Red Post Collection: Sona Update Discussion, Pwyff on Lee Sin, IronStylus on Champion Updates Transparency, and more!

Posted on at 1:49 AM by Moobeat
Tonight's red post collection is huge! We have continued discussion on both Sona's gameplay and visual changes that are on the PBE, Pwyff throwing his hat in to the ring on the earlier Lee Sin discussions, IronStylus chatting about transparency of Champion updates, Meddler discussing Orianna and briefly touching on Lux, The LCS Regionals heading to gamescom for EU and PAX Prime for NA, and much more!
Continue reading for more information!

Sona PBE Update Discussion

As you may have seen in our latest PBE update, the Sona rework is back on the PBE with a new set of changes, including updates to her model / textures, and Fearless is scouting the forums answering questions!
In response to feedback on Sona's W's new heal and shield to replace her old passive armor / MR aura, Fearless reiterated a few goals this change is hoping to accomplish:
"The goal of this rework is not to nerf or buff, and I totally stand by that. That doesn't mean that she gets to be stronger at every phase of the game in all situations. 
She is losing base healing, but is getting better healing at every W level after level one when the heal is used on a low health target. The ratio is increased by far on low health targets (anything lower than 75% health is better than live for the ratio). 
The short duration of the shield means that the Sona player needs to use it well, or the effect will be lost. That is also intended. If we went longer, the shield has to lose power. The current tuning provides a Sona for saving her ally during trades and all ins, as well as during ganks. A longer shield (say 4 seconds) becomes a trade tool where enemies have to just retreat from Sona and her ally, because any damage you do is going to be blocked, and you'll lose the trade if you and your allies don't have similar or better damage mitigation. That doesn't sound like a healthy pattern."

Fearless also replied to a summoner who feels like their feedback is being ignored and wanted to suggest increasing the temporary auras up to 700 range:
"I'm sorry that you've felt ignored. That's a failure on my part. I have been reading all the feedback in this thread and my other PBE, GD and Community threads. I have not responded to every post, and that's due to me trying to balance implementation and bug fixing work with time talking to everyone. I'll fully admit to prioritizing fixes and implementation pretty high right now, but I'll try to get more time on the boards. 
As to the idea that Sona needs 700 unit auras, if we did that, we'd have to dramatically pull down the impact of the auras. One of the reasons Sona can have so much power on her aura effects is due to the fact that she actually takes risks to apply them. That's why we've actually increased her ratios as well, to ensure that squishier AP builds have big payoffs, along with big risks. 
If we made these auras 700 units, she's going to be safer, but much less satisfying and less impactful. There'd be less reason to want Sona on your team, and that's completely counter to the goals of these changes."

As for if Fearless could update his PBE community thread to include a complete changelist in this PBE community post ( as this update only includes the most recent changes to the rework that debuted on the PBE last cycle ), he noted:
"I'll see if I can figure out a good way to do this that doesn't blow up the entire post. Might just add it as a comment. Might be later in the evening."
In the mean time, you can find an up to date change list in the 7/15 PBE update post.

As for the visual side of things, Sona, Pentakill Sona, and Silent Night Sona were all updated visually in the 7/15 PBE update.
A comparison of Sona on live vs Sona's updated model / textures on PBE.

Ququroon popped on the forums to remind everyone that the model and texture updates are a work - in - progress and that Sona's golden hair tips will return soon!
"The model/textures aren't finished. You should see the golden hair back in the next patch! :D"

He also answered a few more questions on his twitter, @Ququroon!

As for if this is a VU or what exactly, Ququroon clarified:
"Not a full VU. The texture has been updated, and the model has been tweaked a bit. No new animations or sounds."

When asked if Pentakill Sona will have any sort of new visual effects for her abilities, he noted:
"No unique VFX, only the ones from the base to support the GU."

and if Arcade Sona is getting significant updates, he noted:
"Arcade was modern, so it didn't really need any updates."

