[CENTER]Is Darius truly overpowered?[/CENTER]
There have been so many claims that Darius is overpowered or Darius just pentakilled my entire team by pressing R or whatever. I am here to discuss Darius, his kit, his potential, and ultimately what his current situation is in the metagame. I feel this is important because every thread about Darius being OP I read is usually 2 lines long, with the words "true damage" and "R" in it somewhere. This proves nothing.
While this full analysis is intended to give you a strong idea on Darius' power, it still contains personal opinion and subjectivity. I try to use quotes and facts wherever possible but because of the large amount of variables this game has it is hard to be factual all the time. As such, his power is still questionable and is open to discussion on this thread. So expect some opinions, and expect some to be potentially wrong, but rest assured there is care taken to ensure that this is informative and not some rant on Darius being OP.
Where does Darius usually play? What does this mean for him?
Darius is classed as a melee fighter champion, who gets into the fight and does damage and takes it well too. This makes him a nice bruiser/off tank and makes him a great top laner, where he is generally played. He also has 2 AOE spells (Q & E) and a good single target spell (W) which makes him a competent jungler too.
"Darius is a melee fighter who sticks to targets, drops their health pools with bleeds, and finally executes them for a kill." (Phreak, Darius Champion Spotlight, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M15wr-5O18)
What this means is Darius is encouraged to build as a off tank character, or more simply a bruiser, who can deal a bit of damage but he can also take a fair bit too. This style of play is heavily encouraged by his passive (which rewards him for more damage the longer the fight plays out) and because he has no real range at all, forcing him to be in the fight and not at the back of the pack. Darius is also encouraged to build for a bit of damage so he poses as a threat and not as a target, specifically attack damage.
Understanding your opponent: What abilities does Darius have?
Now that we know Darius is supposed to be a top/jungler bruiser character, what abilities does he have to aid him? This section explores what Darius' abilities are, what use they are intended for, and how powerful it is.
PASSIVE - Hemorrhage
As a passive, hemorrhage is a bleed effect that does damage to enemies over time. Hemorrhage is applied whenever Darius does basic attacks or damaging abilities. The bleed effect is strengthened for every stack of Hemorrhage that the enemy has, up to a cap of 5. This effect will slowly decay over time, and when it fully decays, it removes all stacks. This means the time it takes to remove 1 stack is identical to the time it takes to remove 5 stacks. Any form of attack will reset the timer for Hemorrhage and apply another stack if not already capped at 5. In addition, every bleeding enemy gives Darius 5% bonus movement speed (obviously capped at 5).
What this passive does is gives every hit a bit more bang for your buck. The bleed effect itself is not very powerful however. 1 stack will make the enemy bleed for a total of 12 health over 5 seconds (12/5 = 2.4 damage per second) + 30% of your bonus attack damage (Your base damage is not included in this. If you mouse over your attack stat next to your portrait, the green number is what is used to calculate this). What makes this passive odd is that it does magic damage, so building armor will not protect you from the bleed as well as you might think. The passive scales poorly with bonus AD. Even if you had 100 bonus AD, you would only get about 33 extra damage over 5 seconds, meaning at the beginning of the game (without an AD item or masteries/runes) you would deal 45 over 5 seconds (45/5 = 9 damage per second). Of course, what makes this passive a little more dangerous is that it stacks, and early game without AD items or masteries/runes and with 5 stacks, you would get 12x5 = 60 damage over 5 seconds (60/5 = 12 damage per second) which still isn't a terribly large number. Then you must take into consideration that runes, masteries and magic resist will play with these numbers further AND you must remember that 60 damage per 5 seconds is added onto whatever damage was applied from the abilities or basic attacks themselves AND that the bleed effect is reset after every hit, meaning that extra bleed damage may occur before you get 5 stacks.
Ultimately though, what this passive rewards is consistent fighting. The more you commit and the more you engage a certain opponent the better Darius will do against that opponent. This passive also rewards your ultimate with extra damage depending on the amount of stacks it has, so it increases the power of your ultimate too. Finally, it gives Darius a bit of movespeed so he can stay locked on to his targets and chase them down, or run away if the opportunity presents itself.
Decimate is an AOE ability that deals damage in a circle with a radius of 425 units. This circle is basically split into an inner half and outer half, with more damage being dealt in the outer half of the circle since that is where the blade is. At level 1, this move does 70 physical damage + 70% of bonus AD when you are hit in the inner circle. When you are hit by the blade in the outer circle when Decimate is at level 1, this does 105 physical damage + 105% of bonus AD (for a total of 50% extra damage). What is interesting to note here is that this move scales on bonus AD better when you hit a target in the outer circle. Another important thing to note is that this ability has no cast time and does not stop movement, so Darius can keep chasing an opponent after using Decimate.
