Patch 5.1 Breakdown and Analysis
by Kirito Kamui, Master Tier
2. Champion changes – buffs
3. Champion changes – nerfs
4. Item changes
5. Jungle changes
6. Map and Turret changes
7. Final thoughts
As the new season dawns and after many have fallen victim to the subterranean void, patch 5.1 arrives to smooth out some of amount of changes that have occurred in the past few months. Edge cases such as Rek’Sai are receiving attention while buffs and nerfs are shaping up the early 2015 meta. In addition, itemization is also seeing changes in order to, in Riot’s words, promote strategic diversity. Lastly, with the massive changes to the jungle during the preseason, this patch aims to solidify and balance the new jungle playstyles and patterns.
This patch includes a balanced mix of nerfs, buffs, and bigger changes. Some longtime top tier champions had their reign ended while new (or returning) stars are rising. Of course, there’s the patch-ly dose of Azir bugfix.
Bugfix – Azir’s soldiers no longer “pretend” to attack if Azir moves out of range.
This is a minor bugfix that can potentially be a significant buff. The bug made Azir lose autoattacks (unable to issue a comman for about another second) so this bugfix made him more reliable and gave him an indirect DPS buff.
Q’s damage cap against monsters is increased by 25 at all ranks to 75/100/125/150/175.
This is a decent change aimed at bringing up up to par with other junglers in today’s met by emphasizing her objective control strengths. While this is not a big change, it does increase her clear speed and allows her to secure buffs better. She will probably gain a bit of popularity.
- Passive now grants 2% missing mana restore (doubled)
- Ravage now applies on-hit effects twice but no longer applies spell effects
These are pretty big buffs. Eve is know for her sustain issues and the passive buff definitely helps on the mana side; now she can farm more and have more mana for early ganks/fights. The Ravage change is really significant because Eve has the best success with AD/tank jungle with a Blade of the Ruined King or even Triforce and this change directly increases her DPS with almost no cost. Expect to see more of her.
Bugfix – Q now always applies on-hit effects; before, it didn’t when used while on top of the target
Buffs and bugfixes are not mutually exclusive and this bugfix is a reliability buff to Fizz. Unfortunately, this make someone already strong and frustrating to play against even stronger. While this is a necessary change, Fizz deserves compensation nerfs.
- Mana cost on Q reduced at earlier ranks from 24/26/28/30/32 to 20/23/26/29/32.
- Healing cap increased by 30 at all ranks to 90/120/150/180/210.
This is a pretty big buff to everyone’s favorite Runeterran pony, especially during the early/mid game. The intent is probably to make his jungler more sustainable, for there’s more implications than that. These are also buffs to solo lane Hecarim, which was already strong in certain matchups. These buffs definitely makes him stronger in lane, especially for top lane. I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts showing up more in top lane.
- She can now change her attack target in brief moments before she actually throws the spear.
- Soulmarked’s cooldown against the same target is decreased from 8 to 6 and the mark duration is increased from 1.5 to 2.
These are decent buffs aimed to make her playstyle more smooth and reduce her clunkiness. She is still not a good pick for Solo Queue due to her coordination-based kit but she definitely got quite a bit stronger in premade games since her damage is directly buffed. Expect to see more of her in Ranked Teams.
Scaling on his shield adjusted so that is scales better during the mid/late game: 100/150/200/250/300 (+15% bonus HP) to 60/65/70/75/80 (+7/9.5/12/14.5/17% max HP)
This is a nice buff to his mid/late game. Riot was careful not to buff his early game because that’s his weakness; his identity as a CC tank that scales is emphasized with this change. This buffs his consistency. He might see more play.
- Fury generation on his abilities is halved on minions but doubled on champions.
- Healing on Q increased on champion hits and but decreased on minions hits.
- W and Dice now both generate 10 Fury on champion hit; Dice also generates 2.5 fury on minion hit.
With this mini-rework, Riot nerfed the croc’s oppressive laning phase while buffing his scaling and combat power. This is both a nerf and a buff but I see it more as a buff because it makes him more consistent. He won’t be able to win lane as much as he did before because he lost out on sustain and fury generation when farming, but he scales more reliably with bigger heals and faster fury in fights.
Bugfix – Passive no longer starting with less health due to grievous wounds debuff.
No significant change here. The bugfix made him more reliable but did not buff him in any considerable way.
- Mana cost on Q is reduced at later ranks from 16/18/20/22/24 to 16/17/18/19/20.
- Cooldown of Fracture now decreases with rank: 12 -> 12/11.5/11/10.5/10
Skarner is buffed throughout the game with more mana sustain in the jungle and a lower cooldown CC ability. The buff to Fracture is especially potent mid-late game when Skarner starts to rank it up. More CC uptime increases his damage and utility. He might see more play with these changes.
Mana cost doubled from 50 to 100.
This is a really good nerf to control Corki’s mid game missile. Corki has one of the strongest mid game power spikes for a Marksman and his early-mid strengths can easily snowball the game. Now he has to be more careful about spamming his abilities if he wants to remain safe. His pick and win rates will be sure to take a small hit.
