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Welcome to Patch 5.18, the one the World Championships will be played on. That’s a lot of pressure for one patch (and to be honest 5.18’s kinda nervous about it), but we believe in its ability to provide a fine-tuned experience for pros, spectators and average joes alike.
Let’s dig into that for a second. 5.18 isn’t about nerfing juggernauts into oblivion (or buffing Trinity Force) - It’s about meaningful options. Creating a landscape where teams have the option to invest in pocket-picks or non-standard strategies is just as important as being able to put them into practice when the time comes. Our changes this patch reflect a commitment to that mentality, powering down the dominant picks that threaten to take an axe to diversity (lookin’ at you, Darius) while also handing out some feel-good buffs to once-great staples (like Twitch) to stir the pot and set the stage for an open playing field.
That’s really all for us here. Though the patch may be large in breadth, our aim isn’t to go very deep on any one particular champion. We hope you’ll consider all of these options being presented, rather than defaulting to that pocket Poppy pick we know you all have up your sleeves. Once upon a time we might have said AD Mordekaiser, but look at us now.
Patrick "Scarizard" Scarborough
E’s frosted bonus works on Dragon and Baron.
While not the worst at taking neutral objectives thanks to her amazing zoning potential, Dragon and Baron’s inability to be CC’d meant that Anivia’s bonus damage interaction with Frostbite wasn’t working - this changed for Ashe during her rework, and seeing as we’re pretty big fans of consistency we figured we’d fix it as a neat buff for ice birds everywhere.
Q cost up.
Back in 5.12, we double-buffed Braum’s ability to fish with Q’s and start more fights with a lower cost - looking at the last few patches of professional play, it would seem that we were successful. We love Braum being used for the epic moments Unbreakable and Glacial Fissure can provide, but we’re reverting one of the changes we made back then to keep the risk/reward paradigm on Winter’s Bite in line. We’re intentionally playing it safe on the big guy, but making sure there’s a cost to missing the moment without chipping away his reward feels right for how dominant he’s been.
W cost and cooldown reduced.
You have the right to remain salty. Ever the go-to for marksmen-in-training, Caitlyn’s strategic niche of pushing and sieging has had a lot of its thunder stolen from the likes of Jinx and Tristana. That said, when hyper-carries like Vayne and Kog run rampant, it’s up to the 650-range arm of the law to take ‘em down. Placing more power in her traps aids her ability to keep opposing marksmen pinned under tower without necessarily making her more effective at clicking on melee champions and making them cry.
Q’s heal per unit reduced, but maximum heal and mana cost increased.
The least mobile of the Juggernauts from 5.16, it’s Darius’s seemingly endless longevity in fights that tip the tension of triggering this Noxian Might into a foregone conclusion, wiping the battlefield clean of anyone unfortunate enough to be in range. Seeing how rough his release was (and how oppressive he is now), we’re taking a measured approach to find a middle ground where Darius can still succeed in fights, but has to work harder to pull off the same unstoppable feats as before.
Spiderling damage down.
Now that we’ve had a few patches to observe the effects of the spiderling changes we made back in 5.14, it’s safe to say they’re scaling too well for a champion whose core strength lies in significant impact in the early-game. We’ve opted to hit the base over scaling to preserve the tradeoffs present in her itemization; building damage should still get you damage, but tankier Elise builds shouldn’t be able to get most of that while still being able to survive.
E now scales with AD. The world is ending.
Ezreal players have always been separated into two camps: those that Arcane Shift away from danger, and those that Arcane Shift directly into it. We’re not necessarily endorsing reckless play, but taking a calculated risk with Ezreal should feel like it has an appropriate pay-off. Arcane Shift may always be more of an escape than a combo-finisher, but loading damage into it rewards aggressive positioning as he’ll have to sacrifice his safety to access it. Who needs an escape?
Base armor, base health, and health per level reduced.
As a master duelist, Fiora’s new skillset gives her a wide array of tools to tactically dodge or mitigate incoming damage with grace. The issue isn’t smart use of her maneuvers, but rather her effectiveness when she fails to execute. At present, she’ll just beat you over the head, vitals or not. Hammering away at base stats mean that fighting Fiora (especially pre-6) should feel like less of a stat-check and more of an engaging clash of blades, putting more pressure on her to succeed with style or pay the ultimate price.
