Morello clearing the air on 2v1 Lane Problems and SmashGizmo seeking Olaf Feedback

Posted on at 10:27 PM by Moobeat
Note: The "Lets Talk About Olaf" thread is still racking up comments. I'll be sure to update them into the thread as they pop up!
Tonight's red post collection features Morello elaborating on his previous comments about 2v1 lanes and SmashGizmo fishin' around for player feedback on Olaf , who is slated to receive buffs in the near future.
Continue reading for more information.

Morello on 2v1 Lanes
After yesterday's comments on 2v1 lanes, Morello returned to both elaborate on the current problem with 2v1 lanes and briefly touch on a potential fix.
"We've been talking lightly on the state of competitive play and the dominance of 2v1 lane swapping. There's a lot at play here, so I wanted to share our current thoughts and direction with solving this issue. 
Why do people favor 2v1? 
2v1 lanes largely exist to hyper-push and trade towers down, harvesting the global gold and XP to move into a strong mid-game phase early. It has the added benefit of shutting down that lane, but that is less important in this case. 
What is problematic about this? 
This circumvents the laning phase almost entirely. Laning is something that's really important to the gameflow of League - it gives an area where dueling and small optimizations on your champions are really important, gives players individual agency in their team game, and allows for cool matchups. It's one of the core pieces that makes League work. 2v1 fast push also creates more a team snowball scenario, as opposed to a personal snowball scenario (team snowball is more problematic). 
So what are we going to do? 
There's a version and place where 2v1 lanes are actually even desirable - as a gambit strategy, or to counter a particularly scary lane, etc. If it's something that can be used, as opposed to something that must be used, it could be healthy.

That being said, the fast-push problem and the tower relationships (along with the rewards) are likely the direction we're going to attack this from. By making 2v1 less of an inevitable lane win, it opens itself to more counter-strategies like jungler assistance/level differental (this is what moved the game from 2-1-2 to 1-1-2-jungle way back). In short, we're OK with 2v1 still being used sometimes, but not OK with the objective and team-gold aspects that follow. 
Are you trying to eliminate the strategy?
No, but we are trying to change the incentive structure for it. If used sometimes as a different strategy, or a way to handle someone else's, then great. If it's the besty way to snowball global gold into mid game and bypass laning consistently, then it's a problem. The towers themselves are likely the focus for this. 
Sorry for my confusing posts earlier on the subject, there's a lot of nuance worth discussing on this."'

Let's Talk About Olaf
As for the extremely under played Olaf, Morello noted he's receiving some attention soon:
"We overnerfed him, but we need to buff him in ways that don't just revert the nerfs. Scarizard is working on this now." 
Turns out it wasn't Scarizard but SmashGimo who is heading up the Olaf work!
"That's funny, I thought I was the one working on these :)"
"I have a full list of changes I'll be implementing over the next couple days but I'm actually very interested to know exactly what Olaf players identify with before showing you anything to make sure my changes are barking up the right tree.

I'ma make a thread about Olaf after I get some food."

SmashGizmo followed this up by whipping up his own "Let's Talk about Olaf" thread, seeking player feedback for the Beserker.
"Hey GD, I'm SmashGizmo and I'm the dude currently working on Olaf changes. We've left Olaf in a pretty bad spot for way too long and as I move forward with trying to get him back on track I want to hear your thoughts on Olaf. 
Any and all thoughts on the character are appreciated, but here are some food for thought questions that I'd like to get some responses on: 
What makes Olaf cool?
What's fun about playing as Olaf?
What's miserable about playing against Olaf?
What role does Olaf fill in your mind?
Do you view Olaf as a Top Laner or a Jungler?
What items do you want to build on Olaf?"

Perhaps most important, Smash Gizmo also noted the severity of the planned Olaf changes, saying they aren't "rework levels of change".
"Before I get into the rest of your post, let's start off with some basic info on the scope of Olaf changes. Right now we are not looking at a full scale rework of Olaf (think Karma), but rather a refactor (think Kha'Zix). What this means is that we're sticking with the core skills of the kit and trying to solve the problems with the character through shifting mechanics rather than redoing skills."
"As his kit is not getting rework levels of change, Olaf will not be getting a gap closer. While I get the knee-jerk reaction that he needs a gap closer, I think it's important to realize that his lack of one is a crucial component to defining Olaf's weaknesses and making a CC-immunity not completely stifling to play against."

After pages and pages of commentary, SmashGizmo popped back up with a synopsis of player complaints and ideas for and a set of goals for his Olaf changes.

"Ok, so I'm on page 22 now and the thread's growing faster than I can read it and I don't want to leave any posts unread but I also want to start outlining some of my thoughts here tonight so here we go.


Let's start with a rough statement of my high level goals for Olaf changes.

1. Reduce the disparity between high skill level power and low skill level power on the character.

The biggest reason Olaf is where he is now is that he was sitting below a 50% winrate when we nerfed him, despite being among the top 4 competitive picks for a staggeringly long period of time. The simple fact of the matter is that pro players are exceptionally good at optimizing everything about Olaf and our average player is not. While having a high skill cap is typically a good thing for champions, it's best when the skill differential is in aspects of the game that are noticeable. Take Lee Sin for example. Our average player is no inSec, but when they watch inSec, they see how he uses his skills quickly and flawlessly and they immediately understand what makes him so successful with the champion and how they need to improve. With Olaf, the pro level optimizations largely come from difficult to see places, namely in optimizing the usage of his steroids, ghost usage, build order, pre-teamfight positioning, teamfight coordination and Undertow usage. Basically, it would be great if learning to play the wild berserker who's entire goal in life is to go ape**** on the opposing carry wasn't so hard and mathy.

