Chauster: Season 4 Balancing

Chauster's Thoughts on Season 4

The 4.1 patch is live right now on the servers, and many players are getting accustomed to the changes. Although the patch changed a few champions and modified the tower interaction for early game lane swaps, much of the game remained the same. Riot generally loves to toss things around every once in awhile to make the game less static and more dynamic. The spirit stone changes was very welcoming as it could introduce more variety in the jungle. These are some of the changes that 4.1 introduced, but I want to talk about other balance issues that seem problematic.

Doran shield – Doran shield is a staple right now in both bottom lane and top lane. I don’t like the fact that items can be staples without any room for a viable alternative. The fact that long sword was reduced to 360 gold allowed laners to start with long sword and 3 health potions at level 1. This is a possibility, but no one ever builds it because it is too unforgivable in lane at higher level of play. I feel like Doran shield (and maybe even Doran blade) should be nerfed enough to allow long sword + 3 pots to be a viable starting build much like flask vs Doran ring is in the middle lane.

Stealth – champions like Evelynn, Twitch, Teemo are very problematic in Season 4 with the vision changes. Even in Season 3 stealth champions were in a very weird place. The fact that any stealth champion has literally no chance of counterplay makes it a very unenjoyable experience. I don’t know of any specific changes that could be made to stealth other than making the detection range huge, limiting the stealth duration, or a mix of both.

Champion reworks – I do not like the fact that champions are reworked simply based on the amount of play that people have on said champion. Xerath is one of the best examples as his kit is extremely strong and makes him one of the higher skill cap mages in the game. Due to lower play percentage however, he is now being completely revamped when it is unnecessary. I feel that he is definitely a solid champion the way he is now, he just isn’t favored because his play style isn’t as fun for most people.

Outdated champions- there are a few champions in the League that seem to be outdated currently. They aren’t terrible, but in competitive play there is almost no reason to pick these champions over another newer champion who has multiple additions to their skillset. Sion is a perfect example. Sion has 2 active skills. His spells only do one to two things at most (shield and damage, stun, lifesteal and attack speed). As a melee caster, this is underwhelming as Sion walks up to you to be effective. Gangplank is another champion that seems to need a rework, he is as simple as it can get.

Slightly overpowered champions- right now there are a few champions that I find are a bit annoying to deal with. From the mid lane, Gragas remains a champion that rarely has an orthodox counter. Most of the mid lane matchups go in Gragas’ favor or are at best skill match-ups. He holds insane kill potential mid while having one of the best abilities to clear the wave and pressure the map with his insane ability to roam.

Top lane has a few bruisers that clearly stand a tier above the rest at the moment. Mundo’s late game scaling is second to none. Shyvana’s map pressure at all points of the game are nearly unmatched. Renekton has remained a lane bully for over 2 years. The solution to these problems seem to be nerfing the early game either by directly targeting the champions on hand or targeting the mastery tree. Season 4 defensive masteries has allowed many bruisers to have incredible stats during the laning phase. Mundo was never really a giant problem because his early game was so terrible as a top laner. With recent mastery changes, he has become more viable and that is one of the reasons why he is such an incredible top lane.

Overall, the Season 4 changes haven’t been too game changing. The tower change is pretty much useless in solo queue play which is what 99.9% of the population play. Outside of the spirit stone changes, the game remains largely the same. The variety of builds at level 1 seems a bit stagnant, stealth is still not fun at all to play against, and there are a few champions that need some dressing down. These are the most of the problems that I have with the game in it’s current state. Let me know what some of your problems are in the comment section.

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by Steve Chau, on January 27, 2014