweet whenever a new one of these posts goes up: https://twitter.com/RiotMeddler
Thoughts on top lane
As mentioned last week some thoughts on top lane today. Longer post than usual, ended up being a lot of stuff to touch on that’s all pretty interlinked.
First off some thoughts on what laning in LoL should be like in general, and then on top specifically.
Laning in general:
- A period of small scale PVP, where it’s your skill against one or two opponents most of the time. Tests different skills from team fighting in particular.
- Should last for a fair duration and success during lane should set you up with a meaningful advantage post laning phase. If you win hard enough, and translate that lead into a wider advantage for your team, that could be very influential in deciding the game outcome.
- Your choice of champ relative to your opponents should matter, but shouldn’t decide the lane (strength in counter-picking, but not hard counters).
- Success should come from both how you play the lane (farming, zoning, trading etc) and how you contribute strategically during the laning period (roaming, TPing, objectives etc).
- Lanes should have frequent interaction between champions, not just passive farming.
- Contributes less to strategic play than mid (more isolated), so should test and reward play in lane more on average (some exceptions, especially from champs with global mobility on their kits).
- Should be able to support a wide variety of champion types, in particular those not well suited to solo laning elsewhere. Ideally all champs should have a home in lane somewhere, though that’s been a challenge for us for a long time with some champs who’ve only really existed in the jungle.
- Needs to be able to cope with jungle/roam pressure from being a long lane with only one champion per side providing vision.
Context: Top at different MMRs
One other thing worth talking about with top lane is how it changes significantly at different MMR levels. Looking at popularity for example top Lane’s the middle position in terms of popularity at almost all MMR bands, noticeably below mid and bot, but significantly above jungle and support. That trend changes at really high MMRs (top 1% or so), with mid and jungle then the two popular roles, with bot in the middle and both top and support a bit below it.
We believe there are a few factors that contribute to that difference in popularity by MMR. Some of it’s the effectiveness of other roles being more appreciated at higher MMRs (e.g. jungle/support perception). Some of it though is also that top laner impact on game outcome does decrease somewhat with higher MMR statistically (more thoughts on that in a section below). What the top lane experience is like also varies (e.g. which champs you commonly play against changes significantly looking at Diamond versus Silver for example, as does ability to take Ignite versus having to take TP).
Single target spell agro
As per the laning section above we believe a variety of types of champion should be viable in each position ideally. One problem that we’ve seen though is that some champions dominate lanes with click to hit spells that lack enough counterplay (e.g. Pantheon Q). Particularly as melee that means you end up either sustaining through their hits or just get bullied out of lane. Some matchups can be too dependent on which champions got picked and not enough on how you play the lane. We’ve got a change in 8.2 where single target non skillshot damage spells draw minion agro as a result. Champs we think will be noticeably affected in their ability to spam harass who regularly play top include Kayle, Vlad, Teemo, Pantheon, Malphite. Some others could be affected as well, though we think the likely impact’s lower (e.g. Akali). It’s possible some of those champs end up too weak, or still too dominant despite that change. Will likely need some follow up work in 8.4 as a result, particularly if any champs end up lacking a way to be effective in lane at all. If for example Panth has to time his Q harass around gaps in minions and/or eat more minion harass can he be effective enough at all? Is he fine after a bit of adaptation?
Runes and Top Lane
Top’s also been particularly affected by some of the new Runes.
First up, there are some gaps in the current rune system. As we’ve mentioned we’re working on a new keystone intended to offer sustained damage output to champs who are after both some offensive and some defensive power. Likely that appeals to some, but not all, of the champs who used to take Fervor. Current expectation is that that will go in the Resolve tree. That’s both to make Resolve more attractive to some champs and because a number of the new keystone’s potential users don’t want Attack Speed that much (hence they’re not using Press the Attack like Shyvana for example). That lack of interest in so much Attack Speed is something we’ll also be looking, particularly the question of whether precision (or even all trees) should split their stats like Resolve currently does. That would open up the Precision keystones to quite a few champs if so, though does have some other costs (diluting clear distinctions in playstyle between the trees in particular). More on that possible split either later this week or next week.
Kleptomancy’s also too good on its best users, most of whom tend to play in top lane. Combination of other melee targets to proc it on and desire for sustain means that for a lot of champs in top it’s their most powerful keystone. It’s also an issue on some champs elsewhere (Ezreal in particular). We’re changing it so it gets procced less often if you’ve recently procced it as a result, toning down the difference between those that can really maximize it and other users who aren’t out of line. Worth noting that while GP does make good use of it he’s also about as strong with Grasp, so possible he may still be a balance issue after this change.
Finally, Aftershock’s both too narrow (limited range of users) and too strong on many of its current users (tanks, a few of whom are pretty impactful top). We’re changing it so it deals less damage, especially early, gives flat mitigation instead of flat + % and has some AD/AP scaling. First goal there is to make it weaker on some of its current best users (e.g. Maokai or Leona), in terms of their damage output early in particular. Second is to allow champs who build some offensive stats instead of full defenses to get more benefit from it later in the game (e.g. some fighters with CC who really want defense at the start of a fight but aren’t building full tank). Exact numbers on it are a risk point that may need tuning, amount of flat Armor/MR early in particular. Damage is down significantly, need to ensure that defense doesn’t end up more than offsetting that power loss though.
