The winners and losers of League of Legends' latest assassin rework

Change comes to the rift's sneakiest champions.

The pre-season is a time of great change and unrest, and it can be daunting for players who have grown familiar with the rift’s ways. Patch 6.22 heralds a host of updates to champions, mechanics, itemisation and even controversial changes to the jungle. However, it’s the assassin class update that steals the show. Our deadly friends are armed to the teeth and have flashy new abilities to swiftly cut down their prey. Patch 6.22 has given the assassins new tools to increase their lethality on the field of battle.

THE BIG CHANGES

Talon

Talon has received the biggest update in the assassin rework and arguably the strongest. His passive, Blade’s End, makes his abilities wound enemy champions and epic monsters for six seconds, stacking up to three times. When Talon attacks a fully wounded target, they bleed for a large amount of physical damage over time. Noxian Diplomacy now has two casts and can be used at range or up close. Talon can either leap to a target, dealing reduced physical damage, or cast within melee range to critically strike his opponent. Whenever Talon kills an enemy with Noxian Diplomacy, he restores health and refunds 50% of the ability’s cooldown. However, it’s Assassin’s Path that makes Talon so scary. The Blade’s Shadow can now effortlessly vault over the nearest structure or terrain in a target direction.

Talon’s vault speed is affected by his movement speed and he cannot vault over the same section of terrain for a period of time. This new ability makes it incredibly hard to catch the slippery assassin and also gives him various ways of initiating fights. When you combine Assassin’s Path with his high burst damage things can get pretty scary.

Katarina

Originally, the Sinister Blade would either win fights in a second of frenzied button mashing, or end up simply throwing daggers at her enemies in a poor attempt to contribute from behind. There was little depth to her kit and balancing her has proved difficult. Katarina now requires a lot more thought and skill when trying to go for those all-important pentakills. Her Bouncing Blades deal damage to her target and nearby enemies which remains the same, but the dagger now ricochets onto the ground behind her initial target. If Katarina touches a dagger, she will use it to slash all nearby foes. This ability has replaced her former W, Sinister Steel and requires Katarina to think ahead when planning her movements to ensure she can proc her spinning attack.

There has also been a minor change to Shunpo as it no longer allows Katarina to ward hop. Instead players will have to jump to fallen daggers if they want to make a quick getaway. The rest of her kit is largely the same, but the new dagger mechanic adds a layer of complexity and premeditation that will have players constantly thinking, as opposed to blindly mashing keys and hoping for the best.

LeBlanc

LeBlanc was always intended to be a fast-paced combo-oriented assassin that uses misdirection to confuse and infuriate her enemies. While her combos have remained strong her trickery and mind games have been neglected. Riot has sharpened LeBlanc’s ability to deceive and create more tricky plays than before. Her ultimate, Mimic, allows LeBlanc to create a clone of herself and cast one of her basic abilities. The second part of the ultimate allows the Deceiver to create a copy at a target location with global range. Once conjured, the copy will walk towards the nearest visible enemy champion and cast a fake version of LeBlanc’s last-used spell before disappearing.

Her new passive, Sigil of Malice, is applied by LeBlanc’s abilities and after 1.5 seconds the next spell shatters the Sigil to deal bonus magic damage. Combining Shatter Orb with Sigil of Malice gives LeBlanc an impressive amount of wave clear as her Q will bounce to all nearby targets, as well as granting opportunities to deal some extra poke damage.

Rengar

Rengar has never had problems quickly assassinating his enemies, but his victims have struggled to react to his attacks. This has created a one-dimensional playstyle for the Pridestalker—diving onto targets with no hope of retaliation, or recklessly diving and getting obliterated. The update aims to give Rengar’s opponents better awareness of when he’s on the prowl, while giving the predator access to more potent defensive tools so he can live to leap another day. When Rengar enters camouflage he is no longer fully invisible, meaning that if someone on the enemy team gets too close to him he will appear.