Zhonya's Hourglass

FeralPony popped on to the boards to chat with a summoner who suggested Zhonya's Hourglass bee nerfed by decreasing the statis time, explaining that would actually be more of a buff!
Hey guys! I was wondering your opinion on zhonya's hourglass. 
I personally think the item needs a nerf due to how hard it counters not only assassins like talon and zed, but also countering even tanks, as you can just wait for cooldowns on champions like fizz. Instead of offering counter-play to their damage, it instead completely destroys ALL of the damage, without any actual downfall. 
I think the effect of Stasis it provides should be lowered to 1.75 seconds (currently 2.5) for this purpose of offering counter-play, 2.5 seconds is just too long. 
Opinions? Do you think zhonyas is OP? Do you think it is balanced? How should it be changed if in any way at all?
Generally speaking, lowering the statis time is a buff more than a nerf (except for a few skill specific interactions like Kennen/Morg ults). Taken to a slight extreme, imagine ZH with a statis of .5 seconds. You could still use it to escape from the largest burst damage spells and then immediately escape or continue fighting with minimal disruption to your personal damage pattern or movement. 
Inversely let's say the duration was increased to 5 seconds from 2.5. Using this puts the caster is a tricky situation, you use the stasis to escape an immediate threat but losing control of your actions for the next 5 seconds gives a ton of control and opportunity to your opponents. In teamfights it reduces your ability to contribute (as 5 seconds is an eternity in a teamfight) meaning you've turned that teamfight into a 4v5 and giving the entire enemy team time to huddle around your soon to be dead body. 
Not to say Zhonya's couldn't use a light nerf but personally I don't think it needs anywhere near the level of a full rework or gutting. I would certainly like to hit the stat efficiency of the item a bit when we do a pass and increase the stasis duration slightly but that has the really heavy cost of people learning, memorizing, and feeling the invuln timing on both ends."

Champion Updates Discussion

IronStylus has again taken up roost on the forums, chatting more about our beloved champion updates, including ideas for an eventual Irelia update and his thoughts on transparency.

In response to someone asking for more transparency when it comes to who is being worked on, IronStylus commented:
If Riot unveils every single change they plan on making, then they're going to get negative feedback as people complain. Which is going to make them change their mind, which is going to make more people complain. It makes far, far more sense for them to reveal what they've done as opposed to what they're doing. They've given all the info that's relevant, they're working on dozens of projects at once, when something's done we'll know. Riot doesn't have to give us a step by step of everything they're doing. That kinda gets in the way of them, you know, doing things, which I'm thinking is a bit more important, all things considered.
Pretty much this, however, as I've said before it's about a couple of things: 
1) We actually do have our next 8 or so champions mapped out on our hitlist. Thing is, those could TOTALLY change depending on what happens in many other areas. Anything from an event like Freljord, to a champion loosing flavor in the season. We don't want to announce commitment to something when all of a sudden the need to revamp that champion might not be as pressing,. 
2) We actually like having some mystery and surprise. We don't want to unload everything as to not spoil the fun when BOOM here's your favorite champion that's needed a lot of love for a long time now suddenly up-rezzed. We'd like to keep at least some plans a little more under wraps than others. 
3) Raising expectations is bad because if we promise, and for some reason not deliver, it makes us feel bad, it makes you feel bad, and we all just.. feel bad. 
All that said, we are discussing just how transparent we should be when we're talking about Champion Updates. I think it's going to vary depending on the champion. I can pretty much guarantee that we're not going to go 100% throw our plans on a billboard, however I think we might try to open up the process a little, no promises on that however. 
We'll see. I'm generally an advocate of talking about plans depending on our level of official commitment, but I like to stay away from too much speculation."

