The 2018 Summer Split playoffs are kicking off all around the world for League of Legends, and that means Worlds will follow soon after. That’s obviously more important for pro players than anyone else, but for the other 99 percent of the player base, that means one thing—balance changes.
Every year, Riot prepares for the big tournament by dishing out some last-minute changes with the intent of smoothing out the meta one last time before the biggest players in the world hop onto the Rift for tons of prize money and the most esports glory they could hope for.
This year, the Worlds patch will be 8.19, according to a post on the official League forums from Riot this week. That means it’s time to start figuring out what Riot’s going to do to the meta between now and then.
The first and most obvious target for big changes between now and 8.19 is Zoe, and that’s mainly because we already know something is on the way for her. We just don’t quite know what it is yet. A list of rather large Zoe changes, which can be more accurately described as a mini-rework, were shared too early around the League community on social media.
The changes removed the trap aspect from her Sleepy Trouble Bubble and shifted her damage around in a very meaningful way. Riot came out later and said that the changes everyone saw were extremely experimental, and that the design team needed to test out other iterations of her kit before pulling any triggers. This unfortunately means that those changes likely won’t be what she ends up with. She’s one of the most popular champions in the professional meta, though, so we expect something to be finalized sooner rather than later—at least before 8.19 in over a month.
Control mage item nerfs
Out of all the positional metas in the game right now, the mid lane seems the most one-dimensional. Sure, there are outlier games of Akali and LeBlanc creeping up here and there, but for the most part, the popular professional picks are the control mages like Ryze, Orianna, Swain, and yes, even Zoe. Picks like Cassiopeia and Syndra are surging back into the meta as of recent weeks, too.
When an entire class of champion emerges into the top of the meta, that usually means they all share something in common, and that something is too powerful. In the case of control mages, we’re eyeing items more than anything else. With recent (and huge) nerfs to several AD items and burst runes, assassins are feeling noticeably weaker, leaving room for control mages to just take over. One of the key parts of AD champions falling off was that Riot justified making their items cheaper at the expense of raw damage, which is a sacrifice mages simply don’t have to make. There are plenty of high-power, relatively cheap AP items out there.
We have a hunch some of the more common ones are about to get the ADC treatment soon, even if the changes are smaller in scope.
Marksmen champion buffs
As we just mentioned, tons of AD items were recently tweaked to offer less power for reduced costs, with the intent being to give marksmen scaling opportunities faster but with less overall impact. This worked for certain champions, like Twitch, Xayah, and Jhin that are doing just fine on the professional stage at the moment. Unfortunately, though, there are still a few falling short.
Those few include the likes of Vayne, Jinx, Tristana, and a couple others. Even Caitlyn and Sivir, who have been picked a few times across the globe recently, are still feeling a little too weak compared to the competition. Since the broad item changes didn’t help them quite enough, we expect Riot to take a more personal approach in the near future, with individual buffs to stats or abilities.
Support shift back to mages
This one’s a bit strange, because we don’t actually necessarily think it’ll happen in Riot’s game patches. The support meta has been going through a strange ebb and flow all year from playmakers, to mages, and then back to playmakers right now. The most common supports in the pro scene have been playmakers for a while, including Alistar, Rakan, Braum, and Pyke.
To us, this means we’re due for a change in the winds. Whether it’s a small item tweak or a residual effect of the many damage changes recently, we have a hunch either enchanters or mages are about to return to the bot lane one way or another. Fiddlesticks doesn’t count, because he’s been around all summer thanks to that stupid crow.
Either that, or the playmaking meta will be doubled down, and we’ll see nothing but big, flashy tanks for the next several months.