I am surprised that nobody has talked about Riot's changes for the 2017 Pre-Season, so here I am.

The Assassin Updates

The more time goes on, the smaller these changes get, it seems. In the assassins' case, though, it might be justified, since most of these changes are actually very satisfying and look very promising on paper.

LeBlancSquare LeBlanc

The biggest change to LeBlanc is her new passive Sigil of Malice Sigil of Malice. It's basically the same as her pre-update Q's mark, now applied with every spell, but it can only be procced after 1.5 second. I must admit it's a very blunt way of extending her burst window, since it carries a lot of her damage. Everything else remains pretty much as is, except her new Q Shatter Orb Shatter Orb: it's still a target-shot much like the current one, except now if it procs her passive, it spreads to nearby units to proc the passive on them too. Sadly enough, it's mostly going to be used after Distortion Distortion to clear an entire wave by proccing Sigil of Malice Sigil of Malice on it with a single spell cast, so W is still the spell to max out first.

RengarSquare Rengar

Rengar hasn't changed all that much, for what was advertised as one of the Big Four Assassin Updates. His Q hits in a 180° cone, and then in a straight line instead of being a simple AA-reset, and... that's pretty much it for the big changes. Rengar gains trophies upon taking down unique enemy champions and gets MASSIVE attack damage bonuses from it, his W always heals instead of giving him tank stats, empowered W now cleanses CC on him instead, E's slow is weaker and shorter but doesn't decay, and his ultimate lasts longer, even though he can only reveal the closest enemy champion.

TalonSquare Talon

Parkour jokes aside, Talon has gotten a lot better. Being able to dash to enemies with Q makes his passive easier to actually proc. But really that's it for him: W has gotten a delay so its return is telegraphed, and his ultimate now makes the blades go to the target he auto-attacks if he breaks his invisibility doing so. Yeah, the parkour really is the selling point of this update, isn't it?

KatarinaSquare Katarina

Wow, she sure looks a lot more complicated to play, doesn't she? The update is defined by the daggers she throws, as she's now able to Shunpo Shunpo to daggers, putting her blink on a ridiculously low cooldown. As in 3 seconds at worst. She lost her old W, since it's now triggered on picking up a dagger, instead she got Preparation Preparation, an ability with a very middling name that makes her toss a dagger and gain a brief burst of movement speed. I'm sad that she lost her ward-jump, though.

Kha'ZixSquare Kha'Zix

I love Kha'Zix. And I love this update. Evolutions haven't gotten as different as advertised, but at least all of them feel a bit better. Maybe evolving Q doesn't chunk for as much, but having it up every other second against isolated targets makes it better, especially with the buff it received otherwise. I'm especially excited about the evolved R: having a free ultimate for entering a bush feels really cool.

The others

No real big change for the others. Shaco got an execute on E. Zed gets AD when his ultimate kills an enemy instead of the free AD on W. Oh well, at least Twitch got his Spray and Pray Spray and Pray back!


Oh there's a lot to talk about in this section, and it's not only about the new assassin items.


Lethality is Riot's rework to flat armor penetration. Sounds exciting right? Sad news: it isn't. Lethality is flat armor penetration, the only difference is: it scales on the target's level. The actual effectiveness is as is: 43.33 - 100 (based on level). Once again, this is a very brutish way to change things. Even the stat's actual scaling is awkward: it's good to have early because targets don't have a lot of armor yet, it spikes mid-game because it increases flatly with levels while champions' armor growth is still not that high, and then it falls off late-game when champions' armor growth outweighs the armor penetration's impact more and more. Riot missed out on the chance to remove flat armor penetration from items to keep it for something more appropriate, to concentrate on ignoring percentage armor like Last Whisper item Last Whisper, whether bonus or total. It sure would've been a lot more exciting because as it is, Lethality is a mess: items that give it don't even state how its scaling works, and even if it did, I'm not sure people would be willing to do the math.

The Poacher's Dirk item Poacher's Dirk

This thing is weird. I complained enough about lethality, but this thing also shoehorned Serrated Dirk item Serrated Dirk and everything it builds into as roaming assassin items. Case in point: that +20 movement speed out of combat. It's basically useless, but it's there. It's also quite a tactless way to force jungler assassins into trying to invade to save 350 gold. Sounds quite cheap to me. Serrated Dirk also lost its bonus damage on the next attack after killing a unit, making it really that item for AD assassins and nothing else.

Assassin items, take 2

Even if we were to forget about Lethality, most assassin items have been revamped. Duskblade of Draktharr item Duskblade of Draktharr got its Nightfall removed (more on the Poacher's Dirk item Poacher's Dirk section above), but grants true sight when you're detected by an enemy ward with a 90-second cooldown. Yes, the chicken Smite buff is on Duskblade of Draktharr item Duskblade now. For some reason. Riot is really walking assassins by their hands with this thing. Also it got a new passive that deals bonus on-hit true damage after being unseen for a second, scaling with Lethality. I'm not sold on this. Next to Duskblade of Draktharr item Duskblade on the items that build out of Serrated Dirk item Serrated Dirk we have Edge of Night item Edge of Night. It's the Maw of Malmortius item Maw of Malmortius of assassins: it builds from Serrated Dirk item the Dirk, a Pickaxe item Pickaxe and a Null-Magic Mantle item Null-Magic Mantle for a total of 3100 gold. Apart of the changes above, its claim to fame is its active: channel 1.5 second, and you get a spell shield that lasts 10 seconds and is on a 30-second cooldown. I like this item, and I would've liked it a lot more if Riot hadn't played around with Serrated Dirk item Serrated Dirk and Lethality. This also sounds quite handy to take DragonSquare Dragons, since its attacks are considered as abilities, so you can block that. Also, did I mention you can move during the channel? To end this section, Youmuu's Ghostblade item Youmuu's Ghostblade is taking a hit: it costs 200 less gold, but loses its active's attack speed. With it granting only 20 Lethality (it gets its former 20 armor penetration only on level-18 targets), it's not gonna be as good as it currently is until late-game.

