Ranked Champion Challenge is complete!


It’s done, folks – I now have wins with 76/76 champions in ranked games, the vast majority of which came in 5v5. In fact, all 11 of the champions I had remaining when I started attempting this achieved victory on Summoner’s Rift. Exciting stuff. You can see my top 10 ranked champions in the image below.

Ryze was the holdout champion, and in all honesty I thought I might be stuck on him for a week. He’s a tough champ to play against tanky teams because after a certain point he just stops scaling all together and you’re stuck with a defensive build against a bunch guys who can soak everything you throw at them. After six attempts, though, I managed to pull a win (went godlike in that game, no less). I think it was really our Eve that pulled us through. She did a great job ganking lanes early and keeping their Vayne down.

This was a really enjoyable challenge. It makes me wish Riot would get serious about getting some achievements into the game. Achievements are a tough thing for a MOBA because it can encourage some unconventional and sloppy play from players who should probably be learning the game, but it could be very cool to tie some kind of IP bonuses to achievements. At the very least it could encourage champion diversity from more players, which I think would be a great thing.


Ryze rework: say goodbye to Deathcap


One of the biggest changes from this patch is the Ryze rework, which turned him into a more spammy, AP carry style toon. Though I was originally a little skeptical of the changes, I think it has turned out well so far.

So what’s different? Well, for one, his Overload cooldown has been cut in half. It still scales with mana, a mechanic that was also added to his Rune Prison, which also now has a longer range. Spell Flux still functions the same way, just with a longer cast range, and his ult now gives extra mana and some spell vamp in place of the ability power.

The biggest change for Ryze is his build. I’ve always liked a mana stack on Ryze, but now it’s far and away the most efficient build for him. Mana is pretty cheap when compared to AP, and the mana items in the game offer all sorts of other cool benefits, like a spell shield or massive cooldown reduction. On the forums, Phreak mentioned that Frozen Heart -> Banshee’s Veil is his most efficient build. It’s a nice set of defensive stats along with big cooldown reduction and healthy pool of mana for extra damage. The problem is, it’s sort of tough to know where to go from there.

Against tanky teams I’ve been building a Rod of Ages, which is obviously a nice boost to his mana pool with the added benefit of more survivability. Beyond that, though, there aren’t many good mana items for his playstyle. If teams stack magic resist against you, you’re kinda stuck building into a Void Staff, which isn’t really all that great. I say Void Staff over Guise or Abyssal because they don’t provide enough benefit for the inventory slot. Obviously you can fit Archangel’s in there somewhere, but for the early game he really needs the survivability of the other items. As you stretch into late game Archangel’s becomes more of an option, but it’s definitely less useful as it likely won’t fully stack.

At first I had a problem with Spell Flux, and though it still seems really lackluster, it’s only there for the MR debuff. I wouldn’t mind seeing them bump his MR debuff, maybe scaling with AP, so that spell flux is a little more useful and you aren’t quite so limited on build. Of course, introducing new mana/spell pen items would also address the build issues.

On the whole, I’ve been having a lot of fun with the new Ryze. He’s much more active, and the mana scaling encourages him toward early survivability, something he desperately needs if he’s going to require more spellcasts for a kill.


Ionian Boots of Lucidity are too much good for too little cost


I spent a lot of my post on the caster item changes trying not to say anything definitive. This post is different. For this post, I know exactly how I feel and what needs to be said. The Ionian Boots of Lucidity are way too damn good for their cost. Period.

My philosophy on AP used to be pretty simple; build spell penetration before AP. It was a more effective way to increase your damage output and the spell pen items were cheaper, in most cases, than the high-tier AP items. Basically, building a caster was always some sort of tradeoff, just like an AD toon. Instead of attack speed, damage, and armor pen, you want CD reduction, AP, and magic pen. Some people would say that the boots just balance out casters against AD toons, but I really think they’re too strong.

The casters in the game have been balanced around the difficulty of obtaining cooldown reduction for a long time. Most of the CDR items were niche tools, designed to help against certain comps but not so great against others. The bread and butter of a CDR build used to be Frozen Heart, but it was only good against AD-heavy teams. Soul Shroud is a support item and wastes a lot of stat points for most casters, and Deathfire Grasp could typically be bypassed for a better AP item. Most casters I saw sat around 20-30 percent CDR and stacked AP. Now, I can have 30 percent CDR as soon as I make 900 gold, which can be as early as level four or five.

For any champion who relies on a rotation of spells – Annie, Ryze, Zilean, to name a few – the boots are insanely good. If CDR is to AP what attack speed is to AD, then these boots are supposed to be equivalent to Berserker’s Greaves. The difference is that mages are built for a big burst and then a period where they don’t do a whole lot of damage before that big burst comes back up. Physical damage dealers rely on individual attacks for nearly all of their damage. Early in the game when their damage is low, Berserker’s Greaves don’t do so much. The Boots of Lucidity, on the other hand, do a lot.

