In general, Riot has done a great job with League of Legends. However, these are some of the hardest champions to balance in our game today. In spite of Riot’s best efforts to nerf these champions, they always bounce back up in a month or two to retake their throne. In spite of repeated nerfs to these champions, they still stand as popular picks in both competitive and solo queue play today. These are the problem children that Riot just couldn’t keep down.
Presenting the All-Time Nerf Team:
Honorable Mentions: Vladimir, Sona, Kha’Zix, Elise, Graves, Evelynn, Olaf (I’ll do another article if there is interest!)
Note 1: (Buff/Nerf Data taken from leagueoflegends.wikia.com. Thank you very much!)
Note 2: The 1.0.0…patches include time from Seasons 1 and 2.
Top Lane: Irelia (Team Captain)
There’s no way around it. “Better Nerf Irelia” has become one of the most common community memes since Season 1. Interestingly, she recieved comprehensive buffs shortly after her release but it was all downhill from there. According to champion designer Morello, it’s all because of how hard her kit is to balance. Bringing a stun, tenacity, lifesteal, and even a possible reset dash, Irelia’s kit just puts too much on the table. A favorite of Alliance top laner Wickd, Irelia has seen a re-surgence in popularity (she was virtually unplayed in Season 3) due to his determined efforts. Let’s hope for his sake that she doesn’t see another nerf soon!
- Base health reduced to 515 from 575
- Movement speed reduced to 320 from 330.
- Equilibrium Strike damage reduced to 80/130/180/230/280 from 80/135/190/245/300
- Equilibrium Strike aility ratio reduced to 0.5 from 1.0.
- Equilibrium Strike ooldown reduced to 8 seconds from 9.
- Transcendent Blades base damage reduced to 85/135/185 per blade from 90/140/190
- Bladesurge base damage reduced to 20/50/80/110/140 from 20/55/90/125/160.
- Transcendent Blades now deals physical damage instead of magic damage.
- Transcendent Blades scales with both attack damage and ability power instead of only with the highest.
- Transcendent Blades ability power ratio increased to 0.5 from 0.4.
- Transcendent Blades now heals for 20% against champions and 10% against minions from 20% against all enemies
- Bladesurge mana cost changed to 60/65/70/75/80 from 70 at all ranks.
- Transcendent Blades base damage reduced to 80/120/160 from 85/135/185.
- Hiten Style passive health restore reduced to 5/7/9/11/13 from 10/14/18/22/26.
- Hittel Style active causes health restore to double 10/14/18/22/26.
Jungler: Lee Sin
<img id="yui_3_10_0_1_1416902784510_1388" style="width: 381px; height: 225px;" src="http://lolwp.com/wp-content/uploads/Dragonfist-Lee-Sin.jpg" alt="… official splash art for Dragon Fist Lee Sin skin, based on Bruce Lee” />
Ironically Riot introduced this champion with an April’s Fools joke proclaiming him one of the most overpowered champions ever. Much like Irelia, Lee Sin also received large buffs shortly after his release as players struggled with his complicated kit. However, the unintentional prophecy of his release video would ring true. This versatile champion has been a staple of competitive and solo queue play ever since his release (mostly in the jungle, but there were stints in the top and even mid lane) During Season 2, there was a brief time where this champion took a backseat, but legendary kT Bullets jungler inSec would revive him with the “inSec combo.” Riot has tried several times to balance or even outright rework this champion, but nothing has stopped his dominance. We’ll have to see if he can continue his run in Season 5!
- Sonic Wave base damage reduced to 50/80/110/140/170 from 60/90/120/150/180.
- Resonating Strike base damage reduced to 50/80/110/140/170 from 60/90/120/150/180.
- Safeguard range increased to 750 from 700.
- Iron Will life steal and spell vamp bonus reduced to 5/10/15/20/25% from 10/15/20/25/30%.
- Energy on all basic spells reduced to 50/30 from 60/40.
- Safeguard shield no longer restores energy when the shield is destroyed.
- Tempest range increased to 450 from 400.
- Safeguard can no longer target wards (this was reverted in the next patch.)
- Sonic Wave cooldown increased to 11/10/9/8/7 seconds from 10/9/8/7/6.
- Sonic Wave attack damage scaling reduced to 90% from 100%.
