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On My Arrow - But Do I Need a New One?

Shigfugjum October 28, 2014 User blog:Shigfugjum

Since my joining of the wiki, I've noticed with some frequency the number of attempts to rework or fix Ashe. In fact, there should one right below this blog in the little box listing the most recent posts. I have seen it, I have not commented on it, but i often do comment on such posts. You see, Ashe is a champion that I have come to enjoy playing greatly. She is one of my favourite ADC's, so naturally I get interested when people talk about her.

Now this isn't a response to the aforementioned rework specifically. This is more hoping to discuss why so many people feel Ashe's bow needs so badly to be restrung, the patterns that seem to occur in such discussion, and a few of my own thoughts about the state of Ashe. 

Permaslow and Toxicity

Before I talk about what seems to be the central part of every rework proposition, i want to hopefully define what it means for something to be overpowered (OP) and/or toxic. Just so I can at least be consistant (if not correct). I actually like to think that "OP" is short for "Opressive" rather than "Overpowered", as it better describes the game element's relationship with other game elements. I feel something is OP when it opresses or denies room for any other options within it's category. Lee Sin is an example of an OP champion. If we assume a player has perfectly mastered all champions in the game, then there is no reason he should choose any other jungle champion other than Lee Sin, because Lee Sin can perform all the functions desired in any jungler to effective degree. He has good clears and good sustain in the jungle. He ganks incredibly well. He can initiate. He an disengage. He can set up picks (picking off someone who is out of position). He can help protect priority carries. He works well built either as a damage-oriented assassin or a utility tank. Other champions may be able to do some of the above as well or better than Lee Sin, but they usually trade off strength in other areas. Lee Sin can do all of these things to a fair degree of of effectiveness at the same time. 

But Lee Sin is by no means Toxic or in need of an overhaul. A tuning, perhaps, but not an overhaul. While the Blind Monkey does overshadow other junglers as a Jack-of-All-Trade-and-a-Master-to-Boot, he is a very difficult champion to master. The fact is, no player is likely to be equally profecient with every champion. Lee SIn may be capable of engaging as well as, say, Vi, but not everyone can play Lee Sin as well as they can play Vi. That is why people can and do pick Vi over Lee Sin. The skill demanded of Lee Sin makes him overpowered on his own but healthy and balanced within gameplay. Despite being the objectively best option, the organic factor of player skill means that he demands a fair amount of investment, in the form of practice and mastery, to be utilized in all his potential OP-ness.

Another, perhaps more agreeable, example was the status of Spirit Visage early in Season 4. The base stats and build path was so efficient and streamlined, that even tanks that didn't benefit from the healing buff were buying it as their primary MR item. Then Rito nerfed the CDR (as well as the Second Wind mastery), and other MR items were able to get some room for themselves on the shopkeeper's shelves. But it wasn't like only one person could build an SV. The advantage would go to the person who did better in lane and managed to construct one first, but only until they other guy caught up and managed to build his own. And other than the heal passive, the MR and Health granted wasn't somehow magically a different or better kind of MR or Health than another item. It was really just about how slot efficient it was for the top laners.

Now when we talk about toxicity, we are talking about something that shouldn't be in the game not only because it is objectively the superior option within a category. Something becomes toxic when it becomes an addictive choice. Because it gives us what we want for very little. Think about the movie Wall-E, where the people on the spaceship could get everything they wanted out of life without ever having to leave their chairs, and how well that worked out for them in the end. Toxicity is about little risk or investment (either in gold, skill, cooldowns, or otherwise) that grants the same or better results as other options that require more investment.

Nidalee I suppose is the most recent point where Riot addressed an issue of toxicity. Cedarhelm (Ciderhelm? I'm lazy guys) made a video that explained more about why the old Nidalee was toxic and unhealthy but it basically came down to this:  once players had an Athene's, they could throw spears that removed half of people's health bars fairly frewuently. The spears were slow, but a few were bound to hit after throwing ten or so. This could be done from a safe distance with little risk to Nidalee, using a basic ability with a 6~4 second coodown for relativley little mana. This was OP, but what made it truly toxic was how Nidalee also had tools to allow her to keep her distance and stay safe and healthy, and these tools did not demand that she sacrifice the effectiveness of her spears. Zero risk, minimal investment, obnoxiously high reward. Even if one could engage onto Nidalee's team hard enough, one would still take a few good hard spears to the face, only to have Nidalee pounce away and heal. 

But we are not here to talk about Nidalee. We are here to talk about Perma-slows and Ashe. Riot has previously removed a 'permaslow' from another champion: Skarner. There is still some debate about whether or not Skarner and his slow was truly toxic or in need of changing/removing. I personally feel the reworks of Skarner were good, though I am a little sad about the lack of CD resets across all skills. If Riot truly feels that permaslows have no place in the league, then we will inevitably say goodbye to both Frozen Mallet and Iceborn Gauntlet. We will see major tuning done to abilities on Nunu, Malphite, Khazix, Udyr...

