It may seem a little too coincidental that Brand is getting a big buff and an awesome skin in the same patch, but don’t worry, it is purely coincidence. Brand has been in a weak spot for a while now, and he certainly needs the buffs.
If anything, the skin coming out may have made Riot take a closer look at him, but that doesn’t change the fact that he definitely needs this buff. He dominated the support meta alongside Zyra and Malzahar at the start of the season when you had to play a damage support to compensate for the floundering ADC role at the time.
Now, though, the ADC role is in a great place. Both the meta champion pool and item builds are incredibly diverse aside from the Duskblade of Draktharr popping up recently. It’s fantastic, but because of this, damage supports have taken a tumble. Supports with shields and crowd control have taken over, because the ADC is worth protecting again.
That’s why Brand has fallen to the wayside, and it’s why his buff on the PBE makes sense. His E, Conflagration, is getting some damage tweaks, for starters. The ability’s base damage is being lowered slightly at early levels, but it will be higher at later levels. Its mana cost is being lowered at all ranks and its AP scaling is being raised across the board, which is obviously a significant buff. That’s not the biggest piece of the buff pie, though.
The most important change is the new mechanic that’s being added to the ability itself. The cooldown of Conflagration will be dropped all the way down to three seconds if it’s used on a target that isn’t ablaze from another ability. To put that into perspective, the regular cooldown is 10 seconds.
Here’s why that’s a big deal—Brand will now be able to use this ability twice in the same fight against his victims, which means his team fight power just went way up. He can open the fight with this new E, throw a Q to stun them since they’ll already be ablaze, and then finish with a W for the bonus damage. Here’s where it gets scary. By then, his E is back up, so he uses it on the target to spread the blaze to all nearby enemies, and then uses his ultimate, which prioritizes targets that are ablaze. Not only do you get a second use of an ability with decent damage, you also get a beefed-up ultimate.
Low elo players or players inexperienced with Brand probably won’t notice a difference. This buff will force Brand to use his combo differently, but only when it benefits him the most. It’s certainly a buff that rewards skill, which may also mean we’ll see some professional appearances out of the man of fire once this buff goes live in the next patch.