So I have been working on this off and on for the past week since Riot said they are looking into a Yas update. Today however they posted they are looking into Ezreal and since I have 2000ish games on Ezreal and like 3 games on Yas I decided I’m going to jump ship onto a similar style post about Ezreal. It felt like a waste to not post what I’ve got so far though, so enjoy:
TLDR/Thesis: , Yas is frustrating to play against because when you get out played you feel like you got out played by the *champion*, not the *player*. His kit has so many tools it feels unfair to play against; It feels like he has no weaknesses and an unfair ability to recover from mistakes.
I’m skipping ahead a bit and will for now assert that the core design problem with Yas is he *feels* like he has too many tools. What is important about this is I’m also asserting that no individual mechanics is actually the problem, making both talking about him and suggesting design changes tricky. To support and explore this, we must first look at each of his many mechanics and better understand how they work together.
Passive 1: Double crit : This passive serves a few rolls, don’t be fooled though, this passive is actually a nerf. It forces him to build crit early limiting his itemization options and if it was removed power would need to put back someplace to maintain balance. This restricts his access to things like lethality and lifesteal which are both stats that are not healthy on him(I’ll skip explaining why, this post is already long). Additionally however it powers his scaling into the late game. While his first 2 items might give him nearly 100% crit, they don’t have the AD needed to scale off of that crit. However at 3 items even a little bit of AD makes a large difference in his damage. This is one reason why Frozen Mallet was abusive on him, 40ish AD +100% crit is plenty enough to kill an ADC, while the slow keeps them in range to auto attack. This scaling point of inflection at 3 items is not unhealthy however because that is after the laning phase and very predictable from a design perspective. Riot have lots of balance levers to pull if he is out of line in some way. This is seen in action with the crit damage reduction. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that Yas can scale well in this way, if he goes crazy and does not get any defence then he turns into a Yi, while a more tanky build makes him a mobile Darius. This can let the player express their playstyle in a natural way through how the build Yas. Lastly crit forces Yas to auto attack, from an artistic side this makes him feel more like a swordsmen and from a gameplay perspective slows down his burst. A large amount of his damage is tied to this mechanic and wisely so. Having his damage be in this passive makes it very controllable from a design perspective and reinforces a lot of his other systems well.
Now here’s the catch, while I, and Riot(perhaps even more than I do), understand the design behind this, most players see this as a buff. Most importantly, people playing against Yas can easily get frustrated because it feels like Yas is just getting free stats. This alone is not a problem, lots of champs get “free stats” and players are willing to accept it because they understand everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
Passive 2: Flow: At it’s core, flow is designed to reinforce Yas’s high mobility play style. Clearly it does this by being gained through movement but it goes deeper than that. Having the shield last one a second creates a lot of complex and fast decisions for Yas to make supporting an array of different situations. For starters it makes him resistant to poke, important because he has low defensive stats for a melee champ. He needs to have these lower stats because he needs to have risk when going in, while also needing, through Flow, to have the ability to survive the attrition of longer interactions like sieging or in lane. The short duration also reinforces a hit and run playstyle supported by his high mobility. However a lot of his damage is in auto attacks rewarding him for staying longer, creating a decision. Lastly since any damage applies it opponents have a lot of ways of interacting with his passive and these factors combined forces Yas into action. So far all good stuff, except the feeling aspect yet again often times is really shitty. A player who does not understand all this detailed design, particularly those who don’t understand that his base health regen is lower because of flow, sees this as an extra strength. Why does HE get to have a shield? No one else does, and even more common, why does HE get two passives while I don’t? Similar to the double cirt many players don’t understand this is not a buff, rather a redistribution of power.
But ya know why I hate flow? Because it is extremely frustrating to be in a close fight with Yas, have the final lethal auto attack in the air only to have Flow kick in and save him. That stress case is a terrible experience because it feels to Yas’s opponent that they were not out played by the player, rather the champion. The Yas player got it for free, they had little control over that, they did not react fast with a shield or activate a skill, they did not dodge a skillshot, no, they won because their champion has a passive that gives them a shield for “free”. There are edge cases where it was #calculated but even if it was planned by the Yas player the opponent still feels cheated. Even if it’s extremely rare for this to happen having it(or something like it) happen just once leaves a permanent feeling of frustration, a feeling that it does not matter how well you play Yas’s over loaded kit will save him.
So, why does this happen?
1) Flow gain is unclear in a heated fight both because the visuals are hard to see. Yas moves so fast that you can’t see his flow bar easily, and besides you have a lot of other things to be looking like minions he could dash or tracking his knock up. Lastly since flow is gained through dashing it’s very variable in how quickly the shield comes back online. Someone like Annie has a clear and consistent down time, once she burns he stun you(often on you) an experienced player can track how long until her next stun. Flow’s gain is too complicated to do that.
2) Yas is so complicated that when you outplay his ult, outplay his dashes, out play his windwall and finally almost kill him only to have his passive save him it feels devastatingly unfair. This ties into my thesis, alone Flow is not a problem, sure it’s not flawless but almost no system in League is flawless.
3) A more subtle reason is that players are trained to forget about Flow. All through lane the play pattern is to proc his passive and then go in or poke, you have a large window to exploit and the trade is over before he gets his shield back. When 90% of times you pro his shield it’s out of the picture for the rest of the fight it’s very easy to forget about it in the longer trades. Additionally Yas has so many other things going on it’s often correct to stop even thinking about Flow, you need to worry about his dashes, his knock up, and his wind wall as they are all much more important than Flow at that point. I’ll end this section with a foreshadowing that I’ll be talking about solutions to Flow later.
Proposing solutions is problem is actually rather tricky
The seemingly simple solution is while in combat he can gain flow, but cannot have a 2nd shield activate until he is out of combat for multiple(5-8) seconds. IDK though, a mechanic like might disrupt this play patterns quite a bit. @Riot, you should play test this. Another idea is to remove or greatly reduce flow generation from dashing.
Now here’s the catch though, why is it frustrating when Yas gets a clutch shield that saves him, yet when say Pantheon has his passive come up just in time to save him it’s just not the same? Sure it sucks but most people don’t want to flip a table over it because that’s part of Panth’s unique strengths. Again this ties back into my thesis, the problem is not that he can get a clutch save from his flow, it’s that he has that in addition to everything else.
What other things I was going to talk about:
-Lack of Mana (can feel unfair)
-Why does Yas have 2 passives?
-The 2v1 problem, and his extensive tool set
-Low Elo players don’t understand Yas as well,
-Don’t know how to not stand near your own minions
-No Weaknesses* and no real strengths
-Yas can cover a lot of distance fast(feels unfair even if it’s not)
-Fast Cool downs, why does he get them and I don’t?
-Unfair ability to recover from mistakes
-reduce number of things to outplay but make each more important to outplay
-overloaded problem, Yas gets to do way more than other champions
-Reduce Wind walk duration
-Talk about flow solutions
Base Stats: A often overlooked part, some of Yas’s base stats are worth talking about. Mostly his high move speed(345), low defensive stats and kinda low base health regen. For now I’m
The final conclusion is I think removing his ability to use his ult on ally knock up would be a great change, but it’s kinda hard to support that without understanding the rest of his kit.