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Rumble The Mechanized Menace

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    Retrospective: Skarner

    Despite not being amongst the oldest champions, Skarner is one of the best examples of a champion who has always been a problem in Riot's eyes and has been reworked and changed several times. He was champion release number 81 and was released on the 9th of August 2011.

    It's now season 6 and we are on Skarner's fourth iteration and after so many changes it seems that Riot still doesn't know if this will be the final version of The Crystal Vanguard.

     

     


    Throughout hundreds of balance changes and multiple reworks, let's take a look at where Skarner started and where he is now:

     

     

    Release Kit

    While most of the abilities on his kit retained their visuals, the abilities have been tweaked around multiple times.

    Skarner's initial release made him a very binary champion. His passive incentivized power farming to reduce his ultimate's cooldown and his Q had a powerful slow attached. The problem was that he was either feast or famine. If ahead, he could close in on targets and perma slow them, if kited successfully, he would be essentially useless.

    Passive: Energize

    Basic attacks reduce the cooldowns of Skarner's abilities by 1 second against champions and 0.5 seconds against non-champions.

    This passive was what made Skarner so feast or famine. If he could stick to champions in teamfights he would constantly get cooldowns back to keep doing damage and tanking with his shield.

    Q: Crystal Slash

    Skarner lashes out with his claws, dealing physical damage to all nearby enemies and charging himself with Crystal Energy for several seconds if a unit is struck. If he casts Crystal Slash again while empowered by Crystal Energy, he deals bonus Magic Damage and slows all targets hit.

    Skarner Q's has always been Crystal Slash, but it was a very different ability back in his first iteration. If he hit two Q's in a row he'd start slowing everyone in a small area around him making him extremely sticky once he closed the gap. With the Energize passive he could constantly spam Q, even if with little to no cooldown reduction.

    W: Crystalline Exoskeleton

    Skarner gains a shield and while the shield persists his movement speed and attack speed are both increased.

    Crystalline Exoskeleton retained most of it's identity throughout the reworks but back in release it used to give him attack speed. This made him extremely strong if he wasn't being focused, but popping his shield was devastating as Skarner would lose his gap closer and his way of swift sheen procs in between his Crystal Slashes

    E: Fracture

    Skarner summons a blast of crystalline energy which deals damage to enemies struck and marks them. Any further damage dealt to marked targets by Skarner will allow him to consume the mark to heal himself.


    Fracture was essentially useless back in the day and unless you were playing him in lane for some reason and needed the sustain, chances are you would always max this skill last, in fact, a lot of people didn't even take a point in this skill until level 13, maxing out Crystal Slash and Crystalline Exoskeleton first as more damage and tankiness were a much better bet than a meager heal on an extremely slow line skill shot that also slowed his movement.
     

    R: Impale

    Skarner suppresses an enemy champion and deals magic damage to it. During this time, Skarner can move freely and will drag his helpless victim around with him. When the effect ends, Skarner's target will be dealt additional damage.

    Skarner's Impale never had any significant changes apart from Cooldown and Damage adjustments. This is the skill that made Skarner so feared back in Season 2, the fact that he could surpress a target and there was little one could do.

    One year after release Riot nerfed impale so it would no longer finish casting if the target escaped the range during the cast time.

     

    Season 4 - Patch 4.2

    On Patch 4.2 Skarner's first rework was finally introduced. The attack speed buff was moved to Crystal Slash and the Slow moved to Fracture. This was Riot's first attempt at rebalancing the Crystal Vanguard's kit, where one of his skills was overloaded and the other virtually useless.

    With this rework, Riot aimed to:

    We’re giving Skarner a moderate rework to bring him slashing and impaling into the modern day. Our goals are to improve his overall counterplay, make Fracture a more useful skill and bring him up to current jungle standards. These changes shouldn't have a dramatic effect on Skarner's overall play pattern but they should make his kit feel more cohesive overall.

     

     

     

    Q: Crystal Slash

    When a target is hit, Skarner gains an 8/10/12/14/16% attack speed buff that stacks up to 3 times

    The big change to Skarner in this patch was the loss of the perma slow on this ability, prompting many players to pick up Iceborn Gauntlet to retain the stickiness that the champion once had.

