League dev sparks controversy after one-tricking “broken” champ to Grandmaster

Carver Fisher

Phreak’s been working on the League dev team for a while now, and he’s the type to put his money where his mouth is with game balance by maintaining a high rank while working on the game. But the way he hit Grandmaster has sparked controversy amongst players.

Balancing a game like League of Legends is a tall order considering how many moving parts there are, and the process of diagnosing what makes a champion or item OP takes time.

That said, there are cases where a champion’s win rate sits a bit too high for too long. Maokai benefitted massively from the Season 14 item changes in support, with items like Solstice Sleigh and Trailblazer giving him unrivaled initiation potential without many drawbacks.

Phreak hit Grandmaster rank by playing the vast majority of his matches on Maokai, causing some community uproar from those who hoped he’d have nerfed the champion by now.

Phreak slammed for using League’s best champ to climb in ranked

At the time of writing, Maokai is the best champion in League of Legends statistically speaking. He has the highest Emerald+ win rate at 54.18%, a high pick and ban rate, and no truly bad matchups at support.

What’s more, nerfs to the champion mostly just pushed him out of the jungle. In the support role, his damage and jungle clear don’t matter all that much, meaning that these nerfs have made him weaker in the role he dominated in Season 13, but have left him still strong in support.

League players’ frustration with Maokai came to a head with Phreak hitting GM while playing the champion for the vast majority of his matches.

While many congratulated him on the achievement, others thought the champion he was playing was more of a factor in how he got there than his actual skill level being that high.

“A hardstuck d4 player suddenly gets to GM abusing the most broken role and champion in the game,” replied one Twitter user, with many others claiming both his champion and role are ELO-inflated and don’t require skill.

However, there are a ton of arguments from big creators in the space that run counter to this line of thought, claiming that Phreak getting to GM is a huge milestone no matter who he was playing.

“Doesn’t matter if the champ is strong or he did that to get a good win rate, he at least identified it and still piloted it at the level necessary to do so, while everyone commenting are the type of ppl who refuse to play Annie ’cause she’s too easy’ and stay stuck in low mmrs forever thinking they have mechanics (you don’t),” LS said in Phreak’s defense.

Azael also called out players who were trying to find ways to take away from how qualified the folks on the balance team are to do their job.

The practice of playing what wins games isn’t exactly a crazy concept, and Phreak’s just taking advantage of what the meta favors. While it’s understandable that players are frustrated considering he plays a big role in balancing the game, patches can only roll out so fast.

This rings true for Janna, Phreak’s other main support pick he used to climb, considering she has the second-best Emerald+ win rate below Maokai. Considering how often Maokai gets banned, it isn’t surprising he had a backup champion in mind.

Additionally, Maokai’s getting some slight nerfs in patch 14.5 along with a buff that hopes to put him back in the jungle, so he’ll hopefully have his power level in support pared back soon.

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