Red Post Collection: Post 3.12 Olaf Discussion, Potential future Plans for Zyra, and more!

Posted on at 6:02 AM by Moobeat
This morning's red post collection features a ton of discussion on post 3.12 Olaf, comments on the problems fighters face, a few notes on what direction Zyra might be headed in, an announcement of an extension on the ladder freeze for the Challenger promo qualifiers, and more!
Continue reading for the latest news, straight from Riot's forums!

Post 3.12 Olaf Discussion

SmashGizmo has started up a new thread to discuss Olaf now that players have had a little while to test out his post patch 3.12 kit ( click here to read up on what changed ).
"Alright, so now that Olaf's been on live for a week, I'd like to take another stab at getting some feedback from you guys on GD about how you feel about him. But first let's clear the air a bit. I'm seeing plenty of talk on Olaf and my old thread so I'm just going to throw out my responses to the two most common criticisms I'm seeing on GD right off the bat. 
1. People generally being upset at how the old thread ended 
I get that people don't like that I just dipped from the Olaf feedback thread, but keep in mind that this is after almost a full month of that thread and thirty-some-odd posts from me. Simple fact of the matter is that the thread had devolved into people posting their own kits for Olaf that didn't align with the design goals that were put forth and the effort of keeping up with the thread drastically outweighed the benefit I gained. I know it's sucky to hear that, but it is what it is. I was finding myself stressed out every night when I came home and checked the thread only to see the same tired ideas and complaints laid out again and again and so I did what I needed to do to actually get my work done. 
2. People being upset that Olaf is still weak 
Consensus on the forum seems to be leaning towards Olaf still being undertuned, and while we don't have much meaningful data to look at after only a week, I would say the data suggests likewise (note that that can still be misleading this early on, it takes awhile for builds to settle and for players to relearn the character). A lot of people seem confused and angry over this and I get that. I'm kinda bummed out myself that Olaf didn't magically become perfectly balanced too, but with changes this large, it's expected that we'd be off, and due to the frustration that Olaf can create when he's strong, I think we erred on the side of a weak Olaf rather than a strong Olaf coming out of balance testing. The important thing here is that the changes I've made on Olaf have put the levers in place to tweak and balance the character while still retaining counterplay and established weaknesses that will prevent him from going crazy the way he did at the end of last season. So if he is indeed weak, it should be a simple matter of tweaking numbers until he's in the right spot and I already have a good idea of what to do to nudge his power up.

So with that all out there, let me know what you think of the Olaf changes now that you've had a chance to play them."

He continued, sharing his thoughts on both Olaf's E and rank 1 W:
"My feeling is that the E base damage is undertuned and that the rank 1 W feels worse than it should. The builds I'm seeing have the most success are ones that use early BotRK/Hydra + Spirit Visage opting into either sunfire or omen when they want armor and then grabbing a 2nd offensive lifesteal item."

When questioned on which role - top or jungle - Olaf should be leaning towards, SmashGizmo responded:
"Personally I think he can work in either role at a fairly balanced point. I think Olaf jungle is reasonably good because he's very strong with double dblade -> ancient golem, which is probably the most cost efficient build one can do out of the jungle right now. Olaf top just feels like the first 5 levels are too painful to me right now, if we sure that up, his scaling with items should be strong enough to let him succeed.

Can you talk a bit more about how you want him to be further focused? Right now I picture Olaf as that beefy dude on the front line who is a threat to anyone given enough time and who is difficult to kill. When he sees the right oppurtunity, he should be able to break free from the front line and hunt down the back line with Ragnarok, but he must choose his moment wisely or he will be focused down for shedding his free defenses."
As for why there is attack speed on both Olaf's passive and his W, he commented:
"The thinking here is that Olaf's kit is currently built around him being able to attack people, and without some attack speed outside of his steroid, he's completely reliant on being low HP in order to function. Essentially, we had AD on the W for a long time and the kit wasn't playing well because every perceivable order in which one could press his Q, W, and E felt like it was wasting a synergy and he was too ignorable at high HP, so I opted to switch out the AD for AS and it solved both of these problems from a design standpoint."
and when asked about Olaf's ult not granting armor and mr while active:
"The whole design of the current ult iteration is based around clearly defining Olaf's strengths and weaknesses in and out of the ultimate. When Olaf gets free defensive stats in his ultimate, he can only be dealt with by running away. To even say kiting is the answer is to ignore the fact that CC is a major component of how we understand kiting in the game today, your only option was to run away or to try to focus down the guy with a buttload of free resists. So now the idea is that when Olaf is susceptible to CC, he gets to be extra tanky, but can shed his bonus defense to go ham."

He also responded to summoner suggesting Olaf's E be buffed and his ultimate grant AD passively and double that AD when he ults:
"Q minimum distance is here to stay. Might tweak the number if I have to, but I'm not convinced that's needed tbh. The thing here is that all understanding of what's happening and how to play around it is lost to an opponent when Olaf can axe at his feet. I'm inclined to agree that the slow isn't strong enough at the moment though. 
W CD I might tweak down, but if so, it will be very slight. My design intent on this ability is for it to be a high impact brawling/sustain tool with clearly defined windows of opportunity. What I really am looking to avoid is the old Olaf W that got to an over 80% uptime that made him feel like there was never a strong time to engage him. The biggest thing I'm looking at on the W is that the rank 1 feels too crappy, so I'm looking to flatten out the attack speed by rank by raising the lower ranks. 
E doesn't need great damage increases IMO, I think it just needs a nudge to the base damages to help out his early laning.

