Patch 5.16 – Qualifier Patch
Hello ladies and gentlemen! It is August 20th and possibly the biggest patch of all time has landed! Rather than go over each item of the patch one by one, I’m going to give you an overview of what I believe will change in the meta after the patch, how the meta will be affected, and more importantly, what you need to watch out for going into the qualifying tournament. Let’s get started!
Let’s start at the top of the map. At the moment, the “S” tier top laners appear to be Olaf, Gnar, Shen and Rumble (with Maokai, Fizz, Hecarim and Gangplank not being too far behind). If we take a look at which top laners were buffed, we see Darius, Lissandra, and Zac being buffed directly, while Rumble received a nerf to his ultimate. However, if we look at item buffs/new items such as Sterak’s Gage and Titanic Hydra, we see an interesting new addition to the meta; specifically, Sterak’s Gage and its synergy with Trinity Force. Previously, Trinity Force users (Ex. Darius, Irelia, Jax) would build just Trinity Force as a damage item, or sometimes one other damage item if they got REALLY fed (Blade of the Ruined King on Irelia/Jax, Tiamat/Hydra on Darius). Now, Sterak’s Gage allows these users to build Trinity Force into Sterak’s Gage, giving them survivability and a TONNE more damage (pun intended). Because Sterak’s Gage enhances base damage and not additive attack damage, Sheen and Trinity Force adds this damage. If we take Irelia, for example, at level 13 she has a base attack damage of about 100. That means before, Trinity Force proc’d autos would do 100 + 200 (Sheen Proc). Now, with Sterak’s Gage, before going berserk your autos do 125+250. After entering Primal Rage, this changes to 150+300. That’s a lot of damage on a champion that can easily do this every one and a half seconds.
So what should you watch out for in the top lane? I expect the S tier to still be Olaf, Gnar, Shen and Rumble (that ult just does SO much in mid game teamfights), but expect this to expand to also include for sure Irelia, and possibly Darius. I have not actually played much with Darius so I am unsure as to what this will do for him, however Black Cleaver seems core on him so I don’t expect him to build Trinity Force. In teamfights if he gets one kill with his ultimate he will be able to go nuts, so watch out for Darius in teamfights AD Carries! Fizz and Hecarim, although Trinity Force users, I do not expect to build this item due to their reliance on CDR and both their build paths taking too long to build it (Fizz’s build path is typically TriForce, BORK, Frozen Heart, Spirit Visage, Merc Treads and another item, while Hecarim goes TriForce, Frozen Heart, Spirit Visage, Righteous Glory, Boots and another item). This however could alter their build paths if this item is as OP as it sounds, in which case top lane will become “if you aren’t AP, and you don’t build Sterak’s Gage, you aren’t viable”, which may become the case.
TL;DR: Sterak’s Gage may change top lane to become land of the Trinity Force.
One of the biggest changes that comes to the Jungle is the Cinderhulk change. After doing some math, this will help Cinderhulk users mid game, but reduce their late game (obviously, due to removing 10% of the scaling). Essentially, when you first buy the item, you receive 460 health instead of 375. Every 100 health you buy is 15 instead of 25, so to regain the 100 health you have to buy 1000 bonus health. Essentially, after two health items the item is even, and after the third or fourth health item, the item is weaker. However, one thing to keep in mind is that a lot of Cinderhulk junglers bought Frozen Heart as a second item due to the incredible amount of armor (100) and CDR (20%) it gave, which synergized with a lot of these champions’ kits (Ekko, Gragas, etc). Now, with the Frozen Heart nerfs, it will weaken these champions.
Before today, I would say Tier S belonged to Elise. Elise was queen of the jungle. If you couldn’t play Elise, you better be banning her. This patch brings a nerf to Elise, but in my opinion, it’s a small nerf. 4% of current health may seem like a lot, but if you take the average champion health of 2.1k, that’s only an 80 damage nerf. Now you might be saying “Edge, that’s a LOT”. Well, it is. It is going to knock her down a peg, but Elise’s strength was never her human Q. Elise’s strength comes from her Spider Form execute, her rappel, her stun duration at early levels, and the damage her spiderlings do now, due to being magic. Although this will knock Elise down a level, she will still be a Tier 1 Jungler.
