By Petar Vukobrat
December 1, 2019
Riot has released a surprising number of exceptional reworks. They’ve succeeded admirably when it came to reimagining age-old champions and characters that were beloved by millions of players across the globe. But not all of their endeavors went “according to plan.” Because of this, there are more than just a couple of projects that went awry, for a wide variety of reasons. So let’s take a closer look at the worst League of Legends reworks!
First of all, we need to constitute what makes a rework worthy of such a list. Subjectivity plays a big role, of course, but there’s also a very solid list of (objective) parameters which we can use to analyze any rework. With around five reworks per year, it is only natural for Riot to find different amounts of success. After all, each rework requires a specific approach, and seeing how there’s no “tried and true recipe” they’re bound to make a couple of mistakes along the way.
So what’s our criteria?
Now, it’s important to highlight that no rework in recent League history is bad per se. They might not be great, they might not attract a lot of attention, but not a single one stands out as abysmal or bafflingly horrendous. If anything, the reworks listed below are subpar; they are disappointing in more ways than one. Maybe they’re not fleshed out enough or are simply uninteresting. But because each reworked champion undergoes a somewhat similar process (and thus adheres to a certain level of quality assurance), it is bound to, at the very least, be relatively acceptable.
Finally, no matter how much objectivity we throw in, a list like this one can never be universal. There are many new mains and satisfied players across the globe who would wholeheartedly disagree with the reworks listed below. Be that as it may, these reworks could have been better, that’s for sure.
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the worst League of Legends reworks!
This is an interesting one. There’s a lot to like about the whole rework. There’s an aura of innocence whenever you look at Nunu & Willump; they’re friends and they just want to have fun on the Summoner’s Rift. This is especially refreshing if you’re bored with the everyday run-of-the-mill kind of champions who are world destroyers, unkillable behemoths, or deadly assassins.
Instead, you’re playing as a carefree boy who’s sitting on top of a magical yeti. Hardly intimidating, right?
But all of their inherent strengths simply aren’t enough — there’s something missing. The art is fantastic, and the same goes for the voice acting, the skins, and the whole shebang. The rework certainly looks fun, but the fun doesn’t last for long, and that’s the biggest problem.
Rolling a huge snowball through the Summoner’s Rift is definitely exciting the first couple of times you try it out, but the excitement quickly subdues. After a while, the whole ability feels somewhat like a gimmick. The rest of Nunu’s abilities are also fairly engaging, although they’re nothing to write home about. Nunu has a ton of built-in crowd control, he can stick to his targets and unleash a fair bit of damage. And his ultimate — the one you can still channel while in fog of war — is still as exciting to land as ever.
But overall, not a lot of people opted to play him for longer periods of time, and there’s a reason why. This isn’t a bad rework by any stretch of the imagination — it’s just not an exciting one. If you take a couple of months off you won’t be nostalgic about the time you pushed a huge snowball through lane, or the time you stole a neutral objective with his Q. The former simply isn’t that alluring, and the latter was also a huge part of Nunu’s identity even before the rework.
Now, old Nunu was by no means an exciting champion. If anything, he was an absolute abomination. Picking him in casual play was mostly considered as a troll decision, although he certainly had his own strengths.
In the end, it feels like Riot could have done more. There’s just not a lot that’ll get you excited when playing Nunu & Willump, and while they do provide a rather engaging jungle clear (and playstyle), they’re just not as interesting of a remake as they could have been.
When it comes to Akali, players belong in one of two factions: they either love her or absolutely despise her. But the things is, both groups agree on one thing: she’s disgustingly powerful. The fact that she’s a mechanically intensive champion is definitely a plus; the fact that she has an overloaded ability kit definitely isn’t.
She’s still insanely strong, even though Riot flat-out removed certain aspects of her kit and nuked a good portion of her abilities to the ground. If you’re an experienced Akali main, however, these facts won’t stop you as they’re negligible obstacles on the road towards dominating on the Summoner’s Rift. You don’t know what’s worse, really. Playing as Akali and feeling that immense power and sheer outplay potential, or playing against her and not fully understanding what she’s truly capable of.
