The off-season may be over, but sweeping balance changes just keep on coming! The League of Legends patch 9.3 came out on February 5 with a full-blown ADC item rework as well as some long-overdue nerfs to the dominant power picks. How will this affect Solo Queue and the competitive scene? Find the answer in our in-depth top changes of patch 9.3 breakdown!

Champions

Heartpiercer Fiora Splash

Aatrox Gets Gutted

Aatrox was already on the way out, but Riot decided to put the final nail in the coffin! His base health regeneration was reduced from 8 to 5, and while his health regeneration growth was bumped up from 0.25 to 0.75, it’s still a sizeable nerf to Aatrox’s early game.

However, the biggest patch 9.3 change has to do with Umbral Dash [E]. Not only does the Darkin Blade no longer store E charges, but he also doesn’t get any healing from damaging minions and monsters, which significantly impairs his ability to have prolonged fights in the side lanes.  If that wasn’t enough, the Umbral Dash cooldown was increased from 3/2.5/2/1.5/1 seconds to 9/8/7/6/5 seconds, making it much harder for Aatrox to reposition and land his combos.

Massive Akali Nerf

Akali was hit with yet another nerf! Five-Point Strike [Q] no longer heals her for a fraction of damage dealt, making it much more difficult for Akali to survive in the laning phase. Riot also removed the true stealth effect from her Twilight Shroud [W], so Akali will finally be visible in the turret range! Combine that with the increased W cooldown (from 21/18/16/13.5/11 seconds to 21/19/17/15/13 seconds), and Akali might very well be on her way out of the meta. Granted, Riot tried to soften the blow by increasing the health regen from 3.5 to 6, but ultimately, that’s not nearly enough to make up for the nerfs.

Camille E Loses Stun on Creeps

Hookshot [E] no longer stuns minions and monsters! This might not sound like a big deal, but it’s actually a huge hit to Camille’s clear speed in the jungle. And while it won’t make the Steel Shadow obsolete, it will definitely bring her down a notch.

Cassiopeia Receives DPS Nerfs

Cassiopeia has been in the 100% pick/ban mode for a while now. Riot is looking to solve this by reducing the damage on Noxious Blast [Q] from 75/120/165/210/255 to 75/110/145/180/215. Granted, they’ve also bumped up Noxious Blast’s AP scaling from 0.8 to 0.9, so Cass players will be able to get their old Q damage back in the late game.

The same can’t be said about Miasma [W]. The mana cost on Cassiopeia’s W was increased from 70 at all ranks to 70/80/90/100/110. Damage per second was also bumped down from 20/30/40/50/60 to 20/25/30/35/40, and while that doesn’t sound like much, it will result in a whopping 100 damage loss at max rank. Still, Miasma has always been more of a zoning tool, so Cassiopeia will likely find a way to slither back into the meta.

Irelia Becomes an Auto Attacker

Irelia is rediscovering her identity! Her base health was increased from 85 to 96, and her armor was bumped up from 34 to 36. On top of that, her passive now grants her 8/10/12% attack speed per stack as well as 15-66 on-hit damage at max stacks of 5. Bladesurge [Q] deals more bonus damage to minions (up from 45/60/75/90/105 to 55/75/95/115/135), and Defiant Dance [W] now cuts incoming physical damage in half but doesn’t affect magic damage. All in all, Riot seems to be pushing Irelia towards the top side of the map, but we can’t help thinking her new kit is ill-suited for challenging meta top laners.

Sion Nerfs

It’s no secret that Sion is one of the most dominant tanks in the game. Riot Games are addressing this by reducing the minimum damage on Decimating Smash [Q] by 10 at all ranks. They’ve also decreased the maximum Q damage by 30 at all ranks. The biggest patch 9.3 change, though, is the cooldown increase on Soul Furnace [W] from 11 seconds at all ranks to 15/14/13/12/11 seconds, which makes Sion much more vulnerable in certain top lane matchups.

Items, Runes, and Gameplay Changes

Heartbreaker Vi Splash

Crit Cloak is Back!

