Patch 5.2 Forecast, Context on Deathfire Grasp Removal

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RIP Deathfire Grasp. The item was removed during the most recent PBE update and has now been confirmed to be happening in the live servers in the future. Riot Jag weighs in on this decision and what compensation champions like Veigar and Ahri will receive after DFG’s removal.

Hey guys, Jag here from the Live Balance team. It’s a new year, a new(ish) season, and we’re back with the Patch 5.2 Forecast!

The biggest change we’re making in 5.2 is that we’re removing Deathfire Grasp from Summoner’s Rift. There are two major reasons we felt we had to do this, so I’ll run through both:

First, DFG tends to make burst patterns even more bursty. The item effectively adds another nuke spell on top of kits that are already designed to have strong up-front damage and aggravates the “whoa, I got one shot out of nowhere” frustration of playing against certain champions. A good example is LeBlanc; DFG adds reliability to her assassination patterns and ends up removing counterplay (she gets to rely on her Q, E, and DFG spells for damage, and can use dashes to reposition or escape instead of making more risky plays).

The second reason is strongly tied to the first; removing this item gives us room to buff champion kits that would otherwise be overpowered if they could use DFG. The most obvious example is Ahri; more ‘magey’ elements of the character, like her sustained damage or kiting, end up getting washed out because she has so much power to blow up charmed targets with a DFG burst. This ends up forcing us to balance Ahri around her assassin playstyle because there’s always the “I can buy DFG” route to consider; removing the item means we can buff her in more interesting ways while still keeping some of her burst because she can’t just pick up a DFG and double down on a single playstyle.

As far as champions that purchase DFG are concerned, some will get some love now that DFG is gone (I mentioned Ahri; expect Veigar to get attention either this patch or next); some are strong enough that losing DFG is a healthy nerf; some rely on alternate item builds sufficiently that they won’t be affected too much. When 5.2 goes live, if we feel there is an itemization gap for mages, then we’ll address that further.

One of the other character classes we’re looking at in 5.2 in Assassins. Some assassins have top tier burst potential that is loaded onto high reliability spells (think Akali or Fizz here) and don’t have enough real weaknesses to compensate. Others may simply be too strong along a variety of dimensions; Zed being one of the best 1v1 champions in the game and an extremely efficient tower diver helps make him a super split pusher. However, him having such strong tower killing statistics (e.g. AS, bonus AD from W passive) on top of that makes for an overwhelming combination.

Last point regarding jungle; we have seen the jungle receive a huge amount of changes since the start of the preseason, and Patch 5.1 was no exception with the addition of the Smite charging system. We want to keep a close eye on what happens when 5.1 hits live servers and we will continue to make changes to jungle as appropriate.

Riotscarizard and Pwyff took to reddit for more on compensating champions and the reason for DFG’s removal.


While i do use the language ‘compensate’ when referring to changes a number of mage champions will be receiving in 5.2, i want to clarify by saying they are /not/ intended to be 1-for-1 in /all/ cases with DFG’s removal. That is to say ‘Champions lost an active that gave them X% damage amp – therefore, let’s give them all X% more damage!’ is not wholly accurate.

We’re not interested in leaving DFG’s top customers unilaterally weaker (as people in this thread have mentioned Ahri/Veigar are on the list, but not the only ones!), but giving champions more flexibility rather than damage are options on the table for some of these characters.

I apologize for being vague on a tactical level (Y U NO SHOW BUFFS?), but i’d rather leave a lot of the context/discussions on the Who and How’s of 5.2’s Mage changes to the individual developers working on them.

Regarding Annie.
Well, I build ONLY AP. While I may not use the active consistently as a new player, removing DFG gets rid of 120 ability power, nerfing her burst badly.

I like that 120 ap without getting a 2nd zhonyas or rabadon’s.
Riotscarizard: The intent is to have another 120 AP item so there aren’t just Hourglass/Deathcap.
Will there be a replacement 120 ap item? This is an indirect dcap nerf.
Riotscarizard: Our intent is to still have a 3rd item with 120 AP / builds from NLR.


I can talk more in-depth on this. You raise a good point that some have… decent counterplay even with DFG, but when DFG enters the scene, it almost always reduces counterplay on a kit that has good weaknesses.

If we were to leave DFG in, we basically leave a “buy me to reduce your counterplay” item and have to balance around the assumption that many will buy it. Looking at individual champions and balancing around the item is what leads us to things like TF / Fizz / Kayle getting nerfed when Lich Bane is strong.

What this does is sets us up to balance champions around more unique axis without having to worry that some of them might just pick up the super nuke item.

Other Rioters joined the discussion to answer some questions and concerns.
What are the plans for Mordekasier? DFG+Ult is how he could stay a threat late game, otherwise he just gets destroyed. I mean he needed some love before this because even with lack of mobility he is out damaged by a lot of mobile bursty mages, now without DFG his almost worthless ult damage will be so non-existent you can just ignore him.
Riot Jag: Mordekaiser is a guy we’re still looking at. He’s an interesting problem because admittedly it seems like DFG is core to his late game team fight objectives, but on the other hand it’s really hard to play up some of his basic play patterns (especially in lane) without aggravating the “this guy is miserable to play against” experience.
1 question, while I completly agree with the removal of DFG (I’ve always supported it since the end of S3 along with LB nerfs), will Riot make more items with actives to the game? Personally I believe more items to encourage item diversification on mid-lane (another thing that DFG didn’t allow on champions) are needed, specially active ones.
FeralPony: So I can comment on this a bit. We’re looking at some longer term changes to the itemization system this will probably result in some additional active items though I wouldn’t expect anything in 5.2. A lot of the work on the Active Item UI (making active items more prominently displayed on your cast bar) had the goal of allowing us the ability to make more active items. Any additional actives we add would most likely be targeted at classes or roles that currently have a lack of activated items (ie- probably not supports as they can often be overloaded with actives though we had some ideas there as well)

There are also a few active items we had experimented with during Preseason that we liked (like ZzRot Portal) but were delayed due to scope which we might be able to get ship ready sooner.

January 14, 2015
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