League of Legends

[Long post] Karma changes on PBE are an undeserved archetype kill and this is not getting the discussion it should – reasons why this is wrong

LeagueofLegends1 - [Long post] Karma changes on PBE are an undeserved archetype kill and this is not getting the discussion it should - reasons why this is wrong
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FACT: Karma is currently a staple pick in competitive play. For variety’s sake in anticipation of World’s, it’s completely reasonable to nerf Karma alongside several picks who share that staple status, as seen on PBE.

I wanted to preface this post with that statement because it’s easy to fall into the discussion of should x champion be nerfed and devolve into a battle of bias accusations. This isn't about that.

I don’t think Riot is wrong for wanting to nerf Karma, even if the situation in which Karma is finding her third nerf this year is infuriating, with pro play arbitrarily deciding the champion they valued a fringe pick before 9.12 rising to 100% P/B status in the span of one patch of buffs, the most egregious of which was reverted within a single patch, only to remain uncomfortably high in presence and consequently nerfed again in 9.15 to a state almost objectively worse than before 9.12.

That said, the above is not the only fact relevant to this matter:

FACT: Karma does not fall into any of the categories Riot outlined as flags for champion nerfs.

You can read them here. Pro play considers champions with 80% presence in major leagues for two consecutive patches to be nerf-worthy (or 90+% in a single patch) and Karma's has been hovering 55% for two patches. Moreover…

FACT: Karma’s presence in pro play continues to fall from patch to patch.


of how Karma's pickrate in pro play has evolved since 9.12.

Karma's pickrate trends down as nerfs come and pro play's incredibly inflexible concept of meta budges. Is this a guarantee that Karma won't be seen in more than half of games at Worlds? No. But if your goal is to further dissuade a downward trending champion pick to provide better entertainment for your tournament, your submission of changes shouldn't be a sledgehammer of a nerf that effectively kills an archetype by targeting its only freely-usable damaging ability. For reference, AP Karma makes for 88% of its current picks in competitive.

Read:  In light of the upcoming Dark Harvest nerfs, Riot really needs to reevaluate Kha'Zix...

Which brings me to my main point: the prelimary change Karma received on PBE is an archetype killing nerf that is not at all proportional to Karma’s offenses as an overrepresented champion in pro play. To answer why the changes are unfair to Karma and its players, we have to address the age old question:


What was Karma actually designed to do?

A question with a simple answer that is incredibly hard to get across. On one hand you have the people who believe “Karma is a support being played in lanes she doesn’t belong in” (which I suspect might include Rioters responsible for this change). On the other, you have the cult of old Karma (which by the way existed for a third of the time “new” Karma has) who brigade every single official Riot communication avenue there is to talk about the injustice of losing two fans and two badly designed mechanics, and love to pretend the answer doesn’t exist.

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But guess what, her designers provided in-depth rationale in 2013 unlike anything we get nowadays:

“Originally envisioned as a support, Karma’s fringe successes actually came from players using her in the top or mid lanes as an AP burst mage with support abilities, much like Zilean or Morgana. We like this direction and want to encourage you to boost both her offensive and support abilities by building AP. We also want to make sure she can hold her own as a solo or with a lane partner.

Finally, we’ve updated her skills so allies are reliant on Karma, but Karma’s not reliant on them. She’s got enough power at her fingertips to feel strong as a mage or as a support without teammates having to work in perfect concert for you to be effective.”

Let me highlight that for you:


" want to encourage you to boost both her offensive and support abilities by building AP."


"We want to make sure she can hold her own as a solo or with a lane partner <...> as a mage or as a support."

All versions of Karma build AP. As she was designed to do. As were literally encouraged by her designers to do. This nerf on PBE isn't targeting one specific subset of Karma, it's an attempt to shoehorn her into one role despite the explicit intention of her designers, despite there being no justification for a nerf of this caliber by any metric. In solo queue, Karma's a 50% winrate champion with ~10% pickrate and sub 2% banrate. Her players don't deserve the mistreatment of crippling her Q ratio to be lower than any other similar ability on a mage or a support.

My suggestion to anyone who cares to hear:

Attack the waveclear. Like Lissandra illustrated early this year, nerfing the early cooldown of a bread and butter ability is enough to remove the champion from pro play where waveclear is king. Karma's already statistically one of the worst laners in competitive with negative average stats for gold, cs and experience @10 and 15. You can literally add 3 or 4 seconds to her rank 1 Q, scaling down to live values at rank 5, and watch her disappear. This would still be a brutal nerf, as it was for Lissandra. Let the rest of us mortal players who make up for 99.9% of the playerbase have an endgame fantasy to strive for instead of nuking her primary way of scaling in any role because of the whims of pro play.


TL;DR | Karma’s PBE nerfs don’t answer to Riot official criteria for nerfs. They’re way too drastic for what Karma does to pro play drafts and they’re a clear attempt to cripple an archetype Karma was explicitly designed to fulfill. “We want to encourage you to boost both her offensive and support abilities by building AP <…> as a mage or as a support.”

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