Like Evelynn’s passive, Shadow Walk, Rengar gains an indicator showing him who can see him and who cannot. His maximum Ferocity has been lowered from five to four stacks, but he gets a free stack for using his passive to pounce on a target. Savagery is now a two part ability which slashes all enemies in arc in front of him before piercing them in a line. Rengar’s Battle Roar is now able to heal for 50% of the damage he took in the last 1.5 seconds, while 100% of the damage dealt by monsters is healed, giving him further survivability. Lastly, Thrill of the Hunt will now reward Rengar with a critical strike when leaping to the nearest champion.

The Pridestalker’s burst damage is still as potent as ever, especially late game—he still scales very well. However, with the new changes to the stealth mechanics, Rengar will have to take extra care when camouflaged and on the hunt for his prey.

SMALLER CHANGES

Akali

Riot is trying to make Akali more distinctive and less frustrating to play against. Twilight Shroud now teleports Akali to the cast location, placing Twilight Shroud at her original position while putting Akali’s other abilities on a 0.5 second global cooldown. Akali’s passive, Twin Disciplines, gives her first basic attack bonus effects. The first heals her, while the second deals bonus damage. The update is meant to make Akali easier to read, while giving her more repeatable damage, but it does feel like an overall nerf for the Fist of the Shadow.

Ekko

The Boy Who Shattered Time has received some of the smallest changes in comparison to the other assassins in this update. It seems as though Riot are emphasising his AP build over the tanky build we’ve been seeing throughout the year. Timewinder has had its AP ratio increased to 30% from 20%, while his ultimate heals him more and will greatly rewards those who opt for AP itemisation. Chronobreaking through Parallel Convergence will also trigger the stun and shield which will give Ekko more opportunities to create plays. The changes might not be the biggest, but they will certainly give AP Ekko an edge.

Shaco

Shaco is one of those junglers that can either end games extremely quickly by dominating so hard one team surrenders, or by getting caught and feeding his foes. Riot are reigning in the Demon Jester’s frustrating early ganks and instead giving him more utility within skirmishes—something the killer clown has been desperately crying out for. Deceive’s stealth duration has been decreased at low levels, making his early ganking potential much weaker. Shaco’s ultimate, Hallucinate, now drops a nest of Jack-in-the-Boxes upon death. It’s a great idea, but the overall usefulness of boxes is greatly diminished thanks to how clearly telegraphed they are. Regardless, Shaco still scales well and has plenty of damage in the late game, but the nerf to his early game will greatly impact his overall performance.

Fizz

Urchin Strike’s mana cost has been reduced by 50% at all ranks and it applies Seastone Trident’s bleed to all targets he dashes through. This is really useful for quickly clearing out minion waves and can be extremely potent in teamfights. If you land a kill with Seastone Trident its cooldown will be set to one second. The bleed is also applied when using his ultimate, Chum the Waters. This makes the new ability pretty potent, especially now that Chum the Waters applies the bleed to every champion caught within its radius. Fizz can now summon different sharks based on how far the fish travelled before clamping onto an enemy giving him great opportunities to deliver huge amounts of damage.

Kha'Zix

The Voidreaver is already very strong in the current meta, but the update is set to increase his potency. His base attack damage has been increased and his Taste Their Fear ability now refunds 60% of its cooldown when cast on isolated targets. This is a great ability that you’ll want to use when you’re duelling a lone enemy, or when you’re trying to secure Dragon or Baron buff for your team. Kha'Zix’s Void Spike’s no longer provide a base slow, but if you use it on an isolated target it will slow them for 80%. When evolved, Void Assault allows Kha'Zix to gain invisibility and movement speed for 2.5 seconds upon entering any brush while out of combat (with a maximum of 1.25 seconds after exiting the brush). This effect has a 10 second cooldown per brush. Fighting Kha'Zix in the jungle is an absolute nightmare and we can expect his popularity to increase further as people realise how strong he is.

Zed

Zed still feels very strong, despite Living Shadow no longer providing bonus attack damage. However, it does now give Zed 10 extra energy when you land two abilities on a target, while Shadow Slash has had its cooldown reduced at all ranks. The Master of Shadows will now be able to do more damage at level one, but this will slowly fall off as you level it up. When Zed kills an enemy with Death Mark, he steals a percentage of their AD and can only possess one shadow at a time. The Reaping Bonus goes from 5/10/15% depending on the target’s total attack damage.

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