Heavy balance changes in Update 2.1 have set the scene both competitively and casually. The Queen Archer finally has been put into a deeper stealth, warriors are bringing their game faces and Death himself has returned. Let’s dig in!
Vox: The Lord of Sound is in the house! Vox managed to take a few good bounces this update. High mobility allows Vox to maneuver through fights while damaging every single foe within earshot via Resonance. Whether Weapon or Crystal, Vox makes the most of items that ramp up his damage as fights crescendo to victory.
Ringo: Despite not being changed at all, Ringo is hitting it big in 2.1. Doubling Down on CS grants him the edge he needs to start trading positively. Throw in some fancy Twirling Silver and perhaps a Hellfire Brew (or two for CP Ringo!), and Ringo begins to build up an insurmountable lead. For all the gambles that he takes, Ringo sure does seem to win a lot.
Kind of a Big Deal
Adagio: Adagio is drifting into a very comfortable spot this update, and can find a lot of success even with fewer offensive items than most of his rivals. Adagio easily sustains through the Laning phase while applying a considerable amount of pressure. His lower offensive requirements allow him to tank up, splash some Fire around, and watch the world burn.
Samuel: Samuel is sometimes predictable, and he isn’t backed up quite as heavily this update by Drifting Dark’s “passive” DPS. But knowing where Samuel is going next doesn’t matter very much when you’re in full retreat. Things only become bleaker when Eve of Harvest and his Corrupted Genius allow Samuel to regenerate almost any damage that comes his way. Malice is consuming and Samuel’s Verdict is: Oblivion.
Gwen: Nothing can hold back the Law of the Claw Fold from dispensing justice. Boomstick and Buckshot still pack a great one-two punch that makes farming a breeze, while Skedaddle grants Gwen a high premium on both anti-gank protection and mobility. Gwen could use a few gambling tips from Ringo, but when she’s on top she always seems to have Aces High.
Skye: A new slow mechanic for Weapon Skye has made the differences between her Weapon and Crystal builds fairly insignificant. This flexibility makes her mech a bit less predictable during Draft and undeniably lethal with either build. Suri Strike and Target Lock allow Skye to juke many of the most effective Junglers and Roams, so she’ll be fine as long as she can keep up the aggression.
Celeste: Celeste’s Core status is far from Collapsing, but she isn’t the proud Queen that she used to be. Celeste’s short range through the early game allows enemies to take shots at her every time she attempts to CS, and she frequently melts under the pressure. Once she has her range overdrive and Solar Storm, she will certainly put on a show. Unfortunately, Celeste needs a bit of assistance with setting up the stage lights before she can really shine.
Baron: A late game powerhouse, Baron’s Death From Above just isn’t as reliable as his beloved’s. With insane critical blitzes at mach 10, Baron is bombastic if he can have his way. Unfortunately, the amount of offense that Baron needs to invest in before feeling significant often leaves him vulnerable to counterattack. Repeatedly getting behind on farm or shut down can put some strong brakes on his Jump Jets, grounding this pilot for the duration of the match.
Kestrel: RIP armor-piercing quivers. The Bow is still effective, but her natural ability to deal with enemies has taken quite a hit. Kestrel’s heroic perk, Adrenaline, has seen changes resulting in her having a slower draw during early levels. This puts her more in line with the other popular picks for Lane, regardless of her build path. Kestrel remains a popular comfort pick for many, so removing one or two arrows won’t drop her into Camo forever.
Skaarf: This Chinese Firecracker puts on a dazzling display, but is known to fizzle a bit at the start of his show. His soft-CC and relative trouble dealing with multiple enemies at a time make it difficult for this dragon to survive long enough to build an Eve for Harvesting to his late game potential. Most heroes will blow past him, and Skaarf just doesn’t have the lung strength to breathe back.
SAW: Breaking through the memes, SAW is opening up to potential flaws in his game plan. Raw firepower isn’t always the answer, especially when the competition can outmaneuver you to such an exacting degree. Whether Weapon or Crystal, SAW tends to be all-or-nothing and all too often comes up with nothing. Perhaps we’ll see SAWs feelings and viability make it through the Suppressing Fire of balance changes necessary to give him another shot at the top.
