The first balance update of season 9 is finally here! The League of Legends patch 9.1 was released on January 8, and it’s not nearly as big as we imagined.
Still, it brings plenty of buffs and nerfs that will affect the competitive meta, so—without further ado—here are the top changes of patch 9.1!
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Kalista is the definition of a balance nightmare. Her mobility is absurd, her laning phase is oppressive, and her Rend [E] is incredible at securing neutral objectives. That is, if her numbers are good. If they’re bad, Kalista drops off the face of the earth to the point where people even forget she’s an actual champion.
Riot is addressing this by removing utility and support dependency from her kit. For starters, Kalista’s base damage was increased from 62 to 67. Her attack damage growth was bumped up from 3.6 to 4 as well, and her attack speed growth was raised from 3.5% to 4%. This gives Kallista a nice stat boost in the early game and throws in some extra scaling on top of that.
The balance team also made a few tweaks to her basic abilities. Pierce [Q] now deals 20/85/150/215/280 additional damage instead of 10/70/130/190/250 additional damage. However, Sentinel [W] no longer grants Kalista extra AD when her Oathsworn is nearby, and Rend [E] only deals 50% damage to epic monsters (i.e. Drakes, Rift Herald, Baron Nashor, Elder Dragon).
Of course, patch 9.1 isn’t likely to bring back Kalista into the meta—the changes are far too mellow for that—but it does put the Spear of Vengeance into a decent sport for future balance updates.
Huge Ornn Update
Much like Kalista, Ornn received a number of buffs to his base stats. His health growth increased from 90 to 95, his base health regen grew from 1.4 to 1.8, his health regen growth rose from 0.14 to 0.18, his armor growth went from 3 to 4, and his base attack damage got buffed from 67 to 69. On their own, none of these changes are too impressive, but together they give a significant boost to Ornn’s early game.
That’s not all, though. Ornn’s passive (Living Forge) was altered to give him 10% extra armor and magic resist from items. On top of that, any upgradeable items Ornn owns are automatically upgraded for free at level 13 (capped at 2 items). That’s right, you get better items free of charge. Ornn can also upgrade one of his ally’s upgradeable items once per level starting from level 14.
Naturally, this doesn’t cost anything either. The list of upgradeable items also grew larger to include Iceborn Gauntlet, Youmuu’s Ghostblade, Blade of the Ruined King, and Luden’s Echo. The latter upgrades are particularly noteworthy since using them is a good way of giving free scaling to your carries.
Last but not least, we have ability changes. The mana cost on Volcanic Rupture [Q] was reduced by 10, but the base damage was decreased from 20/50/80/110/140 to 20/45/70/95/120. Additionally, the slow is now 40% at all ranks instead of 40/45/50/55/60%. Bellows Breath [W] no longer grants Ornn a shield, but it does (once again) make him unstoppable for 0.75 seconds.
The W was also tweaked to have a slightly lower cooldown, apply a weaker self-slow, and deal more damage with Brittle procs. Searing Charge [E] costs less mana at early ranks and procs even when Ornn’s Q pillar is about to expire. Finally, Call of the Forge God [R] applies a smaller knockup on its second cast (down from 1.5 seconds to all enemies hit to 1 second to the first enemy hit and 0.5 seconds to everyone else).
So, what should you take away from this write-up? Ornn became the ultimate late game champion that brings a ton of free scaling to the table. This comes at the cost of his early game, and Ornn top lane might not be nearly as potent as it used to be. Still, he can work in favorable matchups, and there’s a good chance the goat-like demigod will find a new home in the jungle and—possibly—support positions.
Sejuani Gets… Damage?
As is the case with the previous champions, Sejuani’s base stats were increased. The buffs affected her health growth (up from 88 to 105), base armor (up from 31 to 34), armor growth (up from 3 to 4.25), base magic resist (up from 27.1 to 32.1), magic resist growth (up from 0.75 to 1.25), and attack damage growth (up from 3 to 4). Sejuani was already coming back to pro play, as Griffin have successfully used her in the KeSPA Cup, but these buffs make her jungle clear speed and skirmishing potential much, much higher.
It does come at a cost. Sejuani’s passive now grants 20 armor and magic resist (+25% bonus armor and MR scaling) as opposed to 20/70/120 armor and magic resist (+100% total armor and MR). The passive does last one second longer, though, so Sejuani players can make better use of the extra stats in prolonged battles.
The most notable changes deal with her base stats. Arctic Assault [Q] deals 80/120/160/200/240 damage instead of 60/90/120/150/180 damage, which is absolutely huge for the early/mid stages of the game. Winter’s Wrath [W] has also received a damage bump from 30/65/100/135/170 to 30/70/110/150/190. If that wasn’t enough, Permafrost [E] now deals 40/80/120/160/200 damage instead of 20/35/50/65/80 damage. And while its range and stun duration are slightly lower, this is still a huge buff to Sejuani’s damage output.
What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Well, for one, you’re going to see a lot more Sejuani in the coming days. She’s also going to be much stronger in duels and skirmishes, so aggressive junglers will have a harder time abusing her early game.
Nasus Gets More Stacks
Siphoning Strike [Q] now gives Nasus 12 stacks from last-hitting a large minion or a monster instead of 6. This might sound fairly minor compared to the sweeping changes above, but Nasus has already been creeping back into the meta. And considering League of Legends patch 9.1 seems to be leaning towards longer game time, this might be the final push for the Curator of the Sands to become the Solo Queue terror that he used to be.
Vayne Gets Low Q CD During Ult
This is exactly what it says on the tin! When Vayne’s Final Hour [R] is active, her Tumble [Q] will have a 50% reduced cooldown. This is a sizeable buff to her all-ins and overall damage output. Of course, Vayne isn’t exactly a staple pick in the bot lane, but that can change if more tanks find their way back into the meta.
Xayah’s E Root is Longer
Anyone that’s laned against Xayah knows her Bladecaller [E] is a menace. Not only do her feathers tear through tanks and squishies alike, but the added root leaves her targets wide open for any follow-ups. Well, Bladecaller is about to get more oppressive because Riot decided to increase the root duration from 1 second to 1.25 seconds. Combine that with the fact that Xayah is already doing well for herself, and this buff is only going to make her even more dominant in the bot lane.
Anti-Funnel Mechanics Are Back
In an entirely predictable fashion, funnel came back the moment Riot lifted the artificial gold generation handicap from jungle items. So the balance team couldn’t think of anything better than bringing the handicap is back. Now, junglers with unupgraded jungle items (i.e. Hunter’s Machete, Hunter’s Talisman, and Stalker’s Blade) will get 10 less gold per minion if the total amount of gold they received from minions is greater than 50% gold they received from monsters. The best way to describe this mechanic is “counterintuitive”, and we can’t help feeling there’s a better solution for the funnel problem. But for now, it will get the job done.
That’s it for the top changes of the League of Legends patch 9.1! You can check the complete patch notes here, and we’ll see you on the Summoner’s Rift!