Riot releases hotfix to nerf a new powerful Neeko build

Olivia R. March 13, 2019

Riot is releasing a micropatch focused on nerfing new champion Neeko.

The patch will lower Neeko’s base damage and attack speed drastically. Her attack speed will be lowered from 3.5 percent per level to just 1.5 percent. Her attack damage is also going down one percentage point. The patch changes that stand out the most are to Neeko’s W ability, reducing her on-hit damage from 50-170 to 50-130.

The patch may render Neeko a rare champion in the bottom lane once again after a brief rise in popularity following Patch 9.5.

New and improved, but maybe too improved

Before Neeko’s on-hit builds, League of Legend’s newest champion didn’t appear to be a popular pick. She had a .14 percent playrate during Patch 9.4, but that changed drastically when the next patch hit. The Curious Chameleon reached an astonishing 3.05 percent playrate before the nerf struck.

Neeko also had the highest win rate of any bot lane champion, sitting at an impressive 54.56 percent.

Neeko’s popularity soared thanks to her W passive, Shapesplitter, which deals extra magic damage with every third auto-attack. This allowed competitive players to deal devastating damage by building attack speed and physical damage.

Esports fans began to suspect that Neeko would be in the bottom lane in competitive matches unless she was nerfed.

Back to basics

The drastic patch has all but eliminated Neeko’s chance of seeing competitive play as a bottom lane carry, taking away her new build’s potential.

The League of Legends community had mixed feelings over the patch, and Riot game designer Josh Leesman took to Reddit to address the developers’ reasoning behind the seemingly sudden patch.

The new champion had a zero pick rate in the pro scene, said Leesman, prior to Patch 9.4 transforming her kit. To developers, it felt like a good time to give Neeko a buff, since pros “saw no value” in picking her.

But when pro teams began to discover the on-hit Neeko build, Leesman admitted that it was the development team’s fault for buffing what was an already strong champion.

“In this situation, we are hoping to bring some parity between the on-hit Neeko build and the ‘mage’ or poke Neeko builds,” Leesman said. “Hotfixes are never fun, and we wouldn’t do this if we didn’t think it was necessary.”

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