Petal: She’s invading your Jungle, she’s taking over the world, Bug Petal Tier 3 has arrived at a time when Petal is an out-of-this world Jungler! Petal’s Munions eat her foes alive while Trampoline allows her a surprising amount of chase and mobility. When she needs to hide in the garden or play defensive, Brambleboom Seeds offer temporary refuge and Spontaneous Combustion can grant her the edge she needs to come out alive. Keep an eye out for her, or she’ll put some dirt in your eyes.
Samuel: Samuel has truly discovered the joy of blogging from bushes this update. Powerful spells allow Samuel to grab early leads and to ambush unaware carries with the one-two punch of an empowered Malice & Verdict. Adding a Frostburn can turn Samuel’s damage threat into an inevitable death timer, while Broken Myth and the non-negotiable Eve of Harvest make life unbearable for enemies. This Dark Mage has made himself quite comfortable in the Jungle, so think twice before attempting to steal any of his cookies...
Skye: Whenever Skye finds success in the Lane, she finds even more success in the Jungle. Regardless of the damage type she builds, Skye has a great clear speed and is a strong contestant for the first Elder Treant and first blood. Once ahead, she can push kills and objectives into Super Sonic mode, and she isn’t going to fall off all that much (if at all).
Kind of a Big Deal
Glaive: Ganks are prime real estate, and there is no man, woman, beast, machine, or other worthy foe who can strike as fast and powerfully as Glaive. Despite its easy block, Afterburn plus almost anything is a surefire way to grab some nice kills, and Glaive is plenty capable of following up when necessary. He can easily choose to pick up some nifty Utility or Defense items for his team, making his Captain’s job easier while he shares some tanking responsibility. The Hunt is on, and this cat can smell a single drop of blood from miles away.
Krul: App Store reviews are in: “Death” is back! Krul has finally received some desperately needed maintenance, and while he isn’t a number one contender, his shrunken claws are ripping through the Jungle with very renewed vitality. Make sure someone builds a Poisoned Shiv and Atlas to keep this Undead Viking from making mincemeat of your team with massive stack counts on Breaking Point.
Kestrel: A formidable Jungler with sometimes ridiculous gank potential, Kestrel can use Active Camo to seek out targets and set a trap for them. Or she can just fill them with arrows. Probably both. While her clear isn’t quite as quick as it used to be and various nerfs have had due impact, the Bow still manages to find clear lines of sight toward victory.
Blackfeather: Blackfeather’s bruiser-with-execute style is well served by a Jungle that can be left alone for much of the first few minutes. Smart rotations won’t afford him opportunities to take Elder Treants, but can shield him from invades and other mischief. After he has farmed enough items to sustain through fights, Blackfeather can become an impressive force to deal with. Allow this Rose time to bloom, and it will prick your enemies with many sharp thorns.
Koshka: Tanksha is back in style, courtesy of Koshka’s age old quandary wherein she must somehow survive her own ultimate while still dealing enough damage to actually hurt a foe. Fortunately, she can still deal a great amount of damage, even with less items devoted to that purpose. Koshka hits hard and fast, but strong Crowd Control will slow her Bloodrush down to a more manageable speed.
Taka: House Kamuha is a bit divided right now, and it is remarkable that it still stands. This assassin struggles mightily against the magnificent power of Scout Traps and Flares, but seemingly to no avail. Taka has many options, with weapon, proc, and crystal builds all available for the task at hand. However, he often finds himself extremely vulnerable to poke after using his abilities and doesn’t have enough smoke bombs to get away scot-free.
Ozo: Petal isn’t the only Jungler receiving a bit of love this update. Ozo is rocking a new skin, but his gameplay has teetered a bit too far over the edge. Ozo doesn’t bring enough utility to his team via Bangarang alone, and he often finds himself out-damaged by a variety of other picks. One Acrobounce at a time, Ozo, we know you can make it.
Joule: Despite her ability to absolutely dominate from time to time, Joule needs a few modifications to her mech before we can attribute that to more than a few glitches yielding bright sparks. She still finds herself going into all-or-nothing leaps that can result in her quick demise, a great play, or something somewhat underwhelming. With a few tweaks and slower prey that can’t find her Heavy Metal Plating’s weak side, Joule will be COMING THROUGH on her way towards the top.
Alpha: One… two… three… Even with previous changes to her Infinite Reboot speed, powering down for a quick nap mid-fight is really bad for Alpha. Her Crystal damage can speak for itself once she ramps up a Broken Myth, but sometimes doesn’t get the job done. If the team fails to defend Alpha from her foes, her Reboot cycles will take a lot longer than intended.
