Azir’s update made its way onto the PBE last week, and it’s a big one.
There’s a lot to take in. His fundamental strengths and weaknesses are being shifted around, which isn’t a surprise, as that was always the primary goal of the update to begin with. He’s going to feel distinctly different than he does in the live game now.
Don’t worry though, he’s still Azir.
Despite the list of changes being rather long, Riot did well on its promise to hold onto what made Azir… Azir. His intricate sand soldier commands and the beloved Shurima Shuffle are still there, so his theme still holds up, and he’s still a blast to play. Don’t be fooled, though, things are going to be very different for the Emperor from here on out.
First, let’s break down the changes he’s received on the PBE so far. There are an absolute ton, so we won’t mention the tiny base stat changes, and instead, we’ll focus on the big stuff.
Q – Conquering Sands
- AP scaling lowered from 50 percent to 30
- Cast range lowered from 875 to 720
- Base damage and hitbox increased
W – Arise!
- Damage per level increased
- Cast range increased from 450 to 500 units
- Soldier attack animation delay reduced 0.25 seconds
- Soldier deactivation range decreased from 800 to 660
- Azir now gets a massive boost to attack speed if three or more soldiers are active.
E – Shifting Sands
- Shield now has 70 percent AP scaling
- Now grants a shield immediately, but lasts for 1.5 seconds, down from four seconds
- If Azir hits an enemy, the dash stops immediately and he summons another soldier.
R – Emperor’s Divide
- Wall now only interrupts enemy dashes while the soldiers are still moving. After they stop, they act as normal terrain.
Azir’s rework is pretty huge, but there are only a couple of nerfs and buffs that you really need to keep your eye on to understand it. The range of almost every single ability, most importantly the range of his soldiers, is being reduced considerably. This means that artillery-range sand soldiers are a thing of the past, and Azir will no longer be able to sit back while his soldiers do all the work for him.
He’s going to have to get much closer to his soldiers for them to work, which means Azir will need to build tankier to survive being in the thick of the fight. You may be wondering why champions like Talon and Katarina don’t have to build tanky even though they’re melee range, but that’s because they’re built to be assassins. Azir is not. In fact, his burst damage is being lowered considerably.
The AP scaling on his Q being nerfed so significantly means his burst will be weaker, but his damage is being hiked up in other areas to compensate. His dash will now summon a free soldier if he hits an enemy, and if he has at least three soldiers out at once, he gets a massive attack speed boost. This means that even though Azir’s ability burst is lower, his sand soldiers are going to be a lot more effective, and that’s the strength of his new kit.
He’s going to need to build a little tankier so he can sit in combat with his soldiers while they blow up enemy champions. He now has a clearly defined weakness—he’s susceptible to ranged attacks. Because he has a weakness, though, he can now have more of a strength, rather than just being a jack of all trades. His ability to dish out heaping tons of sustainable damage with soldiers is even higher than it was before, which may even open up other roles to him as well, like top lane or jungle.
It may take players a couple of months to figure him out, but these changes seem like they were the right call, at least on paper. His rework is set to be released with Patch 7.19 in a couple of weeks.