"As his primary damage tool, I take Decimate at level 1 and max it right away." (Darius Champion Spotlight, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M15wr-5O18)
As Phreak states in the champion spotlight, Decimate is intended to be a damaging tool and maxed first for the best damage output. Early on this is a great harass tool since it does the best damage at a good range, especially against melee champions. Later on in the game this move becomes one of the biggest sources of damage, dealing 315 physical damage + 105% of bonus AD if the target is in the outer circle of the move. This is quite large and late game, bonus AD can be around 150 - 200 for Darius, making this ability deal around 450 - 500 damage maximum, not taking into account enemy armor and runes/masteries. On paper this seems quite large for a bruiser and just a good damage move in general, but there are a few things to take into consideration:
1. This move has a 9 second cooldown at level 1, being reduced by 1 second for every point put into Decimate. So at max level, Decimate will have a base CD of 5 seconds.
2. In a teamfight when you are up close and personal, this move could hit in the inner circle (especially after using E) and when Decimate is maxed, it deals 210 physical damage + 70% of bonus AD in the inner circle.
3. By this point, armor levels will reduce that attack value by around 50% average, making this spell only do around 250 damage maximum (then you have armor penetration which screws with the numbers even more). When enemies have around 2000-4000 health late game, this really isn't very much alone.
With the above 3 points taken into consideration, this move actually doesn't have a very strong presence on a single target, although it can deal good amounts of damage to many targets like a good AOE spell should. Even more importantly, this relatively low attack damage is surprising when this move is supposed to be the best damage ability (apart from his ult) that Darius has. If Decimate hits 5 targets, then Darius can make an escape much easier if required, although he will still be stopped with stuns and slows will still work on him. In conclusion, Decimate is a reliable damage dealing spell for Darius, but it doesn't have the power to really be a great threat alone.
Crippling Strike (W)
Crippling Strike is a single target auto attack modifier, that essentially is an auto attack with more damage. When a target is hit, a stack of Hemorrhage is applied like all of Darius' other abilities, and the target has a slowed movement speed and attack speed for 2 seconds, with the amount depending on the level of the ability. In addition, every stack of Hemorrhage reduces the base cooldown of Crippling Strike by 1 second.
"For increased damage and crowd control, I take a point in Crippling Strike early and max it by level 13." (Darius champion Spotlight, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M15wr-5O18)
Phreak tells us that Crippling strike is actually used as damage and utility, so I will analyze both aspects of it.
In terms of damage, this move is weaker than Decimate, with the damage gap between Decimate and Crippling strike increasing as they level up further. At level 1, Crippling strike does 120% bonus damage. Darius has a base attack damage of 50, and with a Doran's blade or attack item of some kind, this move will deal a total of 60+12 = 72 damage. With no attack modifiers, this move will deal 50+10=60 damage. With no attack modifiers, this damage is 10 less than Decimate (inner circle) and 45 less than Decimate (outer circle). At level 5, this move will deal 200% bonus damage. Darius' base damage at level 18 is 113. Therefore, at this level Crippling Strike will deal 226 damage with no modifiers at all. While this is more than Decimate at level 5 in the inner circle (226 vs 210) with no modifiers, it is far less than Decimate at level 5 with the outer circle (226 vs 315). However, at level 5, Crippling strike is bound to have some bonus AD backing it as well, and Crippling Strike scales better than Decimate at the late game, but not the early game. If Decimate hits in the outer circle doing max damage for around 500 damage at around 176.19 bonus AD, Crippling strike will deal around 578.38 damage with the same bonus AD. This is questionable, since Crippling strike deals damage and has a slow effect, making it the better choice versus Decimate in high bonus AD situations. If Darius builds more tanky, Decimate may still do more damage at max level. You must also remember that this move is a single target spell, while decimate is an AOE spell, so Decimate has a higher potential damage output overall.
At level 1, the slow effect on Crippling strike will slow your movement and attack speed by 20%. Late game at level 5, this is increased to 40%. You must also remember than in addition to slowing the opponent with crippling strike, a Hemorrhage stack is applied making Darius 5% faster (plus another 5% for every champion bleeding). This keeps Darius stuck to his target and attacking them to death. With the attack speed modifier in mind, one can Decimate on the entire enemy team to increase movespeed and fire this on the ADC to minimize potential damage done by lowering attack speed. Since this is a single target spell, this move doesn't have very strong CC potential, and so is quite nicely balanced. Overall, Crippling strike is a good single target move that has great potential to shut down an ADC for a few seconds, and also is great for chasing your opponent and just dealing damage in general to a single target.