So who else moves up a notch? Skarner. Elise just moved down to everyone else’s level at Tier 1, which as of now includes Gragas, Ekko, Rek’Sai, Evelynn, and Elise. Skarner is now in this tier, or higher. If you max E, you can apply stuns to entire teams. His Spire near the Dragon allows you to solo it with ease, and if teams try to fight you near your spire they will get screwed. If you capture the spire near enemy buffs you can outduel opponents easily. Building Cinderhulk and Titanic Hydra along with Black Cleaver does a lot of damage and is very tanky, and his ult is always incredible. Skarner is Tier 1, maybe even Tier S.
Now, you might be asking “what about Devourer Junglers?” These junglers do not work well in competitive play. Do you notice how only one jungler in all four regions has been playing Devourer junglers? I’ll give some reasoning why. With a synergised team, vision control is increased in Ranked 5’s (or at least it should be). This means that at all times the Devourer jungler can be tracked if they are in their jungle. Early game ganking junglers, or junglers that bring more utility and don’t require items to scale are able to take advantage of this by a) counter-jungling, or b) snowballing the lanes, knowing the Devourer jungler will be too busy farming to counter-gank. For this reason, Devourer junglers should be avoided.
As for who I believe has the potential to move up a tier with the item changes, keep a lookout for Olaf as Righteous Glory is receiving a cost reduction (and this is a core item on the Viking) and he’s receiving two items that synergize well with his kit. I have a feeling the Viking will be receiving a lot of picks and bans in the coming weeks, even more than he’s currently getting. Zac may also be very good, so watch out for the blob…thing.
TL;DR: Elise moves from Tier S to Tier 1 (along with Rek’Sai, Gragas, Ekko, Eve), watch out for Olaf and Skarner jungle. Don’t play Devourer Junglers, as you will be exploited.
The major change we see in the mid lane is changes to Viktor (thank goodness, sorry Trendan). The “S” tier of mid laners before the patch were definitely Viktor and Azir, and now Viktor is being beaten down a notch with the change to his Hexcore. There was a helpful graph posted on Reddit the other day that basically showed that pre-16, any Hexcore (except for Perfect) is giving less AP (approximately 20 on average.) and less mana, but post level 16 with Perfect Hex-Core, Viktor receives MORE AP (but still less mana). So what does this mean for Viktor? Well for starters, the popular build of flat AP and CDR boots is not going to work anymore due to the mana nerfs. Now Viktor HAS to build a mana regen item (Morellonomicon, Athene’s) in order to stay on par with previous levels, and at level 7 if you upgrade your Hexcore, you can not one-shot casters anymore. Instead, you need an additional Doran’s Ring or Amplifying Tome in order to one -hot caster minions, which is rather important for his lane control. Although I expect Viktor to receive a few points off his winrate and his overall play rate to go down, he still is a strong champion. Just not Tier S anymore.
As for Azir…he was buffed? Yes you heard me right. Buffed. Not necessarily to numbers, but his soldiers receiving all around buffs to where they go and how they act, along with general bug fixes. As of now, he is still Tier S mid lane and should either be picked, or banned if the enemy plays a good Azir (build Nashor’s Tooth, Rylais, Zhonyas, Void Staff, Rabadon’s Death Cap and Sorc Shoes, Max Q-W-E). However, if the next few champions pick up play we might begin to see less Azir…
A couple picks to watch out in the mid lane are Leblanc, Zed, Lissandra, Kassadin and Yasuo. These champions are important for a couple reasons, and I’ll go over each of them in quick detail:
Zed: Half of his previous nerf was reverted, which is important. He can now return to his Shadow .5 seconds after landing with his ult, which is a big deal. Expect more Zeds to make a return, ESPECIALLY due to armor as a whole being nerfed.
