How do you define OP?

I found an interesting thread on the forums that made me ask the question in the title of this post: how do I define OP? The author of that thread thinks an OP character is one that defies countering, a champion that doesn’t require teamwork in order to perform well. I can’t really agree with that version of OP, if only because so much of League of Legends happens in the laning phase of the game, where champions are essentially on their own.

My own version of OP looks more like something I saw a Rioter say about Irelia. To me, overpowered champions are those that, regardless of the odds, rarely find themselves in bad situations. Irelia is a perfect example of this problem. In lane she has excellent farming skills and a powerful nuke that becomes a stun once she’s in trouble. Once the teamfights start she gains CC reduction for every enemy around her. She farms well enough that she’s never hurting for gear in that situation either. But this version of OP doesn’t cover everything, either.

Let’s look at Akali. Once Akali hits level three she produces burst unlike almost any champion out there. She also has her Shroud to keep her safe from enemy harass in lane, all the while gaining ground toward level six, which is when things get particularly ugly. Because Akali can solo so well, she ends up several levels ahead of bottom lane and often the enemy jungler. With that level gap her burst can almost always guarantee a kill, but the damage doesn’t stop there. Her ult, which is one of the longest-range dashes in the game (of which she also gets three), refreshes when she gets kills and assists, further increasing her mobility and killing power. She’s very different from Irelia but I would still consider her seriously overpowered.

This will always be the problem with OP champions – there is no one way to define them, no one skill that unifies them. There’s also the fact that not all players can effectively utilize OP champions, which makes for a mix of data on Riot’s end. Certainly they have a lot of highly ranked players that can accurately assess these kinds of champions, but when the champions are being used to great effect across the board, what’s the sense in nerfing them?

My main point here is that OP can start to look pretty subjective when you consider all of the variables that determine whether a champion needs a change or not. It’s why we still have champions like Akali and Irelia at their current power level.

  

Can we at least nerf Irelia’s stun?

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If you’ve played a game with me over the course of the past 6 months, chances are good you’ve heard me complain about Irelia. Sorry to subject that to you again, but every time I see her I see something that I think needs a change. Unfortunately, Riot has made it clear that they don’t intend to change her because it would cause too much disruption. Seems like a funny reason to leave such a frustrating character in such a frustrating state of development, but whatever, it’s not my game. Still, I think we could at least make one simple change to Irelia that would make her a little more reasonable.

As it currently stands, Irelia gets a two-second, targeted stun if she has lower health than her opponent by percentage. If you’ve ever played Irelia, you know how often she gets that stun, and you certainly know how often that stun saves her ass. The simple fact is that two seconds is just too long. Sion’s stun was changed for that very reason, and I think Irelia’s should get at least the same nerf, especially considering her passive.

Best case scenario, I would like to see her stun brought down to a one second duration. I realize that means a character with Merc Treads will only be stunned for .6 seconds, but honestly, I think that’s fine. I think it’s insane that she gets a stun at all, but again, don’t want to disrupt the players that like her. Keep the slow at two seconds, fine, but when that stun is coupled with her gap closer, true damage, massive lifesteal, and CC resistance, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to reduce the stun.

  

Irelia impressions

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I know I’ve been on a mini-hiatus the past couple days, but I have had a chance to catch a game here and there and I think I’ve seen enough of Irelia to put together an impression post. I’ve found her to be incredibly underwhelming and disappointing to play. The things she can do can typically be done better by other champions. That sort of design works when a toon does a lot of different things, but Irelia is just melee DPS, nothing else. It’s not like Morgana, who shields and deals damage and CCs (and still does most of these things better than other characters).

I’m always a little way when Riot releases a melee champion, I think for good reason. Melee is very difficult to balance in this game if you don’t give them a very particular set of skills. They need to be able to close the gap on ranged toons to prevent kiting, they need some sort of defensive ability to keep them alive, and they need to do enough damage to rip up a mage or squishy target as quickly as that target can return the favor.

On the surface, it looks like Irelia has these things. Her passive gives her some CC reduction, she has a dash, and she has two lifesteal skills to keep her alive. With a closer look, though, you can see that her skills don’t work well with one another and lead to confused builds that don’t ultimately scale very well.

Start with her passive – with three enemies on you, Irelia gets 40 percent CC reduction. That’s all well and good, but players still get stunlocked with Mercury Treads, which is essentially what you get from the skill. In short, her passive sucks, and it doesn’t provide the CC she needs. If she was impossible to CC when four or five enemies were nearby, that would be interesting. Obviously you would have to scale down her damage, but it makes the passive actually useful.

