Hihi! Patch 11.2 is here and with it the arrival of Set 4.5: Festival of Beasts! There's a lot that has been changed with 4.5 so I recommend looking up all of the information of what was added and removed. For today I'll be focusing on alterations to the existing systems (ranked, shop changes, etc.) as well as balance changes to the synergies, champions and items that carried over from the original set four. If you're interested in following along with the patch notes you can find them here!
1. System Changes
Alright to begin with let's talk about the various system changes being implemented with patch 11.2. For anyone interested in ranked changes they've altered the amount of Challenger and Grandmaster slots available in regions based on the player base. Check out the patch notes for the full list. Also keep in mind there was a soft reset on ranked so you'll be back to your previous rank much faster than at the beginning of a set.
Lucky Lanterns have been added to the game and while this isn't a change and instead an addition I felt it warranted a quick discussion. Basically it's a free loot orb that can occur at a random point of the game (or not at all) with various rewards in it. The impact this has can be minimal or game changing, depending on what the orb has. Personally I'm wary of this type of thing being added to the game because it does add more randomness.
For example one of the items makes it so the next shop will only be champions that share the same trait as the unit you used it on. This can lead to a really fast three star champion if you get lucky, or it could roll a four cost you needed. inherently the Lucky Lantern isn't bad but again, I'm wary of what it could do for the game. Keep in mind I am a bit biased as I already dislike items like Neeko's Help, so it's not exactly a mechanic aimed for a player like myself.
Next is a few tweaks to the Chosen odds at certain levels. Basically this will make the levels affected more consistent for specific Chosen's, such as at level eight the chance of a three cost goes from 45 to 60%. Honestly it likely won't be too noticeable since at those levels you really didn't want a weaker Chosen and were looking for a better Chosen. Good change even if it ends up being somewhat minimal.
Oh, yes, thank you. All defensive carousels are quite tilting when it happens multiple games in a row because even though Sunfire Cape is amazing and your chances of hitting it are higher when starting with a Belt or Vest, it still feels really limiting on item choices overall. Personally I'd like the beginning carousel to have zero special cases and just be a normal spread of components but I understand that they want to spice it up a bit. Still, this change is all around good.
2. Trait Changes
Let's now move into balance and adjustments to the synergies carrying over from the original set four. For a full list of what's being added (champions/traits) check out the patch notes as they list all of them there!
First up we have Assassin! Overall Assassin's in the original set four were fairly lackluster and got overshadowed by Shade. Akali had a few moments in the spotlight as did Talon, though neither of them really leaned heavily into the Assassin trait. So they've addressed the relatively weak aspect of the trait by increasing the critical damage and chance for higher tiers. Based on the PBE there were a few Assassin-favored compositions with champions like Diana 3 or Talon but again they didn't really go too far into the Assassin tree. That said a 55% critical chance increase and 100% critical damage for six Assassin's is quite a lot.
Next we've got adjustments to how Brawlers function, well slightly. Giving them bonus attack damage in addition to health basically points towards them wanting the new champion, Shyvana, to be used as a potential carry. And she does alright, again based on what players were running on the PBE. Of course take anything from the PBE with a grain of salt because the real meta won't develop for a week or two now that ranked is out.
Because of the attack damage bonus it does make early game Brawlers even scarier than they already were. Sure they lost 100 health when running four Brawlers but they gain 40 attack damage so not only will your board be hard to kill but also do okay damage. Definitely recommend picking up a Brawler Chosen for stage two if you're given the option.
Ah, Cultists. Forever having balance issues they've gone from being weak to strong to weak to strong. Looking at these changes they may once again be strong, although it's unlikely they'll be overpowered the later the game goes. Another thing to keep in mind is that Cultists did lose Jhin as a late game carry for the synergy. The composition already had scaling issues and Sivir, being a three cost, is unlikely to take Jhin's place which will hurt the scaling even more. But these buffs may be enough for six Cultists in the mid game to be a strong option so look to try that out in your games.
It would be nice for Duelist's if the composition didn't rely so heavily on a Chosen Yasuo to do well but hey buffs are buffs, right? Honestly the most important change for Duelists in 4.5 is the addition of Kayle as Kayle scales amazingly well with attack speed. So if you're able to find a Spatula with Kayle and turn her into a Duelist you've got yourself a solid composition. Overall Duelist is likely to be in the same position as it was in previous metas where it's mostly strong early game with niche circumstances that it can do well mid to late game.
Looking at the metas prior to 4.5 it was clear Elderwoods were doing fairly well in the early and mid game. Thus it makes sense that they've lowered their scaling just a tad, especially since Keeper is now a viable path to play with Elderwoods thanks to the addition of Rakan and Xayah. Those two champions being added is likely the main reason for this change since the shields will help your Elderwoods live longer and thus scale better.