- Safeguard reduced to 700 from 750.
- Flurry attack speed bonus reduced to 40% from 50%.
- Sonic Wave missing health to bonus damage ratio reduced to 8% from 10%
- Safeguard cooldown increased to 9 seconds from 8.
- Iron Will life steal and spell vamp reduced to 5/9/13/17/21% from 5/10/15/20/25%.
- Iron Will no longer grants armor when active
- Iron Will lifesteal/spell vamp 5/10/15/20/25% from 5/9/13/17/21%.
- Tempest slow reduced to 20/30/40/50/60% from 30/37.5/45/52.5/60%.
- Tempest range reduced to 600 from 800.
- Safeguard now only shields the target if the ally is a champion.
- Base armor increased to 20 from 16.
- Safeguard cooldown increased to 14 seconds from 9.
- Safeguard cooldown is now reduced by 50% if the target was an allied champion (including self).
- Safeguard shield duration reduced to 4 seconds from 5.
- Safeguard will now only shield allied champion targets (can still target any ally).
- Iron Will buff duration reduced to 4 seconds from 5.
- Base health regen increased to 8.95 per 5 seconds from 6.95.
- Safeguard shield duration reduced to 2 seconds from 4
- Cripple no longer reduces enemy attack speed (reduced to 0% from 20/30/40/50/60%).
Mid Lane: Kassadin
It seems pretty hard to balance a champion that is both 1) the most mobile in the history of the game and 2) was designed to completely counter one of the most popular character classes in the game. Strangely, Kassadin was once a very overlooked champion who recieved multiple buffs in a row. Kassadin was nerfed a few times until he became a pocket pick for certain mid laners (most notably xPeke) and a rare solo queue occurence. However, a resurgence at the World Championships led to an over 80% ban rate in professional and solo queue play. Eventually, Riot would rework the champion…only to see him return as a dominant mid lane pick. Another round of nerfs seemed to quash the Void Walker…until he walked to the top lane and became one of the most popular picks during Worlds.
- Riftwalk mana cost increased to 110 from 75
- Riftwalk cooldown increased to 6/5/4 seconds from 6/4.5/3
- Riftwalk doubling time increased to 8 seconds from 7
- Void Stone magic damage reduction reduced to 10% from 15%.
- Force Pulse damage reduced to 60 / 115 / 170 / 225 / 280 from 60 / 120 / 180 / 240 / 300.
- Force Pulse ability power ratio reduced to 0.7 from 0.8.
- Force Pulse cooldown increased to 6 seconds from 5.
- Riftwalk ability power ratio increased to 0.5 from 0.4.
- Riftwalk damage reduced to 60/70/80 from 60/90/120
- Ability power ratio increased to 0.8 from 0.5
- Cooldown increased to 7/6/5 seconds from 6/5/4 (this actually was in the previous patch)
- Nether Blade Ability Power increased to 0.3 from 0.15
- Nether Blade bonus damage no longer hits inhibitors or Nexus (sorry xPeke)
- Null Sphere damage reduced to 80 / 115 / 150 / 185 / 220 from 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280.
- Null Sphere silence duration changed to 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 / 2.25 / 2.5 seconds from 1 / 1.4/
- Null Sphere mana cost reduced to 70 / 75 / 80 / 85 / 90 from 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110.
- Riftwalk base damage increased to 80 / 100 / 120 from 60 / 70 / 80.
- Riftwalk damage from subsequent casts changed to 50 / 55 / 60 (+10% of AP) from 60 / 70 / 80.
- Riftwalk now refunds 50% of the total mana cost when Riftwalk damages an enemy champion(s).
- Null Sphere base damage reduced to 80 / 110 / 140 / 170 / 200 from 80 / 115 / 150 / 185 / 220.
- Null Sphere silence duration reduced to 1 / 1.25 / 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 seconds from 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 / 2.25 / 2.5.
- Force Pulse base damage reduced to 80 / 120 / 160 / 200 / 240 from 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280.
In Patch 4.4, Kassadin was drastically reworked. Null Sphere lost it’s silence, Nether Blade changed to focus more on restoring mana in one hit rather than a time-duration buff, and Riftwalk was also dramatically changed to scale off of Mana. Shortly after the patch, Kassadin recieved buffs to movement speed and Null Sphere. Those buffs were removed the next patch.
