League of Legends

Reviewing Taliyah: Why League’s most unpopular champ is just that (and likely to stay that way)

LeagueofLegends1 - Reviewing Taliyah: Why League's most unpopular champ is just that (and likely to stay that way)
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It's been almost impossible to miss, but in case you did, there has recently been a relatively large number of posts about Taliyah being a dead champ or ignored by riot.

I think that while some of these posts are valid, the whole #JusticeForTaliyah meme going around on her and other subreddits is both counterproductive and factually untrue. Taliyah is unpopular, but, outside the jungle role, not outsizedly weak, and her lack of popularity + the recent drop is due to different factors than champion balance.

In this post I'd like to look at the following:

  1. Why is Taliyah unpopular?
  2. Current Issues
  3. Should Riot buff Taliyah?
  4. Are there other changes that could improve her playrate?

I will mostly focus on jungle Taliyah, but some of this is applicable to her in other roles as well. As for me, I'm a Taliyah main that's hovered around Diamond since S4, onetricking her since release,
userName=Sagarmatra - Reviewing Taliyah: Why League's most unpopular champ is just that (and likely to stay that way)

and currently have 850k points on my main account.

1. First of all, why is Taliyah unpopular?

Taliyah has been an unpopular champ since release. Even in her heyday, she never broke more than a few percents pickrate, only seeing real popularity in proplay, where she had a 57% presence throughout S8. Generally the lower the elo, the less popular Taliyah is. The reasons for this are, in my opinion:

  • Clunkiness:
    • Taliyah uses vector targetting for arguably her most key spell, her W. For many players, especially in lower elos, this can be an immediate turnoff.
    • Taliyah has no real way of dealing with an enemy inside a minion wave. Without AoE it can take several Q's to tear through a minionwave, and the way W+E works, the minions can absorb a large part of a combo.
    • Part of the above, but a minor point: comboing several people with W+E often only signicantly damages the first enemy, as the E mines are gone when the next person would trigger them.
    • Taliyah has some of the highest mana costs in the game, on par with Xerath's, but lacks a way to regain mana outside runes/items.
  • Worked Ground (WG): Arguably, I could put this under clunkiness but I think it deserves its own point. Worked Ground is (in my personal opinion) great champion design, but suffers from a legacy problem. WG forces Taliyah players to keep moving in order to gain maximum damage output, and allows her to have the ridiculous damage she has on a full Q. In the jungle, WG is generally a minor point outside teamfights, where it can be awkward. In the midlane, this is a major stumbling block for new Taliyah players, as they often over-use WG and end up asphyxiating themselves. Riot has tried to fix this by significantly lowering the cooldown of WG. In order to this however, they had to remove the movement speed buff she gained on WG, which leads into my next point.
  • Susceptibleness:
    • Between her passive only working out of combat, her ult being cancelled by damage and no longer gaining MS on WG, Taliyah is very easily overextended, as her E slow is weak early game, and W is a very delayed skill.
    • Taliyah's cooldowns are long early game (14s on W, 12s on E) and she needs to use her skills to clear waves/camps quickly. This makes it easier for someone invading her/ganking her to catch her "pants down". Not to mention the significant mana investment
    • Aside from Q, Taliyah's skills are midrange at best, and optimal use of W in a combo sees her using her self-peel skill to bring enemies to her. If she misjudges her damage, she's on full cooldowns with the enemy champ right on top of her, and unlike Ryze or Vlad or other midrange mages, she has no healing/MS buffs to help her get out.
    • Taliyah has relatively little agency, as she does not have reliable movement abilities or CC.
    • Taliyah has very low base armor (20) and medium health.
  • Feast or Famine-ness:
    • Between mana issues, big reliance on AP-scaling and oneshot-or-get-oneshot playstyle, Taliyah is very feast or famine. A new player will often pick up Taliyah, fail an early gank, and spend the rest of the game irreparably behind.
    • At the same time, almost everyone has a story of a Taliyah picking up a random triple kill early game and proceeding to oneshot you with her 2s cd Q for the rest of it.
    • W as a skill is slow and telegraphed, and once flashed leaves Taliyah generally at the mercy at the enemy champion. At the same time, if it hits people generally take a large chunk of damage.

2. Current Issues

Taliyah currently sports the lowest overall pickrate in the game, sitting at a cumulative pickrate across all roles of 0.85% in plat+. In the jungle role, she is one of the game's worst performers, sitting at a 43% winrate and losing a third of her playerbase. Meanwhile, in the midlane she's performing quite well, sitting at 52% winrate (55% winrate according to Riot August). In support she's doing even better, approaching 53% winrate. Both of these numbers are at very low pickrates, but it is clear that Taliyah mainly struggles in the jungle.