But I don't think Riot feels that all permaslows are bad. This is, after all, the League of Mobility. The number of gap-closers and dashes means that tools to counter perma-slows are readily available. Permaslows suck, but really only if you are already at a disadvantage. Sure, if Skarner got snowballing, not being able to escape from him was frustrating, but the key was to not allow Skarner to snowball. That way, you could always turn around and fight him, because he was fairly lackluster in the dueling department early on. 

Ashe's permaslow is exactly the same. People will agree with me when I say compared to any other ADC, Ashe's damage and trading on her own is piss poor. No attack speed steriods, only one basic ability that does damage (and its only a 1.0 AD ratio), no defense or damage-mitigation abilites. Sure she can ult for an extra 1.5 seconds of attacking while you're stunned, but if she hasn't built any attack speed she just blew her ultimate for, like, 2 auto attacks. Now, if it's late game and Ashe has a good four or five items under her belt, she is scary in a 1v1 and you probably won't be able to run away, but that is why she is considered a late-game hyper carry. If it's mid game and you were caught out of position, you may cry "permaslow OP" while failing to limp away from Ashe Nunu, but then you already made a mistake without Ashe's permaslow being a factor: you were out of position. 

That is what a permaslow is all about. It's the way Fiora works. If you avoid making mistakes, the permaslow isn't really all that scary (until late game maybe). Just turn and fight. If it's only 15 minutes in and Ashe is powerful enough to kill Pantheon by herself, then some serious mistakes have already been made to create that situation, and of course Ashe is going to punish you for it. In this sense, Ashe is one of the strongest ADC's in the game. She can set up and complete picks all by her lonesome once she gets rolling, and making picks is incredibly important in higher levels of play. You can send Ashe to split push on her own, and if she has the items (and the wards), she can most likely handle her own in a 1v1, using her ult to nab her an leading edge in the fight, then using her slow to press the issue and punish overconfidence. Or, she can use her ult to delay people closing in, buying her enough time to get the tower, or book out of there, or both.

If Ashe is OP, then....

...why isn't she picked more often? Some of the reworks are done because they are following the cue from stripping the permaslow off of Skarner. A few though are done with the intent to revive Ashe as a competitive pick. 

The big reason is damage. The ADC role, in most iterations of the meta, consists primarily of doing damage all the time to everything. This is not what Ashe is about. This is not how Ashe is intended to carry games. Ashe is not actually an ADC: she is a support disguised and packaged as an ADC. The only reason Ashe seems to build like an ADC is that other builds and roles don't really work out for her. She's not durable enough for top lane, she doesn't have the burst for mid lane, she can't clear the jungle. Her utility fails to scale into late game the way other supports can. Plus her E passive is about last hitting and things would get awkward between her and her carry. Especially in the current meta, people are more willing to put extra utility into their top laner than into their bot lane. Harder to shut down two lanes simultaneously, I suppose. But the lack of damage is only half of it.

As I had stated before, this is the League of Mobility. Gap closer, dashes, and repositions have such a premium appeal on the solo-queue and LCS market, and for good reason. They allow people to make great plays and take big risks. It's pretty much why everyone takes flash as their second summoners without question (except for Backdoor Yi). Having flash allows you to play riskier, play more aggressive, knowing that you have that extra 500 unit blink to sneak in the killing blow when the enemy thinks they've gotten away, or jump out of harms way at the last second. And when it goes on cooldown, you know you have to be more cautious. More common gapclosers are more or less similar, even if they aren't blinks. Games are won by making plays, and nothing makes plays like leaping into the team for a Wu Kong/Yasuo double Ult Wombo. 

Ashe can make plays too, but in a much different way. She is the only ADC (save maybe for a severely ballsy Varus) who can initiate a team fight all on her own. She can make and break ganks by scouting with her E. But none of these are very flashyhuehue. Plus these are things you're support should be able to do, and Ashe definitely does not want to stray for from her support. Getting to know the full extent of Ashe's utility, much like Lee Sin, takes time and practice to master, and even then is limited to context. Ashe is by no means a beginner champion. She has elements that emphasis learning basics of playing the ADC role - kiting enemies properly as well as last hitting - but to truly play a masterful Ashe, your entire ADC skillset needs to be on point all the time. Ashe is very unforgiving to people who make mistakes, both to enemies and the person playing her. Without the safety of an Essence Flux or Valkyrie, Ashe needs to have proper positioning all the time. If she gets caught out she better pray for a Thresh lantern to fall from the sky cause Zed ain't passing up that easy prey. Her Bonus gold from her E means that even if an Ashe dies a few times in lane, as long as she can keep up in CS she can still break even in gold earned. But if she spends too much time being aggressive, pushing the lane and not last hitting, then even with no deaths Ashe will lack the power advantage she needs to get to her late game.

This unreliability, this pressure to never make a mistake means she is unlikely to ever gain real traction in solo queue. And her lack of damage in comparison to other ADCs means she will not be sweeping LCS anytime soon.

So You Want a Rework

But let's say that Ashe does need a major rework done. How do we re-equip the Frost Archer? What do most people believe needs to be changed on Ashe?

Based on the reworks I have already seen, not a whole lot. In every one, her W, E, and Ult are pretty much unchanged. Often her W has some erratta simply because it's live version is tied into her Q, and that seems to be what everyone wants to adjust, along with her passive.

