When it comes to TFT, the success cannot go understated, and although many were anxiously awaiting the release of Ranked TFT I do not feel that it is ready for ranked yet. Honestly, it would be better if the release of the current cycle of Ranked TFT is used more as an experiment than an official release. Mostly because TFT still has a lot of bug fixing and a bit of balance work to be done. Aside from that, Ranked TFT is an exciting and welcome addition.
For TFT Balance, my only real frustrations with the mode are the common reliance on RNG to help even the best plans come to fruition. Even with in-depth knowledge of the mode's mechanics (such as the champion pool having limited draws of certain champions and knowing those numbers, as well as the precise values of likelihood for each level of champion bound to each level of the player) I still can't plan my way around my opponent getting a 3-star Vayne in the 6th round with 2 rageblades and a bloodthirster before round 12. That stings.
Now on to League balance. The changes to Sylas in the current PBE cycle are the kind of changes I like to see - ones that are overall necessary (even if its just for the feel of the champion) and correctly addressing the issues previous changes brought up. (Emphasis on correctly).
I see a lot of the time the balance philosophy being to take some power from one place and give it back in others, but sometimes it's just better to give a little more than take, and vice-versa. The Q, W, and E changes to Sylas in the current iteration of the PBE help out just about every different playstyle of Sylas. It helps him in jungle, fixes his over-tuned nerfs to waveclear and puts it in a more reasonable spot while not giving back the power that caused the nerfs in the first place. The shield change to magic damage made me chuckle, since it flows with Sylas' lore, but when you put that functionality in-game, Sylas immediately loses the ability to fight even one-on-one versus high physical-damage output champions. His shield allows him to engage and get some hits in before his HP starts getting chunked, and even with Kingslayer, if Sylas has to pull a Kassadin (similar concept, but Kassadin is an assassin, so he can usually blow up squishy ADC's quickly) and only feel comfortable fighting magic users. My proposed changes for his shield are as follows:
- Sylas gains a shield on first cast of E (E1), dashing forward
- The shield protects him from 80 / 115 / 150 / 185 / 220 (+80/85/90%/95% AP) damage (potentially changing at levels 6, 11, 16, and 18 - Both magic and physical - a normal shield) and remains for 2 seconds. Or simply pick one of the above values that works best. 90% and 95% are the ones I'd suggest going with for now, so we can see how it fits in with the rest of the changes over time without straying too far from original values and adjust it further from there, likely settling at 90% or 85%. Straying too far from original values can easily make it harder to decide where to go from there if more work is required, since drastic changes tend to overshadow smaller tweaks in need of attention.
With that, the difference in scaling should at the very least help, if not solve the issue of Sylas' ludicrously massive shielding. One of the biggest things I noticed throughout playing Sylas from his days on the PBE to his current state in Live and now this was the fact that he had the single largest free shield I had ever seen, a shield that was clearly bigger than it needed to be. This is something that needs precise tweaking to optimize the ability in the kit, because outright taking away the shield, moving it around, or changing it's properties are highly likely to put him in a problematic state. Trying to keep true to the original kit and balancing it as best as possible from there is what I've seen to be the most successful plan, since emergent gameplay can easily disrupt a champion's status in the meta.
As far as the changes to the ultimate are concerned, I fully understand why the balance team is deciding to take out power from one of the best (and most fun) ultimates in the game in exchange for a better all-around kit. However, these are the only changes that I see as valid and necessary:
> Cooldown increased from 85/50/15 to 100/80/60
> Bonus AD ratio conversion changed from [.5-1.5] to [.4-1.0]
> Total AD ratio conversion changed from [.7-1.0] to [.6-1.0]
> Minimum lockout time on enemy champions increased from 20s to 40s
The change to cooldown prevents sylas from reaping the rewards of throwing out ults left and right every ~9 seconds in fights (calculated from the inevitable CDR late-game Sylas should possess), and the changes to ratios help curb the polarizing difference in damage output AP scaling has over most AD scaling. These are justified and practical changes that address issues with the champion's biggest strengths that sets him above other champions even when the rest of his kit is lacking.
The cooldown increase is a massive hit, though. A change as drastic as 15 >>> 60 at max rank feels like someone decided to just throw numbers at it and see if they fit anywhere. I can't say this is a good decision. 15-second base cooldown on an ultimate like that was always going to be something ridiculous, but with 60 seconds, 40% cdr will bring that down to 36 seconds, and 33 seconds with a spicy Inspiration rune. I for one would not feel pleased waiting 33 seconds for a chance at a single cast of Kog Maw's "ultimate". If there's room in the ledger, I would be interested in seeing how a change like, say, Sylas' base ultimate cooldown being affected by the cooldowns of the ultimate he stole's own base cooldowns would play out (similar to how the "lockout" mechanic already functions), so that there is more freedom in priority and less fear and frustration in letting that sweet, sweet Kog Maw ultimate go to waste.