You’ve heard it right: Cloak of Agility is officially back in the game! The item costs 800 gold and grants 20% critical strike chance, which doesn’t justify rushing it. However, it will smooth out the build paths of all the ADC, Tryndamere, and Yasuo mains out there.

Infinity Edge Rework

Infinity Edge was reworked! The new iteration of IE costs 3400 gold (unchanged) and builds out of a B.F. Sword, a Pickaxe, and a Cloak of Agility. It grants 80 attack damage (up from 70), 25% critical strike chance, and 25% critical strike damage increase. Keep in mind, though, that Infinity Edge no longer doubles your critical strike chance or converts 10% of critical strike damage to true damage, so it will take more time to hit that 100% crit threshold.

The Return of Essence Reaver

Essence Reaver no longer gives you a massive power spike after casting your ultimate! Instead, ER was reverted to its previous state of a CDR/mana regeneration ADC item. The new iteration of Essence Reaver costs 3200 gold (up from 3000 gold) and grants 60 attack damage (down from 75), 20% CDR, 25% critical strike chance, and 1.5% missing mana regeneration from basic attacks (up from 1%). Overall, this item will be a good fit for Xayah and certain Lucian builds, but we doubt it’s going to find much use elsewhere.

New ADC Item: Spear of Shojin

Spear of Shojin comes in to fill the void left by the removal of the ult-based Essence Reaver. It costs 3400 gold and provides 60 attack damage, 250 health, and 20% cooldown reduction. On top of that, it has a unique passive that gives you 50% attack speed and 20% CDR buff for 6 seconds after using your ultimate. The item cost might be steep, but there’s a good chance it will find play on bruisers and aggressive short-ranged ADCs like Lucian because of its potent combination of AD, health, and CDR.

Stormrazor Rework

The one-item Stormrazor power spike is officially gone! The reworked version of Stormrazor costs 3100 gold (up from 2900 gold) and grants 55 attack damage (down from 60) and 25% attack speed (down from 35%). More importantly, its previous passive was replaced with a different Energized effect that applies 65 bonus magic damage and a 40% movement speed slow to your target. If that wasn’t enough, Stormrazor now empowers other Energized effects by 30%, so it will be interesting to see how it synergizes with items like Rapid Firecannon and Statikk Shiv.

Phantom Dancer Overhaul

Phantom Dancer has been reworked into the ultimate ADC defensive item! The new iteration of the item costs 2600 gold and provides 30% attack speed (down from 45%) and 25% critical strike chance (down from 30%). It also comes with a new passive that grants you 240-600 damage shield for 2 seconds when your health drops below 30%. For context, this is 33% stronger than the Barrier summoner spell! On top of that, the Phantom Dancer passive cooldown is 90 seconds, meaning that your shield will always be available in late game teamfights. One side effect of this patch 9.3 change is that PD might be overtuned on the likes of Jax, Irelia, and Yasuo, but we’re still glad to see the item head in this direction.

Minor Stat & Gold Changes

Kircheis Shard aka the advanced item that gives a weak Energized passive had its gold cost reduced from 800 to 600. Zeal has also gotten 100 gold cheaper. With that, the total cost of items like Rapid Firecannon, Runaan’s Hurricane, and Statikk Shiv was bumped down by 200 gold. Keep in mind, though, that all of the abovementioned items lost 5% of critical strike chance, but Statikk Shiv gained 5% extra attack speed in return.

Meanwhile, Last Whisper costs 150 gold more, but grants 20 attack damage (up from 10) and 20% total armor penetration (up from 10%), which is a worthwhile trade in our book. Also, the attack damage on Lord Dominik’s Regards and Mortal Reminder was reduced from 45 to 40, so it might be viable to sit on Last Whisper instead of upgrading it.

Decreased Minion Bounties

Riot has tweaked the bounty system to not punish losing players in patch 9.3. With that, players that die early and try to farm their way back into the game should no longer have massive gold bounties on them. This is a welcome change to bounties, but we can’t help feeling that the entire system will need a lot of work before it feels fair for everyone

That’s it for the top changes of the League of Legends patch 9.3! You can check the complete patch notes here, and we’ll see you on the Summoner’s Rift!