With 1.11 arrives Blackfeather, the new lane assassin, along with quite a few balance changes (can I hear a “Yay, Petal!”?). It’s been an exciting patch so far! Let’s take a look at how it has stirred things up for all the heroes.
9 SAW – How many SAWs does it take to win a game? One – on the enemy team. SAW’s lack of mobility in exchange for incredible attack speed was fantastic in an era of stutter-stepping, auto-attack based heroes; however, in a game that’s becoming increasingly based on skillshots, SAW’s immobility tends to cause him to eat a lot of damage to the face. As a weapon carry, he has such a long ramp up time to become relevant in a fight that the fight is often in another place by the time he can delete someone. His damage as a crystal lane carry is just outclassed by Celeste, Skaarf, Vox, or even Ringo.
8 Blackfeather – He has looked super strong on stream, but the new assassin often struggles to get to his incredibly powerful late-game. Early-game, it’s fairly easy to abuse him to the point of being unable to farm. Although he has a barrier on his B to help soak up poke damage, consistent aggression by the enemy laner can easily push Blackfeather out of lane. If Blackfeather does manage to reach his late game potential, watch out! Suddenly his damage is on point. Ha!
7 Vox – Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Our favorite sound guy has had to face the music. His early-game weapon damage was significantly reduced to compensate for his insane late-game power; however, an expert player will focus on farming early and winning late. In capable hands, Vox is still very capable of carrying hard, whether either a weapon or crystal build. Vox is probably the most balanced he’s ever been!
6 Joule – Which carry has the highest base armor? Which carry has the highest base shield? Which carry has the third highest base health? If you answered Joule to all three questions, you’d be right! That amount of innate tankiness plus a long ranged poke and overall high damage output makes Joule a solid choice for lane carry. Her poke damage rivals that of Skaarf’s while being able to crit and hit multiple enemies, but at the expense of a shorter range.
5 Glaive – Wait, what? What’s this jungler doing up here in the lane carry list?! To answer my own question, Glaive is actually a somewhat popular laner at high Elo. In the current meta of Ringo + Koshka + Fortress, Glaive can actually replace Ringo as a more durable alternative. We’ve seen CullTheMeek make crazy plays with lane Glaive, so no one can deny lane Glaive’s strength!
4 Skaarf – This wad of chewing gum has received several indirect nerfs over the past few patches. Broken Myth no longer stacks on damage over time effects and requires longer to ramp up, thus hurting Skaarf more than it hurt Celeste. Celeste can poke about once a second, whereas Skaarf’s Spitfire is on a longer cooldown. His Spitfire being tweaked to only do damage to one hero at a time also brought his power level down a bit. Despite all this, he is still a huge damage dealer and a solid crystal carry.
3 Skye – Skye received some very interesting changes in 1.11. As a crystal carry, her level two power spike was taken down a few notches by redistributing that power into her late game. Unlike past patches, she can actually lane now if she goes crystal! Her early base weapon power was increased, allowing her to last hit more reliably early-game. Her weapon power side received a buff to allow her Forward Barrage to be able to crit, but Ringo still outperforms weapon Skye. For crystal builds, however, the Skye is the limit!
2 Celeste – After seeing the base damage on her ultimate nerfed and her upfront poke damage redistributed to her supernova damage, Celeste is more skill-based and reliant on landing her supernovas (this also reduced her damage while kiting). Nevertheless, she’s still a top contender for the #1 lane carry spot. The Frostburn bug fix has made the item a popular choice on her, allowing her poke to deal damage, slow, and give vision! What a bargain! Frostburn also allows Celeste to land her supernovas more often, since enemies are slowed on the initial star as well as her auto attacks.
1 Ringo – The top dog has returned. After being knocked off his pedestal for a few patches, Ringo’s back with a vengeance! He’s tearing it up as a weapon power laner with a fantastic early- and mid-game and a powerful late-game (if you’re farmed up). As always, Ringo’s effectiveness depends on the pilot behind him, but the best pilots make for a heck of a scary laner! Combined with the early strength of Koshka and Fortress, Ringo can apply so much pressure that the enemy team often gets so little farm, making them wonder if they’re orchard tenders in Antarctica.
7 taka – Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Wait, did I already say that? Well, whatever. SEMC decided that Taka’s heroic perk was due for a rework, since it was too powerful early game, scaled too well with additional weapon power, and wasted critical chance as a stat. While critical chance is no longer a complete waste of gold on Taka, his perk scales a bit too slowly with weapon power, making Taka somewhat weak early and often unable to farm enough gold to build enough crit to fully take advantage of his perk. On the plus side, he can still steal the farm in the enemy’s jungle with his Kaku!
