Ahri is easily the champion I enjoy playing the most. Her unique gameplay and visual style make her an original and fun champion. That said, she feels like she seriously suffers from some issues.
Please note that the target audience of this is intended to be Riot employees, for a more comprehensive and player-friendly version, see the General Discussion version:
At release Ahri was an extremely slippery high damage assassin. A complete blast to play and a nightmare to go up against. Things have changed quite a bit since then, however, and Ahri is almost a completely different champion.
I see Ahri as a champion that started out as a fantastic and incredibly fun champion, but was slowly nerfed (both directly and indirectly) into obscurity.
As it stands right now, she doesn't bring enough to the table for me to give anyone an honest recommendation to play her. And this breaks my heart, because she is by far one of the most fun champions to play in this game.
I fully understand and agree with removing her "tanky" viability in the past. Aesthetically and mechanically Ahri doesn't strike me as a champion that would want to or should benefit from being tanky. She's an assassin and should have acted like an assassin from the start.
However, her current state doesn't allow her to fulfill this role of an assassin. The previous patches to Ahri have slowly and systematically picked away at every single part of her kit except Charm, dropping her damage, draining her mana quicker, and killing her primary defensive and offensive tool in one, her ultimate. These changes had effectively brought her down to mediocrity near the end of Season 2 where I feel she was slightly overnerfed. She was still playable, still good; just required higher than normal skill and game sense to pull off.
And then you released Season 3. Itemization changes and changes in how valuable True Damage is made Ahri fall behind even further.
Deathcap got nerfed, severely hurting her ability to clear creeps efficiently by removing Orb of Deception's ability to clear creeps in a single cast. You're slightly remedying this change, but it changes nothing specific to Ahri, only AP in general - she will continue to be outshone by her AP competitors. Next, Athene's AP total got nerfed, punching sustained Ahri builds right in the gut.
And then lastly, we have the topic everyone loves to talk about right now: Health and Resistances. With a massive shift to health over resistances, we've seen quite a lot of things, but the thing I'd like to point out in particular is the devaluation of True Damage. With resistances being less powerful and less required, true damage - the ultimate counter to resistances - has become less valuable.
Ahri happens to be one of a handful of champions that rely on true damage as part of their kit. This has obviously impacted Ahri negatively in Season 3. The true damage component of Orb of Deception does not help her in the slightest against health stacking. Previously, it allowed her to partially bypass resistances, making her damage deceptively higher against high-resist targets. But now she no longer has that benefit and her damage output has fallen behind because she relied on the extra damage it was bringing in.
In addition, it looks like the health meta is here to stay. A fellow poster has collected evidence that points towards you being okay with the current health metagame:
If this is indeed true, then these issues with Ahri need to be addressed directly.
In short, what I'm trying to say here is that even though Ahri received no changes in Season 3, she became weaker. Ahri was not exactly known for being powerful near the end of Season 2, and with the changes that season 3 brought about, I feel that Ahri is simply put, under-performing.
Below, I've taken some of the popular AP champions and I've explained why I would never pick Ahri over them.
Anivia brings some of the greatest team-wide utility that you can find on a champion. She can zone out entire areas with her ultimate, create choke points or trap enemies with her wall, keep the entire enemy team slowed, she has a stun that lasts as long as Ahri's level 1 charm but has a longer range with a small area of effect, and she brings damage equivalent to Ahri. Ahri has two things over Anivia, her ultimate's ability to reposition herself and her charm at later levels. Anivia's teamwide utility vastly outweighs Ahri's ability to reposition herself in battle. It's a single person's benefit verus an entire team's benefit. Charm does eventually have a longer duration than Anivia's stun, but this does not happen until near max character level, where's it is too little, too late. Anivia brings equivalent damage, and superior teamwide utility over Ahri. When you're looking for an AP mid, I'd take Anivia over Ahri any day.
Diana used to dominate the same role as Ahri, the AP mid assassin, before her nerfs. She's had a pretty tumultuous history, but she's in a pretty good spot now. Diana has superb base stats and her shield makes her naturally tanky, even when building pure offense. Diana is bested by Ahri in only two ways: Diana has no hard CC and Diana has no escape mobility. However, if an enemy is within range, she has one of the best gap closers available.
Now, in terms of what Diana has over Ahri, there's a fair bit. Both Diana's burst damage and sustained damage are superior - she can pick out a target and simply kick down their front door. She's tankier than Ahri and she's not afraid to take a few hits. Her poking ability is on par with Ahri's, except that Diana's poke has a shorter cooldown at max rank and is much less mana intensive. At rank one, Crescent Strike is 15 mana cheaper than Orb of Deception. At max rank, Crescent Strike is 35 mana cheaper than Orb of Deception.
Diana wins this one because of her superior damage, natural tankiness, and cost-effective poke. She assassinates far better than Ahri does, but doubles as a bruiser at the same time.
