This patch, we’ll be overhauling one of our classic champions: Katarina, the Sinister Blade. Although Katarina’s manaless, cooldown-based abilities put a unique spin on her gameplay, she’s historically faced a number of challenges in the very early game and in team fight situations. In this update, we’ve made a few changes to her kit aimed at addressing these difficulties, while retaining the core elements that make playing this Noxian femme fatale a fun and satisfying experience. We also gave her a complete visual upgrade, including a new model, animations and spell effects on all of her abilities!
Katarina’s New Abilities
- Voracity (Passive): Champion kills or assists reduce Death Lotus' cooldown and refresh your basic abilities.
- Bouncing Blades: Katarina throws a dagger that bounces from enemy to enemy, dealing magic damage and marking them. Striking a marked target with an ability or basic attack will consume the mark to deal additional magic damage.
- Sinister Steel: Katarina whirls her daggers around her, dealing magic damage to all enemies in the area. If she hits an enemy champion, Katarina gains Movement Speed for a short duration.
- Shunpo: Katarina instantly moves to her target's location and takes reduced damage from enemies for a short duration. If the target is an enemy, she deals damage.
- Death Lotus (Ultimate): Katarina becomes a flurry of blades, throwing daggers with unrivaled speed at up to three nearby champions. Daggers deal magic damage and reduce incoming healing on targets hit.
The first problem that Katarina players often faced was weak performance very early on, primarily related to the steep damage curve of her core damage ability, Bouncing Blades. While Bouncing Blades scales dramatically as it levels up, early on it ricochets only a few times, dealing relatively low damage. This forces Katarina players to play conservatively early in the laning phase, encouraging passive play until Bouncing Blades can be used to harass effectively.
To address this disparity, we normalized the damage inflicted by Bouncing Blades and made it bounce the same number of times at every level of the skill. In addition, each ricochet will now select the nearest available target instead of bouncing randomly. This change should both facilitate interesting counter-play for opponents and open up new harassment opportunities for advanced Katarina players who are able to predict where their daggers are going to bounce.
In addition to her early game difficulties, Katarina’s reliance on the massive damage potential of Death Lotus has always made her a challenging champion to balance. A fully channeled ultimate could quickly reduce a team to ashes, but a well-timed interrupt from a canny defender could quickly transform Katarina from a maelstrom of death into an easy kill. For this reason, we decided to move the healing debuff from Killer Instincts onto Death Lotus and decrease the channel time slightly. This reigned in the overall damage numbers slightly, replacing some of this raw punishment with a bit of utility gave us the opportunity to make remainder of Katarina’s kit more dangerous.
To accomplish this, we swapped Killer Instincts for a spammable, area-of-effect attack that grants Katarina a brief speed boost when it lands. This new ability, dubbed Sinister Steel, gives Katarina superior mobility and allows her to continue laying down damage on multiple targets during a team fight if Death Lotus is interrupted by a stun or knockback. For a little added kick, Bouncing Blades will now apply a debuff that is consumed to deal bonus damage when Katarina strikes the target with an attack or ability. These changes should give Katarina the extra damage she needs to play aggressively right out the gates and the flexibility necessary to keep her damage potential high once the team fights start.
This brand new take on Katarina, the Sinister Blade, will be baring her blades in an upcoming patch. We hope you’re ready!