As we move further down through the kit of Darius, we move on to something a little more rage inducing. Apprehend is a skillshot in the form of a cone (similar to Heart Seeker Strike on Pantheon) that pulls enemies close enough to Darius that they become within melee range and forces them to face him. This move will pull in any minion of champion within the cone at the time of casting. Although not a disable strictly speaking, moves that will protect you from any disables (Morgana's black shield or Olaf's Ragnarok) will protect you from the pull of Apprehend. Apprehend also ends the channel time of any ability (Katarina's Death Lotus or Pantheon's Heart Seeker Strike). In addition, Apprehend does NOT apply Hemorrhage since it does not do damage and is the only ability not to apply Hemorrhage. Apprehend will also give Darius bonus percent armor penetration, which scales with the level of Apprehend.
"Primarily a utility ability, I take one point in Apprehend early but max it last, at level 18." (Darius Champion Spotlight, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M15wr-5O18)
Firstly, the range of Apprehend must be addressed. At 550 range, this is the longest range ability Darius has and makes this move one of his best moves to engage with. However, it is also the second longest CD ability, with a 24 second CD at level 1 and 12 second CD at level 5, making it most likely that you will only use this ability once or twice in a team fight. Since it pulls in everything within melee range, Crippling Strike following Apprehend can make a strong combo to lock down any particular champion. This move is the best crowd control move Darius has, which probably explains why it does precisely no damage.
The armor penetration it gives is also quite good. At level 1 it gives 5% armor penetration, with each extra point giving another 5% armor penetration, giving you 25% armor penetration when Apprehend reaches level 5. With the new changes to armor penetration and the increased armor costs, this ability will make your attacks much stronger than they used to be. What makes this move so annoying is that Darius can still do a good amount of damage while being very tanky because of this move. To prove this, let's take the Decimate example. At 50% armor (which is 100 armor to be exact) Decimate will deal 250 damage with the outer circle. If we use the max level of Apprehend to penetrate 25% of that armor, then you will have 75 armor left, meaning you block 43% of the attack rather than 50%. Since decimate originally did 500 damage before the armor block, 43% of 500 is 215, meaning you will get an extra 45 damage on every champion it hits (assuming every champion had exactly the same amount of armor) dealing up to an extra 225 damage overall just because you had that passive. Of course, this extra damage will become even higher against a more tanky target and even higher with more armor penetration, making Darius quite powerful with this move just sitting in his ability slot.
Overall, Apprehend is a great CC move and provides a bit more damage with all your abilities, but is limited by dealing zero damage, not applying the passive and having a big cooldown.
Noxian Guillotine (R)
Ah, the big one. The most rageworthy move currently on Darius and arguably the whole game. The biggest damage dealer and Darius' signature move. Noxian Guillotine strikes an enemy target doing extreme damage. For every stack of Hemorrhage on the target, Noxian Guillotine does an extra 20% damage. Finally, the cooldown for Noxian Guillotine is instantly refreshed if it deals the killing blow.
First lets talk about the range. The range is 475 units, which is larger than Decimate and Crippling strike, but lower than Apprehend. There are a few things that make this ultimate truly powerful. The first is true damage. True damage is damage than cannot be blocked by armor or magic resist. So whatever damage Noxain Guillotine says it will do, is exactly what it will do. Early on, this damage is quite low at 160 true damage + 75% of bonus AD when Noxian Guillotine is at level 1 and no stacks of Hemorrhage are on the target. However, with full stacks at level 1 Noxian Guillotine will deal 320 true damage + 150% of bonus AD. This is quite crazy and the scaling is very good, so make sure to get full stacks of Hemorrhage before using the ultimate. Late game, when Noxian Guillotine is level 3, the move will deal 340 true damage + 75% of bonus AD when no stacks of Hemorrhage are on the target (still very low). The big numbers come from targets with 5 stacks of Hemorrhage, and they are dealt with a whopping 680 true damage + 150% of bonus AD.