Champ Balance of common top laners
Champ balance is also worth talking about of course, though it’s been less of our focus in top while we’ve been working on the wider systemic stuff above. We did a bit of work on some champs in 7.24b last year, nerfing Jayce and Teemo, while buffing Tiamat, Aatrox, Kled and Renekton. Rationale there was that those were the champs most in need at the time. We saw noticeable improvements to those buffed, Jayce and Teemo didn’t get affected that much however. We’ve since followed that with nerfs to Kayle, Ornn and Heimer.
Looking forwards, we’ll almost certainly need to do some follow up on individual champs after we’ve seen exactly what impact the agro and Rune changes have. We’ll also be buffing Trynd in 8.3. Gnar need some work soon too, in particular to give him more exploitable weaknesses. Ornn by contrast is a trickier case. He’s on our minds, given his dominance in high MMR and pro play, but it’s looking like he’ll be a Ryze like problem in some respects, with poor performance at almost all skill levels while dominating high skill play. We’re looking for changes that bring his power down there more than elsewhere as a result.
Top Lane Summary
So, to try and sum a bunch of things up, we believe top lane needs some improvements at both the tactical and the strategic level. Tactically some things are distorting the lane and need to be addressed (a range of Runes, some individual champions, ranged harass that doesn’t draw agro). Ability to be aggressive on some champs, and get damage to stick to others, may also need further work too. At a strategic level top’s impact on the game at really high MMRs is likely too low. Addressing that likely involves increasing the benefit of winning top lane and looking at how dependent on TP top lane is.
Thoughts on pro play
Finally, for something not top lane specific, wanted to share some observations about pro play. As of this weekend just been we’ve now seen play kick off in all major regions for the first time since pre-season. Inclination so far is that there are a few wider issues we should be looking at:
- Seeing teams have some difficulty ending games. Wave clear’s high, making it hard to push, while the value of late game objectives (Baron and Elder Dragon) may not be rewarding teams with full map control enough. Disengage champs are also common, impactful picks, and engaging enough to get multiple kills can be difficult.
- Inspiration’s looking too strong. Gets used a lot both as primary and secondary choice, with Slightly Magical Footwear and Perfect Timing the consistent elements. We’d been planning to chip some power off the boots already, will be looking at Stopwatch this week too.
- Bot lane sustain is too high, resulting in low reward for putting damage on your opponents and therefore a low interaction lane. The nerf in 8.2 to Targon’s healing (50% if owner is ranged) potentially addresses enough that already, possible more might be needed however.”
When asked about Cassiopeia, Meddler commented:
Is there a chance that champions can Cassiopeia can now become less mana gated as a result of the recent changes? I feel like regardless of where her winrate may fall extreme mana gating on a champion like Cassiopeia should not longer be required to balance her laning.
Potentially yeah. We’ve gated her pretty hard in the past because of her E spam and lack of good responses to it. Possible we could relax that now depending on where she lands. She, Panth and Kass are the champs we figure are most likely to need work as a result of this. Should get a clearer read on where a range of champs are up to within a couple of days and then be able to talk who needs (or doesn’t) need follow up work.”
On Brand and AP items, Meddler replied:
What are your thoughts on Brand ATM?
Also when we will see some context on the AP item reworks? When will those changes hit PBE/Live servers?
In 8.1 at least Brand looked a bit too strong. We’ll see where the changes to support items and minion agro put him, possible those nudge him up or down.
AP items – potentially some changes in 8.4, if not likely (but no guarantees) in 8.6.”
In case of a potential nerf, would you guys just lower his % burn to 3% or would look at elsewhere?
Does that mean that this AP item rework would be a major overhaul and (potentially) fix all the problems AP’s are having with itemazation, or the rework is just not that high priority?
Not sure on what we’d change if nerfing Brand yet.
AP changes are looking at opening up choice of first item more (less obligation to start Morello’s) and improving balance on a number of other items (e.g. Deathcap likely needs some help). It’s not a huge overall of everything AP.”
On Lucian, Meddler replied:
What about the previously mentioned Lucian buffs? Are you guys still looking to hit his passive or have you guys backed out of that for now?
Passive changes still likely, probably in 8.3 or 8.4″
On Hecarim, Volibear, and Minion Dematerializer, Meddler commented:
Thoughts on Hecarim and being on the weaker side?
Are Volibear changes coming this PBE cycle?
Any new direction for Minion Dematerializer rune?
I don’t think we’ve got any plans for Hecarim changes.
Voli changes might hit PBE this cycle.