2. Clear up the use cases for Vicious Strikes and Ragnarok.

This goes hand in hand with goal 1, but I think it's important to point out specifically. In my research on the current iteration of Olaf, I found myself frequently frustrated by the assortment of stats on both Vicious Strikes and Ragnarok. It doesn't seem to make sense that you get Armor Penetration when Ragnarok is active, as this creates weird incentives on the ability that make you want to cast it as soon as you start hitting someone, rather than using it to wade through CC effects. Vicious Strikes suffers from a lack of clarity in when I want to use it (before I Q to get bonus AD for the ratio? before I E to spell vamp off it? only when I'm low to use the lifesteal with Berserker Rage?). Clearing up what these buttons are meant to do should really help the usability on the character which should go a long way to solving problem 1, as well as generally making them more viscerally satisfying.

3. Clear up Olaf's itemization options.

This thread has confirmed my suspicions that people are generally pretty confused about what they want to build on Olaf. Most people seem to be onto HP and CDR as the optimal current builds, but there's also a large segment of people who want to build offensive items on the character ranging from 1-2 offensive item splashes to full balls out offensive builds. While I have no delusions about making offensive builds competitively viable on a Melee with no gap closer, I also don't want our non-pro players to feel bad about building swords and axes on a berserker... that just feels like what I should be building and it shouldn't feel as awful to do it as it does right now. I personally think it would be thematically awesome if people could enjoy a ravenous hydra + black cleaver on Olaf and just roleplay having 2 super badass axes through their build (again, with no delusions about the competitive viability of such a build).

4. Overall buff to the character.

Competitive vs. noncompetitive disparity aside, Olaf's in a pretty poor spot right now and he straight up needs a buff. The changes are not a success if they do not make Olaf more powerful than he is now. Obvious, I know, but considering his current state, I consider it irresponsible to not list this as a goal.


That being said, let's run through the kit and what I've gathered from your feedback in here along with my own thoughts on Olaf's abilities.

Berserker Rage
I'm seeing a small number of complaints about this ability being hidden power within Olaf's kit, but most people seem to see this as a visceral representation of Olaf's berserker nature and a key piece to some of the high points of the kit (outlasting fights on a sliver of health through this + lifesteal). I tend to agree with the latter line of thinking and am a rather large fan of this passive. I would like to make a minor tweak to this ability to clear up it's optimization by putting a floor on how low your HP % can go to still gain AS, as I think it feels like a false promise to have the ability scale all the way down to 1 HP. This sort of scaling can work for Tryndamere's Bloodlust, as he realistically does get to live at 1 HP routinely, but I think Berserker Rage should be hitting it's optimization somewhere around 10-30% max HP (tbd based on testing).

Most people in here seem to find Undertow's play pattern very cool and central to how Olaf functions but there also seem to be a number of people who point out how the potential perma-slow is one of the most frustrating pieces of Olaf's kit. I think the potential for a perma-slow is crucial to Olaf's ability to function in the game today, as he has no innate mobility and needs to function in melee range of his opponents. I think there are some superfluous bits of power on this ability, namely in terms of it's value for scouting, and it's power in the burst case due to repeatedly throwing the axe right at your feet and I'll be trying some experimental changes to solve these issues without disrupting the core chasing pattern of "throw axe -> chase after axe -> pick up axe -> throw axe again -> repeat" (which I believe is a thematically awesome pattern that plays very well in game).

Vicious Strikes
This is by far the least commented on skill through all of your feedback and it seems like very mixed feedback. As I mentioned in my goals, I think the use case on this ability is a bit of a nightmare and at the end of the day I really want to clarify and emphasize that rather than trying to solve this ability through raw power. To me, Vicious Strikes is at its coolest when it's enabling Olaf's survival and brawling in prolonged fights in conjunction with Berserker Rage, so my changes to this ability will be aimed at emphasizing this case and trying to deemphasize its power in terms of staying topped off on health throughout the laning phase.

Reckless Swing
Feedback in the thread seems to mostly be positive on this ability, though it's also pointed out as a playing against frustration point. While I agree that this ability can be very binary in terms of laning trades, my feeling is that this ability is exactly what Olaf holistically needs out of his E slot and as such I don't have any intentions on touching this at first. I also think there's a strong case to be made that the frustration of getting outtraded at Melee range is outweighed by the satisfaction Olaf players get from using Reckless Swing.

The hands-down most Olaf-defining aspect of Olaf's kit. Your feedback on this is mostly positive because of the Juggernaut vibes you get using the ability and the strong thematic connection to being so engrossed in combat that you cannot be stopped. Some expressed concerns about the frustration from the opposing end of Ragnarok, but the resounding voice in here is saying that this is what makes Olaf Olaf. And I agree, but as I've stated in the goals, I believe that Ragnarok's use case is currently muddied by the Armor Pen. In this light, I'm going to be exploring options for a replacement stat on Ragnarok that helps Olaf during the phase of the fight when he's wading through CC effects rather than the phase of the fight when he's hitting people with physical damage.

All that said, I wanted to touch on one more thing before I head off to bed...

I'm seeing a fair number of suggestions in here discussing how they're frustrated at being oom with Olaf and how something like a fury system or straight health cost system would further drive the themes of the character home. I don't see myself taking this approach, as I think Mana is an essential gate to Olaf's ability to otherwise endlessly throw axes. That being said, I'm strongly considering stripping the mana cost entirely from Ragnarok and drastically reducing it on Vicious Strikes. To me, Olaf's steroids should be Cooldown gated, while his Undertow needs to be resource gated due to the Cooldown refresh mechanics on it.


Anywho, it is now 1 AM and I'm getting too tired to keep going in here so I'm calling it for the night. I will come back tomorrow and try to finish reading through all the comments when I have time throughout the day."

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