We’ve always felt that Galio’s failure case for his ultimate is positioning, not execution. Limiting the cases you could accidentally ruin your biggest moment should keep you focused on the things that matter; like landing your ult on 5 people (and probably winning).
Cleaning up Villainy.
Garen’s a man of simple tastes; he spins, yells, and most importantly fights for his friends. As a protector of the meek and timid, it never made much sense that taking down the hero directly should brand you as a villain when it’s just business. We want Garen’s anti-carry to play out over the course of the game like a sort of vindictive hot-potato, but you shouldn’t be penalized for successfully crushing his dreams in lane.
Powder Keg’s bonus damage to champions and armor penetration down.
Still vengeful, still eating citrus and still going strong, Gangplank’s power levels seems to be unhindered by our attempts to cap him in 5.17. Often you’ll find in the Patch Notes we talk about hitting a champion’s weakness to keep their strengths intact - for GP however, his strength is simply too strong. The amount that barrels contribute to his ability to take over a game is entirely too high in the end-game, so we’re hitting both the base and penetration to soften his blows against squishies and meatballs alike.
Base armor up very slightly.
Oh, Jarvan. Prince of the Jungle, King of Dunkshire, fourth of his name; once proud to call the early-game his stomping ground, our last round of nerfs removed the armor aura on Demacian Standard, and J4’s jungle presence disappeared with it. We sent him off with a little more base armor for his troubles, but it’s clear that it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Rek’Sai’s, Gragases and other top-tiers crowding out his spot.
That said, we’re not looking to dust of his throne exactly; J4’s deadly combination of early gank pressure and late-game initiation have made him a general power-pick whenever he’s deemed viable, often centralizing play around who is or isn’t good enough to compete with the Prince. Keeping that in mind, we saw an opportunity with the buffs to Warrior Enchant for a slight nudge to keep Jarvan from getting too down on himself. We’ll spare you the months of spreadsheets that went into the exact calculations, but in the end we settled on 2 armor.
Less health per level, but Pix can now double-apply Spellthief's gold passive.
Ever the solo-lane staple, Lulu’s personal safety is a tad high for her reliability as a team-enabler. We’re targeting her health to make her more vulnerable (personal vulnerability being a slightly more important stat for solo lane Lulu than duo) before she starts pumping out high-powered shields and kiting the universe. To compensate (a bit), we’re adding in a nice benefit for support Lulu’s income.
Base stats down early game. W can now be self-cast, has a health cost, but the damage no longer overlaps with his ally. Healing is increased vs. champions, but worse vs. minions.
Perhaps the most notorious of the Juggernauts, Mordekaiser’s problems heading into 5.18 are twofold - as a duo laner, Mord’s sustain and waveclear give even his toughest opponents little-to-no window to punish his lack of range. On the flipside, solo-lane Mordekaiser’s lack of sustain makes him underperform when under pressure, folding to common lane freezes or jungler intervention.
The changes below are aimed at bringing this disparity closer together for Mordekaisers of all flavors. Attacking the effectiveness of Harvesters’ zone play means duo lane Mord’s healing less, dealing less damage, and generating less shield for those early lane-trades and all-ins that slant heavily in his favor. Letting Morde self-cast the skill should give him some more punch back in solo lane, but, for this patch, we’re more focused on seeing how it all plays out before assessing our next move.
Q mana cost down.
Just a light bump to reinforce Morgana’s pattern of fishing for Dark Bindings, especially for the supports out there working their mana overtime. Y’all the real MVP’s.
Passive weaker early. E slow down.
Skarner’s not beating people senseless, but it’s clear that he’s still generally too powerful. Skarner’s definitely checking the box on ‘relentless in his zones’ but has more chasing power than is ideal for a Juggernaut. Peeling back some of that stickiness as well as some of his unintended early scaling (oops) should move us closer to a Skarner that scraps, but doesn’t always scuttle away victorious.
Mana per level up. E-Q more consistent.
This patch, we’re taking a lighter look at some of Syndra’s frustrations; namely running out of mana for a champion that has to cast so many spells back-to-back, and fixing more bugs around her E-Q combo’s penchant for misfiring. We’re still investigating deeper changes to Syndra that seek to address her lackluster performance, but some short-term value for the Dark Sovereign didn’t seem like it’d hurt (unless you’re on the other end. That probably hurts a ton).
Q+W combo is easier to normal cast. E’s Grey Health is now visible for colorblind folks.
