A history of Katarina: understanding the Kat mains

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Ur little sister

Senior Member

10-02-2013

Riot changed something about Katarina again. This automatically means that she's hot topic again. People have been nagging about her constantly ever since the rework got announced. I feel like a lot of people are kind of clueless as to why it's such a "thing" though, and what's going on. Hence this post.

The pre-rework Kat
Before the rework, Katarina was a mobile assassin who had pretty much the worst early game in the game. She scaled into the laning phase pretty decently though, and had good snowball potential. After lvl 6 she would win every skirmish IF her opponent would blow all his escapes and cc AND would overextend.

There was pretty much an optimal way to play her, which involved maxing R>Q>E>W and rushing Hextech Gunblade (which was a different item back then). Her scalings were organized in a way where AP was more gold-efficiŽnt than AD for all-ins, but AD > AP for poking.

Now Katarina was globally considered to be a trash tier champion. Her win rate hovered around 40% in all ELO tiers. However, the loyal Katarina fanbase players (including players like Scarra, TiensiNoAkuma and JudyMonica) all averaged 60% win ratings on her, even at the highest ELO brackets. These players played her in that "optimal way" that I mentioned. Though for some reason this way of playing her was unique to her fanbase. Most players invested more gold into health, a 15% slow on Rylai and CDR (a stat that is completely useless on her as soon as her passive kicks in), often referring to Katarina as a champion akin to Swain or Vladimir, who's better off building tanky and relying on base damages.

I think this was the main bane of old Katarina. I know for a fact that by far most players were VERY convinced that the way to go on her was to build her like a tanky support mage, and those same players were complaining that she was a walking ult and was useless against any team with CC. The players who complained less about her were the people who actually built and played her as an assassin, a role where she didn't get overshadowed in every single way by other champions. And like I said, the difference in win ratings between both playstyles was somewhere around 20%, which whilst not saying everything does indicate that something's off.

The rework: history behind it
Riot never liked old Kat's state. First off she definately wasn't competitively viable. But more importantly, she stomped noobs. The general population of LoL considered her trash, so they wanted a rework. The Kat fans loved their champion, but a visual update was a common request, as well as some tweaks to her W, which was kind of an awkward spell sometimes. On top of that, her Q was bugged and we wanted that fixed. As far as the Kat mains' perception of Katarina went, they knew she lost almost every matchup (Karthus being a notable example) if played correctly AND could get snowballed into uselessness and thus considered her weak. What most of us didn't really take into account is that pretty much nobody knew how to play as or against Katarina, which is a big reason we'd win almost every matchup over and over again.

Riot tried adjusting her a couple of times, including an experiment where they made Shunpo put Katarina in front or behind it's target based on whether or not Killer Instincts was active. This turned out to be a nerf to an a champion that nobody considered strong to begin with, and it got reverted.

So in all, a rework was going to happen. Riot mentioned several goals for the rework, being:

  • Katarina's main item is Gunblade. We want more build variability instead of seeing you rush Gblade every time. (Phreak said this specifically)
  • Kat's early game is horrible, we want to buff it a bit. (Rework announcement)
  • Kat's unreliable because of her massive reliance on her ult. We want to make her more reliable in general instead of making her so snowball-based. (Rework announcement)
  • Kat needs some utility in case her ult gets interrupted. (Rework announcement)

The rework + initial criticism
Riot decided to tackle these points. Phreak's build variability point got implemented by hardnerfing Kat's synergy with AD and spellvamp. This meant Gunblade was not a viable item anymore. The spellvamp nerf was very sneaky and boiled down to very specific details of how her old abilities worked in detail. (Her old BB was essentially counted as a single target spell on every individual bounce which means it would get the full spellvamp bonus.) As such, this took a while for Kat mains to figure out, and a lot of people still don't realize it as far as I can tell :/

Main point of criticism here is that to increase build variability they essentially nerfed her synergy with items and stats. In the process, the whole concept of AD Kat got removed from the game, which arguably removed the build variability she had.

Utility got implimented by removing Kat's main utility spell and instead giving her an AoE waveclear with an inherent MS buff, and placing weakened versions the old utility effects of Killer Instincts in awkward spots in her kit (most notably the grievous wound on her ult). Do I even have to mention what the criticism to this is?

As for the rest, initially Kat was less ult dependant than she used to be, which was "the thing" that made Kat mains kind of forgiving towards the rework. What also happened is that her kit got dumbed down massively, meaning that the huge burden of knowledge there was to playing her effectively got removed, and her average win rate shot up. (The win rate of the old Kat mains plummeted though.) So a lot of people were VERY happy with this.

