The early stages of each season are often chaotic, with teams, pros and even the average player trying to find the optimal picks for each role. With lane dominance becoming the name of the game, ranged supports became more popular than ever, in favor of tank picks such as Alistar or Braum.
These ranged casters, designated by Riot as Controllers, have two subclasses.
The enchanters (or utility supports) who focus mainly on defending them from threats with shields and heals.
And the disruptors, champions that specialize on locking down opponents and create great zones of threat their enemies can’t or shouldn’t get close to.
Unlike enchanters, disruptors can dish out a lot of damage. These are often called mage supports too.
Joining them now is Malzahar. The Prophet of the Void has recently been played in the support role and shown to be a very successful pick in the highest tiers of play across multiple servers.
If you would like to learn him yourself, be sure to check our Featured Guide by a Challenger Support Main
There are many upsides to using Malzahar in this role, but it’s important to understand why the pick is suddenly optimal to use and what changed from previous patches.
Back on Patch 6.23, Malzahar’s Void Swarm was changed, as the way Voidlings worked lacked clarity and made it overwhelming for an opponent to react to them and deal (or not deal) with them.
Patch 6.23 - Void Swarm (W)
- Mana cost lowered to 40 from 80
- Now works on a recharge system instead of a cooldown system.
- Recharges every 20/19/18/17/16 seconds (max 2 stacks) instead of a 20/19/18/17/16 second cooldown
- Voidling spawn on attack changed
- Voidlings no longer spawn other Voidlings by killing minions
- Voidlings can spawn other Voidlings within 8 seconds ⇒
3 seconds of W cast
- Voidlings now need 3 hits to die (similar to wards)
- Voidling damage changed:
- Physical Damage: 30/35/40/45/50 + 40% of bonus AD from 30/32.5/35/37.5/40% of total AD
- Magic Damage: AP ratio increased to 20% from 10%
The changes hurt mid lane Malzahar a lot, as a huge part of his pushing pressure came from the voidlings multiplying themselves after killing minions. However, the lower mana cost and charge system benefits him greatly when he’s not using it to push waves, which is in the support role.
They also swarm faster than before, multiplying after 3 seconds instead of 8, making it a stronger skill for trading early on.
Finally and as an additional bonus, the charge system makes it so Malzahar can now use the ability to spawn voidlings to block incoming skillshots, which is incredibly useful against Thresh’s Death Sentence or Blitzcrank’s Rocket Grab to give examples.
Single Target Damage
One of the main reason why Malzahar is strong right now is due to his damage, right from the get go. He opens up trades level 1 by walking up and using voidling charges and auto attacks to force them away from the minion wave, gaining the immediate lane advantage and ensuring his bot lane reaches level 2 before his opponents.
From level 3, 4 onwards is when Malzahar becomes really dangerous as he can fully unload a double voidling combo with Malefic Visions and Call of the Void on top of it. If used correctly, this will usually do more than half of an opponent's health bar, and if your AD Carry follows up it’s very likely you will blow their summoner spells, if not get a kill.
It’s worth mentioning that all this damage and especially the voidlings, are incredibly useful for neutral objectives. They will tank up Dragon and Baron, making it a less risky call, as well as speeding up the whole process.
The other big reason why you pick up Malzahar is because of his Crowd Control. Between a 2.5 second suppression from Nether Grasp and an AoE Silence scaling up to 2 seconds at max rank from Call of the Void, Malzahar brings a lot to the table to be sure he can set up kills for his teammates.
In addition, Rylai’s is also a frequently buy for him and he was one of the biggest winners with the 6.24 changes to the item, especially in the support role, traditionally a more gold deprived position. Using Malefic Visions on a target will constantly re-apply the slow, making it easier to then chain that with his own silence, or his teammate’s Crowd Control.
Similarly to other mage supports such as Brand and Zyra, Malzahar is very strong at picking off isolated opponents but unlike those two, he doesn’t need to hit skillshots to do so, as his ultimate is a targeted ability. This makes him much more reliable in this regard and makes it easier for teammates to follow up on his suppression.
A Durable Disruptor
Fragile and immobile is the description Riot uses to describe the disruptor class and while Malzahar is definitely the latter, he is much more durable than others in his class.
Void Shift provides a frequent, banshee-like shield that blocks the next damage or crowd control effect and also giving him a very short window of 90% damage reduction.
