In Riot’s Midseason patch, we’ll be happy to see a serious tank update. Much to the dismay of players, there are still tanks that are struggling to find a place in the current meta. When Riot makes changes, people often think about the immediate effects of that change, but it’s important to realize that an update is different from a buff. You could say the assassin update was a failure because of how strong assassins were after the patch. However, there’s a difference between short-term and long-term balance. Bi-weekly patches tend to be aimed at the short term balance issues, like flavor of the month champions or easily fixable issues. The bigger patches like preseason and midseason tend to be aimed more towards long-term balance.
Tank Update Item Changes
While many are sick and tired of monotonous tank itemization, Riot is making some significant item changes towards tanks in Patch 7.9. Top lane tanks have been quite the nuisance throughout parts of Season 6 and 7. What really gets people upset about tanks is not necessarily how durable they are. Most won’t argue with the statement that champions classified as tanks should be tanky. The issue that players have is that tanks do not seem punishable like other classes of champions. You can’t catch a tank out when they’re not with their team because they’ll actually survive long enough in a 1 v 2, 1 v 3, 1 v 4, and if they’re doing well enough, sometimes even a 1 v 5 situation, to live long enough for their team to show up. By the time they do, your team has already expended resources (mana, cooldowns and potentially even major cooldowns like summoner spells, active items, or ultimates) trying to kill this big beefy tank. This leaves you at a disadvantage at the start of the actual fight.
While the sacrifice to building tanky seems obvious—the lack of damage—players are seeing that this is not exactly the case. All it seems to take for a tank are lesser damage items like Sunfire Cape and in certain cases, Titanic Hydra or Iceborn Gauntlet, and about 20 to 40% CDR to actually do large amounts of damage. By surviving for long periods of time, tanks are able to slowly wear enemies down with their wet noodle Sunfire Capes, rotating through their basic spells several times. In the end, they actually deal a significant amount of damage. That safety is further enhanced by the fact that these items (with the exception of Titanic Hydra) are rather inexpensive. What we are left with at the end of the day are low-risk, high-reward, simple-execution champions.
Fixing the issue is difficult because tanks are a necessary part of the game. You need to have somesemblance of a frontline. If there’s no peel or engage on either team, it’s just a bloodbath, where the only catalyst for plays are mistakes by either side. So, let’s take a look at some of the changes Riot has planned for their tank items:
This is a necessary item if you’re a top lane tank. It is often built first or second or first due to the fact that it allows you to clear minion waves and have damage in trades. Even if an MR item or even another starting item may be better for certain lanes, clearing waves is something you have to do all game. What Riot is doing to this item is lowering the damage it deals to champions and keeping the damage it deals to minions the same. What this should do is allow tanks to have their wave clear item without them using this item to burn through our whole team slowly. Cinderhulk will have similar changes.
Dead Man’s Plate
This item was ported over from Black Market Brawlers in late 2015 as a measure for tanks and bruisers to have something to help them deal with getting kited. Its health is being dropped to 425 and its armor increased to 50. It will not only do damage when you have max stacks, but you won’t lose all your stacks for auto attacking and stacks will generate faster. The intention is to lower its carrying potential through its synergy with Black Cleaver, and it’s good all-around durability while maintaining the original purpose of the item.
The former crown jewel. Once the best tank item in the game at an undeniable degree. Though it has fallen a bit since then, it can still be quite useful. Its stats actually aren’t changing. This should allow for more of a strategic decision making process between its comparison with Dead Man’s Plate. Its health is being lowered to 350 and its armor staying the same. However, its crit damage reduction will be increased to 20%, and its slow intensity is going up from 35% to 55%.
In my last post, I talked about why this is undeniably the best MR item in the game. Its stats are simply too good, which is why they’re being targeted. The MR is being raised from 55 to 65 and the health lowered from 500 to 425. And some new MR items are being added, but we’ll get to that later.
This item rose in priority in late season 6 and is a to be a go-to late-game item for a large portion of the roster, particularly on tankier champions. The revival passive is not only very strong in and of itself, but it synergizes with Spirit Visage and other healing increases, which makes the tanks effectively even tankier. It’s being changed to no longer give MR, it will give less armor, its revival will be based on base health instead of total health, and it will give 40 AD. Riot says they hope it will be a potential third item on certain AD champions. This change has been labeled as “Experimental,” meaning the likelihood of hitting live is a little lower.