6 Krul – This lifestealing undead Viking is strong if no one knows how to play against him. Unfortunately, most players know that Krul is weak early game and invade mercilessly, stealing his jungle camps and making him even more emaciated than wights usually are. Atlas Pauldron prevents him from building both stacks of Weakness and Breaking Point. Krul is also extremely weak to slows, stuns, and silences because he needs to be attacking to stay alive. In a hyper-aggressive meta, Krul fares poorly, and this is no exception. That’s not to say a good Krul can’t carry, though! If he manages to get to the late game and has built properly, Krul can wreck!
5 Glaive – Even after receiving a nerf to the base damage on his ultimate and a nerf to his lifesteal, he’s still quite strong. He has both strong burst damage potential with his auto-attack reset and high sustained damage with a Sorrowblade and/or a Breaking Point. Afterburn, as always, is a strong repositioning tool that can be used defensively for peel or offensively to punt an enemy out of position. However, Glaive tends to be more easily kited than Rona, Koshka, and even Joule, knocking him down a little bit.
4 Petal – Guess who’s not a potato anymore? Halcyon Fold’s very own unpotted plant now has team utility in her ultimate with a massive burst heal. An ultimate that slows and damages your enemies, and heals your allies? Sign me up! Her early-game damage is also quite strong, often able to push anyone except Koshka out of their own jungle. Her seeds exploding and knocking back enemies also adds great kiting potential to her kit. All this combined with the impressive mobility of a trampoline makes Petal a fairly strong pick as a jungler.
3 Joule – Joule’s great in jungle for all the reasons she’s great in lane. She’s got decent damage early-game, which scales into even better damage late-game. In addition, she can still very effectively help chainstun anyone caught out that hasn’t got a Reflex Block (or forgets to use it).
2 Rona – SEMC may have said they nerfed Rona, but she’s still very much a strong, independent barbarian. Because of her good base damage, Rona works well stacking two or three tier one defense items (e.g. Light Shield/Armor, Oakheart) and snowballing into victory. While her early-game is quite strong with proper defensive items, and her late-game is nothing to scoff at either. With a Sorrowblade and a Serpent Mask or Breaking Point, she can initiate a fight with a good burst of damage using Foesplitter, followed up by a bunch of whacks to the face with good sustained damage.
1 Koshka – The queen of jungle aggression is back, and she’s got some claws for anyone who thinks she’s weak. Still dominating the early-game jungle with high base damage, Koshka is an incredibly popular pick, especially paired with Fortress. The two of them tend to move into your jungle and never leave, taking all your farm for themselves. Ain’t that a bundle of fun?
5 Phinn – While certainly a fun support to play, Phinn’s just too slow for the current meta, both literally and figuratively. His low movement speed is a huge weakness, just as it is for SAW, albeit less extreme for the river troll. Phinn often loses that crucial level two jungle shop fight – the damage Quibble provides may be immense, but it can be quite hard to land unless you’re an expert Phinn player. Later in the game, Phinn can become quite the monster with amazing initiation and wombo combo potential, but unfortunately, his kit is less suitable for comebacks than it is for “winning more” – if he’s ahead, his slow speed isn’t too big of a deal, but if he’s behind, it’s crippling.
4 Adagio – Everyone’s favorite demigod (Percy Jackson aside) has seen better days. Adagio works fantastically with high attack speed allies such as Rona, Glaive, and Ringo, but so does Fortress. Fortress’ numbers are slightly better early-game, and so he wins out as aggressive support of choice. That being said, Adagio certainly isn’t a terrible choice. His kit’s scaling with crystal power makes him a powerful support with immense heals and damage buffs with just a Shatterglass or Frostburn.
3 Catherine – Ah, AdyEndrus’ old nemesis. Catherine’s kit is still the best one on a support for locking down an enemy and marking them for extermination. That stun and silence really do a number on anyone who thinks items and abilities and not dying and winning teamfights are important. However, Cath has had the stun duration on her Merciless Pursuit reduced several times, making her a slightly less effective agent for locking someone down than she was before. More than a half second reduction on her stun duration has hit this Stormguard member mercilessly.
2 Ardan – The recent cooldown change on Vanguard means that many Ardan players put just one point into Vanguard at level one and begin dumping points into Blood for Blood, giving him extra early-game damage. This, in addition to the new change to Stormguard Banner, actually means Ardan with a Stormguard Banner deals quite a large amount of damage early-game, while allowing Ardan to scale into the mid- and late-game by building additional health to help his teammates with a lifesaving Vanguard or, if you’re LostBoyToph, ten.
1 Fortress – Does anyone smell bacon? Pickles certainly does. And he smells it in the enemy side jungle. Fortress is now a top pick for his aggressive, early-game kit. Did I mention that he’s great with Koshka and Ringo? Because he is. Used to great effect in VGL NA, Ringo + Koshka + Fortress has taken the meta by storm. Hey, does anyone know any good Fortress articles? I do! Check it out here!
And that brings this tier list to a close. Leave a comment with your thoughts!
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