Tahm’s been a regular house-guest in the Patch Notes since release as we keep finding ways to smooth his gameplay for all parties. This time around, we’ve added some clarity around TK’s grey health in colorblind mode, something that previously hindered opponents being able to see if he had any at all (that’s a pretty important thing, mind you). Add in a side of usability for his Q+W combo and you’re looking at a snack-size changelist that might tide you over for this patch.
Twitch stealths faster while in combat.
The landscape of the game’s changed quite a bit since Twitch was last a staple pick, but looking at his hyper-carry competition, the rat’s primed for a big comeback. Already seeing spot play for the unique assassination he brings from the bottom lane, these changes pair with 5.16’s Ambush tweaks to ease the pains of setting up (or escaping) sticky situations.
Q grants AP for assists. W’s delay shortened.
Veigar’s not far off in terms of effectiveness, but falls short relative to some of our more traditional mages. We’re targeting Dark Matter’s delay and AP growth from taking down champions as some ‘quality-of-doom’ changes so folks take him a little more seriously.
Zyra’s plants are much more consistent at acquiring targets. It’s a pretty big deal.
If you’re a Zyra player, you’re no stranger to having your plants misbehave (or sometimes just stop... doing anything, really) when you want them to rip your enemies to shreds. We’ve all been there, so we took a look under the hood to re-root how they work. What we had left was pretty scary. We’re not opposed to further changes (if necessary) but ‘my plants actually attack when they didn’t' ended up a lot stronger than we first thought, so this patch we’re planting the seeds and waiting to see what grows.
Magic damage per stack down.
As far as the Jungle Enchant Quartet is concerned, Sated’s settled into the top spot which is a little off for how much of a gamble the item should be. High highs and low lows are key tradeoffs for the item, but its general level of success seems to be slightly warping the game at most levels of play. We don’t want to harm the cool synergies that champions have with Phantom Hit, but lowering the raw on-hit damage the item has as it grows to dominance should keep Devourer junglers off the Warrior’s early-game turf when it comes to the ‘Rock-Paper-Scissors-Runeglaive’ of jungle power-spikes.
We’ve come a long way from the beginning of 2015, where Warrior junglers reigned supreme and ‘diversity’ was deciding between Jarvan and Lee Sin. Since then, Cinderhulk, Runeglaive and now Sated Devourer have entered the arena as options to flesh out and support a wider variety of styles, leaving Warrior feeling limp by comparison.
While perhaps not as shiny mechanics-wise, Armor Penetration does a good enough job differentiating its use from the others (Flat Armor Pen’s real good at murderizing softer champs) that we’re tuning back the damage to assist those early-game folks when it comes to doin’ what they do best.
Armor down. Charge-up duration lowered.
Zeke’s has definitely succeeded in providing an offensive multiplier for marksmen and mages alike, but its widespread adoption as a first item for supports suggests its stat-efficiency may be a little out of whack for something with a high burden of coordination to pull off. We’re also aiming at pulling some of the consistency at which teams can ‘plan’ for their Zeke’s activation, putting the responsibility on the Harbingers to force fights against opponents when they're about to fire their lasers.
Because being turned into a squirrel would probably make you lose a bit of your momentum.
As we’ve touched on a few times over the past several months, we’re in the process of tackling League’s tech debt. This time, we’re addressing a bug where the game client (your computer) could incorrectly cancel a spell that still existed on the server. This led to cases where a spell could briefly appear on screen and then immediately visually disappear, but still be able to hit enemies. Sounds simple, so why a giant patch notes section?
While there’ve been a few high visibility (heh) cases of this bug in the past, it wasn’t specific to any handful of abilities. Instead, the bug was rooted in the way the game servers and the game client exchange information. Basically, the server’s cancel command was too generic - rather than “stop this thing”, it just told the game client to “stop a thing”. In cases where multiple similar actions were happening in extremely rapid succession, the game client had to guess at what the server was trying to stop, and this bug happened when it guessed wrong.
Along the lines of past efforts such as the Line Projectile Skillshot recoding and the champion rescripting projects in more recent patches, we’ve gone back and cleaned up the core of our spell flow code with an eye toward ensuring spell cancelling involves no ‘guesswork’. We’ve been comprehensively testing this update for a while, but as always we’ll be keeping an eye on things as this change rolls out and follow up as necessary in future patches.
Because we should all be able to spam Pool Party Renekton’s recall while waiting for the minions to arrive.
Just another set of updates as we continue to bathe in your glorious feedback.
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