Riot nerfing League’s surprise enchanter Smite top strategy with new support rework

Battle Queen Janna in League of LegendsRiot Games

After taking ranked queues and pro play by storm in League of Legends Season 12, Riot is finally putting an end to the enchanter Smite top strategy. While no champions are being directly nerfed, Riot is reworking how support items and Objective Bounties work to plug the holes.

If you thought Janna would be the best top laner in the game ⁠— with a 52.58% win rate ⁠— just by taking Smite and roaming permanently in League of Legends Season 12, then you’re a savant.

However, that’s been just the strategy since the new season launched thanks to a perfect storm of changes including Objective Bounties, the teleport rework, and top lane’s waning impact.

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It’s not just Janna benefitting from the strategy too: Karma, Zilean, Bard, and more have been able to take Smite and abuse the same roaming strategy. Instead of laning traditionally, you abandon the top side to support your jungler and curate skirmishes across the map.

“The way it works is basically to have the threat of invading enemy jungle with smite while aiming to get your mid and bot lane exponentially ahead in gold and items,” former LCS pro Samson ‘Lourlo’ Jackson explained to Dexerto.

Zilean in League of LegendsRiot Games
Enchanters taking Smite top lane has overtaken the Season 12 meta.

Riot started taking notice when its win rate crept up to 60% at higher ranks as it exposed a fundamental flaw in League of Legends’ balance. Now, they’re taking action in League patch 12.4.

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The February 16 update will include a hefty nerf to the enchanter Smite top strategy. However, it won’t be done by directly nerfing Janna or any of the champions who abuse it. Instead, Riot are looking at Spellthief’s Edge and Black Mist Scythe ⁠— like they did the last time supports went top lane in Season 10 ⁠— and slamming stricter penalties on top.

The minion farming penalty has been halved to two minions per minute for the first five minutes of the game before reduced gold is granted. The farming penalty is also more severe earlier in the game.

However, another big change is the adjustment to bounties. Top laners fighting against the roaming strategy racked up big bounties thanks to their CS leads, but this is being cut as part of the update.

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Objective Bounties will now be halved if you have multiple support items on a team too.

The changes will be shipped as part of League patch 12.4 on February 16. However, Riot hasn’t ruled out further nerfs to specific supports if the strategy still proves potent.

“I don’t expect these to be the last of the changes in the space, but any larger ones need more time to validate,” developer ‘Phlox’ confirmed on February 8.