    W: Crystalline Exoskeleton

    • Cooldown down
    • Movement speed ramps up over the first 3 seconds.
    • Bonus MS up from 15/17/19/21/23% to 16/20/24/28/32%
    • Base Shield strength and Ability Power Ratio went up from 70/115/160/205/250 (+60% AP) to 80/135/190/245/300 (+80% AP)
    • No longer grants Attack Speed
      Probably he best part of the changes for Skarner, a more durable shield that sped him up more would allow him to close the gap with more ease.
     

    E: Fracture

    • Cooldown up
    • Targets hit are now slowed by 30/35/40/45/50% for 2.5 seconds
    • Width and speed reduced
    • Range increased
    • Heal mark Removed

      Initially it seemed like a good change, but the skillshot was extremely unreliable and slow, making it extremely hard to hit. Buffs were immediately given after on patch 4.3 and 4.4, increasing width, speed and slow percentage but overall Skarner's kit felt weaker, even though his kit was now more balanced and cohesive.
     
     

     

     

    Season 4 - Patch 4.10

    Ultimately, the first rework wasn't successful and Riot quickly addressed it in the same season.

    With these changes, Riot intended to "give him a stronger identity without bringing back his old gameplay issues" meaning to make him closer to a crowd control focused champion instead of a duelist.

    The big change in this patch was obviously the introduction of a new passive for Skarner.

    Passive: Crystallizing Sting

    Skarner's damaging spells apply a 'Crystal Venom' debuff to enemy Champions and large monsters for 5 seconds.   If Skarner lands a basic attack on a target with 3 stacks of 'Crystal Venom', he will deal an additional 20-105 magic damage and stun the target for 0.5/0.75/1 second   Energize was finally removed and cooldowns were adjusted to make up for the change. With Crystallizing Sting the pattern of play was simple. To tag enemies with Fracture and then multiple iterations of Crystal Slash in order to stun targets, similarly to Braum's Winter's Bite system.      

    Q: Crystal Slash

    • Basic attacks reduce Crystal Slash's cooldown by 0.5 seconds (doubled against Champions)
    • Crystal Energy now additionally grants +3/4/5/6/7% movement speed per stack (up to 3 stacks)
    • Base Damage down from 25/40/55/70/85 (80% AD)  to 20/32/44/56/68 (40% AD)
    • Bonus Damage down from 24/36/48/60/72 (+40% AP) to 20/32/44/56/68 (+20% AP)
      Energized's passive was moved to Crystal Slash in order to keep it a low cooldown ability and while the damage was heavily hit in this rework, Skarner now had more utility to close the gap and stick to his target.
     
       
       

    R: Impale

    • Impale consumes all stacks of Crystal Venom and deals 50/75/100 magic damage per stack consumed
    • Cooldown Reduced

    A bit of extra damage was added to impale to make up for the loss of damage on Crystal Slash and while the Cooldown Reduction seemed good, it was not comparable to the reduction you could obtain by abusing the old Energized Passive.

     

    Eventually on Patch 5.16 Skarner was reworked once more, being part of the Juggernaut update. When released he was amongst the highest win rates and an extremely oppressive champion once more, but he was quickly adjusted to reduce how oppressive he was.

    At the season 5 World Championship he was seen seldomly seen and was quickly disregarded as a viable meta pick for Competitive play.

     

    Currently, he's amongst the top win rates in ranked and while only Clearlove from Edward Gaming had the audacity of picking him in pro play, he still remains as a strong champion in the right hands. If you are inspired by his past and want to get in some games with the current Skarner, head on over to our guides and learn what you need to master The Crystal Vanguard.

    LolKing's League Tips - Episode 8 - Wave Manipulation Basics

    Welcome to LolKing's League Tips!

    Each week we’ll be giving you a tip that you can use in your games to have an edge over your opponent.

     

    Last time we looked at some tips to help you as a jungler and the week before at how to roam from the support position

     

    Today we are looking at the basics behind wave manipulation. It's important to understand how minion waves work to be able to manipulate waves in your favor. In this video we look at how to freeze a minion wave and its benefits, how to break an enemy freeze and how to reset a minion wave.

