Earlier this week Riot Games announced the long awaited Kayle and Morgana reworks. While Morgana’s update is relatively small, Kayle is receiving major updates to her kit. This is great for her, as she’s been one of the most neglected champions in League for quite a while. According to op.gg, she currently has below a 1% play rate, and its no surprise why. Her laning phase can be rough in many match-ups, and because of the early game focused meta, its hard for her to be able to get the items she needs to succeed. According to Games of Legends she hasn’t been a staple meta pick in pro play since season four, and though some players have played her every season, she’s a very fringe pick. The Kayle rework hopes to fix this.
Kayle is historically a champion that reaches the late game and becomes an unstoppable force. Her flaming sword that delivers damage from afar and her ultimate’s invulnerability are core aspects of her kit that, along with the incredible scaling, Riot is keeping in her new kit. Her identity is remaining the same, but with noticeable improvements. Champions that scale very well into the late game always seem to have balance problems though. Much of the time balancing their early games to make them viable can leave their late game too powerful. Or the champion can simply be unplayable because of a horrific early game. Kayle’s rework will have to address both these issues to make sure she’s as successful as past reworks.
Kayle’s new kit will function similarly to her old one, but with significant improvements. Her passive, Divine Ascent, is the main focus of how Kayle scales. At levels 6, 11 and 16 she receives buffs to her attacks. She starts her ascension at level one. Here, she gains stacking attack speed and the Exalted passive, which gives her movement speed towards enemies. At level six, when Kayle is exalted her attacks become AOE. Her next evolution makes all of her auto attacks ranged, not melee as she is before this point. Finally, her final form makes her permanently Exalted, meaning she will always have the increased movement speed and AOE damage. On top of this, her AOE damage deals true damage.
Her Divine Judgement (R) is the next scariest part of her kit. Like her ultimate now, it grants the target invulnerability. If this wasn’t bad enough for the enemies, the invulnerable target also has a barrage of swords fall from the sky in a circle around them to damage all enemies in the area. This ability has huge potential for any kind of fight, but does have the drawback of Kayle being unable to auto attack during its duration.
Her other primary abilities are similar as her current ones, and though are stronger, aren’t as important as her passive and ultimate. Her Radiant Blast (Q) retains a slow, but also does some splash damage while reducing Armor and Magic Resist. Kayle’s Celestial Blessing (W) now heals and gives movement speed to Kayle and her target, not just one. Her E, Starfire Spellblade, is quite different. It’s passive gives additional damage scaling to her autos, while the active applies to only one auto attack. It makes it ranged and deal a percentage of missing health as bonus damage.
Kayle will keep her identity of great scaling and being an auto attack based champion. The ascension through her Divine Ascent passive as well as the damage increase from her E’s passive will make her auto attacks be insane late game. YouTuber Vandiril released a video that demonstrated Kayle’s maximum potential to great success. With 1000 AP and 2.5 Attack Speed he’s easily able to kill multiple enemies in only a few blows and even solo Baron Nashor with no lifesteal.
Kayle falls in line with some other champions that have been problematic in the past. Auto attack based, scaling champions have frequently caused frustration on the Rift. Master Yi is the most notorious example. He’s a champion that will stat check the enemy team and can be hard to punish in Solo Queue. His ability to get a Pentakill in a one-versus-five is unmatched and has made him hard to deal with in the past.
Though being a different class of champion, Vladimir also demonstrated how terrifying scaling champions can be if not checked early. After his rework in 2016, he quickly rose to the top of the meta because he was simply too good at all stages of the game. His scaling was insane, but his early game was good too. He dominated pro play for a while and was an unstoppable force. This is just one example showing how a champion has to have clear stages when they’re weak because of their power later on.
The Kayle rework, at this point in time, doesn’t seem likely to cause this problem.. Her late game appears to be very powerful, but her early game likewise appears weak. Despite this seeming to be ideal, it may be too exaggerated.
Is Scaling Enough?
There’s always the hope of scaling when a player is losing a ranked game. Kayle can carry entire teams on her back when she reaches her passive’s final evolution. But if she always loses the game before she can get to level 16, is there any point to playing her? Probably not.
This is the problem the Kayle rework faces on the PBE right now. Many players are finding her early game extremely bad, and only really becomes playable when she hits level 11 and gains ranged auto attacks. This perception is mostly fueled by the difference between Kayle current E and the rework E. The live version gives her ranged autos for a period of time, while on the PBE she only gets a single auto attack. This forces her to get into melee range of champions she normally wouldn’t have to, and she suffers for it.
First impressions of new kayle after playing quite a few games on her.
Levels 1-5 Weak, worse version of kassadin with a 50 mana cost 1 ranged auto
6-10: Worst champion in game can't even farm in most matchups vs decent players
16: GOD, but not as good as kass
— Daryl (@Wingsofdeathx) February 21, 2019
Streamer and former professional player Daryl “Wingsofdeath” Hennegan summed up her problems with this tweet. He related her to Kassadin, who has similar strengths and checks to the reworked Kayle. Being a “GOD” at level 16 is great, but being “weak” and the “worst champion in game” before level 11 is a serious problem.
That being said, players may have different experiences with the Kayle rework and Riot may adjust her numbers or kit since she’s still on the PBE. The issues discussed will need to be addressed by the time of her release to ensure she becomes “the Righteous” champion she is designed to be.
Featured image via Riot Games.