It has to be mentioned that Taliyah is not necessarily a onetrick-champion (which would make these higher mid/support winrates a lesser issue) but
is played about equally by onetricks and non-onetricks.

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In response to these numbers, several buffs were put on the PBE earlier, but 2 (increased armor, reduced Worked Ground area) out of these 3 were pulled, leaving only increased damage to monsters. First of all, my thesis is that this a good buff, and that all the others are unnecessary unless jungle Taliyah is still unplayable after this. For now, let's look at what made Taliyah drop in winrate.

At risk of stating the obvious, item changes hurt Taliyah jungle more than most other champs. Specifically, the removal of Runic Echoes harmed her, and most AP junglers. A great example here is Ekko, who dropped 5% in the jungle as he gained 3-4% winrate in mid, with exactly the same build and items. Once you get in game, you realize that the issues are clearing and mana. Taliyah always struggled to clear camps pre-echoes, and because that one item spike is now further away, she has a longer period where her clears are crippled. At the same time, the one item spike is weaker, at least in terms of mana and clearing. Whichever first item Taliyah goes, she no longer gains mana from hitting jungle camps, and she lacks the 250% bonus damage on ludens proc vs monsters.

So what does the buff do? The buff is a revert of an old nerf to Taliyah jungle. It removes the damage dropoff of hitting multiple Q stones on a monster. In practice, this moves Taliyah's Q from a 210-510+1.35 to a 350-850+2.25 damage spell to monsters, a very sizeable buff. Improving her damage like this does two things to her clear: It speeds it up, and makes it cheaper. Looking back at what part of her jungling was hit, this seems like a great buff.

NB: I haven't played her on PBE, so this is speculation. The numbers might be over/undertuned, but the general direction seems good.

3. Should Riot Buff Taliyah?

When it comes to jungle Taliyah, yes. Definitely. As I've outlined above, the currently proposed buff is a great way to buff jungle Taliyah specifically.

As to a more general buff, I would argue against it. If we look back at the reasons why Taliyah is unpopular, the vast majority of them are systemic issues. Neither during S8, when she had a 57% pro presence, or during the patch in S7 where she was busted and had a 65% winrate, she never broke 10% pickrate. And she's become more clunky since, with single target Q (and debatably the WG changes). As such, real numbers buffs would put her in a "I don't want to play her but she's freelo" status, which also comes with weird issues like when Asol was busted but still unpopular.

Meanwhile, systemic changes would be a whole different ballgame, and I'd rather not have riot rework my main, but I'll take a stab at some suggestions below.

4. Are there other changes that could improve her playrate?

In the past, I've suggested smaller buffs. I still agree with most of them, as I think they would lead to improved pickrates, but I concede that most of them would need accompanying nerfs. Changes that could fix some of her player experience without being a significant buff are:

  • Q-Edge: A "recent" bugfix (where you could cast a full Q for 1 mana) was fixed by making the game always cast a single rock when you were moving across the edge of the circle. This feels incredibly shit. I would like to see a change where it then maybe overlaps the circles a little much, but it opts to cast a full Q where possible, as this is generally what people are looking to do.
  • When comboing multiple people with E+W it is an utter crapshoot who gets hit by E and who doesn't, as when one person gets hit by an E mine, it doesn't affect the person behind them (except when they're close enough) and sometimes their position next to each other means the person behind still gets hit by some mines that missed the other guy, but not the full combo. Make it so that mines last ~0.2 seconds after their initial explosion so they hit everyone that gets combo'd.

Other changes that might positively affect her player experience are W hitbox clarification or the interaction between her ult and dots (it's great when you try to ult 6 seconds after brand hit you, but between his passive and liandries you still get knocked off, and then we're not even talking about those times you accidentally ult past someone rocking a sunfire).

Closing thoughts

I don't think any of the changes I have proposed would massively increase her playrate.As I've tried to show, the champ has never been a numbers issue, but instead an amalgamation of factors that make a champion unpopular stacked on a single champ.

Looking at large changes that would see accompanying nerfs, I would suggest mana changes, some kind of survivability boost after using W+E, returning MS to WG, and a way to deal with enemies inside a minion wave. I am not a game designer however, so I will leave those details to the guys at Riot that get paid.

I've tried to cite most of the bigger statements, but if you feel there's anything I need to clarify let me know.

Source: Original link


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