IronStylus also found his way into a thread discussing the eventual Irelia VU, where he squawked out a few comments!
"I feel you on the Octopus head..
Morello's mentioned his desire to rework Irelia's kit several times in the past to help get her away from her "ball of stats" nature, as well as stating that Irelia's core theme may be changed as a result. Does this impact her VU-wise? Would a new kind of Irelia require a new kind of visual theme than what is present already? Would Morello's kit rework get in the way of a potential VU, or even coincide with one? What are the chances of pushing both reworks out at once, making Irelia a full champion relaunch? I won't ask for specifics on her kit rework from you, since it's not your department - mainly just how it relates to her visual style and the possibility of that changing. 
I think that we'd end up making the two coincide. As she currently stands she would fall under the VGU (Visual & Gameplay Update), which pretty much means "full relaunch", but we don't use that term any more. Chances are we'd approach her as that sorta chunk. Similar to previous VGU's. Now.. that COULD change, but my bet is that we'd save the two (or three, depending on theme changes) to be, as you've said, a relaunch. 
What do YOU think Irelia's theme is or should be, visually or in-game? Does the way you envision her match with the way she's portrayed now?
I think she's a bit dopey, but honestly I love the idea of Irellia. Unobtanium blade wielding telekinetic ionian genera? Fucking sweet. Let's make her legit! Maybe I'm boring but I'd just like to see that solidified. I have a concept floating around (which may or may not be the final, who knows) which takes some aesthetics from Karma and Yasuo and merges them in order to get Irelia, a young, fiery, headstrong Ionian military commander. Not sure if what I've got on paper will stay, but it's where we'll start.
  • Do you have any plans for Ionia at large, in terms of visual theming and cohesion? Most of the Ionian champions vary widely in terms of looks, from bright pastel ninjas like Akali and Kennen, to heavily-armored warriors like Irelia and Zed (he's wearing light armor, but he has quite a lot of it on).
  • Relating to my last question, what kind of relations would you like Irelia to have with other League champions, namely other Ionians or enemy Noxians? I would imagine she wouldn't think too highly of Yasuo or Darius, for example.
I'm not sure about Ionia in general, but we'd probably end up visiting her corner or it when we address her specifically. 
Are there any Irelia skins on the pipeline for once a VU is done? I know you guys are wont to make skins for champions who are on the pipeline for VUs, since it's more work for no reason, on an inferior rig and model, no less. What are some skin options you could explore with Irelia, and have done any concepting for them already?
There's at least one that comes to mind that's concepted but I'm not sure it's really dependent on her VU. She's not in terrible art shape, she's just unhealthy for the game.. or so I hear.. She might get a skin before a VGU"

Pwyff on Lee Sin discussion

Pwyff also dashed on to the forums to add in his thoughts on Morello and Ghostcrawler's earlier discussion on Lee Sin and champion viability.

