League of Legends is famous for its vast array of champions a player can play. Sometimes, these champions aren't always balanced in the way the developers intended. This can make them too strong in pro play, as was the case for Yuumi and Milio prior to MSI.
Anyone who has watched League of Legends (LoL) esports for the last couple of years may have noticed a glaring omission from champion select during the recent London MSI. A certain cat who has been picked or banned consistently in pro play over the past few years was missing, despite Riot’s insistence that said champion is not just aimed at new players trying to get into the game. Yuumi, of course, has been the subject of many complaints from both the general playerbase and pro players alike. The main issue with her being that, due to the nature of her kit, she is too strong with too little drawbacks. An untargetable Enchanter that can stack a dark seal while being entirely safe, provide a Rabadon’s Deathcap’s worth of AP to the Carry she’s riding on, and offer enough sustain to outlast the beefiest of Sions, doesn’t even sound the least bit reasonable. Probably because it wasn’t.
Finally, however, after many years of attempting to push forward the idea that Yuumi was just as hard to master as mobile assassins like Akali, and continuing to ignore the 53% win rate the champion possessed all the way up to the highest levels of play, Riot have finally made an effort to neuter the cat. A simplification of the changes would be: her Q is supposed to be harder to hit, her E now provides shielding instead of healing, and her R now heals allies. The attempt to increase her skill ceiling came in the changes to her passive - Yuumi now provides ally healing when she hits her abilities.
As a result of this large overhaul to the majority of her abilities, Yuumi remained in a nerfed state - comparable to the situation Ryze ends up in at least once a year. Her win rate was stuck in the low 40s due to the absolute nuking she received at the start of the year ahead of any of the league’s playoffs. However, now that MSI has ended and we’re getting ready to kick into gear for summer, her return to the pool of champions that pro players can lock in for their stage games is imminent. So, this begs the question - did the rework accomplish its goals?
The immediate reaction from the community was: no, it didn’t. This is even after a reduction of her price in the champions section of the Store to better reflect her targeted playerbase of “new players”. Despite the changes to her overall kit, Yuumi is still fundamentally the easiest champion to play in the game by far. She still has the capacity to lean on the ever-efficient build paths that are available to Enchanters, and is still untargetable while doing so.
Within pro play it’s known that Zeri paired with Yuumi has all the sustain and durability of a Tank, with the manoeuvrability of the most slippery Assassins, and the late game damage potential of a Viktor. If anything, I think these changes probably make this combo even more powerful. My money is on a three-way handshake developing between Jinx, Aphelios, and now Zeri/Yuumi into the back end of the year. Although, with these new item changes coming to live, there’s always a chance Ezreal finds some obscure way to abuse them.
Next comes Riot’s latest addition to the LoL roster, Milio, the fire-based Enchanter. An attempt at breaking generic character archetypes - fire typically symbolises destruction, power, and is usually the mark of a glass cannon character - Milio looks to emphasise the importance of fire in life, but how is this impactful for pro play?
Well, Milio has a basic kit at his core. His passive gives allies burn damage, his Q is ranged crowd control, and his E is a shield that speeds up allies. Some fairly standard, support-focused champion abilities. However, what I expect will be pivotal to his use in pro play are his W and R.
Milio’s W, Cozy Campfire, creates an area of effect (AOE) healing zone that follows allies, healing those within range while increasing their attack range. Attack range can be a very divisive stat in the upper echelons of LoL. Players with incredible spacing and mechanical ability will find it easy to utilise this advantage to outrange their opponents, and output their damage safely from afar. Caitlyn, for example, is a meta-defining AD Carry (ADC). When her numbers are good, the mechanically-gifted players of the LCK often assert utter lane dominance by utilising her superior range to push other ADCs out of lane and away from the wave, therefore starving them of gold and experience. Milio’s W can potentially replicate this advantage on other champions. It could even extend Caitlyn’s own advantage, or mitigate it by being picked as an answer to her. It’s unclear as to how much this ability will shake up the meta until it sees action in pro play.
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The other unique part of Milio’s kit that draws attention is his R, which is effectively an AOE Quicksilver Sash. It cleanses crowd control (CC) from allies in an area around him, which is massive. Pro play has always favoured champions with a simple setup, since with voice chat it’s much easier to coordinate plays than it is in solo queue games. Hence the historical popularity of champions like Twisted Fate, Renekton, Pantheon, and Leona. These champions all possess one thing in common: point and click CC abilities. Point and click CC means that, provided you get in range, you can easily stun your opponent and hit your skill shot. This also makes setting up for high damage abilities from your allies (such as Nidalee, Ezreal or Lux) so much easier, because their target can’t move. You’ll often see Enchanters within pro play prioritise Mikael’s Blessing, an item that can cleanse CC on an ally when activated, to use on their Carries against comps with lots of hard CC. However, now there’s an Enchanter available that can do that without needing to spend 2,300 gold, provided he hits level six. For this reason alone, I expect to see him in pro play quite frequently.