Banshee’s Veil and Abyssal Scepter
These two items are trading their stats, somewhat. Banshee’s Veil give 70 AP and 40 MR and 10% CDR and Abyssal Scepter will be the one that gives 300 Health, 100% Regen, and 65 MR (and it will gain 10% CDR, but only upon completion). This should make a secondary MR item more desirable to tanks, while keeping the “synergy with my teams” magic damage dealers. It also means multiple AP champ teams will have less fights over who gets to build it when going against other multiple AP champ teams. The Banshee’s Veil changes give that spell shield to a class of champion that actually needs it. Although these two are still tentative, so we will still be waiting to see how it develops.
This item’s actually pretty limited. It only gives you health and health regen. The 3000 health passive is pretty hard to get. And you only get the super high regen out of combat. Riot is increasing the rate of regen from the “Warmog’s Heart Unique passive” and lowering the threshold at which it becomes available.
Popular when it was released in Season 5 and early Season 6, but it was nerfed to have the same named unique passive as Maw. That meant you couldn’t have both shields at the same time. Many people prefer this item compared to Guardian Angel as a “catch-all defensive item” since its passive has a lower cooldown. The problem is that if you don’t have a lot of health, the shield isn’t very big. On tankier champions, there is usually a better option, and squishy champs usually don’t have enough health to actually have it be effective, so Riot is increasing the benefit for tankier champions, making the initial decaying shield start off at 75% of your Bonus health instead of its current 30% of your Total Health.
This item has an interaction many have noticed with Spellblade items (Sheen, Trinity Force, Iceborn Gauntlet, Lich Bane). Since it increases your Base Attack Damage, it increases the damage of your Sheen proc by 25% in addition to the small amount of extra AD. This interaction could become stronger, with the Base AD increase going up to 30%, and another 30% when the passive procs. This also makes the item more gold efficient.
Doran’s Shield is currently not very desirable as a starting item. It barely gives more health than Doran’s Ring and Doran’s Blade. Top lane tanks tend to start Dark Seal, Corrupting Potion, or Doran’s Ring and buy multiple of these for an optimal early game.
Even mana-less champions are opting for triple Rejuvenation Bead because they actually give more regeneration than Doran’s Shield, allows you to buy more potions, and have a higher resale value. Doran’s Shield now causes you to regain 20 Health over 10 seconds whenever you take damage from an enemy champion and causes your autos to do deal 5 bonus damage to minions, making early CSing earlier.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! We also have NEW TANK items to look out for in the Tank Update:
The first one is Gargoyle Stoneplate. This item costs 2,500 gold, builds out of Chain Vest and Negatron Cloak plus a 980g upgrade, and it grants 40 Armor and MR. It has a Unique Passive: Stone Skin, which gives 40 more Armor and MR when you are near at least 3 enemy champions. It also has a unique active on a 90 second cool down, Then there is Metallicize, which reduces your damage about by a whopping 60% for 4 seconds, but during those 4 seconds, your maximum and current health are increased by 40%. If Stone Skin is active when you use your Metallicize, the health is increased to 100%. This seems to be a sort of compensation to GA. 60% may sound like a lot of damage loss, but for a full tank champion it’s really not.
Next, we have Adaptive Helm. This item costs 2,800 gold. It builds out of Spectre’s Cowl and Negatron Cloak plus an 880g combine cost. It gives 300 Health, 70 MR, 100% Base Health Regeneration, 10% CDR, and its Unique Passive reads as follows:
“Taking magic damage from a spell or effect reduces all subsequent magic damage from that same spell or effect by 15% for 5 seconds. This item is designed to give tanks an option against sustained magic damage dealers.”
This item specifically counters sustained-damage mages like Cassiopeia. There’s never been an item for this niche before, so expect DPS Mages to be extremely weak until balance around this item can be worked out.
Of course, as these changes have not yet hit live, we can only speculate as to how they will affect the game and what Riot’s potential goals are. My prediction is that tanks will still be very strong, albeit not in the same way, but your team will have more options about where to run the tank in the team comp.
