Exhaust was nerfed hard during the last patch, and the meta is changing again as a result
Out-of-fashion marksmen and assassins are suddenly shooting to the top of the League of Legends meta after the recent nerf to exhaust in patch 7.5.
The Exhaust meta was almost entirely to blame for champions like Draven not being at the top of their game. It was an extremely strong defensive summoner spell, laying down huge nerfs on any damage dealer it was cast on. It lowered attack speed, damage output, movement speed, and even armor and magic resist on the target for its entire duration. Because of its sheer strength, almost all supports and even some mid laners began running it to have an easy counter to any Fizz, Master Yi, or Yasuo that came their way.
Not only that, but it shifted the bot lane meta as well. With every support running Exhaust, marksmen that could stay safely out of range of became the flavors of the month. The kings of the bot lane became Caitlyn, Varus, Ezreal, and Jhin for this reason, even though champions like Draven, Vayne, and Kog’maw could deal more damage in a pinch if there weren’t exhausts everywhere.
Both the attack speed and resistance reductions were completely removed from Exhaust with the arrival of patch 7.5, which paved the way for those champions to become much more viable. The nerfs allow Draven, Jinx, and Vayne to step closer to a fight, take risks, and deal much more consistent damage. The attack speed nerf being removed sounds like the biggest hit to auto-attack based champions. But the resistance nerf was actually the heaviest hitter.
Removing armor and magic resist from already-squishy targets made them much squishier, and that turned the Exhaust into a powerful offensive tool as well as a defensive Get Out of Jail Free Card. Exhaust was intended as a defensive spell, and the fact that it became powerful enough to be used offensively in place of an actual offensive summoner spell like Ignite was a big red flag that maybe it needed a nerf.
This change brings a bit more health back to the ADC role, allowing for other picks than just Jhin, Ez, and Cait to feel good enough to play. Unfortunately though, Kalista still sucks. She’s going to need a lot more than an Exhaust nerf to bring her back into the light.