- Cooldown is now reduced by 45% when catched, down from 60%.
- Cooldown reduction on catching the boomerang now scale with ult’s rank: 45% -> 50%/55%/60%
I feel like this is a nerf to the wrong place. After the previous set of nerfs, Gnar’s Solo Queue carrying capacity took a huge hit and he remained strong primarily in competitive play and in premades. This nerf weakens his laning and mid game even further but that’s not his problems right now. He needs a nerf to, his crazy teamfighting utility and damage, not a part of his kit that is already balanced. Overall, he will still be picked for what he does in competitive games, but his presence in Solo Queue will decrease.
Tornado’s width reduced by 20% from 150 to 120.
After dominating both the competitive scene and Solo Queue alike, Janna finally receives a nerf. It’s not enough, but it’s a good one that forces players to put more thought into exactly where to aim Q rather than just aim it in a general direction towards enemies. This increases her skill cap and slightly decreases her power level, but she is still OP Janna.
Damage on each Hyper Charge shot reduced from 70%/85%/100%/115%/130% to 70%/80%/90%/100%/110%.
This change is more aimed towards curbing Jayce’s abusive edge cases of using Hyper Charge in certain scenarios, especially when he’s ahead, than a general power nerf. Jayce is pretty balanced is it is, being a mid-tier competitive pick while on the weaker side in Solo Queue, so this nerf can hurt, but it’s not a big deal since he maintains all his primary strengths.
- Unburrowed: Bonus damage on next 3 attacks reduced from 15/35/55/75/95 (+0.4 bonus AD) to 15/30/45/60/75 (+0.3 bonus AD).
- Burrowed: AP ratio reduced from 1.0 to 0.7.
- W’s Bonus AD ratio reduced from 0.5 to 0.4.
Rek’sai needed nerfs badly and she received them this patch, but these nerfs are probably not enough. The W and burrowed Q’s nerfs barely matter (aside from removing gimmick AP builds) but the Q nerf can be significant during mid game, with Rek’Sai losing out on about 80+ damage from the ability. She’s definitely not as broken as before with this big damage nerf, but she still hurts a lot and have a lot of mobility and map control. She will remain a top tier pick.
Movement speed decreased from 330 to 325.
Movement speed nerfs are always significant because they indirectly affect every aspect of the champion: slower roaming, worse escapes/chasing, slightly more difficult to position correctly, slower to get back to lane, etc. On top of that, it affects Sona’s zones of influence. While this change will have practically no effect on how often she is picked, this is definitely a power nerf. Sona’s combination of sustain and poke can get abusive at times so this nerf makes sense.
- Base damage on Q reduced on earlier ranks from 70/110/150/190/230 to 50/95/140/185/230.
- Dark Spheres are now slightly harder to hit with Scatter the Weak
Ouch. These are hefty nerfs aimed at mitigating her lane bullying. With 20 damage taken off from Q at rank 1, she doesn’t trade nearly as well as before. This gives her lane opponent some much needed room to breathe for how high her kill potential is at level 6. Scatter the weak’s width now strictly matches the animation. This is a clarity change that also nerfs Syndra’s flexibility, but the effect isn’t significant for those who make effort to place Spheres strategically. The Q nerf hurts the most and her presence will definitely be negatively affected.
NEW ITEM: Zzrot’s Portal
- + + 850 gold = 2800 gold
- +50 Armor, +50 Magic Resist, +100% base mana regen
- Unique Active:
- Unique Passive – Point Runner: Gain 30% Movement Speed while near turrets or Void Gates.
- Unique Active: Spawns at a target location a Void Gate, which in turn spawns Voidspawns one every 4 seconds. These Voidspawns run down the nearest lane and attack enemy structures.
This is a very interesting item at the very least. Stat wise, it’s similar to Guardian’s Angel but it has support active/passive rather than a personal revive. It’s designed for tanky champions such as Shen for the extra pushing power and strategic utility. While this item can be useful, I feel that the opportunity cost of buying this item is too high; you’d be sacrificing either a Sunfire or a big ticket tank item for this. This item seems very niche so don’t expect to see much of it.
Infinity Edge loses 5% Crit (25% -> 20%) and Phantom Dancer gainst 5% crit (30% -> 35%).
This change was probably implemented to solidify Phantom Dancer’s identity as *the* crit item while toning down Infinite Edge’s dominance as the first big item bought on Marksmen. With Shiv crowding out Phantom as the premier attack speed and crit item, now players have to get the IE + PD combo if their goal is to go for the high DPS crit build. Due to the lower efficiency of IE, Bloodthirster rush may be more viable.
Now costs 200 more gold, from 2100 to 2300.
This is a much needed change because the item was just so incredibly cost efficient that many mid laners began to buy double ‘nomicons, even with CDR overload. 2100 gold for 80 AP (which by itself is worth at least 1600), 20% CDR and 100% Mana Regen is ridiculous, and that’s not taking into account the passive. It’s still very cost efficient, but now Athene’s Unholy Grail has more room to compete with it.
