Breaking the Meta: Temporal Sphere, A ground-breaking replacement for DFG
Deathfire Grasp is an item that was initially designed as a tank killer but eventually became a crutch for AP assassins. The item has long since been useless for that purpose. Void Staff is more than adequate to help AP Assassins handle tanks, and Liandry's Torment is a suitable side item for any player looking to deal % health damage. The niche that DFG was supposed to fill is no longer necessary, which means we shouldn't be trying to replace the item DFG was intended to be, but what the item became.
The current purpose of DFG is to facilitate AP Duelists and Assassins. At one point in the past, Riot made ADC's too powerful, this necessitated the rise of Assassins whose sole purpose was to eliminate them. This is the exact point in time when DFG ceased to be a tank killing item and became a necessity for AP Assassins. Failure to 100-0 a late game ADC meant a lost team fight thanks to outrageous critical hits and lifesteal allowing them to quickly regain their health. The problem with DFG is that it's so binary. Press a button and you deal 15% of the target's maximum HP and increase your magic damage to the target by 20% for the next 4 seconds. The item that replaces DFG needs to provide more counter play while maintaining the ability for AP Duelists and Assassins to fulfill their role. Enter Temporal Sphere
Temporal Sphere-3420 Gold
Needlessy Large Rod+Fiendish Codex+1000 gold
120 Ability Power
Unique Active: Reduces current cooldowns by 50% (180 second cooldown)
Allow me to explain how the active would work. When used, it could cut all currently ticking cooldowns by 50%. So if you're Leblanc and you have 8 seconds until you can use distortion, you now have 4 seconds. This active effects Champion Spells only. While this item doesn't replace the upfront burst of DFG, it gives the player an opportunity to deal equal damage if they play their cards right. As an example, using the active after a full Leblanc combo actually allows you to get a 3rd Sigil of Malice in before the timer on the bonus damage expires. As an added bonus, Leblanc tends to fall off late game in her current form as the enemy teams gains tank stats, builds banshees etc. This active would allow her to remain relevant by increasing her chance of getting a 2nd rotation of spells off.
The key concern with this active would be ensuring that there aren't any abuse cases where a Champion would be able to use their ultimate multiple times in a team fight. Even with CDR, the very large majority of mage ultimates have a cooldown greater than 60 seconds. Unless the team fight is extremely drawn out, only Leblanc, Karma, Diana and Lux are Champions that could theoretically get two ults off in a fight with any consistency. Out of these Champions, the only potential abuse case is Leblanc. The trade off with Temporal Sphere is that in exchange for reducing Leblanc's chances of 100-0 one target in comparison to DFG, she gets another chance 10-12 seconds later. This should be a fair trade off.
Example: Assume target with 2000 HP, and Leblanc with 500 AP.
DFG-Q-R-E= 3122 AP before MR.
Q-R-E= 2350 before MR
That's a pretty sizable damage reduction. If the opponent has 30 effective MR after penetration is applied then Leblanc's combo only deals 1807 damage, which would fail to kill the target. But the active on Temporal Sphere would allow the player to cast another full combo just 8 seconds later with maximum CDR.
The best feature of Temporal Sphere is that it takes everything we think we know about AP Champions and turns it on its head. Competitive players have built up a feel for the game over long years of practice. It's what's so amazing about anyone who plays League of Legends. The sheer amount of knowledge necessary to play the game is incredible. Yet, we develop a subconscious feel for the game that allows us to react to any situation before our minds have a chance to fully process what is happening. It's the same reason an athlete can go years without playing and still have the touch. The body has a far longer memory than the mind and a much faster reaction time.
Temporal Sphere changes everything. All that information has be learned anew. In League of Legends, there is a theoretical mechanical ceiling that a player cannot progress beyond. It's the limits of how far the human body and mind can go. Temporal Sphere raises it and makes the game more cerebral. When you see the visual cue that a player has used the active (yes, of course there will be a visual cue), a player will have to be able to immediately calculate how the active effects each of the opponent's spells. It's a curve ball when you're expecting a fastball. It's replacing a binary item with an item filled with possibilities and that's what Riot should be doing when it phases out older items. Replace them with something exciting. Something that adds depth to the game. Temporal Sphere may not be that answer. The % reduction may need to be reduced, or the entire concept may prove over-powered. But it's a unique solution to an interesting problem.