Her playstyle changed quite hard though. In her old kit, you would always lead an all-in with Shunpo (her longest range spell that had no casting time whatsoever). Because of how her new Q works, you're kind of forced to lead with Q somewhere (which is lower range and has a casting time + interrupts her movement), making the overall process clunkier. On top of that, she lost several tricks that are pretty much worth a lengthy post by themselves :/. Edit: some guy asked for me to do this. The result can be found on page 7 of this thread.

As for the old Kat mains, like I said a lot of us were lenient because putting power into her kit rather than her ult potentially had it's advantages. Against well organized teams, this definately sounded like the thing Katarina needed. However, a lot of us were sad that our favorite champion got changed dramatically and that a whole bunch of her specific tricks were essentially gone with no new playmaking tricks to compensate. This is where the "new Kat sucks" attitude came from. It was an early realization of the fact that new Kat was a lot more binary than the old one, and a fear that she would have to get nerfed into oblivion in the future due to stomping low ELO. Basically, a lot of us saw new Kat as a champion that couldn't be balanced anywhere near "as good" as old Kat.

The path to her current state
TiensiNoAkuma made a long post about why the rework wasn't "there yet", and Riot responded by tweaking Kat around a bit. Now she was in a state where she destroyed everything and everyone. Reginald started playing her and devised a cookie cutter build + strategy that basically exploited certain items + synergies. The build was so easy to pull off that a rock could play it at diamond level, and Kat pretty much became overpowered off of this, just because of how little skill it took to get pretty great results on her.

This is when for a lot of people the realization hit: Katarina was now a full AoE champion. If her numbers are high enough where she can kill anything by herself, she can kill whole teams by herself if they don't organize properly (aka soloQ). Old kat (having a much larger single target aspect to her kit) could thus be allowed to have some better harass spells.

She got nerfed pretty hard in her scalings because of the above. Once people realized that her scalings were absolute ****, and the item changes in S3 happened making health a "must get" stat on every single champion, people started building Tankarina ("thank you" Voyboy -.-). So Riot responded by nerfing her base damages into the ground (her W currently deals 40 dmg at rank 1. I mean seriously...), and compensated by raising the scalings on her ult a little.

Current state, current patch
Now, she's at a point where she got nerfed into having crappy base damages and crappy scalings. Because of her kit, she still has good teamfights, but her laning is pretty abysmal. A note to be made here is that because she's resourceless, she will ALWAYS do well against players who are too bad to trade properly in lane. However, when played correctly, she currently loses every single matchup. (The ones she's classically thought to counter like Karthus or Morgana actually beat her out, but it requires specific ways of playing. For example, Karthus can just farm and outscale her, and there's not much she can do about that. Avoiding all-ins unless you have exhaust and mana in which case you can stand still in her ult and outdamage her in it is crucial.)

Now Riot was aware of this and responded by buffing the scalings on her ultimate and it's base damage at later ranks. As a tradeoff, it channels for longer now. Overall from what I'm reading, this is supposed to buff her early game. (There have been lengthy discussions about why it's actually a lvl 6 buff in that if you have 30-50 AP you'll deal 20-ish more damage off of a full channel.)

Why are old Kat mains kinda angry?
Because everything any of us (except for TiensiNoAkuma) mentioned either got ignored or brushed off by Riot, AND a lot of the eery predictions came true too :/.

We lost our favorite champion, got her replaced with something that A LOT of us massively dislike, and all the potentially compensating goodies that were to come with the rework turned out to fail. The rework pretty much demonsterably failed in all the points it was supposed to improve Kat on (except maybe for making her more noob-friendly, though that was never explicitly listed as a point).

Those high level old Kat mains? None of them play Kat as much as they used to. JudyMonica quit her alltogether pretty soon after the rework and moved on to Zilean. Scarra barely still plays her, calling her "just such a bad champion" on occasion. TiensiNoAkuma still plays her a lot, and I believe his win rate on her has fluctuated between 47-55% since her rework. He used to be at 60-65% before it.

Overall, we realize that we can't "get old Kat back". Just the changes to Gunblade make that impossible, let alone the financial issues that Riot ppb has with reverting something they spent so much time and money into screwing up. It's impossible for several reasons. However, what we hope is that maybe we can start not being ignored all too much anymore, so that maybe Katarina can one day become a fun / viable champion again. Because throughout everything that's happened to Kat, I believe amongst old Kat mains there's just this big feeling of "Riot being completely clueless about what they're doing to this champion".