- Gold cost of the Warding Totem trinket upgrades and of Farsight Orb is reduced from 475 to 250.
- Oracle Len’s cooldown is increased from 60 to 75.
Oracle lens was the go-to trinket upgrade so Riot nerfed it and buffed the other upgrades to make them more enticing options. I personally might start buying the Greater Warding Totem for the one-minute CD ward spam over the stealth detection utility.
NEW – Item Exchange:
- Trinkets can now be exchanged quickly. Sellback deficit applies.
- Boots enchants can now be exchanged for half the cost of the enchant
- Disenchanted jungle items can be exchanged for free
These changes are added for convenience considering that some of these are often resold. The jungle item change is nice because now you can switch items for no cost after realizing you bought the old item. The Boots enchant exchange is really useful for switching between Homeguard and a combat enchant for a lower cost.
- Smite can now hold 2 charges, but each charge takes 75 seconds to generate (beginning at 1:40), up from a static 60 second cooldown.
- There is a 15 second cooldown between expending Smite charges.
This change allows the jungle to smite both a camp and an enemy player, or two camps, within a short period of time in exchange for a longer cooldown. The number is tuned so that the jungler uses Smite approximately the same number of times per game. This change is largely a buff because the jungle is now more flexible with when to use Smite. There’s strategic emphasis on which two targets to Smite in a small time window if the situation calls for it.
- Machete now grants 15 bonus gold on a large monster kill, up from 10 gold.
- Machete’s upgrades now grant 30 bonus gold, up from 20 gold.
This is a direct small buff to jungle income, but it moreso affects farming junglers because they make the most use of it. This change encourages junglers to farm the jungle more because of the buffed consistent rewards and make them think more on tradeoffs.
No longer slows target by 50%; now steals 20% movespeed from the target.
The is a nerf the vast majority of the time and it’s probably a deserved nerf. 50% slow was very strong junglers who already excel at ganking used it to certain death for the target or at least for landing a Sonic Wave. Previously, you had double the movespeed of your target after use, but now you have only 50% more. This gives the target more flexibility should you mess up your execution of the gank.
Fuck Off Go Away – Dragon now knocks away any wards preemptively placed directly beneath his spot in the pit.
Placing a ward directly beneath Dragon made it almost impossible to clear it. This change nerfed Dragon control but moreso those who abused the tactic. Not a big change.
- AD changed from 500 to 400 at spawn (+8/minute)
- Health changed from 8800 at spawn (+140/minute) to 10000 at spawn (+180/minute)
- AD ratio on all his spell damage are significantly reduced
- Baron now casts a spell once every 6 spells, up from 4-5 spells.
Overall, the changes made Baron slightly more tanky but significantly less damaging. Baron was really strong the past few seasons so they toned it down to encourage players to create opportunities to take it. Now it’s less risky to make a Baron call since the team would be at a much higher health should the enemy discover the attempt but it takes slightly more time to kill, giving the enemy team a bit more time to react. This is generally a buff to teams who wants to aggressively take Baron.
Jungle EXP Gains
Change: Jungle camps give decreased EXP only if the champion is 3 levels above, up from 2 levels above.
Analysis: This change is aimed at buffing farming junglers. Previous, they would eventually run into the problem of diminishing returns from farming jungle camps. This buff rewards champions whose playstyle is to stay in the jungle to farm, to make them a bit more on par with ganking junglers.
Map and Turret Changes
NEW: One-sided gates now exist in bases midway between two inhibitor turrets; only the friendly team can pass through them:
Analysis: This allows for some clutch escapes and some creative flanks, but it won’t have any heavy influences in most games. A few champions (Amumu, Lee) who rely on flanks to initiate benefit from this change the most.
Bugfix: Turrets no longer drop aggro on targets who relocate with Flash or other means.
Analysis: Good bugfix that punishes sloppy dives. This will also deter people from making unnecessary risky dives.
This patch brought a balanced and appreciated set of changes. It appropriate tackled problematic champions such as Rek’Sai, Syndra, and Janna, though I expect them to receive addition nerfs in the next patch or two. Renekton got a decent mini-rework to make him more consistent and less abusive, and forgotten champions such as Skarner received some attention. I really like just about every jungle change they made: farming junglers are buffed to offer a bit more variety in competition against the still-dominating heavy gankers, Baron is nerfed to make Baron attempts more reasonable and enticing, and the Smite changes makes is so that junglers no longer have to agonize between preparing for a gank of maintaining objective control.
I do feel, however, there could have been more changes. Zed was mentioned in the patch that Riot is figuring out ways to make him more balanced but I wish they at least did something to curb his current power level because he is just insanely strong and consistent in the right hands. Fizz really needs a nerf instead of just a bugfix that happens to be a buff. Other problematic champions that plague Solo Queue for a variety of reasons (Fiora, Shaco, and Akali come to mind) are not addressed so I hope they would be in the next few patches.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully this article improved your insight on the meta as we head into the official 2015 Season!
Pictures and data taken from leagueoflegends.com and leagueoflegends.wikia.com