Did the huge damage rune nerfs in League 8.16 make a difference?

Aside from Wukong, assassins still feel perfectly fine.

Image via Riot Games

League of Legends Patch 8.16 arrived last week, and that means we’ve had about six days to test and try out everything that it brought with it.

For the most part, the patch was focused on buffing tanks to bring them back into the meta without overpowering them. There were meaningful buffs to Nautilus, Sion, and others—and for now at least, it seems like the buffs worked. 

Riot used another method to help the tanks out, too. In an attempt to level the playing field, the balance team dished out some big, fat nerfs to the game’s most popular runes for burst damage. These included nerfs to Electrocute, Sudden Impact, Cheap Shot, and Celerity.

Six days after that long list of nerfs was added into the game, we’re here to assess the damage. Did the changes make a difference, and if so, by how much? The answer might disappoint you, depending on who you are—but we would call the patch a success overall.

The nerfs, for the most part, were Riot’s response to players crying out that there’s too much damage in League. We’re extremely skeptical of that notion as a whole, so this assessment of last week’s rune changes is based on that opinion.

From that perspective, the changes worked. We think the game definitely feels a little bit safer now, especially for squishy marksmen who were often the targets of overzealous assassins—but the difference isn’t dramatic. It feels like the game is right in the sweet spot now, where the changes weren’t large enough to make assassins much weaker but they still took the collective edge off, and that’s probably enough. Winrates, for the most part, haven’t dwindled that much for burst damage carries, but tanks are still performing better. We’d call that a win.

If you were one of those players calling for game-wide damage nerfs because you believe the game really is packed with too much damage, you might be disappointed. As we said, the changes didn’t have that much of an impact, which is fine by us. If you were hoping for some huge shift in gameplay where it takes an assassin five or more seconds to kill a marksman or mage now, that’s definitely not where we ended up after last week’s patch. 

There is one assassin who did feel the nerfs a lot more than the rest, and that’s Wukong. Most other assassins didn’t really feel the nerfs to Electrocute and Sudden Impact that much, but Wukong was actually nerfed individually in the same patch. His Q’s AD scaling and flat damage were both taken down a few notches. So while the rune nerfs on their own weren’t a huge deal, when combined with a nerf to his Q Wukong is left feeling a lot weaker.

So, if you’re a mid lane player that mains Talon and Zed, and you were worried that you’d be obsolete after last week’s changes don’t worry. Assassin’s still feel perfectly fine. If you were a Wukong main, however, now might be the time to pick a new champion—at least temporarily.