Right away, we have some interesting things to say about Elise. She has a stun, like Ahri, but its duration is 1.5 seconds at first level instead of Ahri's 1 second. At later levels, Elise's mana cost on this ability is almost 50% cheaper, and it has a smaller cooldown by 2 seconds. This stun's range is also longer than Charm's range by 100. Next, Elise has special interactions on her Neurotoxin/Venomous Bite abilities that increase her damage based on her opponent's current health. This actually allows her to build quite tanky and still put out pretty respectable damage. Finally, her Rappel ability has the same range as 2.17 of Ahri's dashes, has absolutely no cost, and it only has a cooldown of 26-18 seconds depending on its rank! Elise clearly wins the mobility competition. Elise also wins the brawling competition since she can get away with going tanky and still putting out pretty good damage. Elise, like Anivia, brings more to a game than Ahri does.
Tanky with tons of damage, what else is there to say? Ryze lacks the mobility of Ahri, and only has a snare compared to Ahri's full stun, but he more than makes up for it with his tankiness and incredible scaling. Once Ryze gets going, his AOE and damage potential are almost unmatched. Ryze is a monster of a teamfighter, and he can take more than a few punches, unlike our wonderful Ahri. Ryze doesn't have any fancy mechanics or flexibility, but he more than makes up for it in sheer brute strength that Ahri could never hope to compete with.
Recent developments in the meta have further proven that Katarina is a force to be reckoned with, whether she builds glass cannon or tanky. She brings unmatched cleanup potential, surprisng amounts of tankiness, and all around a lot of sheer strength. Katarina can easily rival Ahri's mobility with Shunpo, and even have it act like a flash if she has a ward available. The difference here is that when Katarina jumps on you, she's going to mess you up really badly, unlike Ahri who tends to poke their opponent down until she can safely fight them. Katarina's teamfighting is superior to Ahri's in every way and Katarina brings more damage to pretty much any situation than Ahri can. The only thing Ahri has over Kat is a CC, but it doesn't come close to bridging the gap between these two champions.
Lux is a great champion. She's probably one of the best balanced champions in the game. She has a long list of strengths: powerful teamfighting, zoning abilities, slows, snares, burst damage potential, and sniping potential. All of her abilities have incredible range on them. While her snare isn't as good as a dedicated stun like Ahri's charm, Lux can land it from an incredible distance - never even putting herself in harm's way. But here's the real advantage: her snare can hit two targets, this makes Lux's snare invaluable in teamfights and during the landing phase since she can lock down two enemy champions or fire her snare right over a minion to hit her opponent. During fights she can zone opponents with Lucent Singularity and punish people who wander into its radius by chunking them for a good bit of damage. And then there's her ultimate. Final Spark is an amazing ability with a myriad of uses. And since it has such a low cooldown at higher ranks, it can be used in most situations without worry of needing it when it's on cooldown. Lux takes this one over Ahri easily with her well-rounded presence and versatility.
Therefore, I come to my suggestions about what to do, should you decide that Ahri does indeed require changes. I hardly expect you to take these particular changes, rather, the purpose of these is to merely get the ball rolling.
- Drop the mana cost on Orb of Deception to 80 at max rank from 90. True damage is less valuable now and it should be appraised as such.
Back when this nerf was made was the peak of both Ahri's power and the power of resistances. Both of these things - Ahri's strength and the value of True Damage - have dropped considerably since then and the mana cost on this ability should reflect those changes. It would also give Ahri more freedom in team compositions; she could have the to option to build mana regeneration items instead of always requiring blue-buff, allowing her jungler to take the buff instead of Ahri if they needed to do so and Ahri opted for the regeneration items.
- Next, increase the AP ratio on Foxfire from 40% to 42.5%. The original nerf to this ability was very heavy, but it met its goal with success: the removal of tanky Ahri. The AP ratio was also slightly modified at the same time. During the patch preview where this nerf was introduced, some insight was shared regarding where you wanted Ahri to go in terms of design:
|"Players will be rewarded for building full ap"|
My suggestion lowers the AP requirement from 800 AP to exactly 400 AP to pull even. This causes Ahri players to actually be rewarded for building full AP. This change would meet the goal that the original change never did. It would also have the side-effect of improving Ahri's late-game damage, a common and very legitimate complaint.
- Finally, a very slight cooldown reduction on her Ultimate, Spirit Rush. According to the patch preview that was released at the time of Ahri's Foxfire nerf, Spirit Rush is intended to be Ahri's primary way to mitigate damage. Currently, her cooldown makes doing this difficult. Therefore I suggest reducing the cooldown by 5 seconds at all ranks, changing the cooldown to 105/90/75 from 110/95/80. Her current cooldown is too restrictive and leaves her with very extensive downtime periods where she is unable to contribute meaningfully since her Spirit Rush is a core component of allowing the rest of her kit to work optimally or evade lethal damage.
These small suggestions would bring Ahri back up to a level where she can have the opportunity to truly shine again in the right hands.