Leona Impressions

Valkyrie Leona

Leona’s mid-week release has been messing with my schedule a bit, but I’ve still been able to sneak in a few games with her here and there, enough at least to give you an impression post. Leona has all the skills necessary to be a powerful force in the game, there’s just one problem – she doesn’t have a lane.

The current metagame is focused around leveling an AP carry and either a high burst ranged carry (Corki, basically) or a bruiser in the mid and top lanes and allowing the pure ranged carry to farm bottom with a support. The support sustains the carry for a big farm so that the team can scale in to late game. Unfortunately, Leona isn’t very good in a solo lane. She doesn’t farm creeps well, she doesn’t harass well without another player with her, and she sure as shit can’t jungle. For competitive play, that leaves her one place to go – bottom lane – which means the carry is left without a healer, hoping to snag a few kills in the early game thanks to Leona’s crowd control. There’s one giant problem with that strategy, though.

Have you ever noticed how low the kill counts are in competitive matches? Competitive matches are about safety for the majority of the game – players ward, every team brings support, every team packs Clairvoyance – with a focus on objectives and the occasional teamfight. That’s not really where Leona shines. Leona is about having an aggressive lane and teamfighting often, using her low-cooldown CC skills to pick apart the enemy team. In a metagame that is essentially a farm-off, she doesn’t have a place.

That said, I’m hoping the metagame can make a shift some time in the near future, because Leona is a lot of fun when I can actually use her abilities. Leona is a tank in the purest sense of the word. She has a boatload of CC but fairly weak damage, especially compared to champions like Jarvan. Riot got so many things right about her kit I’m wondering if we’re about to see a very significant shift in the game’s design. She doesn’t do crazy damage, she doesn’t even do any kind of resistance debuff. She doesn’t push well, though she can occasionally set up a push with a tower dive. She doesn’t farm well. She’s only there to lock down targets so that the rest of her team can put together some kills.

I would love to see the game-extending support metagame die in favor of an action-creating CC/Carry lane on the bottom. I think Leona has the kind of kit to make that possible, but until the passive support game gets nerfed, I don’t think we’ll see Leona in a ton of games.


Leona gets a sneaky launch this afternoon

Looks like it’s time for me to eat a little crow. I didn’t think there was any way Riot would launch Leona until tomorrow, but they went ahead and set her live this afternoon. She’s available now in the store for 6300 IP or the usual 975 RP.

So far I’ve only had the chance to play one game with her but it went exceedingly well. She feels strong – lots of CC, responsive attack animations and spell animations, and enough damage from her skills and her passive combined – but not overpowered, at least not at first glance. She makes a devastating lane partner for anyone with a stun and I’ll be interested to see how she fares as a solo. If there’s one way she might be a little strong it’s that her shield can be up nearly all the time and it gives an amazing amount of resist (30 MR/armor at rank 1). Most importantly, though, she seems like a lot of fun to play. In the past I’ve said that when I should have been saying “this champ is OP,” but I’m hoping that’s not the case here.

I’ll give more impressions about her either later tonight or early tomorrow. What have you guys found so far?


Patch Day roundup: Leona

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but since I’m not playing (and neither is anyone else) I might as well provide a little reading material for anyone that needs a fix. Today’s patch brings Leona, the Radiant Dawn into the League along with a decent number of balance changes. I’ll be covering Leona in separate posts, but there’s plenty to discuss with the other champion changes.

I’m pretty surprised to see Alistar catch such a nerf. I like the big cow. I like seeing him in games, whether he’s on my team or my opponent’s. He’s just such a pure toon – all CC and bull testosterone stomping down the lane. He’s a great ganker, but I don’t think he really tips the scales into invincibility since his last AP nerf. I’m sure plenty of people will be upset about this one.

The Ashe nerf is overdue and probably not enough, but maybe that’s just me. Personally, I’d like to see her ult go to a flat 90+ second cooldown at all levels. That, or cut the slow/stun duration by a third.

Despite the hate around Guinsoo’s Irelia nerf, she seems unscathed to me. Bladesurge mana cost went up ten at max rank? Yippee. Transcendent Blade got a minor nerf? Again, yippee. Her issue is that she is always at the advantage in a fight. She’s highly durable, incredibly bursty, high sustained damage, resistant to CC, and packing CC of her own. That’s to say nothing of how hard it is to shut down her early farm, which actually got more forgiving thanks to the mana buff on Bladesurge when it really counts – at the lowest ranks.

I’m happy to see Jarvan get continual tweaks. He still does way too much damage with a straight tank build, and likely still will, but it’s a steady step in the right direction. I’m also happy to see some Kog’Maw animation tweaks. He’s slow enough that he really needs those quick response times. Hopefully we’ll see him a bit more often in the carry position.

Both Warwick and Swain caught some sustainability nerfs in the lane, which is a good thing. I’m really surprised Udyr was left off the list, even more surprised than I was when he got the Phoenix buff. I still maintain that the champ is broken, even if it’s somewhat situational. The problem with balancing him lies in the fact that his skillset is totally unique and he can take several different build paths, all of which are pretty different from typical tank or jungle builds. I’ll be curious to see how Riot handles him in the future.

The Yorick buffs seem like they will definitely help him out, but I think his problem is in the pet design, not the numbers. His power level shifts dramatically from game to game, thanks to the percentages on his ghouls, his farm level, and the farm level of his potential revenants. Finding a “just right” point will be very tough – I’m actually not sure it’s possible.

The biggest surprise for me this patch was the lack of a Malzahar nerf. In fact, he got a bit of a buff with the Nether Grasp bug fix. I know he’s on the list of characters slated for some nerfing, so I’m surprised he didn’t get even a little number tweak. The Rabadon nerf will hurt him a little bit, but I would expect to see more Malzahar nerfs in the near future.

That pretty much does it for this patch. Check back tomorrow for some thoughts and impressions on Leona. I’ll probably play a couple games tonight – add me at “The Wiggin Boy” if you feel like playing.


Upcoming Champion: Leona, the Radiant Dawn

Leona, the Radiant Dawn.

Riot has a small force at E3 this year, mostly there to show off Yorick and tease a few new champions leading up to Dreamhack. Among the champion teasers is Leona, the Radiant Dawn. Leona is a direct response to the community requests for a female champion. She sports a traditional sword and shield, though it sounds like she’ll harness the power of the sun to control her enemies.

Riot hasn’t said much about her skillset, other than a potential ultimate idea, which is that she would summon a beam of light on an area that sort of detonates after a couple seconds, stunning anyone still in the beam. If I heard correctly on the video from Gamespot, someone likened the skill to the Hammer of Dawn in Gears of War. Sounds like it will look really good, and probably function a bit like Amumu’s ult, which is one of the strongest in the game.

On the whole, Leona looks like a pretty cool champion. I like seeing more traditional tanks added to the game. It means good things for balance, or so we can hope.


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