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Greetings, Summoners.Chris "Pwyff" Tom & Patrick "Scarizard" Scarborough
Welcome to patch 5.11 - the one where we buff Caitlyn and roll out some pretty significant changes to Twisted Treeline. That Caitlyn is being buffed isn't a milestone in itself, but when you consider how long it's been since we've given the Sheriff of Piltover any attention (hint: a long time), it's at least worth a novelty mention in the foreword. So here you go, Caitlyn. A foreword mention and a patch note.
As League continues to evolve through the regular season, we remain committed to our pursuit of champion diversity in as many different ways as possible. Today we looked at some of the highs and lows of the champion viability ladder and chose a few we could prod closer to the center. In some cases (like Katarina, LeBlanc, and Hecarim), we had champions putting out high amounts of oppressive (one might say frustrating) power, which ultimately translated to investigation tasks for us to deflate some strengths (or highlight weaknesses) without just kicking them to the curb. On the other end of the spectrum, we wanted to highlight certain unique strengths on undervalued champs with things like Caitlyn's Headshot upgrade, Aatrox's bloodier passive, or Kha'Zix's buffed isolation range (technically it's reduced, but in a good way).
We also have some pretty big updates heading to everyone's favorite (one might say only) Twisted Treeline. We were in the process of doing a large cross-map consistency pass for all alternative map modes in League of Legends (you might remember our work on the Howling Abyss), and felt we could also do some broad balance adjustments while we were here. Check out the Twisted Treeline section of the patch notes for more information, because there's a lot of it.
And that about encapsulates the contents of this patch. For those of you struggling to keep up in your games of League, we're always striving to ensure you won't be stuck up the river without a paddle. That said, if conventional means don't work, be careful who you call when seeking help; there's all sorts of things out there, preying on the wishes of desperate people. Mope, and you mope alone - laugh, and the world laughs with you. Or so they say.
Boy that was cryptic.
Important note: Not every ability plays SFX if it hits something in Fog of War and this update won't change that. We're just restoring a couple of abilities that stopped working this patch.
As promised below!
Look at this continued support. We're just throwing in some tweaks to address popular floating combat text concerns; specifically, recognizing critical strikes faster and better communicating individual sources of damage when damage-over-time abilities are running rampant.
Blood Well's cooldown lowered at later levels.
Aatrox is a champion that seeks to constantly all-in and punish poor positioning by diving head-first into battle, but this has always been at odds with Blood Well's monstrous cooldown. No longer! You should expect Aatrox's early dives to stay as tame as they've ever been, but now his team doesn't have to wait an eternity for him to be ready to throw-down in a late-stage moshpit (what else are you picking an ancient blood-god for, anyway?).
League's most senior Marksman recently got some pretty big changes, and while she's certainly more satisfying to play, her damage is a little out of hand for such a utility-based champion. We're hitting some of her lane-bullying and tower-shoving potential to preserve her unique role as a more 'support-carry' as we take a deeper look at how she's settling into the competitive landscape for future follow-up.
Brand's R will spread to nearby targets, even if his target uses Zhonya's Hourglass.
When we were looking into Brand's unique niche as a chaos-sowing inferno-mage (that can be his official title if you'd like), we realized Pyroclasm was a pretty neat place to start. In reality, this change is half of what we wanted (and we'll be looking to get the second half out as soon as possible), but our end game is this: rather than thinking of Pyroclasm as a targeted nuke that chains off into everyone else, it's more of an area-effect inferno that starts at a "suggested" point (your targeted cast). After that, however, little Pyro (that's what we're calling him) just goes where he pleases, mindlessly seeking out nearby targets to set on fire.
You'll see this further iterated on soon, when we make it so that if Pyroclasm ever tries to hit an untargetable body (either it gets dead mid-flight or uses Zhonyas or gets Bard ulted) during his bounce time, he'll just fly right on by to another victim, rather than fizzling out on the spot.
Headshot's better against tanky targets, and R gives vision on cast.
As mentioned in the foreword, it's been a while since Caitlyn was present in the patch notes. This doesn't inherently mean that every champion that hasn't been touched in forever is due, but when the meta has shifted to favoring Marksman that excel in dealing damage while kiting and the Sheriff was AWOL, we figured something was up. Not much behind some general improvements to what feel like bugs (especially in regards to R and Vision), but now Headshot's fancy bonus armor penetration (as in, only penetrates bonus armor like Yasuo's R) will help keep Caitlyn's shots relevant in a late-game of tanks and fighters as she loads them up with greater frequency.
Movespeed down, clarity increased for opponents on W and R.