And that's the story of how I met your mother. I'd post a potato for the long post, but that's so 2011. Funny thing is I actually left out relevant information that I feared would just make this monstrosity of a post too big to handle :/

tl;dr: Kat got changed the way she did bcuz neither Riot nor the majority of the player base had any clue as to how she was played. They still don't. Old Kat mains are facepalming, and this talk comes up again every time a Kat change happens. Now read the damn wall of text, cause paraphrasing content this much is impossible without coming across as rude and unconstructive.

I'll be using the space below this to discuss recurring opinions / notes in the comments.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KnifeLion View Post
The ultimate buffs from the last patch really left me scratching my head. Making an already ultimate reliant champion more ultimate reliant than before seems plain weird.
This point's popping up a couple of times, not just in this post. The main criticism is that "buffing the ultimate doesn't increase dependance on it, it just increases it's effectiveness". That criticism is essentially correct.

Now the main thing that plays in people's heads is that old Kat was a massively ult-reliant champion who got reworked in order to be less ult-reliant. This is... wrong. In her pre-reworked state, the common mindset amongst high ELO Kat players was to rely as little as possible on the ult because it's inherently unreliable. Granted there were some fog of war tricks with it, but those require setting up as well. The main purpose of the ult used to be being a huge threat for the ennemies IF they screwed up their positioning or cc management. This purpose got destroyed when the ult got nerfed and the standard combo changed to postpone the ult to last spell instead of second. (Old combo was ERQ because Q range > R range, and there was no proc.) On top of that, getting a full ult off just isn't as rewarding anymore as it used to be, because the damage got cut off by so much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magni View Post
I think everything wrong about the new Katarina is her W. First, it's incredibly boring. Second, it turns her into even more of a senseless button masher. Third, it's the reason she became overpowered.
This was a long post. I just selected the part that I've seen recur several times. And I agree with it. Turning Kat into a bigtime AoE champion means getting resets = dealing a lot of damage to potentially an ENTIRE unorganized team. This concept is in my opinion what makes it virtually impossible to balance her at lower levels of play. I think this is reflected in this spell having been nerfed into being the lowest damage damage spell I can think of in this game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LyricalDreams View Post
I came in here expecting something entirely different than what it was. Since when was gunblade focused Kat old Kat? Old Kat is Furor's build of 2 hearts of gold and stacking bloodthirsters. Now that was a fun time to play Kat.

Then Akali came out and filled the same role better and people moved on.
This has popped up a couple of times. This thread is specifically meant to highlight the changes since her big rework. Now, it's true that Katarina used to be a very different champion entirely before that. She used to have only an AD ratio on her Q, and only an AP ratio on her E. Her ult had a ratio that was roughly equally good on both stats (though slightly favoring AD gold-efficiŽncy wise). I didn't really mention that because:
  • I barely ever played her AD
  • I wasn't even near good at this game back then. I can't judge that version of Kat properly.
  • I'm not too convinced (though I could be wrong here) that the change from splitting her ratio's to giving her dual ratio's on her Q destroyed that. AD Kat was still played right up untill the rework. The rework completely destroyed the possibility to play AD assassin Kat in any seriousness :/

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldcakes View Post
I just wanted to say this:
Very often, when I see Katarinas in ARAM's,...
This comes up a lot in balance discussions about Katarina. "Leave her alone, she's a big threat in ARAM". Now this guy didn't say "leave her alone", but he's the first guy to mention it in this specific thread.

ARAM doesn't matter. It's a mode where you can't even choose which champion you play, and there is no balance. I don't really get how this arguement holds, I've never seen anybody say the opposite ("Jax is weak in aram, buff him plz!") and not get ridiculed. It's not a mode that's meant to be anywhere near serious and it's not really meant to be balanced.

Quote:
Originally Posted by falln View Post
read it all. i like new kat (and i liked old kat) and i've been a kat main for a long time and i just want to throw a post out there saying that the OP does not speak for me and i love kat's current design. i don't think every champ should be able to be thrown into every game and expect solid results. i like kat as a niche/situational pick (even if she's my main)
This needs to be out here. So far this guy is the first and only Kat main I've heard with this story. If more of you guys are out there, don't hold back to give a shoutout here! You guys' opinion matters as well!

Just saw the Reddit page for this thread. Wow. Made a Reddit account just for that. I used the nickname "A_Gambit" there. That's been one of my nicknames for a while. I'm not the D1 NA player with the same name, I did't know about him when I made the name :/.


