I’ve been staring at LCS data for far too long to want to write about it, so instead, I’m going to talk on a few topics that interest me. First, I’ve been playing Skarner more, and wanted to give an updated opinion on the rework.
The rework is not a nerf
I’m still not feeling Skarner the way I used to, but I’m playing very dominantly on him, when I pick him. Let’s talk the strengths and weaknesses of the new Skarner.
He is tankier than before
His shield cooldown is down from 16 seconds to 14 seconds, which is about a 15% increase in the amount of shields you get: not bad. On top of that, it gains 10 HP per level and .2 AP ratio. Even with the one point you put into E for the slow, your shield ends up being about the same size. At level 4 is the biggest difference, with your shield being 80 when it had been 115, and at level 12, 245 when it would have been 250. Considering the 15% increase from the reduced CD, the effective shield is very even or even much higher than it would have been on old Skarner.
More consistent CDR
He has more consistent auto-attack speed (which means more consistent damage and more consistent CDR from your passive).
Your W movement speed seems a bit weak early on for two reasons:
- You have one lower level in your shield due to needing a point in your E for the slow.
- Your shield movement speed has to ramp up, which actually gives you more movement speed at higher levels, but less overall at lower levels.
However, you now have a long-ranged slow. I remember thinking 3 or 4 times “I should back off or get kited forever”, then remembered I could use my ranged slow to close the distance and ult that pesky Caitlyn.
Less sticking power
There were a lot of times where I got onto somebody, only to have them slip away a second later. Certain champions are going to be very hard to deal with, namely Caitlyn and Ezreal. They can use their dashes to break range with you, and since they won’t be slowed, you can’t catch up.
Less flexible builds
As Skarner, you really need to build into sticking power now, or you’re reduced to initiating with flash. There are a few items you could consider
- Iceborn Gauntlet – This item has everything you could want: mana, CDR, tankiness, an AoE slow to make up for the lack of your Q. Unfortunately, it has 1 huge weakness: if you get it, you can’t get 40% CDR easily. Either you also get Frozen Heart and waste 10% CDR (not to mention stack nothing but armor), or you get Locket (situational) or Spirit Visage (not that good on you).
- Rylai’s Crystal Scepter – The slow on this is pretty strong, and the AP makes your shield 64 stronger (64/300 makes for about a 20% increase in strength!). The health is a bit awkward, as with your shield, you’d prefer to stack resistances.
- Trinity Force – Pretty expensive to build out of the jungle, and leaves you squishy.
- Frozen Mallet – Ew.
Once you have those items, you’re pretty pigeonholed. If you went Rylai’s or Trinity Force, you definitely want Frozen Heart. On the other hand, if you went Frozen Fist, you probably can just start building tanky. All too often, I found myself saying ‘can I really afford 40% CDR?’
Here was my thinking: you won’t get 40% CDR (most likely), and you won’t have the same stick power as before, so let’s just rely on the base CDR from your runes/masteries and spirit stone item (20%), which brings your shield to an 11.2s cooldown. With auto-attacks, that’s a 5.6s cooldown, so instead of getting the cooldown a bit lower, just make the shield huge. Abyssal/Frozen/Rylai’s/Zhonya’s all do this nicely.
The items I found myself trending towards were actually Abyssal Scepter, Frozen Fist, and Rylai’s Crystal Scepter (I must admit I was tempted by RoA for the mana). I considered heavier AP items like Zhonya’s simply because of how huge the AP ratio on your shield gets.
Ganking felt awkward. Yeah, I had my slow, but before, if I managed to get on somebody (via positioning, or avoiding wards, or flash, or whatever, I felt accomplished, and they had trouble getting away. Anybody with long dashes (Renekton/Ezreal/Caitlyn) felt like they could just say ‘lolnope’ as soon as I got on them.
Mana also felt awkward. Because of the Spirit Stone changes, when you’re clearing, everything is great, but when you’re fighting, you run out of mana halfway through every fight, especially now that you have to use your E.
Before, I felt safe giving away my third — or even second, if warranted — blue, knowing that my mana would still be semi-decent. Now, I find myself running out in the middle of fights, and taking every blue. It’s fully possible that Skarner only feels strong to me at the moment because I’m inflating my gold and levels and strength with blue buffs.
Skarner has always dominated skirmishes. Now he does even more so. His tankiness is up, his damage is up, and he can deal with changing targets slightly better now, due to his ranged slow.
Teamfights were awkward. I never really felt like ‘oh man, thank god I have this slow’ once skirmishes ended. I did find myself thinking “I have to attack the nearby targets and not the squishies, so I can take advantage of my passive and get my abilities back up. Unfortunately, that didn’t slow them, but with my new, AP-heavy build, it did hurt them, and allowed me to peel decently well. It didn’t feel like Skarner of old, but it didn’t feel like an entirely new experience, either.
I honestly haven’t noticed the new ultimate. Good Skarner players knew how to avoid the ultimate misfiring at this point, and could even grab Ezreal’s trying to Arcane Shift away a good deal of the time — I have been accused of hacking multiple times for my ability to pull Ezreal players back from Arcane shift; it’s actually just about proximity to the target and animation canceling while chasing.
Skarner just feels more reliant on so many things now:
- Blue Buff
- Itemizing for sticking power (Rylai’s/Iceborn Gauntlet/Trinity Force)
It doesn’t make him bad, it just makes him awkward to pick, and extremely awkward to fall behind on.
Mattias “Gentleman Gustaf” Lehman is a gaming and esports nerd who has ranked as high as Diamond 1 in solo queue and Diamond 3 in arranged 5s.
You can see his other work here:
Reign of Gaming LoL articles