Those who are uninitiated in Akali’s insane power (and item) spikes are probably scratching their heads every time they get annihilated in the middle of the lane or even while they’re hugging their turrets. She can dash to escape or engage, enter a cloud of smoke and gain invisibility, slow you down with her Q “Five Point Strike,” and even dash towards a marked opponent no matter the distance between them.
Talk about a stacked kit.
And when a player with a solid enough grasp of her abilities enters the fray, you’re bound to get destroyed if you’re not perfectly aware of what Akali can do at any point in time. Because of these factors, the reworked Akali quickly became a must-pick in competitive play and a frightening opponent in solo queue as well. And even though Riot shipped many nerfs, they have yet to strike a balance.
If you can’t find a way to balance a reworked champion (or any champion, for that matter) then you’ve failed in creating a well-designed champion. On the one hand, this rework is a success just by the sheer amount of attention it garnered. The fact that Riot truly made her into one of the deadliest assassins in the game is also a positive thing because that’s Akali’s core — that’s what an assassin should be. On the other hand, she’s an absolute nightmare balance and gameplay-wise.
The reworked Akali has the opposite problem when compared to Nunu: there’s too much synergy between her abilities, which means her power simply cannot be ignored.
Unlike Akali, players either love Evelynn or are completely indifferent to her existence. She never really took over the meta but was instead always an interesting niche pocket pick that could, in the right circumstances and with the right team comp around her, create absolute chaos on the Rift.
That said, she was in desperate need for a visual do-over as her model wasn’t up to snuff by today’s standards. While Riot did eventually ship a comprehensive update, they didn’t succeed to an incredible degree.
Evelynn just feels… Strange. She’s not bad by any means but she is underwhelming. It’s like they redesigned her with the wrong ideas in mind and the end product suffered as a result. There’s nothing particularly unique about her, other than a flashy ultimate, but even that one ability isn’t so awe-inspiring to warrant any long-term playtime.
On paper, there’s so much potential and yet it feels like Riot over-complicated things. They certainly gave her more depth but things just didn’t click in the right way.
Her camouflage and assassin-like ultimate are definitely entertaining on first glance, but that novelty factor wears off fairly quickly. The initial allure is there — it’s just not potent enough.
Finally, we have yet another champion that’s a nightmare to balance. Heck, balancing Aatrox seems like an impossible endeavor. Throughout his existence as a champion, he was either an underpowered pick or a meta-defining behemoth. That is especially true in competitive play, where players found great success when piloting him in three out of five roles — top, jungle and mid.
And much like with Akali, Riot has been tampering, adjusting, nerfing and even removing certain aspects of his kit with each new iteration. He’s been a permanent addition to the League’s humongous champion roster for six years now, and yet they’re still changing him every couple of months. There were also many moments when he was abysmal in low elo, but also unstoppable (in the right hands) in high elo. This kind of duality made balancing downright impossible. When a champion isn’t designed well, you can’t balance for both player bases — someone’s going to lose out.
This balancing charade has been going on for a while. As an example, here was Aatrox’s stat line for patch 9.18:
And here’s the same thing for the current patch, 9.22:
An over 10% win ratio jump in just two months’ time. When he’s bad, he’s quite frankly one of the worst top lane picks in the game. When, on the other hand, he receives a couple of buffs, he’s an unassailable titan. He was also played for 330 times across the LCS, LEC, LCK, LMS and LPL in the most recent Summer Split. The second most played top lane champion after Aatrox was Kennen, with a “negligible” 168.
Teams weren’t first picking him because he was a well-rounded champion, but rather because he dominated beyond measure.
And so we’re back to square one. He’s too strong at the moment, so expect a slew of nerfs in a couple of weeks’ time. If you’re a frequent Redditor, you’re also surely aware of the monthly “please remove Aatrox” posts that often gain a fair bit of traction, and with good reason.
That’s it for our worst League of Legends reworks list! Fortunately, there are more successful reworks than unsuccessful ones. That is one of the main reasons why people still get so excited whenever Riot announces their rework roadmap — everyone knows they’re probably going to do a stellar job. While they can be faulted for releasing reworks that contain overloaded ability kits, at least they try their best when it comes to post-launch balancing, for better or worse.
Tags: League of Legends