For the most part, Malzahar’s weaknesses are the same he has in the mid lane role. The Prophet of the Void is not very mobile and in the support role he doesn’t realistically have the option to run Ghost as a second summoner as he does in the mid lane.
He also has relatively low range on his spells. Despite Call of the Void being a 900 range ability, he needs to get closer to cast Malefic Visions (650 units) and his Voidlings only have a 450 cast range, so in this regard he has to expose himself much more than other mage supports.
Finally, in the support role, his build doesn’t really allow him to itemize for Cooldown Reduction easily.
Malzahar will usually grab Eye of the Watchers and Ionian Boots of Lucidity early on, but after that he needs to buy key items such as Rylai’s Crystal Scepter and Liandry’s Torment, meaning there is only room for extra Cooldown Reduction later on in his build.
He has relatively long cooldowns, so it’s a much needed stat that he will only get to max out in later stages.
Synergies & Counters - Interview with a Challenger Support
To learn more about Malzahar in the Support Role, we talked to Erik "Treatz" Wessén, Challenger Suport Main and substitute for the EU LCS Team ROCCAT.
You can follow Treatz on Twitter here
1. Aside from solo queue popularity, we have already seen Malzahar show up as a support in the EUCS Qualifiers, do you think we will see him in the LCS?
Yes, definitely. The meta still favors poke and utility ranged supports due to their lane dominance. I think that Malzahar fits this role well and he will show up as a lane neutralizer and outshine other picks from mid game onwards.
2. When playing Malzahar, who are your three favorite bot lane picks to have alongside you?
When I play Malzahar Support I like to have AD Carries that have good follow up or initiation to my all-ins with Nether Grasp (R).
- Jhin can easily ult from range to initiate and slow down targets so I can close the gap and use my own ultimate. He can then follow up with Deadly Flourish to lock them down for even longer.
- Ashe essentially has a free hit with her Enchanted Crystallized Arrow after my Nether Grasp. If timed and layered correctly a target won't be able to move for 3.5 seconds and you will just burst him in that timeframe.
- Caitlyn gets to follow up Nether Grasp with guaranteed Traps, meaning you can get a total of 4.5 seconds of lockdown on a single target. In addition, she has a very safe lane due to her high auto attack range.
3. If you're against Malzahar and you or your AD carry have the opportunity to counter pick, who are 3 champions that you think can really do well into him?
In my opinion, the best ADC counters to Malzahar would be either Draven or Miss Fortune.
Draven can easily out-trade Malzahar throughout the game, and his build path usually involves Mercurial Scimitar which hard counters Malzahar's Nether Grasp. Blood Rush's Movement Speed Buff makes it easy to kite the voidlings too.
Miss Fortune is good because she can reliably proc Malzahars passive with Make it Rain, making him much more exposed to incoming damage and Crowd Contol. She can also quickly dispatch Voidlings due to her Love Tap passive which will oneshot his voidlings. The idea here is very similar as to why Miss Fortune was good versus Zyra Support and why you saw her as a situational Support pick, you can use her in that role as well if you wish.
- Finally there is Lulu. Similarly to Miss Fortune, Lulu's pix empowered auto attacks can one shot voidlings. Besides from this, Lulu can also use her shield to block most of Malefic Visions damage, use Whimsy to kite back or help her ADC kite back if being chased by voidlings. Lulu can also cancel Malzahar's Ultimate with Whimsy or Wild Growth.
It's the first patch of 2017 and to open up the year Riot brought key nerfs to some of the most popular champions such as Camille, Poppy, Lee Sin and Syndra as well as some love to AD Carries such as Draven, Kalista and Lucian.
In addition, big changes to jungle camps, reducing early experience during the first clear and shifting the experience from 4 camps into the raptor camp.
Check out the full changes below to get ready for the patch to hit live
Murkwolf, Raptor, Krug, and Gromp camps grant 25% less experience on first clear (stacks additively with Ancient Krug’s 50% reduced experience on first clear)
The PBE was updated and not only did it have the Warwick gameplay update, but also his updated skins as well as a few new skins with Sewn Chaos Amumu, Sewn Chaos Blitzcrank, Popstar Ahri Chromas, and Prestigious LeBlanc Chromas.
Click the previews below to check out the skins in full 3D!