One complaint going around right now is that Noxian Guillotine will do 1k true damage later on. Mathematically speaking, you would require 213.33 bonus AD on top of your base damage, meaning you require around 336 AD to do this much damage with your ult, assuming you have full stacks of Hemorrhage as well, which is quite high and means that Darius will sacrifice his tankiness to do this, which is not viable since he will not be around to cast Noxian Guillotine in that case. A much more legitimate complaint right now is that this amount of true damage will kill many squishy targets, and refresh the cooldown, making Darius deal very high amounts of damage in very small amounts of time. The cooldown is only refreshed when Noxian Guillotine deals the final blow. This leads to a huge team problem that Darius has where he killsteals, but that will be explained later.
Overall, Noxian Guillotine is the biggest and greatest thing Darius has going for him at this time, with great damage and a great ability to guarantee kills since true damage cannot be blocked by anything.
Darius is, quite literally, a one hit wonder. He gets a lot of his power from his ultimate, while the rest of his kit just sits there feeling bland. In terms of numbers and damage, his kit is actually very balanced. He has minimal amounts of CC and minimal amounts of damage on his Q and E, while the rest of his damage is balanced into his R. Unfortunately, this number balance combined with the kit itself makes a very broken champion. Since Darius relies on his ultimate so much, he either dominates with it or wastes it and does poorly. His other abilities are quite underwhelming numbers wise, so Darius only has his tankiness left, which isn't as strong as a full tank like Shen or Malphite. What is worse is that his kit is essentially toxic. Playing around with the numbers will not fix the situation. You must either buff his other abilities and lower the power on his ultimate, or have his abilities remain weak and keep his ultimate strong. Unfortunately, with his ult refreshing on kill and dealing true damage it can still be quite powerful when used correctly. If you were to remove the true damage or nerf the damage numbers so hard that they were useless, then Darius would become underpowered, even with lots of damage piled onto his other abilities, since
1. Only 2 of his abilities will end up doing damage
2. They have big cooldowns early on and still quite big cooldowns later in the game, meaning that Darius will suffer from similar problems to an AD caster or LeBlanc. Once he does damage with his abilities, he will be a sitting duck, with only his half tankiness to save him since he has no escape at all
With no escape and huge amounts of power piled onto his ultimate, tweaking numbers will only make Darius very overpowered or very underpowered. In conclusion, Darius has a toxic kit that needs to be checked and changed to make more sense. This underlined point will be elaborated further as this analysis continues.
Darius through the test of time - What is his early, mid and late game power like?
Here, I will be discussing what Darius can do at each stage in the game and what his presence is like in each scenario to both teams. Since I haven't really analyzed the numbers for mid game so much, I will not talk about his power there so much as the teamfights and team presence but I will still try my best to remain objective as possible. I will, for this case, assume that Darius is going in the top lane where most players who choose Darius will go in ranked.
Early on, Darius is rather weak. His harass is awful until around level 3 where he gets Apprehend, which means for the first 2 levels any form of range harass will really hurt Darius. His health and overall defense is also quite weak, but still strong enough for a bruiser lane. Darius will do well against purely melee champions like himself that like to engage him head to head since his bleed can start to burn away the enemy health, while Crippling Strike will give you more hitting opportunities and set you up so any ganks by your jungler will be much more successful. Once Darius gets level 3, he can start to be a bully with his E, although its very long cooldown of 24 seconds at level 1 will force Darius to remain relatively passive while this is on cooldown. Most of the early game power Darius has will come from his Apprehend (utility) and Decimate (damage).
During the early game, Darius is very open to ganking since he has no escape at all, meaning his summoner spells must be built around this just to escape ganks. He is not open to ganking himself, since he must travel a great distance to reach bot and he cannot effectively gank with his kit since he has no real excellent gap closer. On the other hand, any lane with a stun will make a Darius gank much more powerful and viable.
In the end, Darius has a pretty bad laning phase. He has no range, is easily shut down and cannot protect himself from ganks and cannot gank well himself. Darius is great on 1v1 melee engagements, but that is really all he can do early game. He is a lane bully against melee champions and can shut them down and screw around with their farm, but otherwise Darius has no real presence to both his team and the enemy team early on.
In the mid game, Darius will have his ult and teamfights may start to begin. At this point Darius is much stronger in terms of health and resistances, and can dish out a decent amount of damage. His lane presence is much stronger now, and he can start to really harass and scare his lane.
"Darius is most potent right after Decimate hits rank 5. So, look for any nearby fights once you are level 9." (Darius champion spotlight, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M15wr-5O18)
The above quote suggests that Darius is strongest when he hits level 9 with his Decimate maxed out. With his ultimate, this is very true and he is great to have in a full teamfight at this point.
