Quick Gameplay Thoughts: 13.7

Riot Axes and Riot Phroxzon discuss balancing for MSI, the Vayne changes in 13.6, and notes on ADCs and Fighters.

Hi folks, Riot Axes here again with Quick Gameplay Thoughts for patch 13.7.

This week I’ll be joined by Riot Phroxzon with a quick update on MSI balance, in addition to a couple other topics. The usual caveats apply—I’m going to cover a range of topics that are often pretty speculative. I’m sometimes going to talk about things that we aren’t fully aligned on internally, that won’t ship soon, or that might not ship ever.

MSI Balance Tuning

[by Riot Phroxzon]

MSI will be happening on Patch 13.8, alongside which we'll push our last set of MSI-focused changes. The Pro meta is in a pretty reasonable spot, but for 13.7 we wanted to take down some of the ubiquitous jungle champs in Sejuani, Vi, Wukong, Lee Sin to open up a little more diversity.

Bot lane meta overall is looking pretty good, but Thresh’s CC chaining and Zeri are both a bit strong. We’re also looking at some moderate Azir buffs to see how he fares after his power redistribution towards W max that we think makes him more of a balanceable champion for both Pro and Normal play.

After these adjustments, we expect Pro play to be in a pretty good spot for MSI, with reasonable depth of picks in role and across different team compositions.

Vayne in 13.6

Now that they’ve been live for a bit, I want to take a moment to talk about what we’re hoping to achieve with the direction for Vayne and some similar champions in the long run.

Headed into 13.6, Vayne was a very weak bot laner and a rare (but frustrating) low win rate top laner. As a champion, she promises an ‘outplay’ fantasy—that you’ll be able to climb as long as you’re able to outplay your opponents tactically in fights—but Vayne hasn’t delivered on that in a while, as she has only really been performant when playing against average or lower-skill players.

Being bad against high-skill opponents means she has been balanced around exactly the players who will find her most frustrating to play against—players who aren’t likely to understand her counterplay, which tends to be more strategic (zoning her off of minions, beating her early, etc.) or depend on very fast reflexes. We therefore sought to buff her disproportionately for higher level players, as we feel this is better all around. Vayne isn’t the only champion in this situation (Zed), but she was the one who was clearly underpowered, which gave us an opportunity to make some progress. We did not view the 13.6 changes as any kind of silver bolt bullet, and anticipate it’ll need some consistent work over a longer period of time to really make a difference here.

I do want to address concerns that top laners have. We understand that there is player frustration around ranged top laners in general (and Vayne in particular), but the reality is that on 13.5, Vayne was the 45th most common top lane pick globally. Moreover, the only ranged champions among the 25 most played top laners were Teemo, Kayle, and Gnar on 13.5. Vayne’s playrate has ticked up a bit (significantly when 13.6 first went live, but falling off pretty steeply since then). If we see Vayne becoming a dominant top lane pick we will certainly act, but the perception right now simply does not match the reality of her position in that lane.

ADCs and Fighters

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for ADCs and Fighters this season. Entering the year, ADCs were a bit underpowered, while Fighters ran the show. We made a series of buffs and nerfs to the two classes that we believed in directionally, but with two competing carry classes seeing changes on similar timeframes, some changes ended up more impactful than desired.

In 13.7 we have a Death’s Dance partial revert—the item is getting back Ability Haste, but the healing amount remains nerfed. This follows on the heels of some 13.6 ADC nerfs to several different items that were a bit too strong, as well as a small reduction in the importance of dragon control early in the game.

We think both classes are coming to a more or less stable state, but there’s definitely further fine tuning to be done. In the longer term, I anticipate significant changes to the Mythic item structure for both item systems, and one of the opportunity spaces we’re considering for Preseason (no promises to ship anything, but we’re exploring it) is towards creating some better ability to tune roles more holistically against each other—for example, differentiating the minions in each lane. We’re finding our current set of tools to be a little too limited and we don’t think simple reverts to things like Teleport make the game better, they just make the game have a different set of problems.

Thanks for reading this week’s Quick Gameplay Thoughts. Riot Axes and Riot Phroxzon signing off and looking forward to seeing you on the Rift!