Qiyana is the new Ryze—a champion that’s nearly impossible to balance

Qiyana's kit is absolutely loaded, which makes her a nightmare for the balance team.

Image via Riot Games

Ryze and Azir are two of the most polarizing champions in League of Legends. They’re extremely powerful but have crazy high skill caps. In the hands of an average or even skilled player, they’re garbage. But at the professional level, where teams draft around their strengths and weaknesses and players can get the most out of their kits, they’re oppressive.

Well, the list of champions that are broken in pro play but unplayable in solo queue just got another name. This time, it’s not a high-damage late-game mage. In fact, she’s nearly the opposite. The champion we’re talking about is Qiyana, an early-game AD assassin.

Since her release, Qiyana has slowly crept up in priority in professional matches. At the same time, she’s one of the worst-performing champions in solo queue. Did Riot just create another monster in the mold of Ryze and Azir? Not quite, but what’s really happening might make things even harder for the League balance team.

A question of win rate

Screengrab via Champion.gg

Qiyana first appeared in the major regions when Clutch Gaming mid laner Tanner Damonte locked her in weeks ago against TSM. But it wasn’t until Splyce mid Marek “Humanoid” Brázda played her against Fnatic that she really arrived.

Humanoid went 12/3/7 in the upset over Fnatic, styling Qiyana all over the map. He was the reason Splyce won the game, and all over the world, players took note of how strong the new assassin could be. She’s reached a 55-percent presence on Patch 9.14, according to League stats site Games of Legends.

But in solo queue, things couldn’t be more different. Qiyana has the worst win rate in the game at three roles, according to stats site Champion.gg: top, mid, and jungle. In Korean high elo, she’s not quite as bad, but she still ranks 117th of all champions, according to stats site op.gg. That’s not quite Azir and Ryze territory, but it’s pretty close.

New champions, same game

Image via Riot Games

So what makes her so difficult to pick up? Well, it all starts with her Q. Upon her release, we wondered how clear it would be which element she’d favor. The answer has been all of them. That effectively turns the skill into three separate skills with vastly different results, from execute damage to a brief invisibility.

And that’s not all. She has two forms of dashes on her W and E, which are really valuable tools for someone with profound mechanics. And her W gives her bonus movement speed that is, once again, most appreciated by professional players who love to push a champion’s every limit, including how fast she can run.

It’s the complicated nature of her kit that makes her similar to Azir and Ryze. All three require a player to put together combos of spells quickly and accurately. But even they don’t have the sheer number of different effects, from stuns to slows to roots and dashes. In that sense, she’s kind of like another new champion that Riot has struggled to balance: Akali.

After terrorizing the pro scene for months, Riot has finally found a balance in the last few patches that’s let her be a situational pick in pro play while not being super annoying to deal with in solo queue. Wait, that didn’t happen at all. Akali is still a monster in the big leagues and near useless anywhere else. And we have a suspicion that also has to do with just how much is loaded into Akali’s kit.

As we discussed months ago, new champions have a stranglehold on the meta. They have more modern spells and more ways to outplay than older, simpler champions. It’s an unintended arms race: As new champions like Qiyana are released with new things we haven’t seen before, everyone struggles to catch up.

In other words, buckle up. There are surely things Riot can do to make Qiyana less like Ryze, but the overall theme is here to stay. More and more puzzles like Qiyana are coming for the Riot balance team to crack.