It’s just a typical day in League of Legends when a new champion scrapes the very bottom of the win rate barrel right after their release. Kayn was no exception, and his win rate even plummeted to a depressing 40 percent over the past week.
This isn’t uncommon for a new champ though, as people are still figuring out how to play him—and even though everyone used this poor performance as evidence that Kayn is a horrible champion, it looks like we were all wrong. People are starting to win more and more on Kayn, and he’s actually pretty scary.
Why he started off so poorly
Kayn is deceptively simple, and because of that, players had a difficult time figuring out the intricacies of his kit. Because he plays sort of like other AD jungle assassins, we all assumed that he plays just like them as well. The thing is, though, there’s one big difference that makes him impossible to play effectively like a normal AD assassin.
AD assassin junglers like Kha’Zix, Rengar, Graves, and Lee Sin have extremely high damage in the early parts of the game. As a result, their gank pressure is unmatched throughout the ranks of the other junglers. Tanks can use their crowd control to create early gank pressure, but the kill potential that these assassins bring to the table makes them unstoppable compared to any other type of jungler. Kayn is an AD assassin in the jungle, so naturally, we all assumed he would have a strong early presence as well. We were wrong.
His early game pressure is actually fairly horrid, and he has to be careful about where he picks fights, because the list of junglers that can beat him in a duel in the early game is very long. His early damage is low, and even though he can gank from very unexpected angles, all he brings to the table outside of his low damage is the slow on his W. He scales very, very hard once he gets a couple of items, but up until that point, he’s just not very powerful, which is essentially the opposite of all other AD junglers.
He may be the only AD assassin jungler that excels in the late game and even teamfights, and he doesn’t get his kill pressure until about mid game. This starts to make sense when you look at his design. For a champion that’s designed to get a huge power spike when he transforms (which is usually around the mid game), why would he be naturally powerful before that point? It wouldn’t make sense thematically. Therefore, players have started to figure out that he needs to pick his fights very carefully in the early game if he’s going to be able to ramp up at around 15 minutes.
There has been a lot of debate surrounding Kayn’s transformations since his release, mainly when deciding which form is the stronger option. When he was released, everyone flocked to the Darkin form for its crazy sustain and CC without taking much of a hit to damage. After a week, though, his Shadow form is being played more and more for its mobility and arguably higher damage. The truth is something no one ever expected. Maybe one form isn’t strictly stronger than the other. Hear us out. Maybe, just maybe, both forms are good in different circumstances. Maybe Kayn is balanced.
Kayn’s two forms give him the chance to play as a tanky bruiser or a pure assassin depending on what the game calls for. If your team is lacking tankiness and the enemy team has tons of crowd control, Darkin form may be the best bet. If they have low crowd control and a few too many squishy carries that need dealing with, Shadow form is the way to go. Players are trying out all sorts of builds on him, from pure tank builds to lethality-stacking assassin builds, according to League stats website OP.gg. The awesome thing is that they’re all working decently well.
Kayn is on an uphill climb. The day after his launch, he was sitting at an even 40 percent win rate in the jungle. Now, it’s 44 percent, which is still pretty miserable, but a four percent jump in a week definitely means he’s not as underwhelming as we all thought. People are figuring him out.
Maybe once players are done figuring out Kayn’s full potential, we’ll find out that he’s too strong. Then, at least, he’ll be banned for actually being too strong rather than just being banned to prevent your own teammates from picking him.