LoL: Will Pro Play Champions Ever Be Balanced? | RiftFeed

LoL: Will Pro Play Champions Ever Be Balanced?

News 11-04-2024 10:01

Ryze is memed on, Viego gets the Lore Skin when the book about Kalista releases and … - Wait. You don't even know what a Kalista is? Let's talk about the curse of being a champion that is good in Pro Play.

Marauder kalista skin
Kalista is severly underplayed. | © Riot Games

There are a few champions that have been released in the past that were extremely good. Not only were they good in a ranked queue environment but also at the top of the player skill. 

Champions that are really strong usually find their way into the competitive scene, where the best of the best make sure to use every last bit of a champion's potential to win the game.

This typically shows really well how strong a champion can really be in the hands of the best players. This also shows that in some cases it's downright impossible to play against some of these champions because they are just so strong.

Riot is typically very careful with releasing champions, but there are quite a few where they just didn't get the balancing right in the first try. After the competitive games are over and everybody sees how strong a champion can be the developers often step in to nerf these characters. 

These champions are Ryze, Corki, Azir, Kalista, Yuumi, Zeri and Smolder. You could also count Jayce into the list because he has a very similar theme.

So What Is The Problem With These Champions?

Ryze 11
Who remembers old Ryze? | © Riot Games

These Champions are so incredibly strong in the right hands that even when an equally skilled player is put against them, there is little to nothing they can do against it. Be it range, survivability, scaling or just raw damage, these champions have some of the best kits in the game.

What this usually leads to is that pro players get their hands on a champion and play it in a competitive environment. Players see that the champion is abnormally strong and try it out in their very own ranked games. Turns out the champion is actually broken and just way better than other options.

This is typically where Riot steps in. These champions are getting nerfed. Hard. In some cases they get nerfed so hard that they are barely playable for the normal players because they are just that nerfed. This includes mechanics getting nerfed or just stats being removed. 

While this is very terrible for the champion, Riot is very careful not to delete their core identity if possible. Riot loves niche picks. For example, even if Kalista is a terrible champion for the majority of the player base but works really well in a pro play scenario it can still be played if the whole team composition knows how to play with it. 

In the case of Kalista it is the incredible early game dominance that the champion can have that has very little counterplay when performed well. 

Corki used to be an absolute menace with the new season 14 items. | © Riot Games

Other cases such as Corki have a very safe laning phase but also an incredibly strong late game, especially with the Package as a tool to win fights. 

This goes far beyond just being a fed ADC. These are genuinely game altering mechanics that completely change how a game should be played. 

Riot has to nerf these champions to the ground because if they are even a little bit playable in pro play then the competitive scene will use that pick these very strong champions over and over again. League of Legends esport would have little to no variety and become very boring to watch.

Azir has his incredibly scaling and a team fight damage potential that is unmatched. Ryze (many reworks ago) was incredibly dominant in a side lane, while also dealing huge damage and basically building tank items. Kalista is an absolute pentakill machine in pro play and therefore held back as a counter pick, and Yuumi can't even be attacked for the majority of the game. 

She was made to be broken. | © Riot Games

Zeri was in my opinion one of the worst offenders. While the champion is incredibly fun to watch in team fights the games were boring. Both ADC's farming for 30 minutes and then one team fight decides the game. 

Riot knows about all of this, and they are trying their best to balance the game as much as possible but even then little mistakes can happen.

The Smolder Incident

Heavenscale Smolder
Look at this cute creature that ruined Pro Play. | © Riot Games

With Season 14 Riot has unleashed Smolder upon the Summoners Rift. It didn't take long for people to figure out that an Elder Drake passive on an ADC that likes to farm till 30 minutes anyway was a very strong concept, and as such our next Pro Play Champion was born.

Smolder has already been thoroughly nerfed, but after his release he could single-handedly stall games for 30 minutes and then annihilate an entire team in seconds.

So Riot pulled the trigger. Smolder is barely playable in a ranked environment, and is now barely picked at all.

Can Riot Fix This?

Warring kingdoms azir
The Azir changes allowed me to play it in Solo Queue again. | © Riot Games

While Riot Phreak gets a lot of hate for his balancing ideas, he actually found a way to rework Azir in such a way that he works in both Solo Queue and Pro Play. Yes, he might not be the best champion in lower elos, but if you put some practice into him, he can at least still work. Meanwhile, he gets picked all the time in competitive games but doesn't look as oppressive as he did before. 

I also like what they did to Jayce. He is relatively strong and rewards being played well, so he definitely works in Solo Queue if you put in the time and effort.

He has clear strengths and weaknesses, and as such is just like any other champion. Riot needs to be innovative and rework these pro play champions until these issues are fixed. Obviously, you can't just throw endless reworks at a champion (looking at you Ryze). They have to have a theme and idea behind them.

Currently, Yuumi is a great example of such a failed rework. The champion is incredibly weak in every game, but Riot has intended this because they have no other fix for the champion. Neither the normal player base nor the pro players like the champion and as such it is basically kept dead.

What do you think of Pro Play Champions? Should they be playable for the entire player base?

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Erik Feldengut

Meet Erik, a writer on the Riftfeed content team, specializing in League of Legends and Gaming.

His daily routine revolves around gaming and watching others play, with a side gig at TU Ilmenau studying 'Applied Media and Communication Sciences'...