- Nether Blade cooldown increased to 9 seconds from 6.
- Force Pulse slow duration reduced to 1 second from 3.
- Force Pulse slow strength increased to 50 / 60 / 70 / 80 / 90% from 30 / 35 / 40 / 45 / 50%.
- Riftwalk empowerment stack duration increased to 20 seconds from 12.
AD Carry: Ezreal
It’s hilarious to think that a young Phreak was forced to do the first Champion Spotlight to convince players to play him. Ezreal has seen many changes over time. Once upon a time, Ezreal’s W spell was able to heal his teammates and slow his enemies’ attack speed. Sadly, his once mighty Essence Flux has almost no effect in the current day. Keeping in mind that he’s often forced to play with just 3 skills, it’s incredible how strong he still is. His skill-based kit has made him a favorite of both pros and amateurs and the recent resurgence of his infamous “Blue Build” suggests that for yet another season, Ezreal will once again be a force to be reckoned with. (Unlike many of the champions on this list, Ezreal has actaully received many buffs in modern times. Unfortunately, these buffs are for his largely unplayed AP build.)
- Mystic Shot attack damage ratio increased to 1.2 from 1.0.
- Essence Flux heal reduced to 50% of the damage value from 70% (shortly before this, it was nerfed from 100 to 70.)
- Essence Flux attack speed buff/debuff reduced to 5/10/15/20/25% from 20/25/30/35/40%.
- Trueshot Barrage ability power ratio reduced to 0.7 from 1.
- Mystic Shot range reduced to 1100 from 1200
- Mystic Shot attack damage scaling reduced to 1.1 from 1.2.
- Essence Flux attack speed buff/debuff increased to 20/23/26/29/32% from 5/10/15/20/25%.
- Essence Flux heal removed
- Arcane Shift cooldown increased to 19/17/15/13/11 seconds from 17/15/13/11/9
- Base damage reduced to 45 from 47.6.
- Damage per level reduced to 2.6 from 3.
- Attack speed per level reduced to 2.8 from 3.22.
- Mystic Shot damage reduced to 35/55/75/95/115 from 40/65/90/115/140.
- Essence Flux mana cost reduced to 70/80/90/100/110 from 80/90/100/110/120.
Shortly after this, Ezreal recieved a time period of significant unpopularity (partially leading to TheOddOne’s hilarious comments about his uselessness.) He would recieve several buffs during this time, mostly related to mana costs and AP ratios. However, he would return to popularity by the end of Season 3, mostly due to the determined efforts of CLG’s Doublelift and WE’s WeiXiao. As a result…
- Essence Flux no longer reduces enemy attack speed
Afterwards, Ezreal would recieve another nerf, reducing the attack speed duration of his passive and nerfing the continous damage of his ultimate. However, the major changes were the nerfs to his prefered items, Spirit of the Elder Lizard and Icebourne Gauntlet. But with the rise of IBG and Muramana, it looks like Ezreal is all set for his return.
As soon as this champion was released, players said that he would completely revolutionize the support role. Sure enough, countless professional support players have adopted Thresh as a signature champion, from longstanding heroes like MadLife or EdWard to up-and-comers like BunnyFuFuu. The incredible versatility of Thresh’s kit has granted him a place at the top-tier of competitive play ever since his release and he has not let go in spite of multiple heavy smacks by Riot’s nerf bat.
- Death Sentence damage increased to 80 / 120 / 160 / 200 / 240 from 80 / 110 / 140 / 170 / 200.
- Death Sentence passive moved to Flay
- Flay damage reduced to 65 / 95 / 125 / 155 / 185 from 65 / 105 / 145 / 185 / 225.
- Fixed a bug where Thresh could cast Flash while casting Death Sentence.
- Death Sentence cooldown increased to 20 / 18 / 16 / 14 / 12 seconds from 18 / 16.5 / 15 / 13.5 / 12.
- Death Sentence cooldown now reduced by 3 seconds if Death Sentence strikes an enemy.
- The Box arm time increased to 0.75 seconds from 0.5 seconds.
- Attack range reduced to 450 from 475.
- Dark Passage now only shields the first ally to be near the Lantern in addition to Thresh.
- The Box no longer deals additional damage to opponents that break extra walls beyond the first.