Teamfights for Darius at this point is where Darius shines, but where his presence starts to become toxic. His Q, W and E will not do well against many targets alone, and he will require help from his team to deal damage. However, once an enemy gets low Darius can use Noxian Guillotine to insta kill a champion, cleaning them up. This refreshes the ultimate cooldown, making Darius a very good killstealer. This is toxic to his own team since the carry of the team will be unable to pick up kills with Darius just stealing them all. It is toxic to the enemy team because once you are low enough health, Darius is basically spoonfed a free kill. This is not very nicely balanced, since he can come back from deaths very quickly thanks to his ultimate, and deny kills to his OWN TEAM with it.
At mid game, Darius excels because he has a good damage dealing ability and strong ultimate. However, this kit imbalance haunts both teams, since he is able to come back from deaths by killstealing (which is really bad) and make life hell for the enemy team. At this point in the game, his cooldowns are still pretty big and hence his presence doesn't shine until the enemy is wounded heavily. If the team cannot dish out enough damage, Darius will not be able to do it for them, even with a strong early game. If a ultimate by Darius doesn't kill the enemy, then he not only wounds his own team because he isn't dealing maximum damage but he wounds himself since he cannot killsteal and get fed, especially if he had a bad early game. With this in mind, it is possible to conclude that Darius' ultimate is poorly designed since it doesn't help his team very much when he killsteals and it doesn't help when he doesn't killsteal since he loses a lot of his damage.
Later on, Darius starts to become a much greater threat thanks to his great mid game. By now he will most likely have come back from whatever losing streak he had early game, or he will be far behind at which point Darius' team will probably lose. His damage, as analyzed, comes from his AOE Q and his single target E, finishing up with his very powerful R. Darius is going to be fairly tanky at this point in the game, but not as tanky as one of the more main tanks in the game like Shen. His damage will also be decent, although not very overwhelming until the very late game when he finishes his build, at which point his damage is high, but still not as high as a dedicated ADC or AP mid.
At this point, if Darius has the lead, he will most likely contribute very well to teamfights. His damage will be constant and he has a great ability to snag the ADC from the back of the team and keep the ADC right in the middle of his team. He can use his W to make sure any runners will not escape Darius' wrath. When anybody gets low, Darius can press R and secure some more kills for himself. At this point, Darius is either fed and will continue to last hit kills or feed some to his ADC, or he will have fed and use his natural tankiness with whatever he has to keep the enemies fighting him for as long as they can so the fed character on his team can do damage (unless he has no fed team mate in which case it is probably over). Darius can be focused down however and is easily destroyed by stuns or silences that keep his abilities out of the fight for as long as possible. Since he is tanky, it probably is best that Darius isn't focused, leading to this odd situation where Darius is a threatening target yet he shouldn't be focused over an ADC.
Late game is where Darius really takes off, but only if his mid game and early game say so. If he does well, he can really help his team. However, if he doesn't do well, he will most likely lose. At this point, the presence to his own team is variable. He will either be a nuisance and steal too many kills and the ADC will not do enough damage (which must be done since Darius doesn't do tons of damage himself) or he will be a great asset with a balanced amount of kills and deaths and will use his ult to win the final teamfights and secure a victory. The enemy team will still despise his ult and tankiness, although heavy CC teams will have less problems. If he has fed, then by the late game he will go down easy. Otherwise, you may have problems.
So is Darius OP?
Using this information we have here and knowledge of Darius' utility, damage and kit, a final conclusion can be made. The overall power of Darius is quite balanced, and his concept is somewhat solid. He is a bruiser who fights up front, has a good spread of damage and utility with the weakness of no escape and awful early game. His mid and late game are great and damage and CC are appropriate for his class. So in conclusion, no, Darius is not overpowered. His power is equal to that of a balanced champion.
BUT, his kit is so broken that it leads to the problem that Darius is toxic and ultimately decides fights with one ability. His ultimate has so much power poured into it at the cost of everything else that his whole viability currently stands on it. Without it, he doesn't contribute very much to his team. With it, he can contribute, but sometimes it will not help the team since the ADC/AP mid cannot scale into the late game, and even more emphasis is placed on Darius. He is a crucial decider in teams and like Blitzcrank, he can make things happen. His overall team presence is so strong and toxic that games revolve around Darius, where he either feeds and makes life hard for his team, or is fed and dominates. His power is so skewered into one direction that is kit is out of whack and his viability is placed on something that is either reliable or not reliable at all. His kit needs to be changed so that his ult is more team friendly, while still providing Darius some form of power. Changing numbers is not effective since his kit is so broken that as discussed early, he will either be very powerful or very weak.