Greetings, Citizens of the Internet! Warning: tl:dr-free zone, read it at your own risk.
3.10a has changedquite a bit. No random slow, but variable MS steroids instead. Plus, is now the only source of Slow on AA and independent from dat ol' trusty wooden hammer. Like every change in the game, people are saying "best thing 4eva!" or "riot ruined da game 4eva!"
Let's think differently and analyse things a bit, yay, fun.
To set the standard of this blog post, I assume that Phage will get at least one upgrade in the future so it can stick to the theme of "being a generalised upgrade of 3 items that can be build for specific purposes". This is already the case for with and and for with and , so it would make sense to give Phage the same treatment.
What does "3.10a" mean in general?
According to Riot, 3.10a is a splitted patch in preparation for the World Finals so they have more control over what they change and can analyze stuff better. "3.10a" is only for design and balancing. What does that mean for Phage? Simply put, bigger plans for certain items are most likely prepared or in preparation. This could mean several things for Phage and maybe some other items. I will introduce some theories about Phage-upgrades and will refer other items.
It's important to remember that refering to existing items as Phage-Upgrades would involve tweaked stats and passives.
New items as upgrades
Could Riot introduce new items that will utilise specialized branches for Phage and his brand new Unique passive? While possible, I highly doubt it, since the end of S3 draws near and they already introduced many items in this season. The whole-collection, and it's outrageous upgrade, and , just to name a few. This is one of the main reasons what makes the changes regarding Phage so interesting, because it's close to the end of a season.
Existing items in SR as upgrades
Will already existing items be relocated as an upgrade to Phage with tweaked stats and utilizing the new passive? This is likely, but should be handled with care. World Finals are close as I said earlier and changing items without thinking about it can make the whole Finals boring by providing a broken item (and the last thing Riot wants to do is to hotfix in the middle of a competition). Having said that,or a doppelganger for SR (which doesn't really count as a new item) is a very likely candidate, since Entropy and Frozen Mallet are now different enough to coexist. And as crazy as it may sound, the too-much-niche-for-it's-own-good-item could be revived as a Phage-upgrade. It needs massive tweaking, of course (main question is if should still be part of it), but Rage combined with Grievous Wounds? A great combination for any chase (and Phage is good for Marksmen and Fighters anyway). It helps that Executioner's Calling is already Legendary Tier.
Non-common items or removed items as upgrades
Could Items that are not avaible to Summoner's Rift or are generally removed have a glorious return as Phage-upgrades? I already mentioned Entropy (or a doppelganger) being very likely to get common-ized, since Entropy has Rage now and is not conflicting with Frozen Mallet anymore. Are there other possible items? We can only answer that if we focus on what not only Phage is, but also what Triforce and Entropy does: Health, AD and a MS-steroid on AAs which is tripled on unit kills. Triforce is a jack-of-all-trades, so we don't need to look further. Entropy, on the other hand, gives a high AD-bonus and has a nice active that enhances the chasing potential with On-Hit slows and true damage. So we're looking for something that's more of a "side-grade", similar to Statikk Shiv for Zeal or Iceborn for Sheen.
If Executioner's Calling is not an option, thenwould be a possible sidegrade when given some health. It helps that it's return has been announced, though it seems to be limited to Dominion/TT, so we have to look further. would be an interesting choice even if Hexdrinker isn't involved, some Tenacity combined with AD and Health makes this sidegrade viable, because or aren't the best options for some situations. Maybe the sidegrade could be inspired by very old items like or . Statikk for faster lane cleaning, Iceborn for more sustain and AoE-Slow, the sidegrade of Phage for more counterplay against Mages. Sounds good enough and would fit to Marksmen and Fighters.
In the end, the splitting patch combined with a reworked Phage means exciting stuff for us, a last bang before the curtain for S3 will close forever, a tidbit for what we can expect for S4 (not that game).