One of League of Legends’ oldest and most recognizable champions made a triumphant return to the League Championship Series (LCS) yesterday as the top laner Ryze obliterated his foes in two games. In fact, the Rogue Mage was picked or banned in all 10 games in the EU LCS this week.
Ryze used to be a staple of competitive play, a popular top laner during the 2014 World Championships. But in Season 5, he’s fallen out of favor as his weak early game often prevents him from reaching late, where his impressive scaling power can take over a game.
On May 4, a patch introduced some fundamental changes to Ryze, like making his Q overload a skillshot. But that set of changes seemed to negate his already declining viability in the competitive metagame, even if he still retained his role as a late game powerhouse. The 5.10 patch, released on May 27, introduced a few buffs to bring up his pick rate, including one key one: making the supercharged buff gained from his passive, Arcane Master, last a full six seconds regardless of the rank of his ultimate.
That opened up potentially insane combo potential on Ryze, as at any level he now had a full six seconds of massive cooldown reduction to spam spells after stacking his Arcane Mastery.
The upshot: He can essentially root enemy players over the entire duration of that passive.
Whenever Ryze casts a spell he gains a stack of Arcane Mastery, and at five stacks, Ryze becomes supercharged, receiving a shield and major cooldown reduction every time he casts a spell. That means that players can perform a combo: Cast his W, Rune Prison, to root a player for 1.75 seconds and follow it up with Q-E-Q and then another W. If timed correctly, a player can repeat that combo three times after the initial root, giving the enemy player about 1.25 seconds in between 1.75 second roots to attempt an escape.
That—combined with the shield Arcane Mastery provides and the damage Ryze can dish out while chaining so many spells—means he can obliterate almost any foe, even in seemingly losing situations, like when Fnatic’s Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon decimated ROCCAT’s Etienne “Steve” Michels despite a deficit, with a 1/2/1 KDA against a 3/1/1 Maokai.
One of the keys to the build is maxing the W, Rune Prison. Each level increases the length of the root, up to 1.75 seconds at the max rank, attainable at level 9. That means Ryze can obliterate foes early in the game, making it easier to survive the early game and unlock his power.
Oddly enough, Ryze’s rise in popularity this week actually started in China. He appeared in multiple League of Legends Pro League (LPL) matches last week, despite the 5.10 patch that greatly increases the early game potential of his combo not yet available in the region. That shows teams believe he has potential since his rework, and the 5.10 patch definitely makes him viable.
Of course, he’s not entirely unstoppable. He was banned in 7 of ten matches in the EU LCS this week and posted a 2-1 record when he was picked, the losing game coming when Gambit Gaming faced Fnatic. Overall Ryze put up an 11/13/20 KDA line this week, hardly a sparkling number.
Even so, this week’s display has roused the calls of “overpowered.” Ryze’s ability to chain root a player, with little counterplay save to avoid getting into his relatively short range altogether, will certainly leave many frustrated. Buying items like Mercury Treads, which give the important Tenacity stat that reduces crowd control duration, will certainly become more common should Ryze’s reign continue.
But for now, there’s a new terror in the top lane, and probably, at times, the mid lane. If you’re an avid solo queue player, expect to see a lot of Ryze. There’s still a question of just how powerful he really is in the professional game, but his highlight reel and carry potential is certain to be exploited on the ladder.
Image via Riot Games