League of Legends

A Master Swain player’s perspective on why Swain does require attention

LeagueofLegends5 - A Master Swain player's perspective on why Swain does require attention

Some of you might have seen my post that hit the front page a few months ago about Swain tips and support tips. The recent Legends of Runeterra Swain reveal and artwork reminded me of how I felt going through the Swain rework reveal, and the reasons why I fell in love with the champion. It also reminded me of how the champion that I have been playing doesn’t resemble a grand GENERAL, and master tactician. So I did what any sane person would do and wrote a 10 page report (quarantine has not been treating me as well as others) on what I think the problems with Swain is and why I think he needs attention. I decided to summarize the main points and make this post as short as possible (still a wall of text), so I apologize in advance as it might look quite messy.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Swain is in no means a weak champion. He has his strength and his weaknesses like any other champion, but the difference is his weaknesses results in frustrating gameplay. Swain is a midgame beast but has a pretty exploitable early game. Swain is a jack of all trades but a master of none. He has a lot of tools but excels at nothing. He has burst but is gated by high cooldowns (7/22/13/120 at level 6). He has 3 AoE abilities but terrible waveclear. He is incredibly ult reliant, which has a 120 cooldown at ALL ranks on a champion that barely exceeds 20%cdr. He has no solo kill potential without his ult. His pull passive requires CC but his only CC is an unreliable skillshot that gets harder to land the better the enemy, which leaves him dependent on his team to land CC "you'll often find better targets by following up on their lockdown, rather than trying to set up plays by yourself" quoted from the end of the Swain champion update page.

His abilities do little to nothing on their own during the laning phase, his Q is pretty much an auto attack from max range, his W explodes in 1.5 seconds and is easy to dodge, and his passive depends on E to land which makes his only combo E>W>pull>Q. Not only does his Q, W and pull depend on landing E, but also his soul fragments (the healing, mana restore and health stacking) also depend on landing E throughout the laning phase. On that note, Swain’s soul fragments, which I believe is the most problematic part of his kit alongside R2, not only depends on E but also is also dependent on teammates landing CC and getting kills around him.

Other than the problems mentioned, Swain’s strengths are better shown in the support role. The narrative seems to be that Swain is strong in duo lane due to his passive, but I believe that it’s more to do with the dependent nature of his kit and when paired with a champion bot he becomes a lane bully. Suddenly his burst is followed up by a champion which gives kill potential. Landing E becomes a whole lot easier because:

· there are 2 targets to hit

· Swain can position more aggressively then in a solo lane

· landing a few E's early creates pressure akin to thresh or blitz hooks

· Swain can’t be punished as hard for missing (in most matchups) or for having high cooldowns

Swain is listed as a Battlemage on the
Mage#Battlemages - A Master Swain player's perspective on why Swain does require attention

wiki page. Two interesting points that I noticed is that all the listed mages have good waveclear except for Swain and Vladimir(the latter being one of the best scaling mages in the game) and all their ults cooldown scale with their level except for Swain. All of their ults have a cooldown lower than 120 after level 11 with the exception of Ryze & Taliyah (macro ults), Vladimir & Karthus (game changing ults) and Swain. In addition, pretty much all of these champs tend to cap CDR, again except Swain.

The points that I’d like to highlight going into the next section are:

· Swain does not need buffs, he needs adjustments. He needs his power to be shifted.

· Swain is a mid-game beast but has an extremely exploitable and frustrating early game.

· Swain support shows that the champions kit can be strong early in a duo lane.

· Swain’s whole laning phase is centered around his E.

· Swain is dependent on landing his E, having teammates land CC and having teammates get kills around him.

· Swain is incredibly ult reliant.

· Swain’s ult has a 120 cooldown at all ranks.

· His soul fragment mechanic, not only the health stacking but the regen part, is a problem and one of the problems that makes Swain feel a lot stronger in lower elo.

· " Demonic Ascension's lengthy duration and the short cooldown on Death's Hand lend themselves toward the longer battles Swain loves, but he has trouble sticking to enemies as fights drag on. Master Swain players should opt into runes or items that offset this weakness. " from the Swain champion update. (10/8.5/7/5.5/4) ain't that short.

"I was born a patrician. I became a soldier."

Ever since his rework in early 2018, there has been an ever-growing disagreement between Riot and Swain players (atleast the vocal section of swainmains) regarding his state. Riot’s recent statements has shown that they are satisfied with Swain in his current state, which in turn sparked more posts from Swain players showing their dissatisfaction. Personally, I feel like both have valid points but there are a few points that I would like to add, but first, I would like to address the Swain community.

1) Swain is not viable above *gold/plat/d4*.

This is one of the comments that I hate seeing the most about champions like Swain. Yes, the higher you go in the ladder and the better the players, the better they know how to play against Swain and how to punish him, but that does not mean he is not viable. This isn’t the case where a few players hit challenger and that makes him viable, but there are many people that can and do reach mid to high diamond playing Swain. Is he frustrating and labored to play? I would say that yes he is the higher you go, but he is more than viable.

2) Swain’s kit is a failure and requires buffs or revert

Are we not playing the same champion? Swain’s kit has its strengths and it’s weaknesses and buffing the champion in his current state would not only break him in low elo but might even be a problem in high elo. Swain in the support role shows that the kit can be strong even in the early game, but it also shows how dependent it is.