Sewn Chaos Amumu
Sewn Chaos Blitzcrank
Popstar Ahri Chromas
Riot has revealed their newest champion rework today: Warwick, The Uncaged Wrath of Zaun
“The chains are broken! The beast is free!”
With feet pounding down Zaun’s stone streets, Warwick’s prey flees in desperation. The scent of blood hangs in the air, guiding the beast to his quarry. All efforts to escape are in vain. In a flash of gore-soaked fur, Warwick strikes—and his target is dead in an instant. One vermin down, many more to go.
Warwick is one of League's oldest champions and was always looked at as the go-to champion for jungling, given his relatively fast and healthy clear, with a mechanically simple kit.
With the update, Riot look to give the werewolf a few new tricks while keeping most of his identity intact. He will still be relatively easy to play but will have an easier time not getting kited and actually reaching his target without his ultimate.
Let's take a look at his kit and how he will play out.
Class-wise, Warwick is a fighter, and similarly to champions like Vi or Hecarim, he's a Diver, a subclass of fighters, here is the original definition from the subclass post:
Divers are the more mobile portion of the Fighter class. Divers excel at singling out high-priority targets to blitz toward, immediately forcing those targets (and their teammates) to deal with the diver’s presence. Divers are not as durable as the tanks or juggernauts of the world, but Divers can take their fair share of punishment while bringing enough damage to be a real kill threat if left unchecked.
Read on to check our analysis from our team here at LolKing as well as see his skins and abilities.
Warwick is a hunter that excels at chasing down injured targets. With 'Blood Hunt' he is able to speed up and catch to his targets and then stick onto them with 'Jaws of the Beast' and 'Infinite Duress'.
Looking closer at Warwick's new ultimate, it's important to note two new features of the ability:
The leap scales with movement speed, so using Ghost on Warwick seems more attractive than it ever was.
- Infinite Duress can be dodged and body-blocked, which means the ultimate is best used when you know that Flash or a champion's movement ability is on Cooldown and when a target is isolated so you can lunge toward the correct target. Surpressing that 3000 health tank won't do much for your team.
Finally, there's 'Primal Howl', giving Warwick extra lockdown once he's finally closed in on a target and is in melee range. Activation of the ability will allow Warwick to soak up more damage, a very much needed tool when diving turrets or through multiple enemies. Reactivation of the ability fears nearby enemies, allowing you to get some extra seconds of lockdown on preferred targets while also getting whoever is peeling for them out of the way.
Itemization wise, it's likely that Warwick will still build very similarly, focusing on on-hit damage items to complement his kit as his Passive gives his basic attacks bonus magic damage, attack speed against Blood Hunted targets and obviously his supression ultimate, that still fully applies on-hit effects during its duration.
With that in mind, expect him to still pick up Bloodrazor as his Jungle Enchantment as well as other items such as Blade of the Ruined King or Wit's End to amplify his kit's synergy with on-hit.
After that, it's likely that Warwick players will look to itemize for defensive stats that give extra passives to further amplify the strengths in his kit; Dead Man's Plate will grant a ton of Armor and Health while granting him extra Movement Speed to chase down targets while Spirit Visage will amplify the healing from Eternal Thirst and Infinite Duress while giving Cooldown Reduction, Magic Resistance and Health.
Passive: Eternal Thirst
Warwick’s basic attacks deal bonus magic damage. If Warwick is below half health, the bonus damage heals him for the same amount.
Q: Jaws of the Beast
Warwick lunges forward and bites his target, healing for some of the damage dealt. Holding down the key locks onto the target, causing Warwick to leap behind them.
W: Blood Hunt
Passive: Enemy champions with less than half health leave behind a global blood trail leading to them and are Blood Hunted. Warwick has increased attack speed against Blood Hunted targets and massively increased out-of-combat movement speed when moving toward them. These bonuses are tripled against enemies with very low health.
Active: Briefly reveal blood trails leading to all champions in a large radius, even if they have full health. The nearest champion is then Blood Hunted. Blood Hunt’s active has a long cooldown, but cools down twice as fast while no enemies are being hunted.
E: Primal Howl
Warwick takes reduced damage for a short duration. At the end of the duration—or if activated again—Warwick howls, causing nearby enemies to flee in fear.
