While League of Legends players were all complaining about the bot lane meta, too much damage, and Cloud9 coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu’s roster decisions a couple months ago, a monster made his way into the top lane.
Like a snake slithering through tall grass, Garen used all of that calamity throughout the playerbase to sneak all the way up to the top of the meta without so much as a squeak from anyone. His reign up there has gone unnoticed for a few weeks, and he’s absolutely terrifying—and really, really irritating. Luckily for you, we’re here to remind everyone that he’s definitely still there, and he’s definitely still too strong.
Someone, please nerf Garen.
Let’s take a look at what makes him such a menace, and then we’ll dive into possible countermeasures for players and the Riot balance team to take. Garen is one of the few extremely easy-to-play champions left in the game. His kit is very simple, intuitive, and it still feels satisfying enough to play, which is something a lot of other simple champions lack. That being said, he’s a bit difficult to balance.
Since he’s so easy to pick up for players of all skill levels, it’s easy for him to take a small buff or change in the meta and ride it into the sunset like a majestic steed. He isn’t like complex champions, where Riot can buff a specific skillshot, therefore only rewarding players that can actually land the ability. If Riot buffs anything on Garen’s kit, everyone will be able to take advantage of it. His entire set of abilities consists of two heavy-hitting point-and-click abilities (one that executes and potentially deals True Damage), an AoE spin, and a damage mitigator. As you can tell, nothing in there reflects a player’s skill much, aside from (maybe) timing up the damage mitigation properly.
For how easy to play he is, his kit and favorite items are simply way too effective. He can run a Black Cleaver into Sterak’s Gage and deal massive damage with little to no risk of messing up his engages or spending too much gold.
Now that that’s out of the way, there’s only really a couple of ways to nerf him in a healthy way. Riot could nerf his damage, sure, but that runs the risk of making him useless as he’s a very one-dimensional champion. Instead, we’d like to see his utility nerfed, which means his Courage ability. The massive chunk of damage reduction it provides allows Garen to sprint at you with almost no risk of anything. The fact that Courage only lasts briefly forces him to time it up properly—but even still, there’s too much breathing room.
If Riot reduces the cooldown on the ability or drops the initial burst of damage reduction down to 50 percent, Garen would be a lot easier to deal with. You could capitalize on his mistakes and punish him with more damage, and he wouldn’t have to feel weaker in the damage department. That’s what we call a win-win.
Right now, for players, there isn’t much of an answer to him aside from Singed and possibly Teemo. Singed is your best bet to counter him because when he activates his Q to run at your face, you can just hit your poison trail and run the opposite direction. Teemo has potential, but a good Garen will know how to manipulate the minion wave so he can hide in bushes and avoid most of your harass. Outside of that, though, there aren’t many options.
So if you don’t want to play Singed, your only solution is to ban him or spend the game hearing “DEMACIA!” over and over again while sword after comically large sword smashes into your skull.