Champions – Tank Update
Lastly, let’s take a look at three of League of Legends Tank Champions who are seeing changes in the Tank Update:
Maokai, the Twisted Treant
This champion was a monster early in this season. He was one of the biggest abusers of tank items in general. In the past. Rod of Ages was a popular item on Maokai, but since his AP ratios are not that good, this gives you an item that isn’t that strong at first, and doesn’t scale very well into lategame, one of his best strengths, even among tanks. With the rising trend of multiple starting items on tanks (in his case either triple Doran’s, or Double Doran’s + Corrupting Potion), Maokai’s mana issues aren’t actually that high, and he doesn’t need to cast spells that much to clear waves once he gets Sunfire Cape. After a brutal nerf he received several patches ago, Maokai’s appearance in soloqueue has been limited, while still remaining somewhat viable competitively. Here are Maokai’s new abilities in the Tank Update:
Maokai’s Passive builds up charges when spells are cast near him—his own, his enemies, or his allies. At 5 charges, his next attack heals him for a % of his health. It contributes largely to Maokai’s unkillability in lategame teamfights, where he can proc the passive several times with little-to-no effort. This passive is functioning largely the same, except instead of building up by spell casts, it will have a cooldown (which seems to be 45 – 20 seconds depending on level), and spell casts will reduce that cooldown by 2.5 seconds. The scaling will also change. Currently, the ratio is 5 – 7% of his health, but since it will proc less often, it will be stronger, having a base value of 15 – 134 and a ratio of 8% – 11.5% health, based on level.
This ability is replacing Maokai’s current Q “Arcane Smash”. It seems that there are very few changes other than the name. Base damage, AP ratio, mana cost, and cooldown are all staying the same. The only visible change is that it doesn’t specify a slow value anymore and says that they will be slowed briefly (live is 1.5 seconds with a 20/27/34/41/48% value)
This is my favorite of Maokai’s abilities. One critique frequently leveled against tanks is that they have “limited mechanics.” However, Twisted Advance, as we know, makes you untargetable while you’re dashing. It may be a point and click root, but it has a lot of potential uses. Functionality is staying the same, but instead of 9/10/11/12/13% (+3% per 100 Ability Power) of the target’s Maximum Health, the damage will be 50/75/100/125/150 (+40% Ability Power), the root duration will be 1/1.1/1.2/1.3/1.4 seconds instead of 1/1.25/1.5/1.75/2 seconds, the mana cost will be 60/65/70/75/80 instead of 75, and its cooldown will be 16/15/14/13/12 instead of 13/12/11/10/9 seconds.
Throwing those cute little saplings out is a staple of Maokai play. Not only are they good for poking, but they can act as mini-wards. Their duration will go down from 40/45/50/55/60 seconds to 30 seconds at all levels, the mana cost will stay at its rank 1 value of 60, and the cooldown will stay at 12 seconds. Instead of its current damage value of 80/120/160/200/240 (+60% Ability Power), the damage value will be 35/55/75/95/115 (+6/6.5/7/7.5/8%) (+2% per 100 Ability Power) of the target’s maximum health, but if you place them in brush, they will last 30/40/50/60/70 seconds longer and will deal double damage. Finally, they will slow by 35% for 2 seconds, instead of 50% for 1 second.
This is the only ability that is changing completely. One of the reasons Maokai has been so hard to balance is that he’s an Aura champion. Auras are insanely difficult to balance, as they can become up to 5 times as efficient as a single-target ability. They have to be strong enough when alone, but not overwhelming in group situations. Maokai’s ultimate will cost 100 mana, have a 120/110/100 second cooldown, and it will summon a wall of vines that slowly moves forward, dealing 150/225/300 (+75% Ability Power) magic damage to enemies it passes through and rooting for 0.6 to 2.4 seconds.
Sejuani, the Winter’s Wrath
This champion began rising to prominence in Season 5, thanks to the buffs she was receiving, but the release of the Cinderhulk enchantment pushed her over the edge, turning her into the best jungler in the game, causing her and Cinderhulk to receive a myriad of nerfs. Some claim that Sejuani “just got nerfed when it was really the item’s fault”. The power of Sejuani’s ultimate essentially turns her into a better version of Amumu, and it comes at the cost of her basic abilities being weaker than they should be. It looks like this ult-bot status is going to be massively overhauled in the Tank Update. Currently, Sejuani can still scale into one of the game’s best teamfight initiators, but at the cost of not being good at anything else she should be good at. She’s stuck with slow clearing, mediocre ganks (especially without ult), a crappy build path, and terrible skirmishing.