Idris: This Assassin attempts to walk the Diverging Paths between dealing damage and avoiding it, but he often discovers that he needs to hop entirely onto one or the other. Chakram can deal a lot of damage, but high mobility heroes make it nigh impossible to land multiple Chakrams more than once. Idris still needs a bit of a shove to get rolling in matches, and more often than not he just Shimmer Strikes forward from the successes and failures of his allies.
Reim: Reim may complain a lot, but he means well by it. This Frosty Mage doesn’t have much going for him when his targets start out far away, deal their damage, and never come within his frostbitten reach. Once he has a grip on things, he performs quite well, effectively stopping anyone in their tracks. Poisoned Shiv has only made Reim’s life more difficult, and no amount of Crystal Power overcomes it and a good Atlas. The Winter Wizard may need to be kept on ice until next season’s update.
Rona: The buff train keeps coming, but it hasn’t pulled out of the station yet. Rona continues to benefit greatly from a Serpent Mask, but can both live and die by Poisoned Shiv. The furious barbarian is easily kited and can’t withstand the incoming damage when she isn’t able to return the favor. No matter how easy it is for her to start spinning, Rona’s place in the meta doesn’t seem to ever spin far away from Red Last.
Lance: The Gythian Knight’s shield is a bit less available and no longer protects him from CC after he drops it, but changes to his ultimate stamina cost keep Lance rolling along smoothly. Lance has plenty of opportunities to protect his allies and is capable of pursuing some targets on his own. With just the right amount of Weapon Power, Lance skewers almost any enemy onto a convenient kebab, prepped to cook until thoroughly dead.
Ardan: This proud father finally joined the “Real Overdrive” club! New range options at Level 8 and beyond help Ardan to keep up with friend and foe. His ability to rotate fights and apply pressure make him a valuable asset both for high mobility picks and against them. Who’s your daddy now?
Phinn: If you didn’t hear about it in 2.0, you’ll certainly hear the resounding Echo in 2.1. Phinn has become quite fond of the new little gadget, which practically guarantees that he can have his way with hooks in teamfights. The seemingly never-ending hooks, buffs, stuns, and sheer damage output that Phinn provides his team make him a Phinntastic pick for compositions that thrive on drawn out fights, critical picks, and objective domination. It’s just a bit of Polite Company, certainly no one objects?
Kind of a Big Deal
Catherine: The Captain of the Guard was demoted to regular shield scaling and had her silencing wings clipped. Both Nullwave Gauntlet and Echo made Catherine a terror to behold in 2.0, but neither item is being used as much today. In the light of how terrifying Nullwave-Echo Catherine was, the cooldown adjustments for her abilities were unexpected but prove to be enough to keep the Shield protecting many allies on the Fold.
Adagio: As is often the case, Adagio feels more at home as a Carry than as a Captain, but he certainly doesn’t mind bearing the weight of buffing his frail mortal allies from the helm. Nothing has really changed for Adagio: he still provides flexible damage to his allies, a decent–if somewhat self-sacrificing–slow, and the most consistent Crucible-absorbing ultimate ability in the game. While not a bad choice, Adagio often feels grounded in the Captain role, and would be better suited to deal out pain rather than prescribe medicine.
Lyra: Lyra may be a better healer than Adagio, but the rest of her kit feels a bit too directed to have high impact. Bright Bulwark has to be timed perfectly to be put to maximum effect, and Arcane Passages become more impressive every update, but can sometimes leave Lyra and her team lacking the OOMPH they require in the Crowd Control department. Her spellbook probably has something for exactly this situation, so we’ll have to see what Lyra whips up.
Flicker: Dr. Flitwick Stingsplatter IV had a very large impact last update, but his tricks and ticks are becoming increasingly known and expected. While a surprise scattering of Fairy Dust is still effective, it doesn’t carry the same weight as other top performers. Maybe Flicker needs to find new horrors to stash in his Mooncloak. Maybe he just wants to lie low while the Meekos from space holds air superiority.
Fortress: Fortress really doesn’t get a break. While he can occasionally be sighted as a Crystal Jungler or a transitory Jungler-to-Roam backup pup, he still seems to be barking up the wrong tree. Increased defensive stats are helpful for sure, as are bug fixes, but Fortress is going to need something a bit more extreme than a trip to the groomer before he becomes the reliable Initiator he’s intended to be.
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