TLDR- Here is a link to the reworked kit I am proposing. Main points: New passive, updated Q, slow resist on W, E no longer has a cooldown reduction mechanic which reduces Skarner's cc, but has %hp damage for the proc, minor update to R with new E synergy. Skarner will still be very familiar to his current and older players, while having a more synergistic kit that emphasizes his prolonged dps combat style. The longer he fights the scarier he gets. Skarner is a bruiser/duelist/fighter FIRST, that can off build as a tank or a full damage champion.
Skarner has been in a pretty sad state overall since his juggernaut rework. A TON of his player base left the champion entirely, and all of the primary goals set forth for his last rework (namely, premier objective control, and something to do when ult is on cooldown) have failed pretty hard. Skarner is more of an ult bot than ever right now, is more team reliant than ever, more feast or famine than ever, and the volatile nature of the game right now makes his passive pretty well worthless in the vast majority of games. Is your team snowballing? Spires don't really mean much since you can't use them outside of the jungle and your team will secure objectives just fine even if you don't control them. Is your team getting snowballed on? You will never control your spires when it matters, and you miss out on a ton of your combat stats. Good luck mounting that comback.
It has been my observation that Riot probably thinks (and I agree with this sentiment) that Skarner's kit as a whole is pretty good. It has a good amount of tools for catching people (ranged slow, MS steroids) even without any blinks or dashes, has clear weaknesses, and an ultimate that feels SO good to use. In every reworking of Skarner, it seems that the passive is what is most called into question, followed by what the heck is Skarner supposed to be?
Starting with the latter: What is Skarner? If you look at Skarner's kit as a whole, its pretty easy to see a few specific themes:
- It has a dps playstyle
- Lacks target access
- Mild to good cc depending on which version you take, but its single target cc is much better than its AoE cc.
Add these points to things like:
- He's a giant crystal SCORPION
- His voice lines ("LIMB FROM LIMB!") ("Time to FIGHT!")
- His release ("true hybrid fighter" "...excels at dealing damage...")
It doesn't take much to get people to admit that Skarner is in fact a fighter and not a tank, but a tank is what he has been reduced to, and I think its time to get back to what he really is:
Duelist/Bruiser- Im choosing this word because too much debate happens around the "which class of fighter is skarner". So I chose duelist because he wants to hunt you down and kill you 1v1, and bruiser because he will probably want to build a mix of damage and defensive items. (being a melee fighter with no true gap closers, this makes sense).
Tackling the former is a bit harder, but if you look at Skarner's passive history:
- Energize: Skarner reduces the cooldown of his basic skills with auto attacks. This passive has 2 major problems. 1) Its generic and hidden, not appreciable from a player stand point. 2) It makes his Skills almost impossible to balance correctly since the cooldown would vary WAY too much. (as a side note, this very thing is what made me question why they made spear of shojin in the first place... It just makes balancing a nightmare! hello jax/riven/renekton!)
- Crystallizing Sting: Known by its fans as the "crystal venom passive", this was probably the best one he had. It had some issues though, primarily in its interaction with Skarner's ultimate. While not all players agree, for some it felt very bad having to restack your stun just because you wanted to ult them first, even if it did mean extra damage. The passive was still considered ok though, and even when they reworked him again, they just moved this passive to his E. (along with the rest of his kit... I digress)
- Spires: I have made so many posts about this topic it makes my fingers hurt just thinking about it, but if you want a full post on my thoughts on spires, I will link it here: https://boards.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/gameplay-plus/A1I5czRs-my-thoughts-on-skarners-spires-long-post
TLDR- They are a poorly implemented idea for the game they exist in and do not even gel with Skarner's lore/theme outside of them being crystals. They completely restrict his role to jungling and don't help him with the goals they set out for.
So where do we go from here? Well, you could argue that there are at least a couple other reasons that Skarner could really use yet another rework:
1- He is an older champion: While I do feel his kit holds up pretty well overall, it could definitely use a 'brushing up' so to speak. Pantheon level sort of update. The kit functions for the most part, but doesn't have nearly enough in it to keep pace with all these newer champions. A visual update would be ok too I think, but not necessary <3
2- Skarner is unpopular: While this COULD be largely due to his age, its worth noting that his overall playrate has gone down since the juggernaut rework. The only time he ever saw higher pick rates is when he was BLATANTLY over tuned. His old time mains have all but left and the newer players he has gained are fewer than what went away.
So, what should be done? What kind of rework would help Skarner to be a viable pick, not just a jungle/ult slave? And what kind of passive would work for this champion? Im glad you asked. Here is my suggestion, along with my thought process on what it achieves. (AS ALWAYS, NUMBERS ARE PLACEHOLDERS AND ARE OBVIOUSLY SUBJECT TO CHANGE. IF DISCUSSING PLEASE REFRAIN FROM X RATIO IS TOO HIGH/LOW)(Talking about WHICH ratios are being used is fine)
( I would suggest referencing the link to the google doc given above for a quick reference)
Passive: Cystal Song/Life Crystal's Restoration
Skarner has passive mana regen that is weakened while in combat, and spending mana heals Skarner.
