This is a tentative rework for Kassadin, the Void Walker. While his most recent nerf hurt him immensely, Kass has always been a problematic champion: as the most mobile assassin, and therefore the most mobile champion in the game, Kassadin has always struggled to balance that with proper interactivity and counterplay with his opponent. Back when he still had his silence, he offered so little interaction, and became so toxic that his ban rate rose well above 90%, a record in the game. He quickly got a few tweaks which put him in a much better spot, though ultimately they didn't answer all of his problems in the long-term: while right now he still gives his opponent opportunities to fight back, he still feels fairly binary. When behind, he doesn't feel like he does much or deals any real damage, but when ahead he is impossible to escape from, despite the potentially massive costs on his ultimate.
Overall, I think there's a lot that could be done to improve Kass right from the start: despite being an assassin, he has several effects that make him tankier against magic damage, which isn't the best way to handle an anti-mage kit, and several of his abilities are improperly gated (Force Pulse's spell stacking mechanism is useless, and his ult's restrictions are reduced by stacking mana, which isn't an adequate gate to his mobility). Kassadin definitely deserves to be both a premier anti-mage assassin in the game and the most mobile champion in League, and I think he can afford to fulfill this fantasy in a way that is fun for both him and his opponent, provided his kit gives him the right strengths and weaknesses.
Magic damage resistance is the most obvious effect one could provide for an anti-mage, but giving that kind of defensive buff to an assassin creates issues: Kass already shares a lot of aspects with bruisers in how he fights and scales with mana (at least on live), and as the game's most mobile assassin he really does not need to tank damage at all. In fact, getting hit by anything should be extremely punishing for him: it would be more interesting for both Kassadin and his opponents if his defenses were active and reactive, rather than mostly passive, which is why effects like interrupts and projectile nullification would suit him better than defensive steroids and shields. Not only would reacting quickly to projectiles guarantee a degree of safety for Kassadin (as well as better in-lane survivability), it would also play a part in his Riftwalking paradigm, which I'll explain in more detail below.
To balance this massive boost in active power, I'm removing Kass's other passive defenses and seriously toning down his base health and health per level, so that he'd be one of the squishiest assassins around. However, because I'm also removing his magic damage reduction, I think he'd be okay with melee-level MR gains.
COST: 40 / 55 / 70 / 85 / 100 Mana
COOLDOWN: 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6
Active:Kassadin fires an orb of void energy in a line, dealing magic damage to all enemies it hits.
Null Sphere has always caused issues due to its point-and-click nature: as a point-and-click silence, it was a horrible anti-counterplay nuke that completely prevented enemies from reacting properly to Kassadin as he jumped on top of them, and as a point-and-click interrupt it's a mostly bland ability that only sometimes becomes more interesting when against certain champions. Its shield is also in a weird state where it can't be too strong, lest it turns Kass into a bruiser, but can't really go away without making him really suffer in lane, and I think having Null Sphere become a skillshot that eats up projectiles as it moves along would allow Kass to outplay mages on a much more subtle, yet potentially far more effective level.
Spell shields will block Nether Blade'sActive, but not the Passive.
Moved the mana restoration component to Kassadin's ultimate, and significantly reduced the costs of his Q and E to compensate. Nether Blade still remains free to use, and so it'll remain his primary last hitting tool in lane. I'm making all of Kass's cooldowns lower with rank because I think this kit telegraphs his spells and intentions well enough to give him burst with shorter downtime (I'm also removing the damage on his ultimate). He'd still have large windows of vulnerability (perhaps even larger than the ones he has now), but he'd also have more things to do in fights.
COST: 40 / 55 / 70 / 85 / 100 Mana
COOLDOWN: 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6
Active:Kassadin emits a pulse in a cone, expanding from the location it was cast after a 0.5-second delay, dealing magic damage to all enemies hit and slowing them for 1 second.