It doesn't take a time-traveler to see Ekko was a little Chrono-broken in 5.10. It's still early, so we're still gathering data and taking a good look at how players are adapting to his in-and-out skirmish style of play, but it's easy to see he needs a little off the top (have you seen his hair?). With that in mind, we're making some numbers adjustments and upping the clarity (without stomping on his damage output) for his opponents to smooth things out as we continue to evaluate Ekko's performance across each timeline.
Cleaning up Passive and E to not be insane with Homeguard.
Both of these changes are targeted specifically at Hecarim's particularly insane synergy with Homeguard and Teleport. For someone that already provides great initiation and damage, Warpath and Devastating Charge were adding so much damage to his combo that this edge-case gets to be unbearable for anyone not sporting a Malphite's worth of armor to withstand. We're pretty good with how Hecarim's doing outside of this specific interaction, which is why we're being so surgical towards it here.
Transform now has 1 rank, Jayce's spells now have 6.
For the average player, putting points in R feels like a trap and was rarely satisfying, so we're adding 6 ranks to his spells and giving Jayce his bonuses from Transform when he would have gotten them for free. Below this context are a lot of numbers, but the key things to take away are that Jayce now has very different power spikes relative to other champions, and his signature Shock Blast / Acceleration Gate combo is much stronger, pushing the incentive to take him over similar choices in a dedicated poke/siege strategy.
E's early damage ratio lowered.
We'll keep this one short: Katarina's Shunpo is essential to help her get around and chain multi-kills once she's Death Lotus'd up a storm, but the base and ratio were contributing far more to her midgame burst than what's intended from a flexible mobility spell. Lowering it makes her work harder and be more cautious with when to enter a fight if she wants to make it out alive.
HE'S OUT TO GET YOU
Just tossin' a little love over to Kha'Zix's isolation radius. Kay-Z doesn't have ways of naturally isolating his opponents, so we're looking for a middle-ground between 'killing you right next to your support' and 'opportunistically catching people out of position'.
One of the most notorious champions in League of Legends, Leblanc's reason for being in the patch notes this time around aren't unlike her colleagues in Riven and Zed; She's flashy and hard to master, but can be pretty frustrating to fight once the snowball gets rolling. Leblanc's changes this patch are all in the name of increasing her opponent's ability to react. Her nigh-unparalleled ability to delete a high priority target (or double-distort into the backlines for massive damage) are left intact, but making her combo easier to dodge can be the difference between a big play or a blunder that encapsulates LB's tricky brand of Risk vs. Reward.
W reworked to give armor passively, activate to rock-slap people.
These changes for Malphite are all about 'Play Pattern', which is to say the style in which a champion executes their abilities in the game. Malphite's kind of a one-trick-pony - after using Unstoppable Force and getting in your grill, he quickly runs out of things to do and finds himself waiting for cooldowns (and hoping you can't escape or kill him as he does it). We're changing Brutal Strikes to be a more satisfying button press and help him have something to do to kill the time. We're aware that AP Malphite's been popping up somewhat recently, and while build diversity is sometimes neat, we're more interested in what this does for Malphite's flexibility in playstyle. We'll iron out the scaling as necessary, but the idea is giving the ol' rolling stone a rock solid game-plan when his basic spells don't get the job done.
R's lock-out on snapping back to Orianna slightly increased.
Before y'all get into a fit about Orianna being nerfed, this one's actually pretty simple: this increased cooldown only affects Shockwave when the ball returns to Ori as a result of out-ranging it, meaning you're less likely to accidentally ult on top of yourself when you don't mean to. When casting Command: Protect on yourself (or simply walking over the ball to pick it up), there's no change. Huzzah! Context!
W and E no longer grant passive stacks / trigger cooldown effects if he casts them just as the target dies.
Sorry about that!
We're repeating ourselves, but this change is finally implemented from 5.10. W's on-hit bonus damage now deals less of the target's max health.
We're repeating ourselves, but this change is finally implemented from 5.10. Might as well copy paste that context again: for a tanky, crowd-control focused armor lady, Sejuani's dealing a whole boar-load of damage (sorry) in addition to her super disruptive glacial powers. Reducing some of that damage lets us focus Sej on what she does best - being a tanky, crowd-control focused armor lady (we just said that).
Passive and E are better late-game. Also, Shen finally has magic resistance per level.
Ah, Shen. Once the poster-child of split-pushing, Shen finds himself in a rough spot - a world where his strategic niche (global pressure) is now shared by a vast majority of top laners due to Teleport's presence in the modern metagame. Teleport allowing such a wide group of champions to participate from such an isolated position is a pretty neat thing, so while we aren't necessarily solving that today, we're hooking Shen up with some late-game goodies to keep up the pressure where he falters most. While there's other changes that are self explanatory, Ki Strike's the biggest of the few here. Tanks in LoL require some amount of sustained threat (or they aren't worth being so hard to take down), and by significantly upping the output of Ki Strikes, Shen can return to being a map-wide nuisance and a tower-taking threat that demands an answer.