The thought here was to take the opportunity to sell a little bit of who the Brackern are with Skarner's passive. With a nod to the summoner spell "clarity", the crystal song expresses two major things for the brackern: How they see/view the world around them, and their shared conscienceness (hivemind, if you will). I decided to focus in on the latter, and also wanted to express how Skarner, while in combat, becomes less connected to that mind, more ferocious and animal-like. You can see this subtly expressed in his short story as he begins to sing "their song" of violence, and how, though it saddens him, its hard for him to stop once its started.
The second part brings more into light the life crystal, or name stone. These crystals that the brackern bond with is their source of life, their longevity, both physically and spiritually in a sense. Its their source of power and wisdom as it contains the experience and knowledge of the brackern who bonded with it in the past. Its magical, and they have been used to spark new hex-tec devices. That magic, and life giving nature is what I hoped to capture in the passive, as every time the power is accessed by Skarner, it rejuvinates him.
Kit wise, this adds to his long term fighting style. Skarner wants longer fights where he can eventually out damage and out sustain you. This synergizes perfectly with that, and the out of combat mana regen means if he is stalking his prey, he will be ready for the fight when it happens.
Q: Crystal Slash
Remember the Rengar rework? Remember the "swim-gar" Q? Well, remove the targeted aspect, and the micro dash, and imagine the two strikes that happen as Skarner's claws swiping outward followed by a tail strike and thats what I have in mind. Like Skarner's current Q, this would not interrupt movement. Next, bring back his attack/MS steroid onto this skill. ramping up over 5 strikes again, enforcing the idea that Skarner gets stronger as the fight goes on.
Skarner strikes 2 times very quickly, the first is a swipe in front of him with his claws followed by thurst forward with his stinger. Both hits deal physical damage and a target hit with both strikes only takes 1/2 damage from the second strike.
Passive: Crystal Charge: Hitting at least one target grants Skarner stacking attack and movement speed. All stacks fall off at once, duration refreshes with each hit. At maximum stacks, Skarner's basic attacks and Crystal Slash deal bonus magic damage. (This damage is also reduced if hit by both strikes)
W: Crystalline Exoskeleton
His W remains largely the same, gaining a base shield value, but keeping a SMALLER health ratio and a slightly smaller AP ratio. The real add here? Passive slow resistance that doubles while the shield is active.
I wont bother typing this one out since its functionally the same, but this becomes one of the tools that Skarner desperately needs in order to keep up with all the dashes, blinks and slows in the game. Yes, Skarner should be kite-able. But giving him a small window where he can potentially overcome the plethora of soft cc (slows from champs and also items and runes) would be a great add to Skarner without breaking him or completely negating that weakness. I mean, its not immunity.
E: Crystallizing Flare
This skill gets a new name, largely for clarity since "Fracture" became the effect I added for stunning. Things to note: You no longer reduce the cooldown of this ability by stunning or suppressing people. This means no more perma stun Skarner. While some of us may enjoy that, I know that being perma stunned feels really bad to opponents, and I can gladly give that up. Increase on the base cooldown, reworked the damage to be higher ealier with the same base end result, slightly bigger ap ratio. Also no longer slows as it hits people (why was that ever a thing?) Now the big difference:
Fracture: When you stun someone, they take AND deal a % of their max HP in magic damage in a small area around them. The idea being that your blast caused them to "crystallize" and the stun causes them to shatter in an explosive manner XD. This change is mostly aimed at giving him something that will be fresh and new, while still being familiar in its use, and exciting to see happen.
I made a few changes to this skill. For one, the initial damage is 100% AD. Its like a basic attack. Second, Skarner can no longer cast any ability but W while dragging someone. Makes sense since your Q now incorporates a tail strike. Thirdly, I upped the cooldown a bit, mostly as a balance or the next part. Fourthly, I increased the overall magic damage and back loaded it. So, you only take the magic damage at the end of the duration. As a balance point to QSS, I also made it to where targets still take 1/2 the magic damage if the ability is ended early. Lastly, I gave it a synergy with Skarner's E:
"If a target dies while impaled, or as a result of the secondary magic damage, they fracture, dealing 2x the normal damage in a slightly larger radius."
All of this adds up to a Skarner that is familiar in playstyle, has some updated tools and abilities, and returns Skarner to his primary role as a damage dealing fighter.
Skarner has been patiently awaiting his time ("We await our time...") and its been a little over 4 years. Here's to hoping we will see Skarner getting some real love this season!
A SKARNER MAIN FOREVER
Special Thanks to the Skarner main's discord and all who participated in the conversations that lead up to this iteration. Most notably:
- Crystal Lobster