The changes to high-tier caster items already brought the mages in LoL in line with the AD carries for the most part. There are still a couple AD carries with kiting abilities that a mage can’t quite match, but for the most part, a mage’s damage output is just fine without giving them cheap access to cooldown reduction. I’ve lost one game as Zilean since the new boots released, and even in that loss I was better than 2:1 on my K:D ratio.


New skins for the Harrowing

Riot’s gone all out for Halloween this year, bringing us a boatload of new skins to celebrate the League of Legends equivalent to our spookiest holiday, The Harrowing. Just take a look at these skins compared to, say, the Olympic skins from earlier in the year. Remember Vancouver Amumu? Team Spirit Anivia? Now look at that Poppy skin and tell me you don’t want it. Even the Ryze skin looks badass.

All told, we have the following:
– Nosferatu Vladimir
– Lollipoppy
– Zombie Ryze
– Pumpkinhead Fiddlesticks
– Mundo Mundo

That’s in addition to the Sorceress and Spellthief Lux skins that will be in the store once the servers are up. I’m going to spend a lot of money today.


LoL: Champion updates on the TR (AKA how they broke Eve)

Eve will be so OP.I’ve covered both Al’Zahar and the sweeping changes to the magic/armor penetration system, but this latest TR patch also includes a number of fairly serious champion changes. It’s also worth mentioning that Riot has removed base critical chance percentages from all champions, as well as their scaling chance to crit per level. It’s a small change toward reducing the RNG factor of early game fights, though I wonder if critical chance runes won’t become a whole lot more popular because of the change, especially since armor pen runes will be terrible for physical damage dealers. Compared to the penetration system changes, though, this is small potatoes. Let’s focus on the champion changes.

Ashe finally got the Plentiful Bounty rework in the form of a directional truesight shot called Hawkshot. For now the particle looks like Ezreal’s ult and casts in the same fashion, though it only covers 15-20 percent of the map in a straight line. It does grant vision to an area, so you can catch invisible targets. The spell kept its gold/kill passive, which is kinda nice, but I don’t think there’s great reason to take more than one rank . That’s not really a problem, since most characters encourage you to focus on two skills and then the ultimate, but it is kind of anticlimactic. Ashe also caught a long overdue volley nerf, bringing the number of arrows down to seven from nine. A lot of people are upset about it, but considering that Ashe is in almost every game and that building her for mana regen and CDR gave an almost unparalleled level of harass says to me it was time.

The only serious change Cho’Gath got was losing up to three Feast stacks on death instead of losing them all. It’s a decent solution to the death problem, though I think it could make him a little strong. Cho already snowballs pretty hard, and giving him the ability to die and be essentially right back at that massive level doesn’t seem like the right solution to his problems.

Teemo’s been the subject of the forum’s ire for a long time, though it took one of the PTR Fridays to get him onto Shurelia’s “list.” His camouflage now takes three seconds for fade instead of four and grants 40 percent attack speed buff for three seconds on stealth break. It’s a nice thought, but how often will you really take advantage of that change in a fight? Standing still for three seconds is a lot of wasted time. Move Quick has changed so that it only breaks on damage from enemy turrets and champions, which is nice. His poison was also changed to deal one tick of bonus damage on hit rather than after the first hit. It’s a minor tweak but should help him a bit with last-hitting.

I saved Eve for last because she received the most dramatic changes, changes that Riot has said aren’t complete. Her passive is now a 30% AOE damage reduction, which seems completely ridiculous compared to some of the other passives in the game. From a design perspective it seems to me that a champion has poorly designed engagement or disengagement if you have to give her an amazing damage reduction skill, particularly as a DPS toon. Hate Spike now has built in spell vamp and hits two additional targets (up from one), which gives her some extra lane stay. I don’t mind this change so much but coupled with her new passive it makes her difficult to kill. Her stealth now lasts 40 seconds at all ranks and grants a move speed buff. This was an obvious fix so that you only take one rank of stealth and focus the rest of your points on damage abilities. Ravage now grants the bonus MR/armor reduction regardless of your attack position, which again, coupled with the other buffs is over the top. To cap off the ridiculousness, her ultimate grants cooldown reduction along with 35% flat damage reduction for 15 seconds. Do you see where I’m going with this? They’ve turned her into an unstoppable machine of death with stealth, a two-second stun, massive damage reduction (almost on par with Alistar’s ultimate) and lifesteal. I saw her take down a level 18 Jax who was massively farmed with three elixirs while she was sporting a Rageblade, an 8-stack Mejais and a Gunblade. It was absurd. I’ll save much more criticism for later, but only because Riot said the ultimate is going away. Even with something different, though, I think they made her far too durable for a character that also has the benefit of stealth and a stun. Oracles is practically worthless against her because in all likelihood you won’t kill her, even if you have a couple people focus fire. But I’m criticizing and I said I wouldn’t. Just know that her changes might not go live with this patch, but if they do, you better be ready to see her in every game.

Other heroes got some small tweaks that won’t change much about the game. Rammus will be more mana efficient and a little better at farming. Janna won’t be quite so ridiculous at level one on TT. Zilean caught an early game nerf but a buff to his assists, and Ryze won’t burst quite as hard. I’m keeping a cautious eye out for the rest of the Eve changes.


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