I mean honestly, if you guys would get of your high horse and try Swain in the support role instead of harassing the players that haven’t found success for him in solo lanes and tried to play him in the one role he is strong in, then you would see that the kit has potential. Its not like Riot is going to see this rise in popularity in the support role as an indication that players want to play him in the support role and balance him around this role. Swain is and will always be prioritized as a mid laner, Right Riot? …….Right? ….. Riot? Nononononnoo Riot No!

"I cannot lead if I allow fools to stumble about before me."

Swain is the Grand General of Noxus, where strength is respected most and there is no place for the weak. " Swain is the visionary ruler of the Noxian empire, commanding its warhosts from the front lines. " – first sentence from the Swain champion update page. No offense to the support role, but it is a role that is meant to give all its resource to an ADC and support the ADC to the point that they are strong (not going to call it “babysit” as the support role is more than that now), and support the team through vision and CC. It thematically makes no sense for him to be a support when he is meant to be a mage that scales off levels and gold to carry a team.

We really wanted him to feel like the leader of Noxus – a mage who positions himself in the fight and doesn't sit on his horse in the back of the army watching and planning.” was said by Riot__Earp in the Swain rework AMA and playing Swain in the support role does not feel like the leader of Noxus. Its fine if it were his secondary role, but for this to be the narrative “I'm interested in finding ways to not necessarily straight-up buff Swain, but to make him more satisfying to play as a solo laner without really touching support Swain” as quoted by RiotKingCobra here, is a problem in my opinion. According to stat from leagueofgraphs and also u.gg,
Swain sees a 72%~ of his presence in the support role while mid lanes is at 15%~ across all ranks. When he was reworked from a champion that was exclusively played in solo lanes, should this not raise a red flag?

One of the reasons they do not want to touch support Swain is because of the following he has in the support role. The problem with that is that it does not take into consideration the number of players, like me, that are playing support Swain mainly because they were not satisfied with him in the mid lane and just want to play the champion, and would pick him up in mid lane if he was changed.
JMGwiAc - A Master Swain player's perspective on why Swain does require attention

These 2 graphs from leagueofgraphs show that after his mini rework there was a spike in mid lane pickrate. After which it dropped and that drop coincides with the spike in support pickrate(Also noticed the spike in support pickrate at the beginning of 2020 which coincides with the date I posted my post, Jan 9, or I might be looking too far into things :/ ). But let us put the pickrate and winrate aside for a minute, are you satisfied with the current state of Swain as a champion? I respect the work and effort you put into the champion as Rioters and that you are more knowledgeable about design and balance than us, but I also expect that you respect our feelings and opinions of the champion as players that have hundreds of games on the champion. This is not a case of 200+ years of collective experience vs the community because we have been playing the same champion since patch 9.14 and not a few games on PBE. Personally, there are 3 points that I would like to highlight about Swain:

1) His waveclear

I think a primary takeaway from the Mage update I applied on Swain was to make sure he had good wave clear” and “I think our modern mid-lane champions require a certain threshold of wave control in order to be viable.” was said by wav3break in the Swain rework AMA. That is not the case now as evident by RiotKingCobra himself saying “alleviate some of the pain points that are being identified for solo lane Swain… his shoddy waveclear” a few days ago.

2) His dependency

Swain’s whole laning is dependent on his E, his passive is dependent on E or teammate CC, his kill pressure and teamfighting is dependent on his ult being up, his soul fragements are dependent on team getting kills around him (in the early game as a champion with low prio, low waveclear and bad skirmishing). He went from a champion that would always run into a fight (“his “strategy” generally involved walking towards enemies until they died (or he ran out of mana).” from the Swain champion insight page, to a champion that doesn’t even have the option of going into a fight because he’s ult has a down time of 120 seconds at all ranks.

RiotKingCobra said in the AMA “I think Swain definitely has potential to be a meta pick. His W, E, and passive are all pretty powerful tools when you have comms. Before release, I put together a short report for that outlined his strengths, weaknesses, and other things to look out for and specifically called out that there are mechanics in his kit that lend themselves better to coordinated play than solo queue. 🙂” considering the fact that Swain is seeing way more success in low elo than in high elo which should be “more coordinated” and basically no presence in pro play, the highest level of coordinated play, might be time to reconsider those tools and make them more suitable to solo queue.

3) His passive

Swain’s Flock passive is, in my opinion, one of the biggest problems that skews his winrate between ranks. In low elo, players trade more often and dodge skillshots less, players fight more often and there is a higher kills per minute, which all translate to Swain collecting more souls, which in turn not only gives him bonus health (that doubles on ult), but also gives him a lot more healing and mana regen. In higher elo, players know how to punish Swain better in lane and know to shove and roam more often and there is lower kills per minute so Swain gets less stacks.

On a side note, with the recent release of more complex champions like Aphelios and Sylas, I feel like there is more room to give Swain a passive that is more reflective of the Vision aspect of Swain like the idea that was mentioned in the AMA.


Thanks for all of you who made it this far,here’s a gift.

On a more serious note, I hope this post sparks a constructive discussion where we get to hear from the Swain community ,high elo Swain players and Rioters, and by the end, at the very least get to understand each other’s perspective. I plan on making the Swain E guide that I had many people ask me to make on my other post (Sorry life got in the way ☹) and a Swain guide. In addition, I plan on getting back to streaming when I get my internet fixed up, hopefully this week.

Remember to stay safe, stay home and most importantly stay sane!

tl;dr: Swain mid lane champ. Swain good champ. Swain not fun sometimes. Swain no need buff, Swain need changes.

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