It’s rare for any League of Legends champion to avoid balance changes over a long period of time, especially when they’re often near the top of the meta ladder. Warwick has evaded Riot’s balance team and stayed near the top of the jungle tier list since his large-scale update last year, however.
His reign may finally be over, because a nerf is on the way. Granted, it isn’t a very large nerf, but it’s still something.
There have been brief moments where Warwick wasn’t in the top five winrates or playrates out of the game’s long list of jungle champions, according to League stats site Champion.gg, but for the most part, he’s remained somewhere in the top three.
The reason for him staying on top that long with no significant nerfs is simple. Winrates and playrates aren’t everything, and although a high winrate combined with a high playrate is usually a red flag, there are always other factors at play. Warwick, for instance, has very clear counters. He’s extremely kitable, his ultimate is easy to miss, and there are clear paths to take to play around him.
A champion can also be made weaker without being nerfed directly. For instance, one of Warwick’s key items, the Cinderhulk, was substantially nerfed this year, and therefore should have had an impact on him as well.
Unfortunately, though, the buck stops there. Sure, he has clear counters, and sure, he’s been nerfed indirectly, but he’s just too strong. He does too many things well. He’s near unrivaled as an early game dueler, and yet scales to be one of the strongest tank junglers in the game. Despite his insane survivability and tankiness, he can also put out more damage than even some bruisers that need to sacrifice tankiness in order to obtain damage.
As a bit of a nudge in the right direction, Riot is nerfing the max health damage from his Q, but only at higher ability ranks, as well as lowering his base AD slightly. The base AD nerf will slow down his early camp clears and lower his potential to duel in the jungle, and the scaling nerf on his Q will make him a bit less effective late in the game.
These nerfs are scheduled to go live with Patch 8.9 next week.