The big issue I have with your suggestions on the ult are that they don't clearly pronounce the strengths and weaknesses with ult up vs. ult down. It just cuts the distinction between ulting and not ulting in half, which muddles the gameplay surrounding the decision to drop defenses for offense."
Simliarly, he also shot down the ideas of giving Olaf movespeed instead of attack speed on his passive:
"Couple big problems with this suggestion to me: 
1. Movespeed while low HP screams escape mechanism to me. Olaf's lore and entire fantasy is about being a reckless viking who dreams of a glorious death worthy of his kick ass life, so pretty much anything built into his kit that aids him in running away doesn't feel right to me. Note that this can be solved by recycling vayne's move-towards-enemies mechanic, and I have thought of putting that on the character more than once throughout this design cycle but...

2. The issue with giving Olaf inherent gap closing is that closing the gap is the one problem that his kit begs you to solve. When he gets into a fight, he is designed to be extremely powerful, but it's up to you to figure out how you get there. That's the price he pays for being able to ignore CC. As soon as we solve closing the gap for Olaf, his kit becomes overbearing, as he has an almost guaranteed perma slow + the sustained damage to kill anyone while ignoring CC. Solving the issue of how you get to the high priority targets while using as few resources as possible is what differentiates good Olafs from bad Olafs and that's just not something I'm ok with removing from the kit's flow."
SmashGizmo also responded to someone claiming that Olaf's maximum potential for DPS didn't go up with the latest changes to his E and W:
"You didn't do the math if you came out with the same maximum potential. These E and W iterations have much higher potential benefits than their predecessors, while the Q is technically worse due to the minimum range.

Also your core idea of how we design this game seems to be fundamentally flawed if you think we design around optimal output. Optimal output is something you need to take into consideration, but characters with unreliable optimal performances are allowed to have incredibly high results when they succeed in doing so (i.e. Cassiopeia's theoretical DPS). So yes, I have introduced higher variance in Olaf's potential, however, doing so lets me raise his optimal performance to allow him to do crazy awesome things when the right conditions are met. This version of Olaf does some really crazy things when the stars align and he stabilizes on low HP with a Hydra with his W active and turns a fight around and to me, that's cooler than Olaf being that CC-immune dude who reliably runs at you with 4000 HP, 200+ armor/mres doing 340 true damage every 3 seconds. There's a good case to be made that Olaf's current average case is too weak right now, but that's fixable without taking away his optimal potential."

Morello also jumped in, giving some notes on updating champions to allow balance in the long-term:
"This is the direction we're going to go - adding counterplay to champions who have none will trump tactical balancing in the short term if it allows us to balance the character long-term. That's the direction we're always heading. 
Are there specific concerns about something feeling bad? That's an issue we can talk about, but alternatives would have to include appropriate counter-play as well. So solutions that fundamentally remove counterplay wouldn't be on the table. 
Balancing the champion through numbers is possible without him now having to go ape**** to be strong. The choices here, in reality, were to leave old Olaf tuned at the pre-rework level, or do some fundamental work to fix him. We chose the latter because we didn't think it was great to have to leave Olaf marginalized (and a lot of other champions still live with this while we try to get to it) since there was no world where someone could outplay Olaf if the Olaf knew what he was doing.

To answer #3, you couldn't kite him :P He has CC immunity and a repeatable ranged slow - your ability to kite isn't a real choice. And since his skills had few windows of opportunity and his build path was so safe, he wasn't terribly vulnerable to new combat actions if he did reach you. Comparatively, the counterplay to Udyr is to kite him, since he lacks strong tools to compensate."
 As a follow up, he responded to why Olaf was chosen for updates when his problems apply to other bruisers as well:
"This is the metagolem problem for sure, and it's not unique to Olaf. Olaf had been the biggest problem on a balance scale, so we decided to tackle him first."

For the sake of clairity, SmashGizmo also explained what the terms "counter" and "counterplay" mean:
"A counter is a strategic action that a team can take to fundamentally counter something that a character does. In this case, Jarvan's Cataclysm is a counter to Olaf and isn't an example of counterplay as it is not accessible to everyone as Soraka can't suddenly strap on her Nike's and dunk like Jarvan.

Counterplay is a tactical action that a team can responsively take to counter something that a character does. Killing Olaf is actually the only form of counterplay to Ragnarok and always has been. The issue is that Ragnarok used to give 30/45/60 Armor/Mres to Olaf and then say, "gl bad guys, your only form of counterplay is to kill this guy who just got massive resists." As a design team, this is something we had a fundamental problem with on old Olaf. It presented the opposing team with no options to interact with Olaf in a meaningful way. So I guess technically I haven't added counterplay, only accentuated it, though I will contend that this is a considerably healthier direction for the character."

