My name is Mid Nidalee, also known as WTCL Taylor and AVA Wildy throughout the years. I have been playing League of Legends and specifically maining Nidalee since Season 2. During Season 3, I played 546 games of Mid Nidalee at 61% win-rate. Back then my summoner name was Best Mid Nidalee. I peaked at Diamond 3 during Season 4. I have played Nidalee in every role league has to offer and no other champion has given the same excitement to play.
Screenshot of playing Mid Nidalee with Regi and Steve back in Season 5.
Over the years, we have seen many changes to Nidalee, mostly nerfs. The rework of patch 4.10 was a game-changer, sure, but I wasn’t about to give up on my favorite champion.
Before the re-work, Nidalee’s playstyle was playing without pressure and awaiting level 6 to gain access to cougar form. You had a disadvantage in nearly every lane matchup because you could be shoved nonstop to your tower. However, upon reaching level 6, you gained some waveclear, mobility, and tankiness. Nidalee was different from Jayce and Elise in that regard (and different is okay, usually good!). Nidalee could chunk a player out of a fight with a spear if a player mispositioned and was hit by one of long range.
Come patch 4.10, the Nidalee rework hit live and we got a new passive, cougar transformation at level 1, among other changes. Of course with champion changes, there are usually some balance changes that happen down the road. With this version of Nidalee on 4.10, AD Nidalee was strong, and AP Nidalee was weaker than before. The balance was worked out, and Nidalee was playable in both roles for around a year despite being a lower skill-cap champion than before.
Come 5.1, Nidalee was a lot closer to balanced with a Mid win rate of 49.74%, Top at 49.81%, and Jungle 49.83%. Honestly, the rework might’ve been slightly over-tuned because she was a high-skill cap champion with a 50% win-rate, but I digress.
Come Patch 5.2, Nidalee was given the change of “Passive - Prowl (NEW) LITERAL DEFINITION Nidalee can now also Hunt neutral monsters” which completely broke her. Her jungle win-rate spiked to almost 56%.
Post 5.2, through 6.21 Nidalee has received 15 nerfs and 1 buff resulting in Mid Nidalee and Top Nidalee being completely dead. That being said, jungle Nidalee is not in a healthy spot either in terms of gameplay. A feast or famine champion, Nidalee now has to rely on getting a significant lead in order to impact the game in any way, and even then, if she is not able to do anything with a lead, the champion becomes useless for the most part.
While one could argue that snowballing and closing out games quickly is the difference between a good and a poor Nidalee player, I highly disagree, seeing that many other feast or famine champions (like Rengar, for example), have very toxic gameplay elements that resulted in champions getting changed nonstop until Riot had forced a revert of some kind. Being able to close a large distance directly to the hunted target with Nidalee, while may feel fun when done right, isn’t healthy and has no counterplay outside of “don’t get hit by the spear/trap”. I hate to say this, but there is no skill involved in this ability other than making sure where you jump to isn’t an instant death, and that is a MAJOR problem. As we all probably know by now, Riot likes to work with champion “power budgets”. Allocating all of Nidalee’s ability to kill a target with an execute ability which the player cannot miss due to being an auto attack is bad design. This ability is set up by the overpowered pounce that puts you into position to execute the target with no skill due to the range/target locking of the pounce. Sure, ensuring you have the mark on the target can require some degree of skill, but the execution of it should not be as simple as it should be.
I’m of the belief that the Hunt Passive should be removed from Nidalee’s kit as to allow for more power to be allocated to her kit elsewhere such as her base ad, ap ratios, or even other ability base damages. Currently, Nidalee gains a massive damage increase with her Cougar Q ability, a movement speed increase, and the previously mentioned massive gap close with the Hunt. Additionally, this would allow for Nidalee to be a much higher skill-cap champion forcing you to land multiple spears rather than just the 1 spear into full cougar combo death we see happen for nearly every kill Nidalee obtains in a game. There is no variation in how Nidalee kills her targets as of current, which I feel is a major problem for this kit, considering past iterations allowed for a lot more variety and out-playability in my personal opinion.
That being said, Nidalee has both a lot of upsides and downsides in her current form. These are what I immediately think of, but of course I am sure there are many things in both categories that I have missed.
* Spear moving slower than original speed allows for more counterplay.
* No longer moving backward for more damage after spear is thrown.
* Traps are improved; They used to be slightly visible, but lasted a lot longer, had no health bar, and did more damage. You have real counter play against the current traps with vision control and the health bar.
* The current state of Items (Rod of Ages, Athenes, Lich Bane, Ludens, Trinity Force, BOTRK, etc) gives the player a lot of flexibility on how they want to play Nidalee.
* Nidalee combos are still present and are a lot of fun.
* Animation Canceling still being present in her kit.
* Pounce cooldown lowering on kill is fun and a rewarding skill for wave manipulation and jungle clear.
* Auto attack reset being removed by switching forms made melee matchups more fair top lane.
* Hunt Passive on Jungle camps makes Lane Nidalee impossible to be viable without breaking Jungle Nidalee.
* Closing the gap on a target with the Hunt requires no skill or pathing strategy
* Pouncing in the direction that your mouse is facing instead of the direction Nidalee is facing causes you to make additional mouse movement while kiting enemies back and also looks really bad visually when you pounce in a completely different direction than the direction you were facing. There was once a skill in turning Nidalee into the direction of a pounce, and it was rewarding and no longer is fulfilled.
* Missing Health Heal instead of a flat Heal makes laning Nidalee difficult. (Not to say heavy amounts of sustain in a kit is good, but making an ability useless isn’t good either).
* Too much damage is loaded into Cougar Q versus targets with “Hunt mark”. It needs to be distributed around her kit.
* Cougars are faster than people, Nidalee no longer gaining movement speed in cougar feels wrong thematically and the Hunt gives too much movement speed currently.
* Current spear hitbox has been nerfed and does not accurately represent the model of the spear flying through the air. This is a problem with other champions such as Morgana’s Q or Lux’s R. Riot has fixed Blitzcrank Q as of recent.
* The rework reallocated too much damage from Nidalee’s Spear (Q1) into her Cougar auto reset (Q2) and also made it an execute. Doing so resulted in damage being a bit too high from the cougar Q. This resulted in Q1 not feeling as satisfying landing it from long ranges, while Q2 seems much too strong and at times overkilling opponents. Killing enemy carries at 60% hp with simply Q2 and Hunt passive is much too strong. It’s nonsensical and not fair in terms of counterplay.
I would like to invite all Nidalee players to add me on North America “Mid Nidalee” to join my club and the discussion and to also have discussion on this post, and reddit. I believe that the more we talk about the problems Nidalee has, the more likely Nidalee will return to Summoner’s Rift in a healthy state across many roles as she once did before. I believe there is a middle ground for Nidalee where she is viable across 3 roles, without losing counter-play or ruining enjoyment from not only the people playing with and against her in the game, but also those that still enjoy playing Nidalee as of current. Riot has in the past gone back and reverted champions when the community decided it was needed. We can do it again, make the revert happen, like Kog’maw, Rengar, Leblanc, Fizz, and the upcoming Zac.
TLDR; We need to revert some of the Nidalee rework and reallocate some of Nidalee’s power in other ways. Remove the Hunt passive, change Pounce to jump toward where Nidalee faces, Give cougar MS. Nidalee needs more variation in how she picks up kills instead of just cougar comboing enemies who are marked with Hunt passive. Spear hitbox needs to match the spear, less snowballing, and more scaling.
Here are some of links I used to base my argument on. You can see what some of the community has been thinking about in regards to Nidalee.