All hypothetical, I'd only really consider truly suggesting that if the current CD changes don't do well.
Also, the "lockout time" change is a good decision geared towards those unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end of Sylas' ultimate, because for those extremely influential ultimates, Sylas seemingly _always_ being able to steal it and use it when a fight arises in the late game can get old quick. Plus, as a little added bonus, it encourages the Sylas player to seek out other ultimates and finding ways to use them instead of always gunning for the same ones. A good change to help curb the frustration of dealing with Hijack shenanigans.
... Then there's the "bad" part:
> Cast range lowered from 1050 to 950
> Duration Sylas can hold onto an enemy ult down from 120s to 90s
These changes would be better justified if not for 2 things:
1, as with the functionality of Sylas' ultimate ability, the cast range despite it's large on-paper value requires Sylas to get within his all-in engagement range to utilize, and its animation cannot be reliably cancelled with something like his "E", meaning he loses a lot of momentum casting it during a fight, and in the moments before the fight. Although this change in range isn't massive, it is not insignificant, and I don't see it to be entirely necessary with the other changes made on top of it. Still, with some QoL down the road for the occasional already-janky interactions of Sylas' kit, I can see this change fitting in alright. Plus, it already seems to help the understanding around the previous unusual range of Sylas' ultimate with something that feels more suitable.
2, The duration Sylas can hold onto enemy ultimates being reduced isn't too bad, but brings up other problems. The biggest of which being that during respawn, the Hijack status of holding onto an ultimate does not freeze, meaning you are continuing to hold onto it even when dead, and as the game goes on, this amount of lost "holding time" will only increase dramatically. In a theoretical situation bound to occur, you steal an ultimate, get dunked on 30 seconds later, and watch a grey screen for the next 40 seconds. As soon as you respawn, you take 3 seconds to buy and immediately depart from base. You now have to use that ultimate or lose it in the next 17 seconds (not deducting map travel time). If it goes to waste, you now have to wait even longer than before so you can get another chance at using it. I would be more comfortable accepting this change if the holding timer (and of course, the Hijack Cooldown assigned to the champion who's ultimate was stolen) were frozen during his respawn, or if he dies before using an ultimate, the timer is slightly increased to compensate. I don't have enough experience with these current changes to give precise adjustment opinions that I haven't already, and I will only stand by what I can confidently believe is for the better in these changes.
... Outside of Sylas, I want to see some reasonable changes to Pyke. Gutting waveclear, his passive, and putting his ultimate on hard steroids ain't it. The nerfs to his waveclear are especially astonishing, and giving him the ability to stun creeps again isn't going to be enough. His waveclear was only ever really good when item scaling kicked in, and countless numbers of other champions have similar or better waveclear.
I wouldn't mind the changes nearly as much if I didn't have experience firsthand what trying to protect your base solo against super minions is like with this champion. There is no reason a champion should lose, or come close to losing to minions at full build. An assassin running back to fountain just to survive a wave of creeps is one of the saddest sights one can bear witness to in League.
Don't even think about challenging the wave containing 2 super minions, just give up and spam ping the ADC or someone who can actually do something and go ward enemy fountain while you wait for the team to play the game for you.
A big part of Pyke's job is roaming and split pushing when things are calm and the teams aren't diving each other and pinging assistance to gromp. His laughable inability to consistently freeze waves or clear them as needed without losing a quarter or more of his HP in the process is anything but balanced.
I've had enough frustration with this nonsense keeping me up at night trying to wrap my head around why these changes went through and intentionally put Pyke in his current state, permanently banished to the Support role while sona goes 6/3 mid and taric goes 7/1 top. I can somewhat understand wanting to nerf Pyke's strength in solo lane because of his ability to clap cheeks when the game gets going and he hasn't spent the whole match feeding nautilus top, but I can't contain my dissatisfaction with how this was addressed by completely shredding his usefulness when alone and forcing him to rely even more on his ultimate to get the gold he needs to not fall so far behind that the scuttle crab can out-DPS him. This is just not the way to go.
All that's left for me to say to that, is simply: "Look how they massacred my boy." I still have faith beyond hope that Pyke will be put in a place where he doesn't get executed by a flock of very angry chickens at level 18, and although Rito likes to make balance changes that are unbelievably clueless like that, they also somehow manage to reliably, finally, get things as close to right as is feasible, it just takes a while.
Okay, rant's over. For the mad lad who had the determination to read through this entire post, I thank you for your time, and I hope you will consider what I've brought to the table.