We’ve backed off on Minion Dematerializer changes for now. Direction we were trying (mind control an enemy minion and get the gold/XP from it) had some cool moments, but mainly resulted in a lot of ‘use it on CD to just push, creating a chore for the opponent to deal with’ gameplay. Also seeing the live version get a bit more use now, especially in pro, so want to see where that settles.”
Meddler continued on Minion Dematerializer:
On Minion demat. why not just make its effects more potent? Maybe you deal 6%+1%/extra uses on the same minion, after using all charges, minions would grant 1 or 2 extra gold maybe?
We’re not convinced it’s weak, more than it’s hard to appreciate and, for quite a few players at least, not interesting enough. Adding power to it’s not a good fix as a result.”
He went on:
so for the few champs that it could be used on -with full usefullness (Brand W Lux E etc)- would they get a little buff to not leave them without a satisfiying wave clear, if you guys decide that MD no longer gives extra dmg on minions?
Would depend on their state at the time if we removed it.”
Meddler noted Maple Nectar was working on another post on the top lane and the differences between high and low MMR play:
“Glad that data is of interest. We should be sharing a bit more of it sometime this week or next (Maple Nectar’s working on a post at present). That post will look at both differences between regular and high MMR and differences across different regions. The above numbers for example are a global average, with some interest in some roles being very different in some areas.”
As for Ornn, Meddler commented:
About Ornn, is there any chance you’ll revisit him? I’ve seen quite a lot of Dislike for the change to his W both here and on Reddit.
Primarily the fact that removing his Unstoppable lowered his skill ceiling
I expect we’ll have to look at Ornn again, both in terms of balance and strengths/weaknesses.
Regarding the change to his W I don’t think we’ve done a good enough job of communicating what actually changed there. Beforehand Ornn couldn’t be displaced and, if hit by other types of CC, would be affected by the remaining duration when the W ended. After the change Ornn can be displaced and, if hit by other CC, is still affected by that after W ends. The W still cannot be canceled however, so it’s still a good play often to use the W just as a stun hits for example to keep dealing damage when you’d otherwise be stunned.
In terms of skill ceiling, yeah, the value of timing a W correctly against opponents with CC did go down a bit. Using W to continue to deal damage/move when you’d otherwise be affected by other CC is still clear point of mastery though. Additionally, looking at the challenges we’re seeing with Ornn balance, I’m much more worried about him being too punishing for newer players/effective when mastered (think Ryze/Azir), than that he doesn’t reward skilled play enough.”
On Karma, Meddler noted:
“Nothing to report on Karma yet, we haven’t got specific timing or scope identified. Will update when we do, will be a while though.”
As for Caitlyn, Meddler commented:
Hey Meddler, what happened to the cait buffs? Did she end up not needing them?
She’s being looked at during the next week or so to determine if we should buff and if so how.”
And on Mordekaiser, Meddler replied:
Thoughts on Mordekaiser? Are u planning on making any “in the meantime” changes before a full VGU or will u leave him at the current state until an eventual VGU arrives for him?
He’s stable enough power wise right now so we don’t have anything planned. Would revisit that if his performance changes substantially (up or down) in response to meta shifts, but otherwise no planned small scope update.”
Patch Chat with the Playtest Team – 8.2
Here’s Riot Novalas with the Patch Chat with the Playtest Team for Patch 8.2:
“Hey everyone and welcome to Patch 8.2, the second patch of the season!
I’m Riot Novalas & I’m a QA Analyst on Riot’s Playtest Team, a group of high elo players who work on Core Gameplay playing new champions, reworks, balance tweaks, items, and map updates before they’re released. It’s our job to test the changes that our designers come up with and ensure that we’re introducing positive changes to League in terms of both balance and fun.
Patch Chat serves as an opportunity for us to talk about the patches that come out every two weeks.
You can find information on the most recent patch by following this link:
In this patch, we’ve given Evelynn, Kha’Zix, and Vayne some nerfs. Ornn isn’t stoppable anymore, btw. Jinx received some changes to her play pattern. Nunu and Sona got some love! Sightstone, as an item, as well as all of it’s upgrades are now gonezo and your support items now transform into a warding item!
Ask us ANYTHING about 8.2! Any changes that you have questions about? Maybe our favorite rune builds? Or how often we execute to jungle camps? We’re also down to just chat, though!
Disclaimer: We have no insight on upcoming/future skins.
- Adam “Riot Afic” Cohen
- Chris “Auberaun” Roberts
- Christy “Riot Ender L” Frierson
- Nick “Riot Endstep” Frijia
- Sigmundur “GangIeri” Helgason
- Arnor “Riot Hjarta” Halldorsson
- Rob “Riot King Cobra” Rosa
- Miktat “Riot Koyuncu” Koyuncu
- Brian “Riot Madness Heroo” Pressoir
- Nabi “Riot Novalas” Barak
- Dan “Riot penguin” Hardison
- Robert “ROBERTxLEE” Lee”
- Reav3 noted that a new Champion Roadmap would be coming soon:
Can we expect the new roadmap today?
“It’s going focus on the next new champ, Irelia, Aatrox the next VGU after Irelia, and maybe a little something extra”