Hello everyone! I'm Bertboxer and I'll be doing this little series in the champion feedback forum. I'll be looking more in depth at some of the things that League of Legends design does well (and other aspects that aren't quite up to snuff). I have my eye on the associate gameplay analyst position at Riot and I'm hoping some of these prove beneficial. If this is your thing, pull up a chair and enjoy!
This week I'll be looking at the oft forgotten mage and prophet of the void, Malzahar. These are just my own personal findings and I welcome any criticism of my process. With that said, let's dig in.
Malzahar was released in June of 2010 when the champion roster was significantly smaller. His biggest competition as an ap caster was the original champs as he was the first dedicated caster to be released post-beta (I know that Morde, Nidalee, and Akali predate him but nobody built them pure ap at the time). This meant that he was most likely to be compared to Annie, Fiddlesticks, and Ryze. The meta at the time was completely ill-defined with the exception that carries tended to go mid. One was more likely to see an Ashe or Sivir there than Karthus.
Malzahar was popular for a bit but quickly dropped off into obscurity when more powerful alternatives were found sooner after like Vladimir and Swain. These three champions all fulfill a similar role in that they are ap casters that aren't all about upfront burst. They were (and are still) more like dot mages that would kill you over time rather than what people were used to at the time. Casters like Ryze (before his re-work) and Annie were all about that upfront burst damage and Malz just couldn't compete in that area. Once Swain and Vladimir came out and people realized how useful this new style of caster could be, they forgot about Malzahar somehow. That reason is sustain.
At this point, people started realizing just how important sustain was and it became the primary feature of the metagame. This was the height of Innervating Locket, Soraka, and Alistar. A team with some good healing and poking abilities could simply force uneven fights later in the game. This was also the beginning of Season One, the first chance players could watch what the 'pros' did. Champions like Swain and Vladimir were much more common due to their superior damage over time as well as built in health sustain. Malzahar could compete with them for damage but simply not in survivability. Eventually the meta shifted again and heal/poke teams lost steam. With that, Swain fell out of the spotlight a bit but Vlad still remained a common sight due to the shift to aoe teamfighting (a trait that he still excelled in). Malzahar got left behind eventually and is at the point he is now, a rarity.
Malzahar got some play here and there and actually did well at the Season One championships but he was never a must-have mage in his entire history as a champion. He's always been fine but never too good at what he does. Let's look at some numbers and maybe we can find out why.
Not counting his puddle (which has no set damage) he has a total ap ratio of 2.9. Compared to Annie's initial 2.15, that's actually quite good. Her base damages a bit higher and she brigs aoe stun to the table but Malzahar's damage scales significantly better in to late game. The downside to this, of course, is that Malz takes quite a while to do this damage and is vulnerable while he does. He has relatively low base health, low mobility, and absolutely no escape mechanism. He can silence a chasing caster but his only hard cc, his ultimate, can't be used to escape as it locks him in place. All of these issues put together make Malzahar a very juicy target for enemy bruisers.
Malz does quite well in the mid-game stage due to his easy farming and strong offensive capabilities but is very lacking come late game. His scaling is fantastic but there's very rarely an opportunity for him to actually put everything to good use. I would consider him somewhat like Veigar but without the aoe stun, escape ability, or immediate burst.
So what situation does the our void cultist find himself in at this point? Well, he's a very niche pick. In single target-centric team compositions, he works quite well. The synergy he has with champions like Vi, Warwick, and Zed are great and he can really shut down an opposing mid laner. The downside to all of this is that he's incredibly vulnerable to ganks and has to play very cautiously come the teamfight phase. He's still an attractive pick in certain situations but he is hard pressed to be as popular as more all-around mages like Ahri, Twisted Fate, Katarina, Elise, and Orianna.
Well there you have it, I hope you enjoyed this little read. I'm getting ready to send in my application for Riot soon so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. See you all next week!
Week one: Personality http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week two: Trundle http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week three: Nunu http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week four: Sion http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week five: Melee Carries http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week six: Gangplank http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week seven: Difficulty http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week eight: Elise http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week nine: Perception http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week ten: Thresh http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer
Week eleven: Counterplay http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...ight=bertboxer