     

     


    Watch the video below to learn more about the basics of Wave Manipulation

     

     

     

     Be sure to subscribe to LolKing's YouTube channel for upcoming stat videos, and other League of Legends coverage!

     

     

     

    Delaying your Jungle Enchantments

    Jungle Enchantments have been a part of League of Legends since pre-season 5 and for the jungler.

    For a jungler, the enchant defines what type of jungler they are and what role they’ll fit in a team as some junglers are viable with more than one enchant.

    Most junglers get their enchants right away, as a first item, but what about delaying the purchase? How viable is this?


     

    Patch 6.9 - Changes to jungle experience

     

    Prior to patch 6.9, both Hunter’s Machete and Hunter’s Talisman gave bonus 15 experience per each large monster killed. With this in mind, most junglers picked up both jungle items early on to get the maximum experience out of the jungle and keep up with the solo lanes.

    With 6.9 came the changes to jungle experience.

     

    Patch 6.9 changes:

    • Hunter’s Machete and Hunter’s Talisman grant 15 50 bonus experience on large monster kill
    • Stalker’s Blade, Skirmisher’s Sabre, and Tracker’s Knife grant 30 50 bonus experience on large monster kill

     

    With these changes in mind, you no longer need both items to get extra experience off of camps.

     

    In the LCS and all other leagues around the world, this small change quickly showed adaptation from players, grabbing their Bami’s Cinders and Caulfield's Warhammers before grabbing their second jungle item component.

    But what about going one step further and skipping the jungle enchant entire, even if temporarily?

     

    This is exactly what Reignover did on Gragas in Immortals’ match against Echo Fox.

    Reignover rushed a Rod of Ages and only after that did he finish his Tracker’s Knife and his Cinderhulk Enchantment.


    The idea here is simple. Rod of Ages is a fantastic item on Gragas as he gets to itemize for health and simultaneously grab ability power for his four skills that all have relatively good ratios. This means he can effectively build a mixed item that gives him some defensive stats and also bolsters his damage and clearing.

     

    Gragas isn’t a jungler that relies on auto attacks to clear, he can clear extremely fast if he can use spells often. With Rod of Ages, he gets exactly this. The flat mana makes quite the difference and using spells means he can heal back up, so he can sustain himself even better inside the jungle.

    Picking up the Rod of Ages early on means it can start stacking immediately, whereas picking it up second would mean much later scaling, which is often not an option in professional play. Most players would never grab a Rod of Ages second because it’s so late into the match and 10 full minutes are needed to stack it up.


    Aside from this, we can even compare Bami’s Cinder and Catalyst of Aeons as they even have the same cost.

     

     

    Bami's Cinder Cost: 1100
    +280 Health


    Unique – Immolate: Deals 6-23 (based on level) magic damage per second to nearby enemies. Deals 50% bonus damage to minions and monsters (400 range).

    Total Gold Value = 746.66 gold
    Gold Efficiency = 67.88%  
       

     

     

    Catalyst of Aeons Cost: 1100
    +225 Health
    +300 Mana
      Unique – Eternity: 15% of damage taken from champions is gained as mana. Spending mana restores 20% of mana spent as health, up to 15 per cast (toggle spells heal for up to 15 per second).
      Total Gold Value = 1020 gold
    Gold Efficiency = 92.73%  
       

     

     

    As you can see, Catalyst gives slightly less Health, but grants the much needed 300 Mana from Gragas, not to mention the Eternity passive, constantly fueling Gragas’ sustain in health while he jungles and mana pool when in combat.

    One can argue that Bami’s Cinder has strong AoE damage to help clear jungle monsters, but as mentioned before, Gragas doesn’t really need it, he already clears very fast if he can keep using spells.

     

    The advantages of delaying an enchantment

     

    There are two other advantages behind delaying an enchantment:

    First off and for Cinderhulk users, delaying the enchantment means you’ll get more out of the purchase later on. Cinderhulk is a bit like Deathcap, the more HP you have, the more efficient it is, so rushing it early won’t give you as much of a benefit as it would to purchase it as a second or third item.

