I Can Fix That: Akali, the Fist of Shadow



Sat 2nd Mar 2013 - 5:45pm

With the recent championships, I've been intrigued by how much their picks and bans differ so much from our - at least, my - picks and bans. Additionally, Morello's post to the forums, hinting coming nerfs to Vi, Xin Zhao and Jarvan IV have struck me as true. The recurring appearence of the former two in both Ranked play, as well as normals, have been a recurring pain in my hindquarters.

On the other hand, in high level pro play, champions like Elise and Olaf have been very much a recurring pick or ban in the last IEM Sao Paolo, and it kinda got me thinking. If even pro players have so much trouble with certain champions, what is there to be done to fix these champions?

An example

AkaliFirst champion that springs to mind - not to mention she's the first in alphabetical order - is Akali, the Fist of Shadow. If you tuned in to the latest LCS Europe, Wickd displayed a tremendous performance on Akali for Evil Geniuses. Now don't get me wrong. Wickd did in fact put out an amazing performance, but my problem lies in what lurks behind this performance.

While the k/d wasn't all that impressive on itself, especially on an assassin, he did play a very important role in getting kills for his team. In this game, there was a gank where Wickd combined with Froggen to kill TheTess on Ezreal. What in fact happened - kudos to Qu1kshot for actually noticing - was that Wickd used his Shadow Dance on minions twice, then Flashed towards TheTess to put his last charge to TheTest (haha, lame pun) and combine with Froggen's Gold and Card to quickly drop Ezreal in his tracks.

Problem? The items Wickd had in his inventory. While the Sorcerer's Shoes and Hextech Gunblade seem like logical choices from a hybrid assassin, the fact that he added a Warmog's Armor, a Haunting Guise and the ingredients to a Sunfire Cape means there's something wrong with the damage balance.

The amount of mobility - read the aforementioned example if you don't believe she has mobility - combined with an up-to 8 second stealth plus Ar/MRes boost, and some really low cooldown abilities that refund Energy if properly utilized... it's a broken strong combination. The idea of actually building very durable (Warmog's, Sunfire) whilst being able to outburst say... a full-on AP Kassadin. That's imbalanced.

I can fix that!

Broken DanceWhat my problem with Akali is, is that her damages - which are not laughable - are on a way too low cooldown. Additionally, her single target damage dealing dash (Shadow Dance) has a longer range than the way lower damage AoE blink for Kassadin (Riftwalk). And if that wasn't enough, her main damage dealing abilities (Shadow Dance and Mark of the Assassin) both proc Rylai's Crystal Scepter for the full single target slow, which makes her pinning you down a breeze as soon as he actually builds the Rylai's. But my problem is how much the Gunblade actually increases her damage.

HGBWickd displayed that the only damage dealing item she needs is the Gunblade itself. From there, she can actually just build fulltank and be fine with it. Her sustain, damage and survivability that come with the build - also partially through Twin Disciples - are badly balanced, and I think there's something wrong with a champion if one item makes them deal carry-like damage throughout every stage of the game. Building durability afterwards and having no drop in damage indicates a flaw in the design to me.

I have a few things in mind to balance this problem. First off is a simple range nerf to Shadow Dance. There is no way any champion should be able to move 2800 range in 5 seconds without using Teleport or a long range teleporting ability. Additionally, I feel that the cooldowns on Shadow Dance, Crescent Slash and Mark of the Assassin are too damn low. The way she can utilize all of those abilities is rediculous: Q into R and E, then waiting on another R into Q and E again. The AP Ratio on that - all of it within about 4 or 5 seconds - is 3,2. And I'm not even counting a Lich Bane into there, which would make those things even more rediculous.

I'd like to know if you feel my approach is right. Does Akali need a nerf in your opinion? And do my nerfs sound about right to you? Hit me back in the comment section down below.

Coballz signing off. 

Your Comments

  • Tue 5th Mar 2013 - 5:46am
    The points you make are understandable depending on one's perspective, but I don't feel they're spot on. Now to say something is understandable, but then immediately say it's not quite correct, doesn't seem quite right does it? Well, I'll give an example of a nearly-identical situation and let you decide. Not long ago when LCS was just on the horizon and teams were battling it out in the qualifiers, one champion seemed to take the spot-light in both NA and EU scene as being the "King of 1v2" and producing some of the most ridiculous clutch plays. That champion was Olaf. DragonBorns player Spontexx showed what Olaf was capable of, ending a game with no deaths and an impressive kill tally, as with Voyboy from Curse, and many other players from both the NA and EU scene performing similarly well on Olaf. But with the jaw-dropping performances from Olaf in the LCS qualifiers, and the subsequent nerf, one needs to analyze the playing field beyond the LCS and pro scene. Was Olaf a must-have "OP" pick for normals, and ranked games not in Diamond tier? No. Did he sport a ridiculous win ratio? No. The reason I say this is because balance is a double-edged sword. At what point do you draw the line and say "If anyone can pull that off with X champion it has to be OP and needs nerfing" ? How do you identify skill and good plays from inherent advantage built-in for a champion? It seems all the "OP" champions that the community, or even Riot, deems worthy of nerfing, no one has even found out how to play correctly outside the pro-scene. Maybe the real problem is that most, if not all champions are innately powerful, but people have to figure out how to get the most out of them through item build, masteries, runes, and method of use in game. Specifically regarding Akali, your point on the slow proc for Akali with Rylai's is curious because you cite procing the full slow of the passive as being an issue. But isn't that the point of the item? It applies a slow, and AoEs and multi-target effects don't proc the full slow as that would produce more powerful results than intended. Inversely single-target attacks are rewarded with the intended effect from the passive as the damage and subsequent effect is limited to a single target. So what is the issue behind utilizing an item to it's fullest? Akali is a champion that really deals no relevant damage when attempting to engage multiple targets at once, and needs to stick to one target to do anything beyond very minor multi-target damage inflicted by her E. As for procing the full slow, while the single target lock-down effects of Rylai's makes Akali stick to a target with ease, I don't see how this is necessary. This is also the issue I had with some builds people ran in my solo queue games with Tier 3 upgrades on Akali being Furor. That problem is the "win harder" syndrome, where the options one chooses are merely improving the conditions when one is already in an advantageous position. What is the need on Rylai's slow to stick to a target when Akali already has a gap closer? This is the same issue I have with items like Sword of the Occult or Mejai's Soul Stealer. The item itself is very very ineffective with it's base stats, and relies purely on player performance to maximize it's effectiveness. But in all the games I've played AP champions with Mejai's and made good use of the item, I was always winning so hard there was no need for a Mejai's. In hind-sight the safer route to go would've been to build a Zhonya's for the defensive stats so that, if something were to go wrong I would have a temporary invulnerability to, hopefully, shift aggro away from myself. I'm already feeling my explanations are beginning to restate the initial points presented, and this feels like an awfully long-winded response which, though it could be longer, I don't feel it would convey more than what I'm already saying. I think in text-based exchange, much more so for comment/forum response format, a discussion like this is severely hampered. Maybe this could be continued elsewhere, as I'm a regular Akali player, and find my performance reasonable, whilst also running into abysmal Akali play on a regular basis, and have much to say on this matter.

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