On live, Force Pulse is gated in a manner that is thematically appropriate, but completely ineffective: with an active already gated by a cooldown, there is no point in making one of his nukes also dependent on how many spells are thrown around, particularly since they have nothing to do with the use of this ability. While I do think absorbing the power of spells is an important part of Kass's theme (though it should be implemented a bit differently), I don't think Force Pulse itself needs to be dependent on that mechanic. Instead, I opted to make this ability a bit more telegraphed, adding a delay that Kass's opponent could use to dodge the AoE. In the middle of teamfights, it would also allow Kass to create a safe zone for himself while attacking his target, as the pulse destroys incoming projectiles: with proper timing, this could become his most significant source of defensive utility, and would allow him to outplay enemies focusing him while giving them plenty of opportunities to outplay him as well.
COST:2 / 4 / 8 / 16 / 32%Maximum mana per second
COOLDOWN: 6 / 4 / 2
Active: After a 0.5-second delay, Kassadin phases into the Void, becoming untargetable, gaining bonus movement speed and ignoring all collision, including terrain collision.
Bonus Movement Speed: 150 / 200 / 250
Every second Kassadin spends in the Void, he gains Riftwalk for 8 seconds, doubling the ability's cost, stacking up to 4 times and decaying one stack at a time. Destroying a champion projectile or using Nether Blade on a champion consumes a stack, and enemy champion takedowns consume all stacks, restoring 15% missing mana per stack.
Performing any action other than movement or reactivating Riftwalk phases Kassadin back to reality after another 0.5-second delay, ending its effects.
This is the biggest change to Kass's kit, and one that comes directly from a concept by Emptylord: his core idea was that Riftwalk would make Kassadin actually walk to his location, instead of blinking there, and from then the idea of giving Kass totally free mobility developed. Kassadin is awesome because of the amazing mobility his ult provides, but has serious issues due to how his blink takes him directly (and near-instantly) on top of his targets, and in order to eliminate that problem the best solution would be to not make Riftwalk a blink at all: by moving with total freedom and without enemy restrictions, Kassadin would have access to potentially even better mobility than he has now, with a lot more control to where he wants to go, and would give his opponent plenty more time to react to his approach. However, his free mobility would also allow him to approach his victims from literally any angle, and he'd be able to use this to his advantage when taking his enemies by surprise.
Another big change here is to the way Riftwalk's cost is gated: currently, its flat mana cost means Kass has to build mana to be more mobile, and that doesn't really work because Kass always wants to be mobile, and that sort of gating makes him either insufficiently mobile (he was even worse off when his mana growth was a lot lower) or too mobile for his opponents to deal with. A maximum mana cost would give him the same amount of mobility regardless of how much mana he stacks, just as Soraka's health costs create a hard gate to her healing, and so the emphasis would be put on his gameplay and how he chooses to use his mobility, rather than how much extra Riftwalking time his stats allow him.
With this in mind, I changed the increased mana cost mechanic to be a lot more malleable: currently, it stacks up for extremely long periods of time and essentially punishes Kass for blinking too many times, which makes sense if you want to control his roaming power, but which doesn't make as much sense when gating his in-fight mobility. Having his mana drain mellow down when in combat with other champions would give him plenty of in-combat mobility, which would be a lot less problematic, while still gating his roaming power (though to a more reasonable extent). The fact that Kass can only significantly reduce his mana drain by absorbing enemy spells also means he wouldn't have overbearing mobility when trying to catch up to escaping enemies, which is currently a big problem when he's ahead (he feels impossible to escape from). However, on the flipside, a Kassadin who puts his kit to full use and nullifies projectiles would have pretty great mana income, and would be able to keep on Riftwalking for much longer. This would likely be a big buff to Kass's juking power, but I feel he can afford to juke well if still presents enough vulnerability most of the time, which I think is the case here due to him being squishier and less reliable with his defenses overall.
What are your thoughts? Is this what you'd like Kassadin to be? What do you think of his new ultimate? The original idea was formulated by Emptylord, which I based the above kit upon. Do you think this is a good assassin kit, and does it fit Kass's playstyle?