     

    Secondly, delaying your enchantment lets you chose. If you are playing a jungler who can use more than one enchantmentthen delaying it just means you will have a better idea of which to pick up when you decide to do it.

     

    Who can do this?

     

    It’s important to preface this by saying that this is mostly applicable for Cinderhulk junglers than anyone else as Warrior is an extremely strong purchase and most Runic Echoes users buy the item to enhance clearing and damage without running out of mana.

    That said, let’s have a look at some junglers who could delay their enchantments until later into the game.

     

    AP Tanky junglers - Sejuani, Gragas, Amumu

     

     

    These subset of champions usually chooses between going for Cinderhulk and Runic Echoes, depending on playstyle and the role they want to have in a team.

    For all of these, grabbing a Rod of Ages can mean a healthy balance between offensive stats and defensive stats. Alternatively, rushing defensive items such as Locket of the Iron Solari can also work. For the Sad Mummy, an early Rylai’s Crystal Scepter could also be an option.

     

    Other Tank Junglers - Volibear, Olaf, Rek’sai

     

     

    Other tank junglers have a lot of defensive options they can pick up instead of getting the enchantment. These three junglers all have very good clears with abilities and don’t need to rely on the AoE from Bami’s Cinder to clear camps.

     

    Instead, going for items to cover their weaknesses in ganking and skirmishing could be more helpful. Dead Man’s Plate can help them close the gap, Sterak’s Gage or Titanic Hydra are good offensive options with the health component from Jaurim's Fist and even Righteous Glory has a strong active that can be terrifying on Olaf or Volibear.

     

    Bloodrazor Junglers - Kindred, Warwick, Master Yi

     

     

    Currently, the standout Bloodrazor jungler in competitive is Kindred, but many other options such as Master Yi, Warwirck, Xin Zhao and Jax also build Bloodrazor in ranked games across all divisions.

    While attack speed is a key factor for these champions to both clear camps and fight, the percentage maximum health physical damage component only really kicks in from mid game onwards, when champions have finally itemized for health items and naturally have more health from levels they have acquired.

    That said, while it might seem that Bloodrazor is just a 50% attack speed item and other stats are more important, the extra damage also applies to monsters, making it extremely strong for clearing.
     

     

    Overall and especially for Cinderhulk Junglers it can be worth to delay the jungle enchantment purchase in favor of a stronger early game item, either to bolster defensive stats or grab an item that shores up a champion's weakness.

    As mentioned before, Cinderhulk is a more efficient buy later on, when the bonus health given is more relevant.

    Top 5 Problematic Champions

    Some champions have kits or designs that make them incredibly difficult to balance while still having healthy gameplay. Let's take a look at 5 of the worst offenders:

     Be sure to subscribe to LolKing's YouTube channel for upcoming stat videos, and other League of Legends coverage!

    Rare League Skins: Collector's Pack

    Even today you can hop into the League of Legends shop and pick up the Collector's Pack. You'll get the Goth Annie skin with your purchase, but if you had picked up a physical copy or pre-ordered the pack, there were alternative skins to get your hands on. Now these skins are unacquirable, and are incredibly rare sights to see in game.

     

    Black Alistar

    This is definitely one of the rarest skins in the game, requiring players to pre-order the Digital Collector's Pack. It's easy to see what a huge game League is now, but back in the day it was much smaller, and dropping money on a pre-order of content in a free to play game would have seemed like a gamble.

    Check out Black Alistar in our model viewer.

     

    Human Ryze

    If Black Alistar doesn't seem rare enough, Human Ryze was acquired in a similar way but the preorder was instead for the physical retail copy of the Collector's Pack. Not only did you have to have the faith to pre-order content, but you had to dedicate to a physical boxed copy as well.

    Check out Human Ryze in our model viewer.

     

    Silver Kayle

    Even if you didn't pre-order the physical copy, it included a copy of Silver Kayle. This meant that if you were able to track down a physical copy of the game, you were able to acquire this one for quite a bit longer, although that was no easy task. Once Riot disabled old skin codes, any hope of finding some lost unused copy of this skin went away.

    Check out Silver Kayle in our model viewer.

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