W gives Shyvana stronger basic attacks for its duration.
Despite a brief spark in competitive play via Cinderhulk/Skirmisher's Sabre, Shyvana remains a champion that feels left behind. We're loading her up with more basic-attack beatdowns when Burnout is active to reinforce her melee moshing and make you feel better when diving in for the kill.
R's burst of speed weaker at later ranks.
Before we get to Sivir, let's talk for just a sec about diversity. Just as Feral Flare, Cinderhulk, and nowadays Luden's Echo, it's not an uncommon thing in League for one option (though unique on its own) to become the 'best' and crowd out others from viability. Part of our hyper-meta-goal of Champion Diversity is not only making sure that each champion has a niche, but that there are multiple niches that co-exist to make a pretty cool strategic landscape.
So how does Sivir fit into this?
Sivir's niche has always been well-defined: make your team go faster than the other team (usually involving lots of murder upon arrival) at the expense of hyper-carry damage output. The larger issue is that in a game where tanks have found their footing once again and items like Righteous Glory help the initiator-on-the-go, Sivir's become much less of a champion you pick when you want to synergize with hard-engaging and instead turns every team she's on into a 'hard-engage' team, no matter what the composition looks like (If you're old enough to remember Nidalee before her rework, this was a similar issue - you didn't pick Nidalee into a 'poke comp', your team became a poke comp by virtue of having Nidalee on it).
That brings us to where we are today, where people are picking Sivir with long-ranged poke champions and managing to get the best-of-every-world and shutting out diversity in the types of compositions that see play. This change is a revert to the one we gave her in patch 4.13 (a time long before tanks and Righteous Glory existed) but we'll be keeping an eye on when and how teams pick Sivir now that she doesn't carry the burden of enabling heavy engage teams all by herself.
Luden's Echo builds less charges per spell cast and scales lower with ability power
This will be long because we feel like talking about item philosophies. Up front: Luden's Echo is pretty strong. That said, the direction of our changes are a lot more nuanced then "make it less strong!" so we'll explain. First, what makes an item like Luden's Echo 'strong,' and why is that problematic? Balance issues aside, we'd be much happier if Luden's Echo was situationally strong - where picking it up at the right time conferred a great deal of power, but not so much at other points in time. Unfortunately, Luden's Echo is just straight up powerful, so it becomes the default choice for all AP champions that can use it. If you want to take that situation one step further, a very strong item in the ecosystem starts to warp champion viability around "who can use that item the best," rather than the other way around (see also: old Challenging Smite top lane, or old Feral Flare).
So that's the problem space we're dealing with.
So our second point: when we want to tackle a powerful item like Luden's Echo, we want to make sure we're pushing it in a unique direction so that when a mage does pick it up, they're doing so for very specific reasons. Rabadon's Deathcap, for example, is an item you rush when you want to hit that late game AP spike that no other item can offer. Luden's Echo, then, gives a strong early-game benefit with its high base-damage proc. As such, we decided to reduce its ability power ratio so there was less overlap with Deathcap's end game fantasy (look, even items can have them). The charge stack decrease on spell cast also feeds into our philosophy of focusing Luden's identity - specifically as one that benefits kite-focused mages heavily, meaning it should always be rewarding continuous movement and spellcasting (but not purely one or the other). If we were to make future changes to Luden's Echo, you'd probably see us further tunneling in on those values, but this was a very long context post to explain some of our nuanced philosophy when it comes to items. Sorry.
Crystal Scar and Twisted Treeline were lagging a bit behind in terms of map-agnostic visual improvements like animated victory/defeat screens, loading screen art, and new minion models. We’ve brought these improvements to Dominion / TT matches everywhere, in addition to a comprehensive texture pass to bring these maps more in line with their big brother (sister?).
Now applies a bleed on crit instead of amplifying crit damage.
We don’t have anything against bringing Infinity Edge’s crit damage multiplier to other maps, but it was kind of random to shoehorn it in at the expense of Wicked Hatchet’s unique identity. Pillager now inherits Wicked Hatchet’s bleed effect in an appropriately buffed state - this is, after all, a consistency pass.
A small buff. Move along.
Overlord's has traditionally been a bit of a boring item - a health boost with a conditional passive. The addition of Crystalline Bracer makes it a little more enticing while smoothing out its build path.
Some high-level context here: while we were doing our consistency pass-through on alternative maps, we identified some low-scope opportunities to react to player feedback for Twisted Treeline's larger balance / game pacing issues. You'll see this reflected in most of our changes, so read below for the full story, but we'll keep an eye as to how these impact game pacing on Twisted Treeline, and adjust accordingly if they push things a little too crazy.
