I think old Karma was really close to viable. She was very unique and fun too play as well as difficult to master.
My opinion the real issues pre rework were as follows:
Lack of understanding by the general player base of her kit and how it worked.
Lack of understanding by the general player base of her role.
Small tweaks to her W I would suggest a root and target Dot on mantra'd W.
Lastly and this is only a maybe but possibly an increase to her aa and q ranges. Just slightly though.
1) People didn't understand how to play alongside her because she was never seen. Free once over 2+ years. Sales? Nope. She wasn't marketed therefore never played but by those few that took the chance buying her. I pin that on Riot
2) Her role. Her kit was built for mid or top lane already. She was great top against bruisers and performed really well mid in certain matchups (as every mid excels and struggles in certain matchups)
Because she had the support tag everyone tried to play her bot support which again she could do in certain matchups but was not her forte. She's not a straight up bot support.
3) Giving her a root with DOT on target. (mantra'd W only) would have given her the needed CC and possible 3rd damage source. And as mantra only you have decisions to make that would leave her balanced. You either give up your heal for a root or give up your shield bomb for a heal and root or take the 3 sources of damage again giving up the heal. But you'd have to pick 2 of the three. Obviously being able to root/damage heal/ damage and shield bomb all in one exchange would be too much. From there it's just a matter of adjusting the numbers.
4) Her range was sometimes a concern on SR, but she was built to be able to get into the thick of things so I think the range would need to be tested. It might be too much.
I was hoping like most Karma players that she would get minor tweaks to help her QOL. And the needed VU to fix the issue with her appeal to the major player base.
New Karma has pretty sweet visuals. Her gameplay has it's pros but from what we've seen so far (low winrate) she's pretty weak. She's got nice poke but I feel like a lot of her kit is very been there done that. Her Q is basically EZ with a little AOE and a slow or semi Lux W with mantra but blocked (yeah it's different, but as for gameplay very similar). Her W is very Leblanc meets Fiddle but worse. Fid drains better and LB CC's better. Her E is yeah a shield. Lot's of champs have them. It's got a MS boost that can be nice but is very situational in it's effectiveness. It's damage output is very minimal and doesn't really warrant a mantra if you're using it for the purpose of dealing damage. I'm sure with some number tweaks and different buffs and balances her winrate would rise and she'd reach a good point.
Final thoughts old Karma was definitely not trash (even in SR). Her biggest problems were people just didn't play her much because she was never free and (Riot was right on this) she didn't have that appeal that made people just go out and buy her leading to a lack of overall player base knowledge. She did need a little help marketing and kit wise but. Removing this unique difficult to learn, fun champion and replacing her with a rather boring and far from unique champion in my opinion is a detriment to the quality of the game. Whether new Karma is strong/weak or somewhere in between in my opinion is irrelevant. I don't feel like the game was improved in any way with this move. The intentions were good but the execution poor. This is more of a cry for League of Legends QOL. Old Karma brought more to the game than new Karma does in uniqueness/role and fun factor even if she was in need of a few things. New Karma also is in need of help. I don't see how in anyway the game wouldn't be better off with both champions making new Karma one in her own.
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