Champion Relaunch: Katarina, the Sinister Blade
By NeeksNaman 
This patch, we'll be overhauling one of our classic champions:, the Sinister Blade. Although Katarina's manaless, cooldown-based abilities put a unique spin on her gameplay, she's historically faced a number of challenges in the very early game and in team fight situations. In this update, we've made a few changes to her kit aimed at addressing these difficulties, while retaining the core elements that make playing this Noxian femme fatale a fun and satisfying experience. We also gave her a complete visual upgrade, including a new model, animations and spell effects on all of her abilities!
- Katarina's New Abilities
- Bouncing Blades
Katarina throws a dagger that bounces from enemy to enemy, dealing magic damage and marking them. Striking a marked target with an ability or basic attack will consume the mark to deal additional magic damage.
- Sinister Steel
Katarina whirls her daggers around her, dealing magic damage to all enemies in the area. If she hits an enemy champion, Katarina gains Movement Speed for a short duration.
Katarina instantly moves to her target's location and takes reduced damage from enemies for a short duration. If the target is an enemy, she deals damage.
- Death Lotus
Katarina becomes a flurry of blades, throwing daggers with unrivaled speed at up to three nearby champions. Daggers deal magic damage and reduce incoming healing on targets hit.
The first problem that Katarina players often faced was weak performance very early on, primarily related to the steep damage curve of her core damage ability,. While scales dramatically as it levels up, early on it ricochets only a few times, dealing relatively low damage. This forces Katarina players to play conservatively early in the laning phase, encouraging passive play until can be used to harass effectively.
To address this disparity, we normalized the damage inflicted byand made it bounce the same number of times at every level of the skill. In addition, each ricochet will now select the nearest available target instead of bouncing randomly. This change should both facilitate interesting counter-play for opponents and open up new harassment opportunities for advanced Katarina players who are able to predict where their daggers are going to bounce.
In addition to her early game difficulties, Katarina's reliance on the massive damage potential ofhas always made her a challenging champion to balance. A fully channeled could quickly reduce a team to ashes, but a well-timed interrupt from a canny defender could quickly transform Katarina from a maelstrom of death into an easy kill. For this reason, we decided to move the healing debuff from onto and decrease the channel time slightly. This reigned in the overall damage numbers slightly, replacing some of this raw punishment with a bit of utility gave us the opportunity to make remainder of Katarina's kit more dangerous.
To accomplish this, we swappedfor a spammable, area-of-effect attack that grants Katarina a brief speed boost when it lands. This new ability, dubbed , gives Katarina superior mobility and allows her to continue laying down damage on multiple targets during a team fight if is interrupted by a stun or knockback. For a little added kick, will now apply a debuff that is consumed to deal bonus damage when Katarina strikes the target with an attack or ability. These changes should give Katarina the extra damage she needs to play aggressively right out the gates and the flexibility necessary to keep her damage potential high once the team fights start.
2017 Season Update
Kat’s truly the embodiment of the phrase ‘feast or famine’; crushing entire fights in a second of button mashing, or throwing limp daggers in a poor attempt to contribute from behind. This has led to a pretty tight leash for Kat’s balance - while you can succeed on her, we’ve had to fine tune every part of her laning to ensure she can’t reliably hit her penta-killing critical mass every game.
This update seeks to remove Kat’s harsh restrictions while also delivering on her lightning-speed high-skill fantasy. Armed with her new mechanic, Kat’s got the flexibility to orchestrate flashy fights (or smooth getaways) in a way that both she and her opponents can engage with. This lets us ease up on a lot of the base-stat restrictions needed to artificially keep her down, given that Katarina’s opponents always have a clue as to when and how she might move in for the kill.
As a result of the changes, it’s important to talk about one key line below: Katarina can no longer target wards with . It’s not a decision that was taken lightly, but a large part of Kat’s update is centered around telegraphing her potential mobility to assailants. Ward-hopping breaks this at a fundamental level - giving her far too many easy outs in tense situations. Kat’s all about finding the right mix of premeditation and reaction in her playmaking, so you’ll have to think on your feet and use all of your tools to survive.
Whenever an enemy champion dies after being recently damaged by Katarina, her cooldowns are significantly reduced.
- Bouncing Blade
Throws a dagger, dealing magic damage to the target and two nearby enemies before falling onto the ground.
If Katarina picks up a dagger, she magic damage in an area around her., dealing
Tosses a dagger in the air, gaining movement speed for a short duration. After a brief delay, Katarina can pick up the dagger.
Instantly blinks to target enemy, ally, or dagger. Upon arrival, Katarina deals magic damage to the nearest enemy. If Katarina targets a dagger, Shunpo's cooldown is massively reduced.
- Death Lotus
Become a flurry of blades, rapidly throwing knives at the three nearest enemy champions and dealing massive magic damage over the duration. All enemies struck receive Grievous Wounds, reducing their healing.