Her dash has another issue. While it is good for moving to a target, Irelia has no way to get away from a threat, and her dash can leave her stranded in the middle of a fight. Once there, she doesn’t have a lot of options. Her passive won’t help her get away much, and she can’t leech back enough health in most cases to keep her up.

Her stun is a problem, if only because it’s so conditional. The fact that she has to be lower health than her target suggests that you allow Irelia to get low (lower than her target anyhow), stun, and then leech back your health with her passive lifesteal from both her W skill and her ultimate. That’s fine against one target, but in the midst of a teamfight, she feels very exposed.

Then there’s her W. It grants true damage and fixed lifesteal. The fixed part is very important because it means she doesn’t scale well as a lifesteal champion without buying a lot of lifesteal, instead of buying damage. This prioritizes Bloodthirster for her over Infinity Edge, which is where she would get burst. The true damage is great, but that requires you have a lot of attack speed to make the best of it. Attack speed doesn’t scale very well with the rest of her skills, though. She’s yet another toon that has a complicated and confused item prioritization that ultimately makes every build feel like it’s missing something.

You can see from Phreak’s spotlight how hard a time melee has with attack speed. There are several instances in which he might have had a kill if he didn’t get slowed or stunned by another champion. Irelia’s dash is on such a long cooldown if not used for a killing blow that it doesn’t make for good chasing, and without a good way to her target close at hand, she never gets to make use of all that attack speed. A champion like Tryndamere actually does very well because he can both get into and out of the fight using Spinning Slash and he can slow a group of targets from range. Irelia can only get in on one target, and once in, she can get shut down just like any other melee toon. Her passive just isn’t enough.

  

Irelia patch skins announced

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The announcement post for the Irelia release skins is live, giving us a sneak peek at tomorrow’s additions to the store. There’s some good stuff this go round, though my favorite has to be Monarch Kog’Maw. That’s just hilarious. For existing toons you can also get Feral Warwick and Secret Agent Miss Fortune.

Looks like Irelia is getting the 975 RP treatment, and surprisingly, it’s her Aviator skin that will be 975, not the Nightblade. I’d imagine you’ll see a ton of ninjaesque Irelias running around tomorrow.

  

Irelia is on release notice

Right on schedule, Riot has released the official pre-patch skill list for the newest champion, Irelia. Her skill list looks interesting, and has the potential to be viable in the jungler, which would be a nice addition to the league.

Here’s what we’re looking at:
Bladesurge: Irelia dashes forward to strike her target. If it kills the target, Bladesurge’s cooldown refreshes and half the mana cost is refunded.

Hiten Style: Irelia is skilled in the art of Hiten, passively giving her physical attacks health restoration. Activating Hiten Style adds true damage to her physical attacks for a short duration.

Equilibrium Strike: Irelia’s attack balances the scales, dealing damage and slowing the target. However, if the target has a higher Health % than Irelia, then the blow stuns the target instead.

Transcendent Blades (Ultimate): Irelia summons four spirit blades which she can fling at her enemies. These blades deal magic damage to enemies that they pass through, siphoning life from them and healing Irelia.

Ionian Fervor (Passive): Each nearby enemy champion (to a maximum of three) reduces the effectiveness of Crowd Control on Irelia.

Definitely an interesting passive, though I wonder how useful it will be. In a teamfight situation, it’s rare for CC to be the thing that actually kills a melee DPS. The problem is usually being in the middle of the AOE-fest and taking more damage than you can handle. Building her as a tank could make the passive really interesting because she’d be think enough to withstand some burst and then able to make use of Equilibrium for some stuns.

Personally, I’ll be looking into her jungling capabilities first. Inherent lifesteal is always good, and the active on that skill could make it very easy to bring down the buff camps.

I’m also curious to see how that ult will work. From the wording, it sounds like you cast to summon the blades and then perhaps cast again to throw one at an enemy? Or do they all throw at once? Is it targeted or a skillshot?

My biggest concern for Irelia is that she’ll make Katarina obsolete. Kat already has a tough time in most games due to the prevalence of silences and stuns. Giving what sounds like a similar character a slow/stun, true damage, lifesteal, and Kat’s dash ability could take Kat off the radar for most players.

  

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