While the answer to that last question is "Yes" - thank you Courage of the Colossus - the largest changes to our darling game were the assassin reworks. Ten assassins changed to varying degrees, four being almost complete reworks, while the other six received a variety of smaller changes. It’s pretty easy to get excited about the shiny new assassins in solo queue, where coordination is fleeting and people seem to struggle with the concept of “Don’t feed the Rengar.” But it’s much harder to get a grasp on where these champions will end up when it comes to competitive play.
With IWCA on the horizon, the first international tournament utilizing the preseason changes, it seems appropriate to take a deeper look at the new kids on the block.
To help start this discussion, we’ve borrowed a format from our friends in the Fighting Game Community. With a panel assembled from our broadcast team at IWCA, this is the Reworked Assassin Tier List.
This tier list is based on the panelists’ experiences and theorycrafting done in the preseason. Panelists were asked to rank each of the ten reworked assassins as either S, A, B or F. We’re skipping C and D because we only wanted to focus on the best - sorry low-tier gods, this isn’t the tier list for you.
S- Everyone should play this champ; good luck winning lane against this. Must pick or ban.
A- Great champion, can be picked most games.
B- Good champ, potentially situational.
F- F is for failure, which is what you’ll be if you pick this in competitive.
Placement within the tiers is not taken into account.
When thinking about competitive play, I like to look at how much value a champion can bring to a team. LeBlanc and Fizz are both champions that, for a while, have been very powerful in the mid lane thanks to their surprising amount of utility, insane mobility, strong side-lane pressure and lane dominance. With the recent changes, I expect them to find these strengths once more and rise in popularity among competitive.
My A-tier picks are champions that I feel could be strong in the right comps and certain matchups, but will vary depending on the player and how the meta evolves. My B-rank picks are the champions I see as least likely to show up, largely due to their big issues in the past still being big issues. This may change when people gain greater understanding of the champions, but for now, I see it as unlikely.
None of the assassin reworks should disrupt the current ecosystem of competitive League, and those which are successful should be graded on how well they slot into the 6.21 meta. Standout picks will be LeBlanc, Rengar and Kha’Zix due to their trade patterns and threat to the rising hyper-carry priority - like Vayne. The outlier to this is the relationship between Jungle/Mid picks which prioritizes the damage and responsibility of killing the backline; assassins moving into the mid lane would open up Courage of the Colossus Disruption Junglers rather than duelists.
I think, overall, the assassins we’re seeing everywhere now have unique identities. Healthy or not, they are definitely unique. There are, in some cases, more counterplays than a Zhonya’s on your ADC (not in Rengar’s case anymore, which was my one saving grace before) and obvious strengths and weaknesses to play around. The strongest assassins at present actually have multi-purpose spells (Rengar, LeBlanc) that let them have unique build paths or deny counterplay entirely.
I hate assassins.
No, really, I hate assassins.
Adding depth to the game with new abilities such as Talon's parkour or LeBlanc’s new ultimate is always great but the main problem with assassins right now is that the Colossus mastery makes tanks flavour of the month and, as such, assassins tend to struggle. The one assassin that is worth playing right now is LeBlanc because of the powerful early game, letting you snowball the game through its early game pressure into either roams or just chain-killing the enemy mid.
The one assassin that is worth playing right now is LeBlanc because of the powerful early game, letting you snowball the game through its early game pressure into either roams or just chain-killing the enemy mid.
Kha’Zix has an improved early game that makes him S-tier and puts him straight alongside Nidalee, Elise and Lee Sin in my opinion. Ekko, Talon and Zed all had changes that benefit them, and are likely to be played by some mid laners, leaving them as A-tier for me. They’re not S-tier because each still has weaknesses and there’s still uncertainty about the state of mid lane meta. LeBlanc, Fizz and Katarina are B-tier to me because a lot of their pre-existing issues weren’t fixed. Either tough laning phases or an insane need to snowball to be useful keep them in a category that’s unlikely to be played. Akali and Shaco are F-Tier as they’re difficult to fit into competitive play. Massive weaknesses and tough team play aspects keep them firmly on the bench.
Akali and Shaco are F-Tier as they’re difficult to fit into competitive play.
Unsatisfied with a few paragraphs to define such differing opinions? Tune in to International Wild Card Allstars to watch the Analyst Desk break down their tier lists while the teams go head-to-head in Assassins Mode. You can find all of the info you need on the 2016 Allstar events here.
Broadcast begins on Thursday 1st December at 13:00 CET.