The problem with Fighters

Building off the Olaf discussion above, Morello switched over to talking about melee / fighters problems and what's being done to help them:
"The core problem you mention IS the problem I want to see fixed, but that's the ecosystem of fighters right now. We have a Fighter Project (CertainlyT has talked about this) that is looking to systematically look at Fighters as a class and clean it up. As long as one fighter is a ball of stats (and most are, including old Olaf), then any fighter who is not is trash. In the short-term, we're bandaiding the problem to keep things somewhat stable. For short-term balance, we need to work within what we have - which is suboptimal. 
In the long term, we want Fighters to not need to be tuned so hard early, have poor fallback patterns in top lane, and basically have little role in a team fight other than "be strong." If I understand your post on this, we agree. 
The issue becomes that it's a lot of complex work, and it's really disruptive. If we actually fix this, fighters become a whole new experience. As you can imagine, that incurs a lot of risk because people who do like melee have spent 4 years growing to like it. That's a lot to undo. It also is a pretty complex web of stuff since all these champions are inter-related.

Melee right now, either charges at people while they kite (and looks for positioning opportunites to make this better) or dives hard and picks the right timing. In the sense of counter-play, Fighters interact least healthily (for themselves or others) than any other classes except the line of mid assassins we have now."
He continued, responding to complaints about these bandaid fixes - that is, over nerfing problematic champions until they are fixed at a later date:
"This is a problem for champions that have faulty patterns. And for every person who claims to want this, where will be 50 complaining when we do it. To be frank, there's too many cooks in the kitchen to make everyone happy, when that requires mutually exclusive approaches. We have to balance disruption with long-term gains, and we learn more about the systems in play all the time. Frankly, balance is not that big on an issue (and cyclical balance is far superior to stagnation), it's the systemic sources of poor gameplay that cause problems.

I just am not involved with (nor should I really be at this point) individual mechanics and numbers unless their drivers of play patterns. My post is specifically for Hash, not the general populace. I expect people to be mad about stuff and call us out - sure - I don't expect everything to be a cacophony of diffuse anger and sniping."

Potential Plans for Zyra

In a thread warning Riot to be weary of accidently nerfing mid Zyra when Support Zyra draws their attention for nerfs, Morello commented:
"The primary thing I'd like to do to Zyra is to make her MORE about plants, and less burst mage. I don't entirely know how this will effect which lane, but I do understand the sentiment to the bottom lane vs mid lane approach. This has been why we've been conservative so far (the missile speed change was just something we should have released with).

I can put more complete thoughts on this later, but that's likely the direction we'd look at outside of numbers tweaks."
He also added in:
"Oh, the range tweak is likely needed overall, even for mid. We can likely add power into plants if we shorten her kill range overall. I missed that point, sorry!

There is some compensation for that primarily for mid Zyra inc in 3.13 on that too, last I checked."
He also replied to someone suggesting Zyra be moved towards more of a sustain mage rather than a burst mage:
"Directionally, this is what I like too. I think it brings out more about what's unique about Zyra."
He made sure to clarify that the ideas of moving Zyra towards her plants will NOT be something in the next patch:
"Plant changes won't be in these changes, so I might be an accidental liar :( What I mean is the direction we'd like to move the character, overall, is that way. This patch will be for raw balance."

Brief Brand Discussion

Morello also popped into a thread about Brand and what he should be compared to other champions:
"Sure, I agree. He should be AOE king and high damage even compared to other mages, and likely be required to land hard combos to do it. No disagreement from me :P"
He continued, discussing where Brand is now compared to a year ago:
"Lots changes in a year, and I think Brand's laning back then could make up for it a bit. I think now, though, he has a lot of weight to pull to be a valid pick.

I don't know, really. I tend to think Brand needs to be able to only kill if he can land every skillshot, and that probably needs to turn into lower CD burnination closer to end game (since his burst will get outscaled with items). Something more of a ticking bomb, but that might also mean he needs a tankier or longer range build."

2014  Promo Qualifiers - Ladder Freeze Delayed

The ladder freeze, that is the time when the 5v5 Challenger tier ranked ladder is locked and the top 16 teams are qualified for the promo qualifer tourney to compete for an LCS spot - has been extended due to all the recent server problems.

Here's Riot Tiza with more info:
"Summoners! 
With the cutoff for the next Promotion Qualifier fast approaching, the race to the top of the Ranked 5s Challenger Tier has been getting tighter and tighter. However, time has been cut short due to the inaccessibility of ranked play. We want to be sure that all of the LCS hopefuls get their chance to climb the ladder, and as such, we’re delaying the ladder freeze for the first Promotion Qualifier to noon on October 14th (CEST for EU, PST for NA). 
We are currently addressing the issue for regular ranked queues and all affected Summoners, and there will be an update coming soon. 
Check out http://lolesports.com/news/challenger for all relevant Challenger news!

Best of luck on the Fields of Justice!"
I've bolded the part about regular ranked queues as it MAY lead to some sort of extenstion past the announced deadline of October 31st.

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