The last major update for Assassins this pre-season will be focused around improving Katarina and solidifying her functionality within League of Legends. We believe that at her core, Katarina wants to be a hyper agile, high lethality champion that rides on the razor edge of adrenaline and thrives in the middle of the action. She was our fourth choice here because we wanted to create a more fleshed out and richer version of this - one that is even more exciting to play, but with fewer game health issues then her current kit incurs. Our goals for her are as follows:
Perhaps the most significant goal in this update is building Tactical Play and Counterplay into her kit - giving both Katarina and her opponents the ability to make moment to moment plays against each other. In teamfights, there is no more frustrating experience than playing against Katarina when she can cast 5 spell rotations as fast as possible, blinking all over the screen in a completely un-interactible mess of blades. Like the other Assassins in the other updates, we are addings windows in her kill pattern that opponents will be able to meaningfully interact with. Expect her live combo of Shunpo + Sinister Steel to be altered to not be as instantaneous. In return, Katarina players can expect to gain significantly higher mobility and the ability to dance in and out of encounters and set up her own success.
**Laning and Interaction**
With her current live kit, Katarina players are forced to eke through laning phase, if they can. With no real means to kill or even make trades against most opponents, laning becomes a non-interactive affair of throwing Qs and stealing the opportune CS. This feels wrong given her nature and we want to make her laning a much deadlier dance for both parties involved.
**Mastery and Skill Expression**
We believe skill expression to be an extremely important part of Katarina’s appeal that has been unfortunately under-exposed. To all the Katarina players who have undeservingly earned the reputation as face-rollers that win fights by mashing all their buttons repeatedly, we dropped the ball. Internally, we know that she actually has a rather steep mastery curve. On top of rapid input constraints, she tests many less visible aspects revolving heavily around her ability to track opponent CC and pick the exact right moment to engage. These are all important to her, but there should also be more obvious moments where Katarina has out played her opponents built into her own kit, whether through clever juking or flashy prediction plays.
This is probably the elephant in the room when it comes to Kat. There are multiple compelling arguments against it, including the extreme Feast or Famine pattern it creates. However, kill resets are a powerful tool for striking hard in high risk high reward and adrenaline rush gameplay, while also making a strategically sharp character. And Pentakills. We see Katarina’s ability to hedge her entire skill rotation knowing that if she is successful, she will be able to try for even more is vital to the unique appeal she brings to League. To resolve the aforementioned Feast or Famine, we are actually doubling down here. Expect that Katarina will not only get to keep her live passive and also gain access to some other form of partial resetting on part of her kit - most likely Shunpo.
* Shunpo and Ward Jumping
* We felt a heads up is valuable here: As an indirect result of multiple shunpo resets built directly into Katarina’s kit and a heavy focus on premeditated set up plays, we are re-assessing Ward Jumping. Ward jumping allows Kat to be anywhere she wants regardless of how poorly she set up, which limits our ability to make this multi-jumping playstyle reasonable. Without Shunpo’s ability to ward jump, we would be able to push more power into Shunpo resetting, while also allowing us to give Katarina even more kill pressure in lane where the reliable escape limits her power budget. This isn’t a light consideration and we understand that this function is an expression of skill on the champion, but we feel that there is significantly more mastery to be gained through new Shunpo gameplay.