 He started by replying to a thread with the thesis of "Lee Sin Will Never Be Meaningfully Nerfed by Riot or Reworked", saying:
"That's an insane rabbit hole of a discussion so I won't hop into that thing, but one thing about Lee Sin is that he's a game of balancing pros and cons and what they mean for the health of the game. 
Honestly speaking, Morello's statement re: Lee Sin being an "untouchable" champion due to public perception is a bit binary, so I'll re-examine it: 
When we say we have difficulties approaching a champion due to perception problems, it's partially public outcry but it's also due to the fact that perception is so inherent to the game. Given that League is based on a player's preferences and capabilities, it's obvious that champion tiers will also be tailored to the common thread. Only in a 'solved' competitive game can objective truths (ie: character power) can come forth. In chess there might be a dozen openings that lead to a meaningful game, whereas the rest have been hashed out so much that they're inconsequential. Fighting games are another example of this, where a champion tier list is completely based on public perception, and one player's performance at an international event (Isai's Jigglypuff in SSB64, GamerBee's Adon in SF4, etc) can completely warp what's considered to be objectively the best. 
In this regard, League is such a strong online community that group-think is virtually inevitable and only the stubborn players end up breaking the mold. At S3 worlds when Zed / Ahri / Fizz / Gragas / Orianna were the staples, Faker picked a Riven into Zed and ended up drawing a ban as a result of it. There are tons of cases where solo queue heroes would pubstomp a pro player with a unique champion, ultimately resulting in that champion becoming the hot new fad in competitive play. What happens after that? Every aspiring competitive player picks up on that champion, and suddenly we have solo lane Soraka beating the crap out of top / mid lane. 
This is a super long way of saying that yes, we're dedicated to preserving game health above all else, but because perception is so closely tied to game health and group-think is so dominant, we find ways to navigate that space through constant communication paired with nuanced design changes to nudge the game in certain ways. 
In terms of actual tangible work: we're looking at Lee Sin because we agree he's distorting the early game jungle. But it's not just him. It's early aggro junglers like Elise and Evelynn. We took a step back for a patch because we wanted to take a moment to consider how the tank jungle changes had fallen out. I have a very strong suspicion that those will have a larger impact than most believe (we're already seeing a shift in solo queue play, but competitive is actually quite slow on the uptake) but making gut calls is often when we get punched in the face (ie: we didthink Trist needed buffs on top of item changes, but looks like that went a little too far). Game design and balance is an art more than a science, and it's tough to consider the layers - how does this affect objective game health? How does this affect perceived game health? How quickly will teams adapt? Are there any competitive teams willing to experiment? 
For me, the question that comes after is there seems to be a strong opinion (in this passionate thread) that players would much rather us completely thrash Lee Sin so that he's out of the way, rather than creating a sustainable design decision that creates weaknesses but doesn't just cram him into D-tier. Is Lee Sin healthier for the game when he doesn't exist at B, A, or S tier? If Lee Sin gets nerfed, do we get Elise, Evelynn, Rengar, and Jarvan IV in all games? Does that point to a systemic problem with aggro-junglers focused on early game? Is the game objectively better to play and watch when Volibear is jungling, or Lee Sin? I'm unsure if there are solid answers here and going for a democratic voice results in the loudest voice, maybe not the best one for game health."
He continued, noting his thoughts on Lee Sin's current state and the team's direction for the jungle:
"You raise some really good points across the board. For your first Lee Sin point, I'm pretty sure his high strengths are what make him so inhibitive as a champion, which is a super problem we face when we look at champions who are iconic for their strength. Kayle is a good example here where she's being picked non-stop because she's so damn good at everything. It's a weird knife's edge conundrum here. 
For Lee Sin, his strength goes: insane early game pressure, high mobility, high damage, versatile kit. When we first looked to change Lee Sin (hello rework), we got a ton of pushback because nobody saw those as insane strengths. There's some argument that we nerfed certain champions so Lee was inevitably the best, but Elise is also close to 100% priority and she got some reductions along the way as well. We haven't touched Evelynn. We buffed Jarvan IV. Rengar was broken due to a bug with double-proccing on-hit effects so we'll see how our changes affect him. The only major jungler threat we really touched was Kha'Zix and, to a lesser degree, Pantheon (bugfix delight). Kha'Zix might exist as a jungler in a world without the top tier junglers, and I still think Pantheon is waiting to get in there. 
Regardless, we did back down on those because if the community backlash is so strong to a change, you do have to wonder who's out of touch. It's one thing to be a design team so confident in your changes that you're immune to feedback, but we pride ourselves on our feedback loop and listening to players. This is a core attribute to us and one we value inherently. Sometimes I wonder if we should engineer favorable situations to change contentious champions before doing so (oh man wouldn't that be funny). 
Regardless, I think Lee Sin is actually problematic for competitive play, I'm less convinced for less than diamond level play. He's played with tradeoffs at a lot of levels, but I'd also agree he has very few risks for being such a "high risk" champion. 
As for the jungle itself, I think we have a significant problem in the game where players dislike losing "carry" agency. In an ideal world I don't think we want a specific guy who's gonna be like "you win or lose on me." All champions should express skill and should equally contribute to a game being won. We talk about wanting junglers to carry from the jungle, I think we meant that we wanted the potential for junglers to have the strategical niche wherein a team can create a "jungle-carry" oriented comp. Protect the Yi? Maybe that's a little idealistic given the scenario of the game. Regardless, I think in an ideal world we can see multiple 'styles' of junglers, but that they don't get picked in a silo. Instead, they're chosen to support and collaborate with a cohesive team strategy. Maokai for a protect the Kog comp, maybe Elise for a pick 'n roll comp, maybe Lee Sin for an early aggro comp, etc."

