League’s high-damage meta is changing in Season 12 to add more “counterplay”

Andrew Amos
Death Blossom Kha'Zix in League of Legends
Riot Games

League of Legends’ high-damage meta is changing in Season 12, but don’t expect a “tank meta.” Riot wants to nerf burst damage across the board to give more counterplay to squishy targets like AD carries and supports, but won’t just “delete assassins.”

League of Legends has become quite the fast-paced game in the last few years. From the rune overhauls to the Season 11 item rework, each season seems to add more damage ⁠— and less ways to stop it.

Clips of carries dying in split-seconds have gone viral, and burst damage is king.

However, Riot wants to change that high-damage meta in League of Legends Season 12, adding more counterplay and clarity to the MOBA. In a December 16 blog post, lead gameplay designer Bryan ‘Axes’ Salvatore outlined one of the developer’s primary goals for 2022 is cutting down burst damage.

Zed LoL
Riot Games
Assassins are once again in Riot’s firing line in League of Legends Season 12.

“We want to keep the game exciting with high stakes decision-making, but we also want to ensure that fights are reasonably understandable and counterplay is still possible,” Salvatore said.

“We’re still very early in this investigation, but our current belief is that burst kills happen too quickly and too often.”

There are specific areas of damage Riot are targeting. While burst mages and assassins come to mind first, overall they want to tone down damage in the “mid-late game against very low defense champions” like AD carries and enchanters supports ⁠— without outright “deleting assassins.”

“The state we want to avoid is games where the actions you take in the gameplay don’t really matter. This can happen when burst damage is so high that the correct play becomes staying far away from enemy champions for extended periods of time, and that’s why we’re investigating it right now,” Salvatore added on Reddit.

Lunar Empress Lux in League of Legends
Riot Games
Burst mages like Lux have suffered the most in Riot’s internal playtests so far.

Riot internally tested reducing both champion damage by 20% and healing and shielding by the same amount. The test, Salvatore said, saw “tanks become very overpowered” as well as healing, while burst mages suffered the most.

The advantage of late game fights becoming “more legible and engaging with better structure” didn’t outweigh the negatives though, with Riot aiming for more precise changes rather than a sweeping overhaul.

“The goal isn’t to ensure you can never get one-shotted, force a ‘tank meta,’ or any other hyperbolic ideas,” Salvatore stated.

While details for League of Legends patch 12.1 are still up in the air, it’s likely small changes will be shipped out across Season 12 rather than all at once. This could include the Rengar changes, with the Pridestalker’s mini-rework being delayed from Season 11 to now.

We’ll update you with specific details once they’re made public.

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