Fury of the North
In addition to sounding like an episode of Game of Thrones, this will be Sejuani’s new passive. It has two components. First, Frost Armor After not taking damage for 15 seconds, Sejuani will become immune to slows and will gain 100 + 100% Armor and 100 + 100% Magic Resistance as resistance values, respectively. Upon taking damage, these bonuses will persist and then be removed after 1/2/3 seconds (at level 1/7/14). It is also said that moving will make it recharge faster. The next component is Icebreaker: which causes enemies stunned by Sej to be frozen, making her next attack or spell deal 15/20/25% of their max health as bonus magic damage (Cap 400 VS Monsters)
Functionality for Sejuani’s Q will remain largely the same. The base damage will go down from 80/125/170/215/260 to 60/90/120/150/18, but its cooldown will change from 15/14/13/12/11 seconds to 13/12.5/12/11.5/11 seconds, and its mana cost will go down to 70/75/80/85/90 from 80/85/90/95/100.
This ability will replace Sejuani’s current W, Flail of the Northern Winds. It causes Sejuani to swing her flail around herself dealing 12/19/26/33/40 (+A value that scales with health) physical damage and applies Frost to enemies it hits. She then lashes it out in a line, dealing 48/76/104/132/160 (+a larger value that scales with her health) and applying Frost. It deals 20% extra damage to monsters. The mana cost is 60 mana, and the cooldown is 7/6.5/6/5.5/5 seconds.
This ability has a passive that causes allied melee champions’ basic attacks to apply Frost. The active deals 40/60/80/100/120 (+30% Ability Power) magic damage to enemies with 4 stacks of frost and stuns them for 1/1.25/1.5/1.75/2 seconds. It only costs 20 mana and has a 1.5 second cooldown, but enemies stunned by it won’t be able to get Frost stacks.
Sejuani’s ultimate will still be a ranged stun, but it will only be able to hit a single target, and it will deal 75/125/175 (+40% Ability Power) magic damage and will only stun for 1 second, but the its damage and stun duration will increase the longer it travels, so that max range stun will be even more key to land (I’m looking at you Xmithie). It creates a storm on impact that slows nearby enemies by 30%. Over 2 seconds, it deals 150/250/350 (+80% Ability Power) magic damage and slows enemies by 80% for 3 seconds.
Zac, the Secret Weapon
Zac is one of the most frustrating champions to deal with. The number of paths he can gank from is so insane that it becomes nearly impossible to actually ward against Zac, excluding deep vision to determine his pathing. While Zac’s ganks are certainly his main selling point, it comes at the cost of a slow clear and very weak skirmishing.
There are no changes to Zac’s passive.
The current name is Stretching Strike, and the reason for the name change is that the ability will now have two components. First, he stretches his arm out (just for you) and deals 50/70/90/110/130 (+30% Ability Power) magic damage to the first enemy he hits and slows them briefly. His next basic attack will be a long range smack that gains the same amount of magic damage and will re-apply the slow. If he uses this attack on a different enemy, then he throws them towards one another, dealing the damage in an area of effect around both of them.
No changes except increasing the % health damage cap to its max rank value, seemingly with the goal of improving his clear speed at early levels.
The damage is being decreased from 80/130/180/230/280 (+70% Ability Power) to 80/120/160/200/240 (+70% Ability Power) and the knockup duration will be decreased.
Although it is retaining its name, the functionality will be quite different. He squishes himself down to a blob, becoming immune to CC for 2.5 seconds and slowing enemies standing on top of him by 30/40/50%. It can then be cast again, but charging it for at least 1 second will cause Zac to scoop up enemies on top of him and carry them to a target location. He can’t be stopped while flying through the air and upon landing, the enemies will take 150/200/250 (+40% Ability Power) magic damage and will be slowed briefly. If he recasts it before that 1 second, he knocks the enemies back instead.
What are you excited to try out on your favorite tanks? Comment below with what you hope to see in the new Tank Update next patch!