R: Infinite Duress
Warwick leaps in a direction and suppresses the first champion he collides with, dealing damage and applying on-hit effects throughout the duration. The leap's distance increases based on Warwick’s movement speed, and he heals for all damage he deals during Infinite Duress. Warwick is immune to crowd control effects during the leap.
For more information, including video previews of Warwick's abilities, make sure to check out the Champion Update!
As you guys probably know, LolKing exists as a free resource thanks to the ads on our website. Every few months we run surveys regarding market research here and it's that time again! This time we're asking LolKing users to help improve a game's user experience by answering these questions.
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Currently, the ADC role feels pretty rough to play. A heavy item dependency alongside the preponderance of being blown up in fights before being able to output damage contributes to a general feeling of helplessness for most of the game.
The reason we have been seeing Ziggs bot lane show up as a replacement to ADC’s (and even other mages, albeit to a much lesser degree) is because they’re more impactful early on. Not every game is going to drag out to 40 minutes, so players want to have that feeling that they’re useful and relevant from the get go.
So is this a case of the class being too weak, or other roles becoming progressively stronger and harder for ADC’s to deal with?
1. The changes to Armor Penetration (Introduction of Lethality)
Throughout the second half of season 6, the change to Black Cleaver gave Lucian access to an Armor Penetration oriented build. This allowed him to have stronger power spikes at 1 and 2 items at the cost of a slightly weaker full build. Other champions followed, with Miss Fortune going for a similar build and with players realizing that Youmuu's Ghostblade allowed champions such as Jhin or Draven to be relevant earlier.
While these early game oriented carries (particularly Lucian and Jhin) dominated the meta, there was still space for others going for crit builds, namely Caitlyn (and the very occasional Tristana/Jinx).
With flat armor penetration being weaker early on, alongside changes to Youmuu’s Ghostblade aimed at reducing the effectiveness of the item for ADC’s, Riot effectively killed penetration builds for the most part (Miss Fortune being the only user currently).
Nowadays, almost every ADC goes for crit heavy builds, which take significantly more time to 'come online'.
- Most AD Carries want to stack up Critical Chance, which means multiple items.
- They want an armor penetration item to be able to shred through tanks.
- They want a defensive item such as Mercurial Scimitar, Maw of Malmortius or Guardian Angel.
- They want lifesteal so they can sustain themselves in prolonged fights (even though Warlord’s Bloodlust helps on its own).
In essence we are looking at full builds here and sometimes it isn’t even possible to fit it all. If you want to go triple crit items to ensure you crit frequently enough, you run into the issue of having to sacrifice your lifesteal item (and thus relying solely on Warlord’s Bloodlust) or your defensive item.
2. Fervor of Battle Changes
Added to this, there was the rework to Fervor of Battle. In theory, this was a good change as extra Attack Damage is excellent for the class, especially because it can crit. However, reduced stack duration and the removal of ability stacking makes it extremely hard for a lot of AD Carries to stack up Fervor and use it effectively.
Instead, only a small niche of melee carries are able to effectively use (and abuse) the mastery.
3. The Introduction of Courage of the Colossus
Finally, the introduction of Courage of the Colossus. If tanks weren’t hard enough for AD Carries to deal with before 4-5 items, a gigantic shield that scales with maximum health and number of enemies close by definitely doesn't make things easier.
ADC vs Other Roles
Dealing with Tanks
This is probably the role interaction that has declined the most and it’s the one where you will find most of the playerbase discussing and complaining about, let’s have a look at why this interaction feels so unjust for ADC’s.
The summary is that aided by their items and just with base damages from abilities, tanks are able to kill ADC's extremely fast while still being extremely tanky and barely taking any damage before later stages of the game.
1. Ninja Tabi buffs
You might not remember this one, but Ninja Tabi was actually buffed during season 6.
“Right now there’s only one thing Ninja Tabi have in common with actual Ninja: you can’t see them anywhere. While Mercury Treads are purchased situationally against heavy magic damage, Ninja Tabi aren’t hitting the mark against physical damage right now, so we’re giving them a bump.”
Basic Attack Reduction 10% ⇒ 12%
This change came in after Patch 6.9, which was when Armor Penetration builds on AD Carries were flavor of the month. With the removal of Armor Penetration builds for AD Carries, a revert to this buff wouldn’t be uncalled for.
2. Tank Items with damage passives
The fact that a lot of tank items have passives allowing them to output extra damage is one of the problems that makes tanks so oppressive against squishier carries that have no extra resistances.
