Hey everyone – this is riste – that positive-vibe League Garen streamer who has been involved with this champion for about three seasons now. Ultimately, I'm here to crack open a discussion as to how Garen can become a better champion and more enjoyable to play from a player-perspective.
First, let's lay down some ground goals here. I'm not looking to make my champion busted. If we historically look at the buffs Riot has been giving Garen lately, it only really makes him a monster-pick in low elo, which to the distaste of the community (along with the 53-55% winrate) leads him to getting nerfed. Meddler has stated in the past that he finds no overall room to buff Garen. Garen you could argue is in a fine spot. You could additionally argue that he's in a terrible spot because he has almost zero competitive viability and (besides the midgame power spike) his winrate plummets the longer the game goes on.
I don't think increasing Garen's damage is a good idea. You could argue that Garen's true power is tied to the Villain Mechanic and it's a terrible design. That's fine. However, I don't see Villain mechanic going away without a rework. I want to propose easy-to add stuff that is attractive for Riot to actually add for Garen compared to waiting for a "rework" to solve the many problems the champion has.
Make Garen's spin automatically execute minions at possibly 5hp or less
Let's talk about Garen's spin. It's a basic and very easy use to ability, but here's something that isn't talked about – The ability is probably one of the worst abilities to farm in League of Legends. Why is this?
Garen's spin starts with 5 overall spins over the course of 3 seconds. That means that at level 1-3, he is spinning every .6 seconds. At level 4, Garen gets an additional spin, landing a spin every 0.5 seconds. At level 7, every .42 seconds, level 10, .375 seconds, and so on. At level 16 is where Garen gets 10 spins total over the course of three seconds. The frequency of the spin is fine late, but early it's absolutely horrid.
Why is this a problem? Garen's spin is not the ability it once was. The damage of the ability is poor, and understandably so given how much Garen was a lane monster in the past. But this ability is terrible for pushing waves because you will forfeit a ton of CS doing so. The gap between spins early is so noticable compared to other AOE abilities that it has a big, inviting window for minion damage to steal minions right underneath your spin.
You may ask yourself – "Well, riste, everyone who has AOE abilities that last multiple seconds deals with the problem of not being able to get every CS." And trust me, I've faced this argument. However, something you need to keep in mind is that Garen is a champion that sacrifices his auto-attack to enable his waveclear, and isn't permitted from auto attacking until the ability is over. Think of champions like Cassiopea, Nasus, and Singed. Upon casting their aoe DoT abilities, they have a big X-factor in securing minions compared to Garen – Auto attacks. Garen has to instead playing the chance game of securing at least 50% of the wave possibly when hard shoving it. Garen's strength is waveclear but he has to sacrifice so much farm in order to keep waves out and away from his tower.
Example 1 – Notice how I lose almost my entire wave with two points in spin, and six bonus attack damage.
This isn't even talking about Cannon Minions. You will lose so many Cannons to one measly little caster minion if you even dare spinning over one with a minion nearby. This is simply just a frustrating experience because you're forced to pay the price of more than half your wave sometimes just to shove out. And the gold and CS Garen loses from shoving definitely adds up, when you compared to other toplaners who have resets for executing minions or aoe abilities with one singular window of damage for clean cs'ing. You essentially role a dice every time you spin over a wave as Garen.
With my proposed change, if Riot allowed minions around 5-10hp to be executed automatically by Garen's spin, he'd actually be able to farm better. Aurelion Sol has a similar feature, and Garen could benefit greatly from this.
Garen is advertised as an easy to pickup champion and his power is gated by how low his skill-ceiling is. I'd argue there is virtually no skill expression lost when adding this because of how almost every wave you spin into will have varying levels of health on top of 1-2 waves of minion damage layered into their hp bars. Garen's spin is so painful to clear early for farm that it diminishes avenues for skill expression because you're always playing around the rng of your spin meeting the mark to execution a minion (slowly) before the caster minion orb touches it for 5hp.
Double W Stacks on Champion Kills, Cannons, and Towers/Dragon's/Baron
Almost every stacking champion has this feature. Garen is one champion who simply doesn't have this. Garen additionally has a cap to his stacking. It's a counter-intuitive feature to Garen players to leave laning phase and only see their W halfway stacked. Instead of grouping to bring Garen's valuable level 11 Powerspike, a Garen player will often-times feel conflicted for wanting to group vs wanting to attend to farm up waves even after laning phase is over, just to get the incredibly valued (and part of his power budget) W stacks. With this change, a well-executed Garen player can stack his W up a wave or two earlier, which really rewards skill expression and teaches newer Garen players (and League players for that matter) prioritizing big objectives while speeding up the ability to encourage that said Garen player to focus even bigger ones.
This said change additionally rewards good Garen play while adding to his snowball in a miniscule, but helpful way. .50 armor and magic resist for killing a champion instead of .25, for example.
Give Garen's Villain Mark a debuff that gives true-sight for a few seconds upon dealing damage
This is probably going to be my most controversial proposal, but I invite the discussion because right now this is a big problem that Garen faces – executing stealth champions. Currently in League – if Garen channels his Demacian Justice to execute a target, and the target goes stealth mid-channel, the ultimate will cancel all-together, allowing Garen to not get the kill and the target getting the chance to escape.
Stealthing has been a historic counterplay element for all-sorts of targeted abilities. Riot Games has grown pretty comfortable about Garen keeping the Villain Mechanic. Hunting the Villain is sometimes very difficult because of how slow Garen is as a champion. The Villain Mechanic however is a large portion of Garen's power. Garen faces huge counterplay because most stealth champions have heightened mobility that exceeds Garen's. The addition of stealth really prevents Garen from ever being able to carry out his execute even if they're the villain.
If this debuff was exclusive to the Villain only, and only activated in Garen is successful in even getting to and touching the Villain, I believe a chance like this would be balanced but still allow some counterplay for the Villain (focusing Garen's allies while avoiding Garen). Right now with Vayne's, Kha'Zix, and Kai'Sa being rampant among solo queue, Garen would have the tools to be able to take out these champions if he manages to actually go on top of these above champions.
Obviously I'm proposing that this is enabled only for the Villain and only if Garen manages to successfully touch the Villain with damage.
The reason why I'm proposing this change this because Garen is heavily encouraged to focus the villain. It's how his damage is maximized. However the experience of the Villain Mechanic could be improved if Garen was given an extra tool or two (besides more damage) to hunt and take down the marked target. It would also add to his identity in being able to be "the Juggernaut and toplane pick" for taking out high-priority stealthing targets. Right now Garen's identity is extremely lacking because he doesn't do anything better than another champion in one specific catagory, other than spinning fast and yelling Demacia. A change like this brings Garen one step closer to seeing the light of competitive play, if we ever see the chance. I don't know about you guys, but I believe in the idealism that every champ should have sometime that could be eyed by the pro's and possibly picked up someday. Garen…currently does not having anything like that whatsoever. Cho'gath almost does everything Garen does but better, and has been picked over Garen competitively for many reasons.
I think this wraps up my current thoughts here. Again, I'm open to discussion and debate about the weight these additions hold in terms of solo queue balance (The only thing that has data that contributes to Garen's balance in the first place). My goal is to not bring Garen back to a 55% winrate, but to focus on changes that make Garen feel better to be played, and adds a bit more to his identity (If only a tad).
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© Post "Hi, hello, how are you – I’m riste – A Masters (GM before the reset) Garen on North America with over 4 Million Champion Mastery Points and I want to talk about how my champion could be improved without making him busted. (Season 1 Garen)" for game League of Legends.
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