It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since we witnessed the clash between SK Telecom T1 and ROX Tigers (previously known as KOO Tigers). Patch 6.18 has set the foundations for the upcoming Worlds tournament with the aim of providing a balanced environment that’s ideal for the competitive scene.
Given how teams are adapting to the resurgence of standard lanes, Riot has shared the love with some old favourites (Miss Fortune, Lux) while reigning in some of the notorious powerhouses (Vladimir, Gnar) in order to give the competitive scene some room for experimentation. The Worlds meta usually forms over the course of the tournament itself, but patch 6.18 aims to give team’s greater diversity with their picks. So what major changes in patch 6.18 will greatly affect the upcoming tournament?
Gnar: the Missing Link
Riot has hit Gnar hard with the nerf gun and is surprising considering his win rate isn’t that high (47.29%). However, his ability to prey on tanks and shut down most forms of aggression has made him a prime target. The cooldown on his Hop has been increased and remains unchanged at rank five, while his passive damage has been lowered by five at every single rank. Lastly, the changes to Frozen Mallet have indirectly affected both Gnar and Yasuo who greatly benefited from damage spike and tankiness they received. Frozen Mallet made both champs very hard to kill and escape from, especially with Gnar’s proc from Hop/Crunch. Frozen Mallet is still a worthy investment, but the combination of nerfs will likely affect his popularity in the upcoming tournament.
Ashe: the Frost Archer
The high levels of communication we see in the competitive scene allow athletes to provide the peel and co-ordination the Frost Archer needs to thrive. Her Enchanted Crystal Arrow provides so many opportunities to catch and lock down opponents, while her team can easily follow up and kill those frozen in place, making her a highly contested pick. The cooldown on Volley has been increased at lower ranks and just by one at level five. This nerf is clearly tailored to her laning phase as her harass with Volley in a poor matchup can be too strong. The nerf to Volley makes it a bit harder for Ashe to get through her laning phase which is understandable considering she scales well late game. It’s certainly not the biggest nerf in the world, but it does tone her damage down enough so that other champs have a fighting chance.
Ekko: the Boy Who Shattered Time
While Ekko’s ‘pure defense’ shenanigans are no longer as strong as they were earlier this season, the Boy Who Shattered Time is just as effective when it comes to sticking to his targets. His base attack damage has been lowered to 55 from 59, but his combination of Trinity Force and tank items still remain strong. This small nerf won’t affect Ekko’s overall success in top lane and we will more than likely see the boy wonder being picked at Worlds.
Taliyah: the Stoneweaver
Taliyah’s ability to impact other lanes has made her a contested pick in competitive play as her ability to roam, push lanes and exert map pressure is unmatched. To counter this, Taliyah’s Threaded Volley no longer deals 50% extra damage to minions which will slow down the speed of her clear and force her to use more of her abilities to push lanes. Unravelled Earth’s damage has been lowered by ten at rank one and up to thirty by rank five. This will make her mid game power slightly weaker and will stop her from simply going to other lanes and just killing any target that happens to get caught. Taliyah’s roaming will now require more setup which will give her opponents more opportunities to force her to stay in lane. These nerfs are fairly big and will hopefully lead to more champion diversity at worlds as opposed to every single pick revolving around the countering Stoneweaver.
Rek'Sai: the Void Burrower
Another popular pick is receiving some much needed tweaks and this time it’s to the Void Burrower. Rek'Sai’s is a favourite pick in both solo queue and competitive play, largely due to her strong ganking potential, great initiation and brilliant map presence. Riot has reduced her base armour and armour growth stat so that her jungle clear is not as healthy, providing a greater deal of risk when it comes to ganking.
Shen: Eye of Twilight
The Eye of the Twilight has always been the strong, silent type and his strengths usually go unnoticed. Shen’s laning phase is very potent thanks to the damage scaling with Twilight Assault, while his shielding negates all damage from enemy auto attacks. The Kinkou Leader can also help his teammates with his Stand United ability, which gives him insane amounts of global map pressure that can be hard to play against. Put these abilities into a competitive environment and you have a recipe for a ridiculously strong champion that can support his entire team. Shen’s passive has been lowered and the damage on Twilight Assault has been reduced in order to stop him from dealing heaps of damage in the late game when he’s extremely tanky.
Yasuo: the Unforgiven
Yasuo has been tearing up the Rift since the last patch and has greatly benefited from a bug fix to his ultimate. However, the wandering samurai has become infamous among players due to his combination of mobility and tank items. This allowed the Unforgiven to maintain his high damage output while granting him the added durability he normally lacks. The combination of Trinity Force, Frozen Mallet and Infinity Edge made him an absolute pain to deal with in top lane. Riot have now decreased Yasuo’s attack speed per level, while Last Breath’s bonus armour penetration only applies to his critical strikes. These nerfs are aimed at decreasing his overall damage output and allow him to focus on a few strengths instead of all of them.
Vladimir: the Crimson Reaper
Vladimir has plagued the LCS and competitive scene for a while now and it seems even Riot is sick of seeing him constantly dominate other champions. His base health has been reduced by 25 and the cooldown on his Tides of Blood has been increased by four seconds at rank one and drops down to five seconds once again at rank five. The health cost has also changed to eight per cent at all ranks as opposed to ten per cent. This means that Vladimir’s laning phase will be weaker as the Crimson Reaper will have a tougher time sustaining and dealing heaps of damage, but if he manages to survive laning phase and enter late game he will greatly benefit from the lowered health cost. This will make Vladimir the late game champion he was always meant to be and will offer more counter picks and opportunities to shut him down.
Miss Fortune: the Bounty Hunter
Miss Fortune’s passive no longer does half damage to turrets, instead it does full damage which is a pretty big buff when you consider how important it is to secure the first blood tower bonus. Bot lane is the only tower that lacks fortification so this buff will allow Miss Fortune to deal a greater amount of damage to the towers whenever she procs her passive. She already does a great job of bullying her opponents in lane and melts teamfights with Bullet Time. Whether this buff will make Miss Fortune a popular pick at Worlds is hard to tell, but it could spark the return of the bloody-haired bounty hunter.