8.8 Patch Notes Rundown

A link to the Official 8.8 Patch Notes can be found here!

What I would like to see:

  • Irelia Nerfs. – Irelia is still overtuned since her last rework, she scales incredibly well, and can crush games off an advantage, some changes or nerfs somewhere would be nice.
  • Kai’Sa Nerfs. – Kai’Sa has been problematic since release, being both too weak and too strong at times. The buffs she received last patch have sunk in, and now that people know how to play her, they have proven to be far too much. I would like to see them reverted, possibly even on top of some additional nerfs.
  • Nerfs to the Support role. – To put it bluntly, support is too easy to play, and far too impactful without a big skill requirement. The biggest offenders of this are the shield/heal supports like Lulu, Sona, Soraka, and most importantly, Janna, but champions like Braum are also a tad too strong at the moment. Even if nothing else gets touched on, Janna definitely needs to be nerfed, since W max with comet gives her poke damage that is equivalent of some AP supports, while she still has her shield that has way too much uptime because of how long it lasts, and how low the cooldown is.
  • Changes to Trinity Force and/or Steraks. – This is a tough one, since these items need to be kept as they are to maintain the viability of certain champions, but other champions, namely Camille and Irelia abuse this combo of items way too much. Essentially these items give those new age bruisers way too much of an edge on old bruisers, and will likely maintain their viability in high elo and pro play, even if they receive some nerfs. I don’t actually want to see these items nerfed, so hopefully nerfing the champions that abuse these items is a good alternative solution, but if more champions get added, and more kits get reworked in the same way as Irelia, eventually these items will need to be looked at.

We will be ignoring most bug fixes in this rundown, as they were not intended to be part of the game in the first place. Furthermore, some other irrelevant details might be skipped.

TL;DR Changes This Patch:

Buffs: LeBlanc, Ahri, Graves, Lissandra, Nautilus, Vi, Rek’Sai

Nerfs: Irelia, Azir, Braum, Galio, Janna, Kai’Sa, Ryze, Sion, Tahm Kench, Taliyah, Varus, Xayah, Swain

Champion Changes:

First things first, LeBlanc was problematic both before and after the assassin reworks, but I’d argue that new LeBlanc was more problematic, since even after she got nerfed twice, a build starting with HexTech Gunblade surfaced, which allowed her to clear the backline caster minions incredibly easily, while having good burst and sustain to get through the game, making her an excellent splitpusher. While she was by no means overpowered, she was certainly viable as long as you took TP to get her through the early laning phase, and farm up to a few items. I’m happy to see her reverted back to her old self, and hopefully she can be more an ignite assassin and a playstyle that suits what the character is supposed to be. She got her old passive back, which I personally like, since it adds an element of challenge when playing against LeBlanc, as well as outplay potential for the person playing LeBlanc. If you are good at league, you really shouldn’t get tricked by the clone, unless the LeBlanc player is the better player. This rewards skill, and that’s something that I’m always happy to see.

Her Q looks really strong, especially early on. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the ability that you max on her, since it gives good damage, and all other abilities scale with it as long as you have the mark applied. It worries me slightly that the damage is this high early on, she might be quite dangerous even before level 3.

Her W damage is back to being quite high as well, and it’s nice to see that the speed is lowered, which means it should be easier to play around. Both the W and the Q are buffs, below we will have a look at her E, which has received a nerf.

The E nerfs seem quite obvious, less damage, a much higher mana cost, and a lower tether range. This means that the ability will be a bit harder to use, and it’s far more important that you actually land it because of the mana cost. This adds up nicely to the previous buffs, plus it makes her a bit more difficult to play, which is always nice in the case of an assassin. Her updated Ult reinforced the idea of maxing Q, with having Q into RQ into W into E quite possibly being her go to combo, with some auto attacks weaved in where possible, as well as allowing W, Q, RQ, E, W for long range, safe, high damage poke. Overall she seems stronger, and possibly a bit harder. The extra mana on E will make it so you have to play well to be rewarded, which is a good playstyle in my opinion. Item-wise, I wonder if HexTech Gunblade is still good on her, but I imagine Luden’s Echo will be the new go to first item, followed by stacking magic pen and high damage AP items, since those items seem to compliment her high burst AP kit well. In terms of runes, Electrocute definitely still seems like the best option. Nice changes overall, though there’s no way she will be perfectly balanced with a big change like this, so hopefully she will continue being tuned in the patches to come.

Quite a lot of changes to Ahri then, seeming to focus her abilities around her charm a lot more. This will probably make it that dodging the charm is essential if you want to have any chance against Ahri, and overall these changes will likely make her a bit stronger than before. The W missiles going after Auto-Attacked targets is quite nice too, this might just be enough to put her in a good spot again, since Ahri has been relatively weak the last few patches. Item-wise, I wonder if these changes favour the Protobelt into Lich Bane build over the more conventional Luden’s Echo start. Electrocute still seems like the best rune for Ahri even with these changes.

Better nerf Irelia. It’s nice to see that her R can’t be used for damage as much as before, and while this is quite a big nerf, I imagine Irelia will probably still remain quite strong.

This is a huge waveclear nerf that will probably destroy Azir’s winrate. I imagine he will probably still be playable for the Azir mains, but everyone else might want to stay away from him this patch.

Braum has been a bit too easy to play lately, so this is a welcome nerf. Since you will usually max W last on Braum, the 7.5 less resistances should definitely be noticeable.

Galio has been a bit too good for a while, especially in the pro scene. While it’s nice to see him nerfed, this seems like a bit much. 20 seconds at level 6, half a minute at level 11, and 40 extra seconds at level 16 is a huge deal, this might just knock Galio out of viability. I assume it will in every position he is currently played in.

