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?


No Leona until at least Thursday

It looks like Leona is going to blow past the mid-week release point, despite Riot’s plan to release her early this week. The European servers are scheduled to get Friday’s balance changes tomorrow morning. The patch will not include Leona, similar to the NA patch, due to stability concerns. Once Riot believes the servers are stable they’ll set Leona live on both realms.

It’s really been a bummer to see Leona delayed for so long. The game hasn’t changed in a significant way in quite some time, so champion releases are really what drive my interest in the game. Leona’s delay has definitely been a bit of a letdown.

I understand that stability has to be the number one concern, I just wish Riot could give us a little more detail. Leona doesn’t seem to have any new tech, so what about her impacts stability? Does she not interact well with other features that are being slowly patched in? Is this patch a preparation for something much bigger from Riot headquarters? Communication is key, especially now that we’re between seasons. I think Riot would do well to build hype for new features and communicate as much about any delays or problems as is possible. With several other MOBAs on the horizon, now is not the time to let the game and the player base go stagnant.


Leona patch included Spectator prep

I haven’t been on the forums much over the weekend, mostly because of the sheer volume of rage threads since the Leona patch, so maybe someone already covered this. I played a ranked game earlier today and couldn’t help but notice that the pick/ban screen had undergone a small change. Bans are now listed under the respective team that chose the banned character. The portraits are also small enough to allow for more than four bans.

I can only think of one reason to make that kind of change – Spectator Mode. The old system was fine. It was easy enough to understand and it certainly wasn’t the sort of function I would expect Riot to bother changing unless it was tied to another feature. The only feature that could possibly tie to would be Spectator Mode.

I hate to make predictions about this, because Riot’s timing is known only to Riot, but it seems like Spectator Mode could be right around the corner. I can’t say I’m dying to get my hands on it – I think the cases are rare that I would want to spectate a game, but it will be great for the competitive scene. It also seems totally reasonable that replays could have been the technical problem that delayed Leona’s release.


Will Leona launch tomorrow?

The Leona patch was a bit of a botch job, as I’m sure everyone is well aware at this point. Not only did she not launch, the patch also brought down the servers, led to Yorick being pulled from live for a bit, and generally made people pretty unhappy. Riot has said that Leona will be going live this week, which could mean as early as tomorrow. I wouldn’t count on it, though.

Apparently Leona’s being held up due to some technical issues, which likely means Riot will need to spend at least a little bit of time assessing her effect on the servers now that the rest of the patch has been rolled out. I doubt that happened over the weekend. Riot will likely take the day tomorrow to do some final testing and we’ll see her on Tuesday.

To pass the time, I’ve been finishing up my Shaco games for the week and thinking about next week’s Champ of the Week. I’m still not sure who that will be – I might contrast him against another melee jungler just for kicks, but I wouldn’t mind getting back to the lane, either.


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