Now I agree Ashe needs a new passive. The old one was okay, but only because it allowed her to 'store' crit chance and make her next attack increasingly more threatening. How it is now means she only gains the benefit once in a blue moon, once it builds up to a full 100. Plus, once she has crit chance, the passive is somewhat redundant. Gain 100% crit chance on an attack that otherwise might have critted anyways. Woo hoo. I understand that this passive does reinforce to fledgling marksman that you shouldn't always be autoattacking minions in lane, but as an actual part of a skill set of a real-time champion, it doesn't seem to make an impact. When people lane against Twisted Fate they hit their TAB key and go, "Wow, TF and I have the same farm but he's already finished three items and I'm barely finished my second." When people play against Zilean, they are left a little dumbfounded as to how Yasuo AND Vi got to lvl 6 so fast to make that almost garunteed mid-lane kill. Passives need not have huge mechanical implications, but their effect should be noticed by people on both teams.

I'm feeling like something that in the background passively counts Ashe's attack delay, gaining a stack or a count everytime she could attack but doesn't. Attacking resets the metrenome to the beginning of the attack delay cycle, but doesn't pause it or put it on cooldown. This would allow her to be able to build up stacks in lane as she is last hitting every 1 or 2 seconds. Yet if she constantly attacks as her attack delay cycles, she will never gain stacks. The benefit of the stacks might need to be simplified to bonus damage on her next attack against a champion, so that Ashe doesn't have to worry about resetting an already rare passive effect on a creep. Or go back to ye olde crit chance.

Now for the infamous Q. Almost every single rework turns the toggled slow into an on-hit snare. I'm not sure if Riot leaked something and everyone is rolling with it or I missed some meeting amongst Ashe enthusiasts. Like I said before, I don't think the slow needs to go, but assuming it does, I feel like a snare would just be a mediocre replacement. An attempt to appease the Ashes, realizing that the permaslow lockdown was part of her core identity and they are trying to give something that seems similar on the surface but ultimately is just a hollow shell leaving us yearning for the kiting days of yore. The neat thing about the slow was that you could cleasne it, but then Ashe autoattacks you a second later and you're slowed again. Having the slow on a toggle means that at least one of Ashes whopping two defense mechanisms was only ever 0.5 seconds away (or however long the toggle delay is). On it's own bona-fide cooldown, the most vulnerable ADC in the game is now even more vulnerable. Not exactly going to convince people to play her competitvely.

The trick with reworking her Q is going to depend on how you want to swing Ashe overall. If you want her to still be someone who punishes people that make mistakes or underestimate their relative power level, you do need fairly heavy lockdown in the form of either a slow or a snare. I would maybe have a one-time on-hit snare/slow effect if additional attacks after the fact reset the cooldown by a small amount, allowing Ashe the chance to extend the punsihment while still giving an opening to break away by denying an auto attack with a dash (or Wind Wall). Maybe also having consecutive snaring/slowing against the same enemy in a given time frame become weaker. Fun fact: if you know of/have tried Dawngate, they have an item that does exactly that. It grants an on hit snare every ten seconds that resets slightly on attacks, but the snare lasts less every time it's procced on the same guy.

Now, something else you could do is beef up Ashe's dueling power against her marksman peers. Her Q would, rather than apply movement slow, apply an attack speed slow. Maybe even have it stack up a bit across three attacks. This would give Ashe considerably more power in the early game that would stay strong against ADCs and other attack-dependant champions into late game, but would still leave her vulnerable to bursty casters and assassins and Lucian. The thing is this would change how one responds to the new permaslow. Instead turning on Ashe and and hoping you out damage her, you can now leave quite freely, especially if you have a dash or like. Like Lucian. I'm a little iffier about this one; Ashe is supposed to be generally weaker than her lane opponents, and gaining an early edge really relies on combining her own utility with that of the support/jungler to set up plays. Making Ashe a marksman-duelist with the ability to naturally win early fights on her own would be one giant step away from her current identity. But it's a thought.


Everyone has their favourite champions that have come to love, but feel they aren't strong enough or don't get the love that they deserve. Other people find champions have a solid foundation, but feel like they are missing that one little piece that could make them the next pick-or-ban. As far as Ashe and her perma-slow is considered, I feel all she needs is a more impactful passive. Even so, I enjoy playing her as she is now and I don't feel like she is unviable or too weak. She is simply unfavoured by the currant meta that emphasis reliability and mobility over her utility and lockdown, at least among marksmen. Of course, the same was true for Kog'Maw for a while. Then they give Dagger (not PD or Statikk, just the Dagger) 5% extra attack speed and IE an extra 5 attack damage, and suddenly he was pick-or-ban for a solid 2 patches. (On that note, Ashe also benefited greatly from the ADC itemizing changes, but just didn't have the damage to compare to Kog or Trist).

So now below here lies the comment section. Tell me and the wiki if you think Ashe needs to be changed. Tell me you think perma-slows are ghey. Tell me that you are still in counselling about the anger you had over the Skarner rework. Ashe is a champion I have come to enjoy, and I would love to see how other people have experienced the Frost Archer in their LoL career.

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