- Sunfire Cape - Grants periodic magic damage to targets close to the user
- Iceborn Gauntlet - Besides giving a good chunk of armor and utility, Iceborn Gauntlet includes a Sheen proc, allowing tanks to deal extra damage when locking down a target.
- Dead Man’s Plate - The extra movement speed from the passive that is used to closed the gap is then discharged in the next basic attack, up to 100 on hit physical damage if at maximum stacks.
This trifecta of tank items is very commonly seen in tanks, they also all grant armor, making it extremely hard for AD Carries to kill them at this point.
3. Build Costs in the early/mid game
Another argument that can be made is that tank itemization is cheaper than an ADC’s itemization, they become too tanky for AD Carries to deal with too early, and unless an AD Carry is significantly ahead, he won't be able to kill the tank fast enough before late game.
At 3 items, this looks like a typical tank build. 9500 gold and a ton of health, resistances and cooldown reduction and also two damage passives.
This showcases another problem with ADC’s in the mid game and why they are so item dependant. You can argue that they could finish their Last Whisper upgrades earlier on, but then you will lack the Attack Damage and Attack Speed to back up the Armor Penetration purchased.
Dealing with Mages
Apart from Syndra consistently one shotting AD carries with her ultimate after missing all her skillshots, the interactions with mages are mostly fair, but there is one factor to point out that makes an ADC's life hell against mages.
Morellonomicon is the staple item in a mages build. It has almost everything. Ability Power, Mana, Cooldown Reduction and two extremely strong passives:
Unique: Kills and assists restore 20% of your maximum mana
Unique: Dealing magic damage to an enemy champion below 35% health inflicts Grievous Wounds to them for 8 seconds.
Let's focus on the second passive here.
Currently, most champions run Warlord’s Bloodlust and don’t get to finish a lifesteal item until much later into the game (if they even get one at all) because they need their Attack Damage, Crit and Attack Speed, their armor penetration item and depending on the match, a defensive item.
The way Warlord’s Bloodlust works is that it gives increasingly more lifesteal the lower health you are, capping at 20% Lifesteal at 80% missing health.
If an ADC is missing 65% of their health or more, chances are you they won’t be getting 15-20% lifesteal. They will only be getting 60% of that. 8 seconds is a lot of time in League of Legends, and once an ADC is debuffed, it’s unlikely the teamfight will last long enough for the debuff to wear out so he can heal back up.
Dealing with Bruisers/Fighters
This class has always given ADC’s trouble and season 7 is no different. They usually purchase one or two offensive items and then go for tank stats, making them hard for ADC’s to kill while still being able to output enough damage to quickly dispatch a target that has little defensive itemization.
There isn’t much to add here as this is recurrent from past seasons, but the introduction of Courage of the Colossus has allowed certain picks such as Vi and Hecarim to be even more effective at what they do:
Going in recklessly to kill a target (or multiple targets) and being able to survive long enough to do so.
Unfortunately for ADC's, even the way the map is set up doesn't favor bot lane.
Back in Patch 6.15, the introduction of the First Blood Turret alongside the removal of fortification of bot lane towers means the game is going to be centered around the bottom half of the map more often than not. The best way to get this first blood is in bot lane, so roaming and ganking that lane is incentivized.
In addition, Dragon has a lot of relevance in the early stages, and killing the enemy bot lane means you can move to Dragon and pick up extra buffs for your team. In contrast, while Rift Herald is good, the reward isn't nearly as high as getting Dragon buffs, so there isn't as much of a reason to play towards your top lane, unless you have a carry matchup that can snowball, split push and take over the game.
The problem with the ADC role was already present in Season 6. At the time Fervor of Battle was stronger and Courage of the Colossus didn't exist, but crit based AD carries would still struggle to take down tanks before reaching late game.
The armor penetration builds were huge at the time they were popularized because they allowed ADC’s to shred through fighters, bruisers and tanks in the early/mid game stages and take them down.
The preseason changes were the final nail in the coffin and in conjunction with past changes from Season 6, it has snowballed into a situation where the role feels weaker than it has been for a long time (if it has ever been this weak).
For an Attack Damage Carry, Mages, Tanks and Bruisers all feel overbearing to deal with currently, and to fix the issue and make the role more rewarding to play it will probably require fine tuning on both sides.