Lissandra: I did not really go over her in the top lane portion even though I mentioned her, and that’s because of her potential in both mid and top. The heal added to her ultimate is important, as she can now wait a bit before ulting in the middle of a team fight. She can E in, use her spells, and THEN ult, rather than having to E or flash in and only use ultimate, as she will now be able heal back most of her health. This, along with the AP changes, might result in Lissandra making a comeback mid or top, but my guess is mid, due to her weakness to top lane Trinity Force users like Irelia.
Leblanc: Leblanc’s damage was never nerfed. Her W speed is going back up a bit, while she was already starting to see a bit of play in the east. This buff might just bring her back into the meta, especially since she counters a lot of mages.
Yasuo: Yasuo is an interesting one, as he is starting to see a lot of play in China, and a lot of pro players are spamming him due to a new build arising: Statikk Shiv-Trinity Force-Infinity Edge. This gives Yasuo his 100% crit again. Now the other reason I want to bring him up is Sterak’s Gage. Why? Well, we talked about Trinity Force in the top lane. And all Yasuo wants to do is dive the back line. This gives him more damage, more health, AND stronger Trinity Force procs. And armor is getting nerfed? Expect this to be a regular 4th/5th item on Yasuos. You should be afraid. The wind is coming.
Kassadin: These buffs to his ultimate help bring back some damage to Kassadin’s kit, and his core items offer the most AP in the game to scale with. Expect Kassadin to make a comeback, but he will still take forever to scale so CAMP HIM. CAMP HIM, CAMP HIM, CAMP HIM.
TL;DR: Viktor not as strong but still good, Azir still very strong, expect assassins to make a comeback due to defensive item nerfs and buffs to the champions.
Not much happened to AD Carries except for armor reduction. There was one key factor, however: Randuin’s now reduces critical strike damage, and more people will be building health due to the new items. This makes Blade of the Ruined King users, such as Vayne, much stronger, and AD Carries that use Infinity Edge slightly weaker. Expect Tier 1 Ad Carries to be Vayne, Kalista, Corki, with Lucian potentially making a comeback, and Bloodthirster Draven being stronger than IE Draven now. Another champion to keep an eye on as to whether he will be good or not? Mordekaiser and his mighty ghost dragon.
TL;DR: Seriously? Just read it.
Alistar received a nerf to his Headbutt-Pulverise combo (or a buff to those of you that could not do it easily) in that it can be dodged easier due to him moving slower. Nami also received a substantial buff to her movement speed increase while using spells on champions, and more specifically, her ultimate, which now gives allies 120 movement speed when it hits them! This is a very good buff to Nami, and I expect her to be Tier 1 now, along with Braum.
TL;DR: Alistar nerfed, Nami tier 1.
Whew. That’s a lot to take in. So, what did we learn? Well, top lane is going to be dominated by Trinity Force users and AP laners. Why? AP laners, because AD Assassins like Zed and Yasuo are going to be making a comeback, and Elise/Nidalee have been nerfed which restricts the amount of AP damage sources in other lanes. Expect Rumble, Lissandra, Lulu, Olaf, Gnar, Irelia, Shen, and Gangplank to be the most played top laners moving forward, with Darius potentially being very VERY strong. Jungle will stay about the same with Skarner potentially being broken, however these defensive item changes and Titanic Hydra may be more impactful than I thought. Elise will also be tuned down a bit (thank goodness). In mid lane, expect Azir to be picked or banned. However, a resurgence of assassins may stem this a bit. AD Carries will be about the same, but Infinity Edge users did receive a nerf due to the Randuin’s change. Vayne, Kalista and Corki are my top three moving forward. For supports, Nami will be Tier 1 along with Braum. Alistar might be knocked down a tier due to the W speed nerf.
Expect basic team comps to be:
AP Top-Tank Jungle-AD Mid-Corki-Support
Trinity Force Top-Tank Jungle-AP Mid-ADC-Support
That’s all for today. I will probably update next week for the sixteen remaining teams to see if I was right or wrong, along with what I might have missed.
Thanks for reading!
Dylan “DXI Edge” Edgar