Bertboxer's Study of Melee Carries

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RIP Bankplank

Senior Member

10-13-2012

Hello everyone! I'm Bertboxer and I'll be doing this little series in the champion feedback forum. I'll be looking more in depth at some of the things that League of Legends design does well (and other aspects that aren't quite up to snuff). I have my eye on the associate gameplay analyst position at Riot and I'm hoping some of these prove beneficial. If this is your thing, pull up a chair and enjoy!

Week one post: (making champions play like their personality) http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...1#post29525721

Week two post: (a look at why Trundle is underplayed) http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=2613613

Week three post: (understanding how Nunu has changed over time) http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...3#post29754713

Week four post: (how Sion attempted to adapt to the current meta) http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...1#post29977821


This week, I'll be looking at melee carries and why they simply aren't as effective as ranged carries in their current state. I know that Riot plans on revamping these champions before Season 3 starts so hopefully this can be a little precursor to what may be in store.

We all know melee carries. We cringe a little bit when someone in champ select locks in jungle Master Yi or wants to go bot lane with Fiora. We've all been conditioned to look at these champions like red headed step-children. We didn't always have this mindset, the exact opposite in fact. I can remember when I started playing League very vividly. I was a little level 10 summoner and it was Tryndamere free week. He wasn't the only one with undying rage. I swore up and down that this champion was broken. He did way too much damage and literally would not die. You can't run from him, you can't fight him back, you're only option is to go to the forums and complain. Even now, I'm sure you can find plenty of posts on these forums in the past few weeks about how the likes of these lost champions are completely broken until summoners hit level 20. By the time we get a bit more experienced with the game, we realize just how easy it is to simply shut these champions down. But before we get into how these champions are so easily countered, let's look at what a melee carry really is.

A physical damage carry is a champion designed to scale frighteningly well with items to become a powerhouse late game. Many carries have abilities that directly increase their physical damage output (Master Yi, Draven) while others have abilities with more utility and rely almost solely upon items for damage output (Gangplank, Ashe). Whether ranged or melee, the objective is to outscale the other team for the late game. Many carries also have relatively weak early games to compensate (Kog'Maw) but this isn't always true (Graves). Melee carries are simply champions who fit these characteristics but are melee.

The biggest threat to a carry at any given time is crowd control and burst damage. Your almighty right-clicks don't do diddly if you're being wombo combo'd by Alistar and Annie all day. By the time late game finally hits, a carries best way to survive is often autoattacking for lifesteal but this doesn't do much good if you cant land a shot. Ranged carries keep this in mind and try to do their damage from a safe distance with the meatheads positioned between them and such threats. They may not always have ideal targets to shoot but they contribute to fights with minimal risk to their person. Combine this with the safer laning phase that ranged characters have and you begin to see why ranged carries are so popular.

Melee carries, on the other hand, have to be right in the thick of the fighting in order to add their contribution. In order to compensate for this inherent risk, melees are given stronger base stats to out-damage and out-survive their ranged equivalents. For example, let's look at Tristana and Master Yi.

At level 18 with no items/runes/masteries, Tristana will have 1891 health. Yi will have 1992.
Tristana will have 100 damage, Yi 111 (146/181 with wuju style).
I'm terrible at trying to calculate exact attack speeds but they are very close to the same with highlander/rapid fire active.
Tristana is base movespeed 300, Yi is 330.
Yi also gets scaling magic resistance and better armor per level too.
Numerically speaking, Yi has more physical dps and better survivability for most of the game.
In practice however, he has neither.

As a quick change of pace, let's look at League's spiritual predecessor, Dota. Even today, melee carries are very viable picks in competitive play. Carries like Anti-mage, Skeleton King, and Faceless Void are every bit as common in tournament as Morphling and Shadowfiend. What gives them this level of viability that eludes most of League's counterparts? An item called Black King Bar. This item, for those unfamiliar, is a relatively inexpensive item that provides Strength (health/dmg for Strength based heroes or just health for others) as well as a flat damage boost. The real strength of this item is the active which grants complete magic immunity for a limited time. That is to say that no abilities in the game can do damage to magic immune targets and they have free reign through almost all crowd control effects. The two biggest drawbacks of being a melee carry are almost completely negated due to this item. This definitely isn't to say that every melee carry builds this item every game, far from it in fact. The point is that these carries have an option if they find themselves getting stunlocked and bursted down every fight.

Enough of that little aside, back to League. When you look at the list of melee carries in the game, most of them are almost entirely unviable with only a few working in to some teams. AD Master Yi will never see the light of day without a big rework, Tryndamere is a very niche pick, and only one player would ever consider playing Fiora in tournament. There are three others that I consider melee carries who actually do their job well. Jax can carry due to his burst resistance and frequent aoe stuns which gives him wiggle room in the middle of the mosh pit. Gangplank has the ability to carry and isn't entirely shut down if he doesn't get a great start. Olaf is 100% viable in both the jungle and top lane. Before you ask, yes Olaf is a carry. He may build tanky and is often considered just a bruiser but Olaf will carry if the game keeps going on. Nobody tends to fear Renekton/Garen/Jarvan late game but you better run from Olaf. I want you to think of the second two champions and what they have in common. This one particular part of their kit that allows them to carry. Figured it out yet? They aren't perpetually shut down by crowd control.