Where's Maw of Malmortius item Maw of Malmortius?

It doesn't build from Serrated Dirk item Serrated Dirk anymore. Instead, it builds from Caulfield's Warhammer item Caulfield's Warhammer. It lost 5 AD, gained 5 MR, and Lifegrip now also grants 20 AD. Not the biggest of changes if I do say so myself. I just don't see the use of CDR on it, so I expect more changes soon, I guess.

The Control Ward item Control Ward

I love this thing. It costs 50 gold, reveals Camouflaged units, but the best part comes here: it reveals and disables nearby enemy wards AND traps. It's like a more fragile Vision Ward item Pink Ward, but that added effect of disabling wards and traps just by being there makes it that much more handy to have around.

The new Aegis of the Legion item Aegis of the Legion

Now it builds out of a Cloth Armor item Cloth Armor and a Null-Magic Mantle item Null-Magic Mantle. And I'll be honest, I don't think giving both armor and magic resistance on such a cheap item is a good idea. Removing the Legion aura is one thing, okay, but this makes the Aegis into an oddity once again. And it's not bad because it's different, I don't think it's going to do any good for the game, since it's just tank stats and nothing else now, you'd expect more from a mid-tier item. I'm just sad that Riot doesn't even seem to know what to do with it: I've witnessed this thing going through so much from the Runic Bulwark item Runic Bulwark era from which I started playing this game.

The Chalice of Harmony item Chalice of Harmony

Changing again. And by changing I mean its passive is changing again. Gone is the era of Mana Font, and gone is the era of that unnamed "I-regen-more-the-thing-I-have-less-of" passive. Its new passive, Harmony (it's got a name, first good change), now grants percentage bonus health regen equal to your percentage bonus mana regen. I like it, but sadly, it's clearly going to be the new SorakaSquare Soraka staple, plain and simple. I can already hear the Soraka mains (and Pants are Dragon) going right back to her building this: with the amount of mana regen she tends to get, she will also regen a lot of health (and thank god her base health regen is horrible)... all the more to fuel her heals with, my friends! About Chalice, it also has gotten 100 gold cheaper. Not a lot, but that's nice.

Healbot items (Forbidden Idol item Forbidden Idol and friends)

The healing and shielding power is going down everywhere. 8% from 10 for Forbidden Idol item Forbidden Idol, 10% from 15 for Ardent Censer item Ardent Censer. If you want to be the ultimate healbot, though, Mikael's Crucible item Mikael's Crucible now grants +20%, up from 15. But wait, there's more! They all cost slightly less, Ardent Censer item Ardent Censer gives more attack speed, but less on-hit damage in favor of on-hit heal, and here comes the worst: Mikael's Crucible item Mikael's Crucible lost its heal. Rest in peace. Instead, it gives slow immunity for 2 seconds, and +40% movement speed if you manage to cleanse CC with it. It's also instant, for whatever little that's worth. Seriously who knew it wasn't? I certainly didn't.

Redemption item Redemption

Opinions on this item are all over the place. Personally I really don't like it. Having another item take Mikael's Crucible item Mikael's Crucible's active heal, okay, but to have it also deal percentage max health true damage to enemies, very much not. Especially when that can still be cast when your screen goes greyscale.


A lot of changes here as well.

Ferocity Tree
  • We got a new tier 2 mastery taking Double-Edged Sword mastery 2016.png Double-Edged Sword's spot: Fresh Blood. It gives health when you attack an enemy champion, with a 6-second on-target cooldown. It's good for trades in lane I guess, not sure what to make of it late-game.
  • Double-Edged Sword mastery 2016.png Double-Edged Sword has been moved to tier 4 instead, and its effects have been amplified: +5 damage dealt, +2.5% damage taken. All the better to accommodate assassins, my dear!
  • Fervor of Battle mastery 2016.png Fervor of Battle now grants AD instead of on-hit damage, but lasts 4 seconds instead of 6. Still a buff.
Cunning Tree
  • We got another new mastery, tier 4 this time: Greenfather's Gift. Naming masteries after champion titles always baffles me. It makes your next attack deal bonus percentage current health damage, with a 9-second cooldown. It's good for jungling, and oddly enough, Ivern can't use it to save his life!
  • Also, Precision mastery 2016.png Precision gives 1.7 Lethality per point instead of armor penetration. No comment.
Resolve Tree
  • First of all, new Keystone! Courage of the Colossus replaces Strength of the Ages mastery 2016.png Strength of the Ages. It grants a shield scaling on your health when you immobilize enemy champions, on a 30-second cooldown. The shield lasts 4 seconds, and stacks the more targets you CC at the same time. I like it, even though shielding yourself when you're hard-CC'ing the opposition makes little sense, since CC already protects you from them in the first place.
  • A new tier-4 mastery appears! That's right! Fearless grants percentage bonus armor and MR when you get hit by an enemy champion, for 2 seconds, with a 9-second cooldown. The bonus can be massive, up to 46% bonus armor and MR at level 18, so even if it's short, it's well worth it.
  • And we also get a new tier-2 mastery: Siegemaster. It grants 8 armor and MR when near an allied tower. I don't like it a lot, to be honest.


There's quite a lot going on as pre-season nears. Let me know your opinions on the comments below to see whether or not I'm losing my mind over nothing, or if everyone has trouble understanding whatever's going on at Rito's balance team's workplace. Have a nice day!