As for why someone like Lee Sin hasn't received nerfs while champions like pre-rework Evelynn, Poppy, and Urgot have all received nerfs to push them out of play, he noted:
"Honestly? Because Lee Sin is part of a pantheon of early aggro junglers and isn't single-handedly warping the game. He's doing something as part of a group, which typically speaks to systemic issues than anything else. We took a strong look at Elder Lizard and tried there, then we looked at tanky junglers and tried there. Now we're just looking at those early aggro junglers. 
Urgot, Poppy, and pre-rework Eve were all single-champion warpers. 
Lee Sin isn't a golden boy, but he does have certain healthy mechanics that, if you were to speak about this five months ago, would not have been a problem. There was a lull period where he was being bypassed for other champions, so I dunno if I would accept a hyperbolic "Lee Sin has been best forever" statement."
He continued:
"This is where I come back to perceived strength versus objective strength. Just because people can or cannot Insec doesn't extend so far as to say "If you can't Insec but are still winning as Lee Sin, you are winning with suboptimal play and that indicates Lee Sin is overtuned." 
I'm not denying that Lee Sin has consistently been strong in the game throughout all levels of play (see certain pro player complaints that Lee Sin shouldn't be touched because he fits into all metas and is the most balanced etc), but league is about rewarding skill in a number of ways - positioning, decision making, mechanical skill, leadership, adaptability. Just because most Lee players didn't understand the Insec plays doesn't mean they weren't using him effectively, it just means they were using him differently. I really push back when you say "oh he was accomplishing all this, and he wasn't used to his full potential!" because emergent gameplay speaks to new heights, not untapped potential. 
At the end of the day, we believe Lee Sin is strong and are looking at him, but to say he's a singular force that's warping the entirety of the early jungle, I disagree because there exists a whole slew of early aggro junglers that we need to look at."

In a different thread, Pwyff also shared this thoughts on the the LCS's stifling champion diversity and meta changes.
"Succinct and to the point. I've long held the personal opinion that the weekly cadence of the LCS comes at the cost of consistent innovation (except between splits, etc) as teams don't have the time refine and sharpen strategies in between. It's often when we see brand new teams to the LCS that we see new champion picks (remember when ROCCAT first picked Pantheon jungle? Or when Link first started on CLG and picked Syndra?). 
We talk about the pro scene as reinforcing optimal play, I'm unsure if it's optimal so much as safe. We can offer tools for players to experiment with but, like I spoke about before (re: perception shaping the game equal to objective balance), it's tough to get them to try it in the first place."

Meddler on Orianna

Meddler, fresh from his recent Q&A, reappeared on the forums to discuss several Orianna related topics!

When asked why Orianna's has a passive that increases her auto attack damage when she is a long range mage, Meddler explained:
"Orianna's passive ties some of her power to riskier play (putting yourself closer to the enemy than you otherwise need to with just your spells) and places some more importance back on Orianna's own position - two sources of threat, not just one."

As for why Orianna's ball interferes with mouse clicks, sometimes causing a player to miss CS, he replied:
"No good reason. Was talking to one of our engineers today about fixing that, it's something we'll need a bit of tech help to do."
When pointed out that Jarvan's flag can do the same thing, he noted:
"Yeah, we'll be going for a solution that fixes all the cases of this occuring with untargetable creations, not just Orianna."

On the topic of Orianna's auto attack enhancing ultimate that has an AP scaling, Meddler also replied to someone asking why Lux's passive doesn't scale with AP.
"I suspect (before my time at Riot) simply because we hadn't started adding scaling effects to passives much at the time Lux was made. We do plan on testing a small ratio on the passive, not sure yet if that would adding a ratio and cutting some of the base or just adding a ratio."

Continuing the Orianna discussion, Meddler also shared what Xypherous has been up to:
"Xypherous' main focus nowadays is on systems design, so things like the vision refactor, adjustments to classes of items (e.g. the recent ADC item changes), potential plans for the 2015 season etc. Sometimes that stuff's got a pretty long term focus and won't be ready for public discussion for a while."

LCS Regionals at Gamescom and PAX Prime!

While I know this isn't "This Week in eSports", the locations for the NA LCS and EU LCS Regionals have been announced!

The EU LCS Regionals will be headed to Cologne, Germany for Gamescom on August 13 through the 17th! More information can be found here!

The NA LCS Regionals will also be hitting the road, returning to PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington been August 29th and September 1st. More information and scheduling can be found here.

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