The 2023 League of Legends ranked season is officially starting in a few days and the balance team revealed some of the changes that should be coming up in the first official patch of the year.
While there aren’t many champion changes expected in Patch 13.1, Riot is hitting the champs that have been strong in the last few months, likely causing a shift in the meta. The devs have also tweaked some of the underpowered items, so we might see new champions and strategies on the rise.
With this in mind, here are our eight takeaways from the initial notes for League Patch 13.1.
Will players finally build Axiom Arc?
Axiom Arc is receiving an additional eight lethality on the item, without any compensating nerfs to the item’s cost or stats. In other words, it’s free extra armor penetration that the buyers of the item will get.
This might be the buff that some AD assassins needed to make the purchase of Axiom Arc worthwhile. The ultimate cooldown refund is going to be useful on champions like Qiyana that can kill multiple targets at once, but it won’t be rushed as a core item: it’s likely going to be a third or fourth purchase in most item builds.
Jayce back in the meta?
Tanks and bruisers have been dominating the top lane meta for quite a while, so it’s probably time to shift things up. One of the champions that might be able to do this is Jayce, who has been receiving multiple buffs in the last few patches.
First, he had his damage increased on his abilities in hammer form, then he received a buff on his mana restoration and a new bonus resistance buff that scales off his bonus attack damage. Now, he’s getting a base attack damage increase by three and another two damage buffs on his W and Q in hammer form.
If the patch preview changes actually hit the live servers, we might see Jayce jump up heavily in priority in the top lane.
Aatrox will be played less
Aatrox’s nerfs are quite surprising, considering his sub-50 percent win rate at Masters Elo and above, according to u.gg. These nerfs are likely more related to his high play rate and the fact that he has been heavily picked since the start of Worlds.
He’s getting hit mainly when he casts his ultimate, nerfing his healing and the movement speed bonus upon casting. Still, it’s a healthy change that won’t make him as oppressive as he was in the past. Expect to see his play rate drop a little bit once Patch 13.1 hits the live servers on Jan. 10.
Rod of Ages champions back in the meta?
Riot has pushed out some intriguing buffs to Rod of Ages. The item made its return to Summoner’s Rift during the start of the preseason, but it didn’t have much success: even champions who should get the item, like Kassadin, are having more success with other Mythic options (51.79 percent win rate with Crown of the Shattered Queen, according to u.gg).
The buffs to the item are great in many ways: it grants more health and it requires fewer resources to trigger the passive movement speed buff. Furthermore, the movement speed buff is 10 percent stronger.
It’s still too early to say that the item will become strong because it depends more on which champions can take advantage of or abuse the new changes. That being said, Rod of Ages users like Swain, Kassadin, and Ryze will be the ones to watch out for.
Fiora will continue to be a strong pick
Fiora’s nerf seems smaller compared to other top laners nerfed in this patch. She got a minor damage reduction on her passive and her Q but it’s shouldn’t be something that will push her out of the top lane.
For the last few patches and prior to K’Sante’s release, Fiora has been one of the strongest champions up in the top lane, with the highest ban rate currently in Platinum Elo and above (36 percent according to u.gg). This nerf should bring her in line with the other champions but she’s expected to remain a strong pick at the start of the season.
Is Yuumi a dead champion now?
For bot lane players, this nerf is substantial and it might shift the meta more than expected. Yuumi, despite having an average of a 46 percent win rate across multiple Elos according to u.gg, has the highest ban rate out of all support champions.
The nerf to her Q’s damage means that Riot does not want the magical cat to have such oppressive poke going forward but rather keep her identity as an enchanter. Her laning phase will be much worse than her current state and it might be the nail in the coffin of her high play rate. Some players will be crying with joy, while others might have to learn new enchanters. With the rumored Ixtal champion expected to be released soon, this may be a good opportunity to master a new pick.
K’Sante will be brought back to a healthier state
Since his release in Patch 12.21, K’Sante has been among the strongest top laners. He not only was a great juggernaut and tank, but he also offered much higher damage compared to others in his role. Riot must have realized this and is finally hitting him with a couple of big nerfs.
The five movement speed decrease might seem like a joke, but it’s always an underestimated change that hits champions heavily. Not only that but the damages on his passive and W are going to be a lot lower.
It’s evident that Riot wants to maintain his strong points as a tank but not make him an unkillable machine that takes down others in the process. These nerfs seem fine, so we should see a more balanced version of K’Sante in the future.
Jak’Sho will not be as effective on bruisers but will be stronger on tanks
The biggest highlight of the patch is going to be none other than the changes to one of League’s newest items, Jak’Sho, The Protean. The Mythic item was supposed to be for tanks but it ended up becoming a must-build item on most bruisers that had sustain built into their kits.
The increased cost is a negligible nerf but the tweaks to the bonus resistances as well as the drain damage are the real game changers. Now, the item won’t make you tanky enough if you don’t build bonus resistances in the first place. The drain healing change is also smart: it won’t work on minions and monsters anymore, which is something that players abused often during teamfights and skirmishes.
To put it simply, Jak’Sho is going to be stronger for the intended users and much weaker for all the other classes. If the patch preview changes go through, we might not see Jak’Sho built on bruisers anymore.