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Greetings, Citizens of the Internet
New champions are what everyone is talking about. New champions being outright better than the old ones is what many people assume. Well, there are always people who will cry "Everything's ruined nao! New stuff too stronk and not good for old stuff!" Just ask Trekkers. Or Trekkies. Or Trikk-Trakk-Troekks. Fandom surely has silly names for themselves to sound cutting edge.
Anyway, does that apply to the League, too? Are newer champions outright better? Let's see what has become of the most oldest of old champions: Those released on February 21st, 2009 (and you thought I would only talk BS right now), which is where everything's started. How do they hold up with todays standard and how much has changed?
To remind you, I'm generally talking about MinoSLAM, Hastur, Queen in Yellow, Avorosa's Descendant, Scares more than just crows, Dodgeball Player, Kentucky Fried Angels, Yi-sensei, Goth Chick, Alaska's Finest, Wizard Smurf, The Champion formely known as being alive, Hooker Bandit, Healing Machine, The Overdose Killer, Still more Range than Jinx, Malcolm's Best Buddy and Mr. Backscratcher.
So, how do they compare to the fresh princes and princesses of the Institute? Let's see:
Only few Borgs
Of course, they all got patched, nerfed, buffed, VUs and some interpretation of a skill dropped out in favour for better variations, for the better or worse. Here, I'm talking about those who have changed DRASTICALLY since their introduction.
Master Yi comes to mind, also Jax' indirect rework after Dodge got killed, but many old champs also had different skills before their current version, including Teemo with stuff like Bombardment, Mechnobot and Tactical Strike (with the image of the explosion of an A-Bomb, nonetheless) before his current kit makes us all happy when meeting him as an enemy... I feel dirty now. Only few champs have no known skill changes, but even then, the current kits of almost every release champ has been slightly touched at most. Even Nunu's Q is practically the same for most people who don't jungle with him.
This, of course, is from someone who started LoL between the releases of Lulu and Hecarim (read "noob" and "youngfag" here). Please comment when you have extensive knowledge of drastic changes in S1 and S2.
Still viable. For the most part
While other roles have more prominent champions nowadays (for example, Draaaaaveeeeen) as ADC), almost everyone can still be a strong opponent when picking almost any release champions. Annie, Ashe, Fiddlesticks, Jax, pre- AND post-rework Master Yi, Soraka, Teemo, Twisted Fate and Warwick are still pretty common on an average week and feared and/or hated by some. Even Alistar, Kayle, Ryze and Tristana get some love from some players. The only champions I find badly underpicked in my experience are Morgana, Nunu, Sion and Sivir (although Sivir's getting a greater scale-rework, so that may change). Of these 4, only Sion deserves to be underpicked because his kit just doesn't match up with the current lane distribution meta and avaible item choices, making him stick out like a sore thumb (that and his kit is kinda counter-intuitive in detail, with 2 AD-only skills and 2 AP-only skills. And he's not the best hybrid, too). The rest is actually fine, especially Morgana with her anti-magic & anti-CC-shield.
So good, yet so lacking...
Newer champions are more prominent because they either feature new mechanics ( Look, mama, Run AND Gun!), a very noticeable design/personality ( Still more Joker than Harley) or they're partly unpredictable in a running match because of something unique ( I get my patches mid-game). Or they just have more abilities, plain and simple ( Cougar, Nr. 100, Priscilla-wannabe).
The biggest problem for the release champs is that they're not that appealing even with VUs, mostly because of old mechanics (duh). Everyone has seen those mechanics at some point (double duh). New stuff is exciting! But just because it's exciting you shouldn't say that these new champs are automatically better than old champs because it would screw up the competitive game otherwise AND a good ol' CAWCAWCAW from a skilled Fiddle is still one of the worst things you'll ever meet. Even worse than a skilled Dunkmaster (triple GASP).
In the end...
Almost every champion is carefully balance out to still feature their best parts while not being overwhelming. Even if you don't notice it or if the words "Balance" and "Morello" are the same for you (which would be sad). With 116 champions and no interest in ceasing the stream of new champs, this is an extremely daunting task that many workers (Riot has more than 1.000 workers, so we can assume that a three-digit-number of workers are mainly for balance) have to tackle on for as long as they work at RIot.
We should honor their daily work and the fact that the guys from the balance team still continue despite getting spat on by the community with every single patch. And if a new champ gets released, get excited, but withstand the temptation of calling it "Insta-OP!" Because a) Riot profits from showing the new champs from their best sides, b) Riot wants profit like every other company on this earth and c) no champ can combine the power of a mighty Infinite Duress after getting weakened by a Crowstorm combined with a well-placed Enchanted Crystal Arrow, bringing the target closer to death while Cannibalism and Infuse brings the team back to full health and mana, as if the dreadful teamfight has never happened, ready for the 5v4 that will occur right after the ambush... Sounds pretty strong and OP, doesn't it? And the best part is that this mighty teamfight is only doable with release champs, my dear Summoners.