Well, this is a nice buff to Enlightened and with the changes to Morgana certainly makes this trait viable. The main issue is that committing to Enlightened can be awkward for your board so these buffs may not be as applicable as they would be otherwise.
I'm a huge fan of Fortune and these slightly gold value adjustments are definitely warranted. While hitting the big pay out of an eight loss Fortune is a lot of fun, generally speaking it's better to play Fortune when you're winning rounds, particularly early game. The additional gold on top of the gold for winning a round and maybe a win streak can snowball your economy like crazy. This is why the gold average is going down for no losses or one loss pay outs and is overall a good change.
Pretty drastic changes but the landscape of Keepers have changed with the addition of Rakan and Xayah. Balling up with Keeper and Elderwood would have made for a ridiculously hard to kill board if both Keeper and Elderwood remained unchanged so it's a necessary adjustment to prevent boards like that from being too good.
Now this is a fun change to Mages. Mages struggled a lot in the original set four so making the cut off points for the synergy be easier to hit should help make the trait do better. Of course that's just in theory as we'll have to see how the meta forms. At the end of the day Mage at least has a viable carry that wants to use the synergy, that being Aurelion Sol, instead of a loner champion that didn't need it like Ahri was.
Mystic played a huge role in the meta for all of set four but in 4.5 is it still going to be as relevant? It's hard to say as they did add a lot of physical damage carries that Mystic won't help against, but there is still a large amount of magic damage. Honestly as long as Mystic is a trait it's likely to always be usable. That said there's not many cases where you'd ever want six Mystic and even four Mystic was relatively niche so these buffs probably won't make much of a difference.
Jhin is gone, Jinx is gone... but Samira is pretty darn good! But Samira is a five cost champion and doesn't really care about the Sharpshooter trait so you have to look at the rest of the champions to determine what is needed to help this trait. Honestly these changes matter more early on in the game to help Tristana or Teemo carry your board more so than anything late game because if you're at the point where you can run Samira, you don't really need other Sharpshooters besides maybe Sivir. That said I'm interested to see if anyone can make Sivir carry a possibility with these changes to Sharpshooter.
Finally! Spirit desperately needed some type of rework to it and luckily they've done that in 4.5. Is it enough to make the trait viable? Potentially. If anything splashing in two Spirit or one as a Chosen is far more valuable than previously since you it's no longer tied to mana. I'm looking forward to seeing what can be done with Spirit in the meta.
These are pretty sizable buffs to Warlord and to make it a more common composition it was definitely warranted. That said the mid game of Warlords was already quite decent in the right situation so this may make them the go-to six piece trait for stage three and four if you hit a Chosen. I'm interested to see how Warlords do with the new carry, Tryndamere, or whether Katarina will remain the primary carry for the composition.
I like this change! Making Vanguards less focused on just armor allows for them to be flexed in as your frontline more often. Potentially this is worrying because six Vanguards with two Mystic will have a boatload of armor and magic resistance... but at the end of the day that's a number tweaking issue. The point is this is a nice change to adding more value and provide more frontline options which is all around a good thing.
3. Champion Changes
With synergies done with let's move on to the champion changes. Again keep in mind this is to the champions that carried over, if you're looking for information on the new champions they are listed in the patch notes linked at the beginning of the article.
Up first is a lot of changes to Diana with the most prominent being a change from Moonlight to Spirit. In addition to that they've buffed the heck out of her because she no longer gets free scaling from the Moonlight trait, so they kind of had to buff her to compensate that. Honestly being a one cost Spirit makes her a decent choice early game because the attack speed buff will increase your boards damage by a decent amount. All around the change to being a Spirit along with the buffs should make Diana a better champion.
Can we just, for one moment, wonder how the hell Fiora has remained in the game for so long?? Of all the champions removed I expected her to be one but here we are in 4.5 and she's still around. But hey these are buffs to her and she already felt like an okay early game champion for stage two. That said it's unlikely she's ever going to matter beyond stage two and hopefully she's not in set five, at least not as a one cost champion.
Small change to make Nidalee slightly better. She was already a decent Chosen for stage two prior to this so this buff along with changes to Warlord and Sharpshooter should make her a great one cost carry for stage two and maybe even stage three.
On one hand it makes sense that they nerfed her total mana since Enlightened was buffed but on the other hand, did she really need it? Yeah, Janna has always been good early game but she hasn't felt too strong for awhile. That said this is basically just a reactionary nerf to the Enlightened buff and overall won't matter too much.
Pyke is another champion with a synergy change though his is interesting because they straight up just added Slayer so he's now a three synergy champion. He was already a really good champion so now Pyke is going to have even more of a place in the meta with this change on top of buffs to his mana (though the buffs are very small). Definitely expect to see Pyke a lot moving forward in the meta.
Teemo nerf, not too surprised. Though Teemo 1 was never that big of an issue as a Chosen Teemo was the main culprit of him doing well. Still, small enough of a change that this won't really make too much of a difference.
