Patch 8.12 arrived today in League of Legends, and it brought some rather heavy-handed changes to one big chunk of the meta—healing and shielding supports.
The changes were really just nerfs, and those nerfs were massive. Janna’s staple shield now decays quickly over its normal duration, and shields on Karma and Lulu now last for much, much less time. Shields weren’t the only victims of the massacre, though.
Token items for healers and shielders, including the Forbidden Idol, Ardent Censer, Redemption, and Mikael’s Crucible now boost shielding and healing by less, which means healers are feeling the pain, too.
To us, this is a big band-aid. Shielding and healing in League is significantly easier to use than any sort of play-making tools or defensive utility that other supports have, and so when shield and heals have any semblance of power, they’ll be picked by players way more than the competition.
For there to be any long-term health, skill expression or danger will have to be added to them, such as turning them into skill shots or rewarding heals and shields that are closer in position to the target. Gutting shield durations and lowering their power is the best that we can hope for in the present, though, because those larger changes would take months of manpower to pull off.
So, now that healers and shielders are considerably weaker, what will happen to the meta? If you look closely at the meta right now, you’ll notice that it looks a lot like Best Buy does when they open on Black Friday. It’s absolute pure mayhem. One of the more common and actual, 100 percent real meta choices for bot lanes at the moment is Yasuo and Alistar, if that speaks to you at all about how crazy things are.
The bruiser bot lane meta will feel much stronger without healers and shielders in the picture, or, at least, a lot weaker. A lack of damage mitigation from those big, meaty shields means that bruisers can jump on squishy targets and get away with a lot more, so there’s probably going to be even more of them in the near future.
The more obvious victors of this patch are play-making supports. Although Alistar has found a home with bruisers in the bot lane, other play-makers like Thresh, Blitzcrank, Leona, and Braum haven’t been able to keep up with enchanting supports like Lulu. Well, now they look a lot more attractive, as do mage supports like Zyra and Brand, who no longer have to deal with healers countering their poke.
In other words, healers and shielders were the only thing stemming the tide of damage dealers in the bot lane, and now that they’ve taken such a hit, the era of the bot lane shitshow is going to get a whole lot crazier.