I know this is long overdue, but we wanted to get this design followup out there and available to the public so everyone knows how we currently feel about Skarner following his changes in the Juggernaut update last year. What follows is our opinion on the state of the champion in the game currently, including not only the things we think went well, but also the stuff that hasn't quite worked out.
Our original goals for Skarner were to align him with a Juggernaut playstyle/fantasy and to establish an identity as a powerful objective controller amongst Juggernauts. To that end, there is some stuff that we think is working, and some stuff that isn't.
Here's what we think is working as of now:
* **We do think that Skarner succeeds in presenting himself as a much bigger threat around the main neutral objective points of contestation.** Interestingly, when the 6.9 patch launched last week, early data showed that Skarner actually benefits more from his team obtaining Mountain Drake's buff than any other champion. That was pretty cool to see.
* **As a Juggernaut, Skarner's access to the enemy backline is meaningfully reduced.** In this way, he does more closely resemble a Juggernaut's strengths/weaknesses.
That said, there's some stuff that isn't working, most of which stem from two primary issues with the update:
* **We probably just shouldn't have tried to make Skarner a full on Juggernaut.** Without monumental changes to the champion, he probably will not ever be an effective one. The champion had a history of being a sticky, low damage threat, and trying to make him a Juggernaut meant we had to reduce that stickiness significantly, alienating his current player base's playstyle. Additionally, given the powerful crowd control tools in his kit, Skarner will almost certainly be better off building really tanky and optimizing to maximize his CC.
* **Skarner's Crystal Spires passive occupies too much mindshare within the game for the play it's actually generating.** This is especially true for all the non-Skarner's in the game, who didn't necessarily opt in to the experience. The sheer level of involvement required for everyone in the game is a large part of what makes the passive feel "mini-gamey" or arbitrary. Additionally, the magnitude of the effects in the zones does lead to Skarner feeling relatively weak outside of them.
So what does all that mean moving forward? While Skarner does seem to perform well in his role as an objective controller, he does have the aforementioned issues. Given the opportunity to do some cleanup work on the champion, we would probably look to:
* Explore options to reduce total mindshare (especially for other players) required by his passive.
* Adjust his stat profile to be a bit less Juggernaut-y and a bit more Diver/Vanguard-like.
* Look to reduce some of his dependency on snowball to succeed.
Given this assessment, there may be some follow-up work we can do to clean up some of those issues, and we may try some small scope experimental stuff on the PBE to see how they feel.
Again, sorry for the delay on getting this out.