Like Pyke, Zed is also becoming a Slayer! Except he lost Shade which... may hurt him a lot. Based on the PBE it does seem like Zed as a carry is still a viable option. And to be honest a Chosen Zed does still slap really hard in the early game until stage four, so really not much has changed in that regard. Mainly the issue that may arise with this change to Zed is his scaling late game as Shade helped a lot in keeping him alive. Without that he may be less viable or in the very least players will be able to have actual counter-play against him.
Ignore the typo on the patch notes, it's just saying that her attack speed went from 0.9 to 1.0 which, by the way, is a high base value to have for attack speed. Most characters hover around 0.7 or 0.65 so Kalista being at 1.0 is kind of crazy, especially since she scales with Duelist. Maybe, finally, Kalista will be a viable mid game carry considering Duelist was also buffed.
Kindred loses their Hunter trait and now gains the Executioner trait which causes their attacks and spells to critical based on the percentage of health the target has. Basically it should give them more burst damage overall so getting a Chosen Kindred mid game is going to be even stronger especially since Spirit has been improved. Of course Kindred has been one of the best three cost champions, if not the best, for a while so to address that they have rightfully lowered their damage slightly.
Aatrox buffs again! They really want to push Aatrox as a premier frontline champion because he was buffed significantly in 11.1 and now again in 11.2. Plus Vanguard got buffs and Cultist may be more viable.. Aatrox is going to be quite scary in the meta moving forward.
Big changes to Morgana, first of which is the removal of Dazzler and the addition of Syphoner. Since Syphoner already heals they've removed her innate healing and gave her the Dazzler affect but she then lost the magic resist shredding her ultimate did. The gist of all of these changes is that she should be usable as a front line champion and not so much a carry that does heavy damage. It's a decent change to give her a stronger identity though how effective this change is we'll have to see.
Poor Sejuani gets nerfed while Aatrox only gets buffs. Still, she's one of the best front lines so a small nerf to her overall mana is not to big of a deal so she should still be perfectly viable.
Azir has been one of the best standalone late game champions for... well, since the set came out. It's definitely not a surprise to see them tone down his CC potential, albeit the numbers aren't too drastic. If anything Azir will have even more value in the meta if Warlords become a staple late game build, though that's a big if.
Not sure Lee Sin needed a nerf but here we are. The problem inherent to Lee Sin is the fact that his knock back is a bit inconsistent so it can feel ridiculously broken at times and barely noticeable at other times. Personally I'd have been okay with Lee Sin being removed in 4.5 because he's a champion with a lot of flaws that's hard to balance correctly.
And the last champion to get changes, with a whole bunch of them, is Yone. Yone has been so, so good for so, so long. That said there's plenty of other ridiculously good five cost champions now with the addition of both Samira and Swain. That said Yone deserved changes so hopefully this brings him back down to earth and feels a bit more in line with the power of other five cost champions.
And for the last section to cover we have items! There's not too many changes here, which is a good thing as the item meta has been healthy for quite some time now. Keep in mind that in addition to these item adjustments there's also an influx of new items known as artifacts that Ornn can make. We won't be addressing those today but expect to see a lot of balancing around them in the future.
Alright sure, aura items are really good. Probably a bit to good, considering how much value they give. So both Chalice and Zeke's are being toned down which is overall a good thing. Despite the nerfs they should still be viable options to go for, especially since they scale well and are usable in almost every composition.
Giantslayer has been a bit too good on the PBE so it's getting a nice little nerf to bring down its power level.
Hand of Justice has also been overperforming on the PBE as well as being one of the best flex items in the meta prior to this. It's not a surprise to see it being nerfed and should still remain a good item regardless of that since it has so much flexibility.
Gunblade was being used by several champions on the PBE which was nice to see since previously it was a relatively niche item. But with his nerf it may not be as valuable and we may see other items take its place.
Much like Giantslayer and Hand of Justice, Hurricane was doing a bit too well on the PBE for carries. A 10% nerf isn't too drastic so it should still be usable as an item but just be aware that it won't be as effective as it was previously.
And the last item being adjusted is Zz'rot. Interestingly they are adding armor and magic resistance to it which will help it tank more later on in the game. But really when you think of Zz'rot you think of the taunt which is where the value of the item comes from late game. Early game is where it tanking damage matters more so expect to see this change not make too much of a difference in how the item is currently being used. But it does get a lot of armor the later the game goes so it may be more useful than I'm giving it credit for in the late game.
That's it for the 11.2 patch notes! There was a lot cover here and I skipped some bits that didn't need to be talked about. Again I highly recommend reading the full patch notes to get a grasp on the whole scope of changes that 11.2 and set 4.5 are bringing.
Thank you for reading and if you'd like more content you can find it over on the GiantslayerTFT YouTube here as well as their twitter here! You can also find me on twitter here! And as usual I recommend checking out https://lolchess.gg/ as a great resource for TFT.