LoL dev Phreak explains why he’s in no rush to nerf Zeri in pro play

Get used to her.

Image via Riot Games

In response to a Reddit thread calling for Zeri to be nerfed, League of Legends balance developer David “Phreak” Turley claimed today that he has no intention of bringing down the champion’s power level anytime soon. The thread called for nerfs to Zeri to go live before this year’s Mid-Season Invitational, but it’s still likely that no matter what happens to her between now and May, the champion will probably still be in the meta—especially if Phreak and the rest of the Summoner’s Rift team have anything to say about it. 

“So while Zeri has been a fixture of bottom lane for sure, she’s almost never been the dominant option and has never been so strong that both teams vie for her every game,” Phreak said in his reply. “That said, she has finally crossed 80% for the first time during 13.5.”

Phreak also mentioned that he “doesn’t like playing whack-a-mole” by nerfing specific champions one at a time, only for another strong option to appear at some point in the next patch cycle. Instead of targeting each patch’s “flavor of the month” champion with a flurry of nerfs, Phreak says it’s more beneficial for pro players to find solutions of their own and discover which champions are naturally strong. 

Phreak specifically cited champions like Gragas and Xayah, who weren’t changed much at all this season but still became priority picks in pro play once teams discovered how strong they were at their respective positions. 

Image via Riot Games

This season, Zeri has been one of the most contested champions in professional play with a pick/ban rate that sits just above 71 percent in major region drafts, according to League stats site Games of Legends. Her 71 percent presence mark sits just below Sejuani and Ashe, who are the only champions to be more popular this season on the professional stage. In Patch 13.5, however, Zeri holds the No. 1 spot as her pick/ban rate has ballooned to 81 percent on the current pro patch, according to Games of Legends. 

“Right now, a lot of ADCs have really close presence outside of Zeri,” Phreak said. “For the first time, she actually stands far above the rest of the crew and is thus a reasonable nerf candidate.”

Phreak and the rest of the balance team are still going to wait and see, though. Patch 13.6—which is currently out on the live servers and should be enabled for pro play following certain leagues’ regional playoffs—nerfed some of her core items in Navori Quickblades and Bloodthirster, as well as one of her most common lane partners: Yuumi. For reference, Zeri has not been nerfed directly since Patch 13.1. 

Regardless of nerfs, though, the onus still remains on pro players to find new strategies and be ahead of the curve in regard to what’s actually strong. Picking up a new champion before other pro players and getting the jump on the meta is usually what separates good teams from great ones. If there’s a strong champion on the roster somewhere, it’s on the players to find them. 

About the author
Michael Kelly

Staff Writer covering World of Warcraft and League of Legends, among others. Mike's been with Dot since 2020, and has been covering esports since 2018.