Graves has been getting small buffs patch after patch, so this might just be enough to make him strong again, which I don’t mind at all.

These changes are basically irrelevant. Janna is way too strong and way too easy. She is by far the easiest champion to climb with in plat and above, and this doesn’t really change that. Janna will still be really strong, and will probably see an increase in pick-rate with weaker tank supports and a more assassin oriented meta. I imagine W maxing with comet will probably still be a thing as well.

I am happy to see these nerfs, since most people have a good idea of how to play her now, which makes her pretty overpowered with the buffs from the last patches. However, these nerfs are quite small, and Kai’Sa will probably still see lots of play in the ADC and Jungle roles, where she remains very strong.

Lissandra has been extremely weak for a very long time now, with mana being the main issue for her. She has a super weak passive, and her mana costs are rather high. A minor rework might possibly be in order, since while these buffs are nice, I don’t think they will do enough to make her viable, and she will probably continue to perform below average.

Like Lissandra, Nautilus has been incredibly weak as well, and again, these changes are way too small to make a big difference. With tanks falling out of favour, he will probably remain as one of the poorest performing champions. Still, always nice to see him getting some love.

Ryze is too good, especially higher up and in the pro scene, when lower down he suffers from a rather low winrate, just like Azir. It is nice to see him getting nerfed, but this is a problematic champion that probably need to be looked at from a  different angle, with yet another rework. This is a big nerf and will definitely hurt him especially in the early game, but he will probably still remain viable, especially with the people that are good at him.

Sion has been too strong lately, especially with people taking comet on him, and maxing E for the slow, a bit like what people are doing on Janna. This nerf will make him a bit worse, which is nice, but I personally feel like nerfs such as these are a terrible idea. It doesn’t address the real issue in a direct way, since it instead forces people to max Q to retain their waveclear, meaning that they can’t abuse the E max which nerfs it indirectly. However, if he continues to perform well and they choose to actually nerf his E, or his tanky stats, this change will need to be reverted otherwise the champion will go from way too strong, to way too weak since every aspect of his kit has been nerfed at that point. I don’t think this is a clever approach to balancing.

Tahm Kench is very good into assassins, so while seeing him nerfed is nice, there’s so many tanks and anti-assassin champions being nerfed that there might be a big meta shift favouring assassins. Nice individual changes though.

Ryze, Azir, and Taliyah nerfed… interesting. Nice individual nerfs again, but this might play into a shift in the midlane meta, once again in favour of assassins, who have been indirectly buffed an awful lot this patch.

Another big nerf to the current on-hit AP build. I am not sure what justifies the execute damage on his Q, it seems like a strange change and I can’t see what it’s based on. I imagine it is there to push other builds, but I honestly feel like this is a nerf overall. Fleet footwork will probably still be the go-to rune, but I imagine the builds might see some extra flavour, possibly even Crit builds over the usual AP and on-hit builds.

I love the idea of making Vi viable in another role, but I’m not sure if this is enough to actually do it. The buffs are nice, but they seem to favour Jungle Vi, and I can’t see them making Vi Top viable. On top of this, Vi will probably still not be that strong, especially not higher up. Nice buffs though.

Good nerf, but not huge. Xayah might need some more attention in a later patch.

Small bugfixes, but it might actually be a slight buff since you will get slightly more healing if you are burrowed, from what I understand.

I wasn’t aware that it gave more than one stack, but good bugfix that acts as a small nerf.

Item Changes:

Essentially, this item is too strong since it gives both good offensive and good defensive stats, and this nerf doesn’t change that, since the problematic items is Seraph’s, not Archangel’s. With that in mind, this will slightly hurt the first item powerspike of Archangel’s, especially for champions who like stacking mana and have high mana pools to begin with. There is a possibility that champions will go tear into a different item first, and stack the tear before upgrading to seraph’s, but I’m fairly sure this isn’t going to stop anyone who builds Archangel’s now from getting it.

I love this change. While it is of course a big buff to supports, it is also super nice for junglers and assassins who go Oracle Alteration. On top of that, the changes to swapping trinkets are super nice too. Awesome.

Rune Changes:

While this is a relatively big buff, it still doesn’t change anything. Lethal Tempo was already the strongest lategame option, but runes aren’t being used to strengthen the lategame, since items already to that, and they are instead used early on to gain an advantage, which Lethal Tempo won’t do unless it takes less time to actually go off. Lethal Tempo is still bad, but honestly I don’t really have a problem with that for the time being.

Other Changes:

This is a nice change that will slightly change invades, since running into each other no longer happens at the same time as your movement speed running out. Nice change.

Final Verdict:

Overall I think Patch 8.8 has been quite a good patch, and I’m happy with most of the changes, except the irrelevant Janna nerfs. I am sure certain champions will remain overpowered, and others will see little to no play because they are so weak, but as long as champions rotate in and out of viability that isn’t actually that much of an issue, especially with 10 available bans.

With that in mind, there is an obvious pattern appearing, which goes strongly in favour of assassins, and tanks getting the worst of it. Expect to see lots of Zed, Kayn, Kha’Zix, Shaco, Fizz, and possibly LeBlanc and Ahri if they are strong enough. This however, will contribute to more Janna picks, since shield supports taking exhaust are a good all around counter to assassins, which of course leads to Brand and Zyra likely being popular in the botlane too, as kill lanes counter sissy supports. Possibly even some obscure kill lanes, as Xin Zhao seems to be doing well down bot in certain niche scenarios. With that in mind, it looks like assassins will be at the top of the food chain, so with that in mind:

Welcome to the Assassin Meta.

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