Patch 9.2 brought changes that many thought would shift the competitive meta completely. However, only Irelia and Rakan seemed to actually disappear over the past couple of weeks. Other priority picks remained that way, and even became more present as picks, since there were less reasons to ban them. Patch 9.3, on the other hand, seems to bring a change that could alter the course of at least bot lane.
For the first time since 8.10, Infinity Edge is a real critical strike item again. Essence Reaver is also a critical strike item now and Zeal items have gotten cheaper. Other lanes might be affected as well, not only by the itemization changes but also by the small nerfs and buffs to recent meta defining champions such as Irelia and Aatrox.
Champion changes in Patch 9.3
The Darkin Blade has been a major triple flex draft changer for a couple of patches, but not anymore. His Umbral Dash (E) no longer grants him passive healing based on damage against non-champions, which should take a hit on his jungling. Aatrox cannot store multiple dash charges anymore either: It is now a single dash with a single cooldown. This change should make his combo harder to hit, and make Aatrox more dependant on team setup. Aatrox also received a buff on his health regeneration, but it should not be enough to compensate the nerfs.
The Rogue Assassin also suffered major setbacks on Patch 9.3. Five Point Strike (Q) does not have healing effects anymore, which will probably not be completely compensated by the buff to her health regeneration, much like Aatrox’s situation. Twilight Shroud (W) no longer makes Akali invisible under enemy turrets and has a higher cooldown in the late game. These changes sound like a pretty big hit, especially for players who play her in the mid lane, since the loss in sustain makes her more vulnerable to tough early game matchups.
Hookshot (E) does not stun minions and monsters anymore. It may sound like a minor change, but it is a major nerf for jungle Camille. It affects her sustain while camp clearing and, along with the recent jungle experience changes, it makes her job as a playmaker and backline diver much more difficult, especially in the mid game. Camille was already not among the most popular junglers recently, and this should see her out of the meta completely for now, at least as a jungler.
Snake lady was still a big meta defining champion even after her small Patch 9.2 nerfs. Patch 9.3 takes another jab at her with a nerf to her Noxious Blast (Q) base damage and a nerf to the Miasma (W) damage and mana cost. All that does is probably force Cassiopeia to going back to the Tear of the Goddess build she was originally known for. She remains a decent flex pick and should not disappear from competitive play.
Irelia’s Passive is now focused on bonus attack speed rather than bonus damage. Her Bladesurge (Q) deals more damage to minions again and her Defiant Dance (W) blocks more physical damage, but does not block magic damage anymore. The biggest change of this patch for her is in her passive, and it seems like Riot is trying to make her a top lane basic attack bruiser. However, there are champions that do that job better, and this change path could make Irelia not viable for a while.
Small changes to champions
Lissandra, Sion and Zyra also received minor nerfs in this patch, but none of those changes are enough to impact the competitive meta. Lissandra is still a very oppressive solo laner with the Aftershock rune, Sion is still an obnoxious top laner to play against and Zyra is still a competitive tier B support, mostly popular in solo queue.
Critical Strike itemization in Patch 9.3
Infinity Edge has basically been reverted to its previous state. It provides 25% critical strike chance and it augments critical strike damage from 200% to 225% again. This change deeply affects bot lane, which had been dominated by mages and Blade of the Ruined King users for a while. Along with the other critical strike items being buffed – either in stats or affordability -, it should bring back to the meta champions like Caitlyn, Xayah and Tristana, or even Twitch and Jinx. The possible return of such champions also makes the return of Ardent Censer supports imminent, since they synergize so well.
Essence Reaver provides critical strike chance again, which should make it a core item for mana thirsty crit AD Carries again. Sivir and Xayah come to mind as champions who might want to build it first from 9.3 onwards.
Stormrazor is now more expensive and has lower stats, and its passive has changed. It has an energized attack, similar to Rapid Fire Cannon’s and Statikk Shiv’s, and buffs the effects from such other energized attack items. It is not a first item choice anymore and should work better as a fourth or last item.
Statikk Shiv, Rapid Fire Cannon and Runaan’s Hurricane lost 5% critical strike chance each, but are now cheaper, as are their components. Phantom Dancer is also a bit cheaper, and now provides a shield in case the user goes low on health, which makes it an optimal second item choice for marksmen who want to safely scale. These changes highly benefit Jinx and Twitch.
Competitive play in Patch 9.3
The return of critical strike AD Carries and Censer supports are the most exciting changes predicted in Patch 9.3. In competitive play, it might affect the entire map, as other roles should look for answers to the power of late game carries and supports, or for even more supportive options to help their team’s hypercarry.
It’s nothing new, if we are being honest with ourselves. We have seen this before, the power of late game-tank melting AD Carries. But it should be interesting to see how it affects bot lanes like Perkz and Mikyx from G2, who might be uncomfortable because of Perkz’s original role. Meanwhile, it could benefit teams that play around their bot lanes, which is good news for Liquid’s Doublelift, RNG’s Uzi, Schalke’s Upset and even Viper, Griffin’s dominant bot laner.