Galio and Azir are no strangers to balance changes. Because of their effect in pro play, they’ve been tinkered with more times over the last year than most other champions in League of Legends.
That’s why it’s no surprise that they’re both being nerfed again in Patch 8.5, according to the current PBE cycle—but it definitely isn’t good news.
There’s no doubt that both of these gentlemen have at least a little too much of an impact on the pro stage, but they aren’t exactly known for their dominance in solo queue. For the vast majority of players these significant nerfs are going to be total overkill, and Galio and Azir’s presence in amateur gameplay will likely be tarnished even more than it already is.
Azir has one of the lowest winrates in North America for mid lane champions at 48 percent, according to League stats site Champion.gg, combined with a playrate of just four percent. He’s a difficult champion to play, and his very complicated kit requires coordinated team gameplay at the highest level to really function properly.
Not only does solo queue lack coordinated team gameplay even at the highest elo, but his mastery curve is more extreme than most other champions in the game. He takes a lot of time to learn and even play competently, and these nerfs coming in Patch 8.5 will just make it harder on that majority of players. The base damage of his Sand Soldiers is dropping at all levels, starting at 10 less damage at rank one and a whopping 30 at max rank.
This is a very straightforward nerf and the likelihood of it being felt throughout the playerbase, not just on the pro stage, is high.
Galio, on the other hand, is performing relatively well in NA solo queue as a middle-of-the-pack mid laner. His 51 percent winrate is the first relative success he’s seen in amateur games in about six months. It’s still a far cry from those at the top of the list with 54 and 53 percent winrates. His playrate is a little low at about three percent, but that’s not too bad.
Unfortunately for the big stone golem, this distinctly underwhelming pinnacle won’t last. His nerfs in patch 8.5 are shaping up to be even larger than Azir’s, with a cooldown and mana cost increase on his Winds of War. Tha’s his primary damage source for trading harass in his lane, and it’s going to be a big hit—especially for those in lower elos that have a little more trouble managing mana and cooldown windows.
It probably won’t totally kill him for non-pro players like Azir’s changes are shaping up to. But he’ll probably still drop down closer to the bottom of the mid lane tier list—which seems to be where Galio is doomed to remain.
If these changes have too much of an adverse effect on amateur gameplay, Riot may revisit them in the future with changes geared more toward the pro stage where they are overpowered. Nerfs to their ultimate abilities and utility would probably be on the radar then—but for now, this is what their players can expect. When 8.5 rolls around next week, Galio and Azir will be considerably weaker.