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D Bag

Senior Member

10-02-2013

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Yuffy Kisaragi

Senior Member

10-02-2013

I actually read it all b/c I know how to read


most people don't.

on topic, first kat game in a long time went like 18/5 with 2 quadras, one was a definite penta but our trundle was having none of it :/ very fun champ, like most reset champs.

OH, and I'd pay a few hundred for kitty kat katarina. and almost as much for red card. too bad they havnt come up with a way to buy/sell skins :/ I don't want to buy a new account, my account already has 90+ champs and 81 skins.


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AbamaStank

Senior Member

10-02-2013

+1. Very interesting read.


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JTTCOTE

Senior Member

10-02-2013

OP got downvoted. Faith in humanity destroyed.


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AbamaStank

Senior Member

10-02-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by JTTCOTE View Post
OP got downvoted. Faith in humanity destroyed.
Lol, IKR.

It was a really nice post too!


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KnifeLion

Senior Member

10-02-2013

The ultimate buffs from the last patch really left me scratching my head. Making an already ultimate reliant champion more ultimate reliant than before seems plain weird.


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InubashiriMomiji

Senior Member

10-02-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by KnifeLion View Post
The ultimate buffs from the last patch really left me scratching my head. Making an already ultimate reliant champion more ultimate reliant than before seems plain weird.
I don't think you know what "reliant" really means.

The changes to Zed a long time ago are an example of making him more Q-reliant; base damage was taken off of E and damage was added into Q. This meant that to get the same damage off in a fight as pre-change Zed, new Zed would have to land his Q optimally. That's what it means to be reliant on something; it means that more emphasis is placed on that part (Q) for the whole combo to do the same thing which, in this case, is damage.

This change to Kat was just that Kat's damage starts faster and has a lower CD at later levels. That's not making her more ult reliant since her other abilities are still the same; it just means that her ulti is improved whenever you'd decide to use it.

She's not more reliant on her ulti; it's just better than it was before.


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OMG halp meh plz

Senior Member

10-02-2013

I'm new to the game so I don't know what old Kat was like, but I don't know what to do with the current one.

Her AP scalings besides the ult are ****, her base damages besides the ult are ****, her skill ranges are pretty short plus she's melee.

Her role seems to be to pop in and ult on a half-dead enemy team, but that's kind of a ****ty design now isn't it? Especially since Riot likes to praise itself on how they're such awesome game designers.

A champ that is designed to kill-steal, basically. Like Karthus, but ****tier and not credit to team.


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Stez007

Senior Member

10-02-2013

Cannot agree more.

She still, thankfully, has a place in Dominion as an extremely strong hybrid Assassin/Mage, but the channel time nerf hurt her quite a bit.

Riot still doesn't understand that people can just walk out of Katarina's ulti. They could do it when it was 3 seconds long and obscenely powerful, they could do it when it was 2 seconds long and mediocre and they can still do it now that it's 2.5 seconds long.

Katarina has the most inherent counterplay out of every champion, and yet she still sees nerfs. Yes, it's a nerf regardless of what the math says. The cast time removal is meaningless considering the daggers have a travel time and come out slower. People walking away from her ult take even less damage than they did before.

Her ulti is not better than it was a few days ago; it is significantly worse except in ideal circumstances. I'll say it again, people do not stand in Kat ultis unless chain-CCed. No other champion's ultimate requires another champion's input to be effective, let alone needing multiple champions or specific ones with 2.5 second hard CCs.

Revert this ridiculous change, Riot.


Edit: I'll clarify my point about her ultimate requiring another person.

If Katarina uses her ulti point blanc against an enemy champion, and that champion is not rooted, stunned, surpressed, taunted, feared or strongly slowed--and assuming Kat herself is not interrupted--the enemy champion can walk away from Kat's ulti even without boots and they would take at most six daggers (seven before this patch). With boots 1 that drops to five and with boots two only four. That means Kat is only getting at most half of her ultimate off by herself barring Exhaust.

Walking away is fine counterplay for a skill such as Fiddlesticks' drain, but that is a base ability and he has his own CC to keep people drained. This is the main reason Kat does not win lane matchups, too; every champion has access to this counterplay from level 1, which is devastating to an assassin that by virtue of being an assassin needs to win her lane early. They don't even need a Zhonya's, though if/when they do get one it's just not possible for Kat to kill them.

Making it easier to walk away from Kat's ulti just made it that much worse, regardless of the total damage and scaling.


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