Riot prioritize “AFK Yuumi” playstyle with new League of Legends nerfs

Yuumi from league of legendsRiot Games

Yuumi is getting yet another set of changes in League of Legends patch 12.23, with Riot making a decision to prioritize her “AFK” playstyle over her “active” one. Developers want to make her accessible for new players without being broken in high elo.

Yuumi has been a contentious figure in League of Legends since her release. The Magical Cat plays vastly differently to the other 160 champions in the game, hopping on allies to take her around the Rift rather than going on her own four paws.

However it’s made her a nightmare to balance. On release, she had the lowest win rate in history ⁠— below 30%. Once players got the hang of her, this skyrocketed past 60%. It’s been wildly fluctuating since, and the community is growing frustrated.

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At her peak power, Yuumi can just attach onto a fed ally, do nothing but make said ally unkillable, with minimal counterplay. Riot admits this is unhealthy, but it’s ultimately the playstyle they want to force players into.

Lead game designer Matt Leung-Harrison told players ahead of LoL patch 12.23 the developers will be shifting their focus towards balancing “AFK Yuumi”, as they coined it, by giving her less agency without making her too oppressive when doing ‘nothing’.

“Yuumi’s main value to league is that she is a champion that can help a player bring their friend into the game by drastically reducing the importance of one of League’s skill tests (positioning), which allows the new player to focus their mental energy elsewhere,” Leung-Harrison said.

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Bewitching Yuumi in League of LegendsRiot Games
Riot want to make Yuumi better for new players without being oppressive in pro play, and that means cutting her agency.

“Each change we make to increase the power of ‘Active Yuumi’ (as coined) directly makes it less likely to succeed in hitting the goal for the intended audience, new players, especially when it involves Yuumi jumping out in a teamfight where she can die instantly.

“While Active Yuumi is less frustrating to play against, we can only go so far until it’s prohibitively difficult for a new player to play Yuumi and risk exacerbating the pro problem as they will pilot Active Yuumi excellently, while normal players will struggle to get value.”

Riot are targeting this specifically in the upcoming December update by nerfing both her ultimate and passive. Her shield will now have a much higher cooldown early in lane, making her more vulnerable. The root duration on her Final Chapter ultimate will also be cut.

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The changes are targeted towards keeping her pro play strength down ⁠— she had a 95% presence at the Worlds 2022 Main Event, with 68 bans and only eight games played with a 100% win rate. Once they get the numbers right, they’ll start shifting her playstyle further.

“Long term we want to tune Yuumi to be weaker for sophisticated players, so that she can be tuned around her intended skill bracket,” Leung-Harrison continued. “These changes are the first step at that.

“The intention of the changes is so that she is less likely to get out of lane unscathed in high elo, which would directly reduce the frustration as a second order effect. The root duration change is to make it so when she gets out of lane, she’s not reducing the counterplay by as much.”

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