Yes, Master Yi can shrug off slows with highlander. Yes, Fiora can become invulnerable for a few seconds with blade waltz. Yes, Tryndamere can straight up stop death for a bit. While these are all immensely helpful, you still can't do damage while stunned. The fact that these champions have to put themselves so close to their targets to be effective makes them easy targets for coordinated teams. Jax and Gangplank can mitigate that threat to some extent, Olaf just ignores it. This far and away the biggest issue facing the other melees.

So how is this fixed? Well that's a tricky question. Eating oranges/raging at the world's end are both defining features of the champions. If the others were given something similar, the mechanic would just go stale. There are ways to make this work without making Olaf/Gangplank less unique and here's just my idea. I'm no designer by any means but this is just a thought I had while trying to think of how to make the other melee carries more viable.

Take Summoner Cleanse and rework it to be melee only. Keep the stun-break but give full CC immunity for 4 seconds. Give it a massive cooldown period; a cooldown that wouldn't let you use it every single teamfight. What you have now is a summoner ability that is still weaker than Olaf's ultimate and less frequent than both Ragnarok and Ganplank's oranges. Melee carries are always looking for those few seconds of heroics and this gives them the ability to do that with reckless abandon. Olaf and Ganplank still have their defining traits and someone like Tryndamere becomes much more viable for late game shenanigans (4 seconds of god-mode anyone). Like I said, I'm no designer but this is just one thought to help fix champions that are just laughingstocks as of right now.

Well I hope you enjoyed my analysis of melee carries and why they can/can't work. Feel free to leave me some feedback and suggestions for what to start writing for next week!


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Best Zod NA

Senior Member

10-13-2012

Whenever I play Yi, I always take teleport/cleanse.

It's invaluable.


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Eugenides

Senior Member

10-13-2012

Interesting. But you did hit one nail on the head: Melee Only. If you give AD carries an item that makes them immune to spells and CC, people like Ashe and Corki and Ezreal will become even harder to kill.

On the other hand, this spell would make someone like Olaf crazy. Think about it: Cleanse-Ghost Olaf. He can cleanse into his ultimate for a total of 10 seconds of CC immunity. That would be crazy. Fun, but crazy.


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CerealBoxOfDoom

Senior Member

10-13-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by bertboxer View Post
While these are all immensely helpful, you still can't do damage while stunned
fiora can in fact do damage while stunned xD

Edit: also another way to help melee carries is with items like tiamat or the sunfire cape thing. Rewarding the risk of going in close while caring how long they can stay there or how much damage they are actually putting out makes it almost worth it but not quite with the current items. Currently a melee champ can't sustain much harder than any ranged champ in th emiddle of combat unless they have some ability that allows it.


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RIP Bankplank

Senior Member

10-13-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugenides View Post
On the other hand, this spell would make someone like Olaf crazy. Think about it: Cleanse-Ghost Olaf. He can cleanse into his ultimate for a total of 10 seconds of CC immunity. That would be crazy. Fun, but crazy.
well he'd be a very one trick pony. he'd have no flash or ignite. also, while it would be cool to run around for 10 seconds with cc immunity, most teamfights are much shorter (at least the parts of the teamfights where cc is most important). chances are, he'll either die while it's active or a sizable chunk of the immunity will go to waste.


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Nea De Penserhir

Senior Member

10-13-2012

Congratulations, you've basically said what everyone knows. =/


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RIP Bankplank

Senior Member

10-14-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nea De Penserhir View Post
Congratulations, you've basically said what everyone knows. =/
well yes, we all know how to counter melee carries and most of us know why they are shut down so easily. it is a different matter entirely to get to the root of the issue and think of a way to fix the problem. what would you do to make them more viable?


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Nea De Penserhir

Senior Member

10-14-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by bertboxer View Post
well yes, we all know how to counter melee carries and most of us know why they are shut down so easily. it is a different matter entirely to get to the root of the issue and think of a way to fix the problem. what would you do to make them more viable?
Easiest way is to rework them into bruisers.

Maintaining them as melee carries generally requires strong defensive abilities, but this tends to make them pubstompy, which is why they get toned down to begin with.

The last option is giving them a high skill-ceiling way to manuever/deal with focus fire, something that allows for "big plays" but isn't as simple as "Push R and hope for best".


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RIP Bankplank

Senior Member

10-14-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nea De Penserhir View Post
Easiest way is to rework them into bruisers.

Maintaining them as melee carries generally requires strong defensive abilities, but this tends to make them pubstompy, which is why they get toned down to begin with.

The last option is giving them a high skill-ceiling way to manuever/deal with focus fire, something that allows for "big plays" but isn't as simple as "Push R and hope for best".
while that could certainly work, there are already plenty of bruisers in this game. i want to find a way to make true melee carries viable. it's a style of play that just isn't well represented here and i don't want to just cut the whole idea out.


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HellfireSoul

Member

10-14-2012

This is a solid analysis. I approve of it, and support your efforts.


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