It’s been almost a month since the release of the durability patch in League of Legends – a huge update that aimed to reduce burst damage and increase survivability for every champion in the game. The durability update was well-received by the League community – but what do the pros think?
The durability update was one of the Riot Games balance team’s most controversial decisions. Burst damage has been a problem in League of Legends for some time, making champions who rely on sustained damage essentially invisible in the global meta.
But this was a drastic solution; simply increasing the base health, armor, and magic resist of every single champion in the game. There were those who criticized the changes for being too heavy-handed, and after the initial release of the patch, Riot was quick to follow up with fine-tuning for those champions whose issues hadn’t quite been addressed by these sweeping, generalized changes.
Those changes have now had a chance to settle, and we’re finally seeing what the future of a new, more durable League of Legends is going to look like. And now that pro play has returned, we’ve seen what that meta looks like in the hands of some of the best players in the world. But what do those players actually think about these changes?
The return of AD Carry outplay
After the opening weekends of the LCS and LEC, the meta doesn’t look too drastically different from what we saw towards the end of the Spring split and at MSI 2022. But the pros are feeling the effects of the durability shift, even if we’re not seeing too many blatant changes in the meta just yet.
Immortals mid laner Tristan ‘PowerOfEvil’ Schrage told Dexerto that, at least in the mid lane pool, there hasn’t been too much of a radical shift in champion picks.
“It’s somewhat the same that we have seen before, maybe more mages. The biggest change I’ve felt is AD carry being very dominant. They have been looking very strong — you see all the bans, sometimes in the first phase there’s five AD carry bans because they can just take over the game so you need to be very aware of how you draft.”
There’s a multitude of reasons for this – the most important of which being that AD Carries simply have the health and resistances to survive the onslaught of damage from support champions in the early game.
It wouldn’t be entirely out of place to see a Level 3 Leona or Alistar take the majority of an AD Carry’s health with ignite in an early trade, putting marksmen on a back foot from the very outset of the game. As TSM FTX AD Carry Edward ‘Tactical’ Ra describes, the changes “give you more of an opportunity [to counterplay] so it doesn’t feel as bad when you get ran down.”
“It’s all about damage recalculation and knowing your limits and being able to see different picks come out because they don’t get one shot by the enemy support,” he explained, “so you can eyeball the fight a little bit and play based on that”.
The AD Carry role has been in a difficult spot for a few years now. It’s a role that only tends to have a select few champions viable at any one time, and it’s notoriously difficult to balance marksmen in a way that benefits both marksmen players and the rest of their team.
They’re designed to be glass cannons, but their damage has often been overshadowed by the ability of tankier champions to provide consistent DPS without being blown to smithereens by even the smallest amount of burst. Patch 12.10 has already seen a big shift in the AD Carry champ pool, with both Kalista and Ezreal shooting from the bottom of the popularity pile to being the most-picked ADCs on 12.10.
Re-learning your limits
A core tenet of pro play in League of Legends is the fact that you’re constantly forced to relearn your limits.
Damage in LoL fluctuates wildly, at no time moreso than now, and that means you can never rely on what you think the damage of an ability is going to be. One patch could completely change the interaction between that ability and your health bar, and the only way to understand that properly is by limit testing. Whether that be through niche picks or risky trades in lane, you can only ever learn in League by getting things wrong once or twice to find the optimal pick or play.
MAD Lions mid laner Yasin ‘Nisqy’ Dinçer doesn’t think the 12.10 meta is even close to being ‘solved’, even after a month on the patch (and its subsequent tweaks in 12.11).
“There’s still some methods to be discovered, I believe. Right now I think everyone is kind of sticking to what they played last split – but I think in like a week or two or three, we’ll have a meta where I think we’re just going to see scaling mid laners and tanks everywhere.”
The mentality is a little different over in NA – or at least from Tatical’s perspective. He explained that “everyone is completely used to the new patch.”
“No one can even really imagine what it was like before the durability patch because we’ve played so many games. I have no memory. If I had to play on the old patch right now, I’d say it’s a completely different game. Hopefully, I can say that most players would be adjusted by now, given most of us play all day.”
In hindsight, was the durability update necessary?
The pro consensus on this is generally, yes. For pro players, the durability update has brought a breath of life back to a game that, for many, was beginning to get more than a little stale. It’s resolidified the individual strengths and weaknesses of each role, and has brought back strength to the AD Carry role (which is a good thing, depending on who you ask.)
SK Gaming support Erik ‘Treatz’ Wessen sees very little wrong with the durability update after the month of practice.
“I really like it, personally. I’ve always said that damage was too high in this game, and it felt like all the roles in the game were merged into one where everyone just has a bunch of damage and tanks aren’t really tanks.”
The only issues he foresees are with how tanky turrets have become. Tower diving has become much, much more difficult now, and that can significantly slow down the pace of games – something we’ve already seen in the LCK and LCS.
But it’s a potential problem with a fairly simple fix. “If the games are too slow and Riot wants to fix it,” explains Treatz, “then they might just nerf the towers again and make it easier to dive.”
Tactical agrees, saying the patch helped clarify and simplify the confusing damage numbers and role overlaps in League. “It’s all about damage recalculation and knowing your limits and being able to see different picks come out because they don’t get one shot by the enemy support. I think it was a very good patch because it feels like everything makes a bit more sense.”