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Balancing - Abilities and Numbers

Alterrea August 25, 2013 User blog:Alterrea

Welcome, fellow Summoners, and thanks for reading. Today, I'm going to write about the various issues with the champions' kits. So, let's begin, shall we?


One of the major determinig factor in today's metagame is the presence or lack of a gapclosing/speedboosting/escaping ablity in a champion's arsenal. While they still have Flash or Ghost to compenstae, they are Summoner Spells with high cooldowns, so they are often unavailbe in the most needed situations. And that is the reason for the increasing popularity of the dashes/flashes. This was the very thing that inspired the famous blue build Ezreal Ezreal. While this is a huge determining factor, it does not make or break opinions. How is that Corki Corki is so unpopular, despite having a long-range escape? While one answer would be that it's interruptable, we have to dig deeper to find the truth.


Another very imporant ability class is the long-range poke. Almost every champion has ranged abilities (with Udyr Udyr being the exception), but fewer has reliable ranged pokes. Pokes are important in sieging a turret or contesting an objective, or simply weaken the enemy team before a teamfight. In Season 3, the importance of pokes have fallen down a bit. The generally increased mobility made dodgeiing the skillshots easier, and the new fast-placed game has fewer classical teamfight situations. What means pokes are not a determining factor in a champion's kit.


Another classical role, initiating used to be one of the most important part of the team-fights. While they are still very crucial, the increasing popularity of the hooks and the decreasing number of classical teamfights in a game reduced the impotance of this a bit. While a strong initiate may still be important, the popularity of great initiators, such as Malphite Malphite have fallen down a bit. Do not misunderstand me, he is still a really popular pick, it's just he now has a much lower banrate and a lower pickrate. People do not fear a great initiate anymore. Nevertheless, it's still great to have an initiate available.

Crowd Control

With the increasing number of mobility skills, the need to somehow shut people down with them has increased as well. And this led to an increasing number of CC required per team. Why did Jarvan IV Jarvan IV become so popular nowadays? Because of his ultimate providing a great way to lock down people who have already used their flash and/or other mobility skill. Kennen Kennen for the smae reason. His ult is a team-wide stun. Sona Sona the same. People started to utilise more and more CC, and this led to an increasing need of tenacity. That is why Zac Zac is used so much. His ultimate allowed him to go and stay in a fight without being CCd. So, as they are getting more and more important, they have a higher effect on a champion's balance, and become almost mandatory to have.


And we have reached on of the most important parts of balancing a champion: their damage output. While balancing the auto-attack damage is relatively easy with balancing AS, AD and Armor, the damage output of skills is a far more comlicated topic. They have usually two parts: a flat and a scaling part. Higher flat means it sccales better with levels, while a higher scaling part means it scales better with items. But raw damage is not everything. These skills are usually limited by cooldowns and costs to balance them out. Ultimates usually have higher impact than regular skills, higher cost/CD as well. But still it is not everything. Take a look at Karma Karma, for example. Her theorical damage output is rediculous. But, most of her damage is unreliable. Her Q can be dodged. You can run away from her W before she has a chance to root you. Her E is hard to use as a damage source. And that is what makes her so underused and unpopular. Her kit is easy to counter. She does not fit the current meta.

Kit vs. Numbers

Why did I go through all this? This all led to this: while checking the current state of balance of a certain champ, we have to look at both its kit and numbers. Take Twisted Fate Twisted Fate for example: he has a huge-range teleport. With a huge cooldown. If he could perform the teleport every 30 secs, he would be broken. Even though it has a reall high cooldown, it's considered really strong. Despite dealing no damage. Despite being interruptable. Or look at Quinn Quinn. Her ultimate may actually reduce her damage output, as she loses her passive. And still it's a great ultimate as it greatly increases her (or to be precise, Valor's) movement speed and general mobility.

Place in the meta

Staying on the current example, Quinn Quinn was intended to be a marksman (ranged adc), but it turned out that she is a great toplaner, shile she is considered to be weaker as a carry. The same with Zyra Zyra. She was actually nerfed as she was too strong as a midlaner. So, the point is, champions are not balanced for this or that role, but generally for the game, and for many different situations.

Closing thoughts

Of course, there are many things I should have written about: how items affect champion balance, how different builds can affect them, how can a team composition work well with champions otherwise considered weak. How can chamions synergize with themselves and each other. But I will leave this for a later post. Until then, I hope you enjoyed it, and feel free to leave your comments, opinions and thoughts on the topic below.

Oh and as always, english is not my native language, so some mistakes and typos may occur. 

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