Here be complicated math, so let’s just leave things simple: level-up requirements and death timers now scale more consistently from level to level.
Camps are easier and spawn slightly earlier
One of Twisted Treeline’s major draws is its flexible meta: when duo lane and jungler comps are both competitive, we see a wider variety of champions and strategies in play. At the moment, though, Treeline camps are so damn tough that dedicated junglers have fallen out of favor. We’re tweaking things across the board to help bring the role back up to par.
Note: since camps now start at level 2, we’re showing spawn values (old level 1 vs. new level 2) rather than base values.
Vilemaw takes longer to kill, is harder to solo and now grants a minion-buffing aura instead of a stat boost.
For an undead spider god, Vilemaw has never really been a meaningful objective; instead, it tends to be taken as the last item on the checklist to snowball a game into victory. Contrast that to SR, where teams often act based on Baron/Dragon pressure, and it’s clear we have room for improvement.
We’ve decided to widen the window for interference during Vilemaw attempts and to give Crest of Crushing Wrath (kudos if you recognized the name) a solid identity as a sieging tool. Clear incentives should allow teams to make smart plays around Vilemaw not only through optimal buff use but also in prepping the map, trading other objectives, and even team comp selection.
We've changed the altar buffs to be less snowbally and more interesting. Like Vilemaw. Consistent goals are good.
The problem with explicitly attaching income to a buff is that teams only tend to lose control of the buff when they’re behind. Once income discrepancy is established, the enemy team no longer has to work to extend a lead - the game passively does that for them. We're subbing in a large movement speed boost which is still impactful if stolen, but won’t snowball the game unless the enemy team takes advantage of its absence.
The flipside of one team losing their altar is the other team controlling both. Again, this situation tends to imply that one team has taken control of the game. Rewarding that control with a stat bomb makes it extremely hard to swing the game back toward equilibrium because the 2-altar-buffed team became stronger in every situation. We've shifted the 2-altar buff to instead enable objective sieging (like the new Vilemaw buff), adding a specific type of power that can be played toward and against.
Turrets are sturdier and there’s one more in each lane.
Turrets are pretty flimsy on Treeline, as best exemplified by the Nexus turret’s susceptibility to a single unaccompanied super minion wave. We’re bolstering defenses across the board and upping the threat of Inhibitor and Nexus turrets to make sure teams have to actively strive for objective control.
With the recessed positioning of inner turrets, getting any structures on the scoreboard required teams to extend really, really far into enemy territory. Given the lack of visibility tools on the map, most are unwilling to make this risk in the early game, meaning when the first turret falls, that's usually a sign of Bad Things to come. It’s worth noting that this is a big reason why squishy/immobile champions have had a historically poor showing on Twisted Treeline.
We’re adding a new set of outer turrets as an early-game objective to address these concerns. They’re intentionally weaker than the remaining turrets since our goal isn’t to extend match times.
Not having wards on Twisted Treeline adds a level of fear you'd expect from the Shadow Isles, but also means squishy champions don't have great ways of moving safely around the map. It also leads to (get ready for it) snowballing: when you’re ahead, you have more control over the map, more strength in a jungle fight, and less to lose from hanging out in a brush. We saw an opportunity to address some of these concerns with the trinket slot to give players more compelling choices than "facecheck the jungle or AFK at turret".
The immediate change below might not make sense here (we talk about how snowbally vision is, and then we remove vision granting items), but if you go one changelist below that, you'll see we're introducing a trinket! So... please read below.
The following items have been removed from Twisted Treeline:
That was a short-lived removal. This new Hextech Sweeper briefly grants vision and reveals stealthed units in the target area.
Rather than forcing teams to invest heavily in vision granting items (and further reinforce the snowbally nature of TT), we're switching the vision game over to a trinket system so that all can participate. That said, our intent isn’t to completely trivialize vision, so we’ll be keeping an eye on how the new trinket plays out and make followup changes as appropriate.
With the removal of Grez's Spectral Lantern, Madred's doesn't build into anything. That's depressing, so we're deleting it.
We rolled out this change partway through 5.10 but wanted to shed more light on it here. Many players have been hitting an LP wall as soon as they're promoted from Platinum into Diamond, with victories rewarding less and defeats removing more. We want to stress that this wasn't a bug, but a consequence of Diamond representing a much wider skill range than we had designed for.
Technical explanations aside, Diamond players should still be ready to put in a lot of hard work to progress into higher divisions, but climbing shouldn't feel as impossible as before.
Update: Whoops! This update's still testing on PBE and won't ship this patch!