Hi! I'm literally just some guy, and I have **opinions.**
For the past few releases (reworks and new champs), Riot has taken what I like to call an "assisted learning curve" stance towards champion balance. While I'm certainly not the one to yell about League's balance team (they do a great job of keeping the game reasonably balanced for pro play without ruining pub games), I do want to call attention to something that I don't like.
Here are some positions that the balance team appears to hold from my perspective:
1. Players who perform badly tend to believe the game is the problem and not their performance
2. The game is the most fun when you are winning
3. League is a game you play to show off your skill and compete with other players
I actually believe these stances are fairly accurate! However, I don't think they tell the whole story, and I don't think that those concerns are necessarily the responsibility of the balance team. Here are my revisions/fresh takes:
1. Players who perform badly **should be empowered to recognize their mistakes.**
2. The game is the most fun **when all champions and players get to do their thing that they do.**
3. League is a game you **can replay endlessly without getting bored.**
So where does the Sylas month 2 balance patch enter into this? Well, Riot's pattern of immediate balance patches plays into the unedited stances above but misses the true reasons League needs to be a balanced game. It's a little disingenuous to say that the balance team's job is to make the game fair. Their job is instead (or at least should be) the far loftier goal of game justice.
**Game Justice: Every player gets to have fun.**
*"But guy with opinions!"* you are probably saying in response. *"I definitely want to play a fair game!"* Well, you may, but you certainly don't want to play a game that is JUST fair. A fair game falls into one of two categories, boring and imperfect.
A boring game is one where your options are limited for the sake of fairness. It lacks individual expression and decision making, and your options are either exactly the same as your opponents' or rigorously balanced to the point where they might as well be.
An imperfect game is one more similar to League, where your options are uncontrolled and every character has some form of advantage over all the others in a way that roughly equates to even balance. The reason this is imperfect is because players are perfectionists. Any character who is even slightly better than the others will be discovered and exploited, turning the slightest imperfection into a massive wedge that drives the roster apart. For an example of this, look no further than SSB Melee, where Fox rules and everyone else drools. Except Ice Climbers. But wobbling is cheating, and you can't convince me otherwise.
League has gotten around the weaknesses inherent in the second system by rotating its advantages around too fast for players to solve them. When players discover Poppy is a busted, rotted %%%% who is favored to win by 10% on average, Riot reworks her and now nobody knows what to think. When they discover it a second time, Riot nerfs her and now players have to figure out who else has a 9% favored advantage (janna). Then they rework or nerf *that* champ, so that you are always kept guessing about which champs are the new hotness. This is a working strategy, but it's far from ideal.
When Riot tweaks new champions, it interferes with the community's understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and overall power level. Early balance changes in search of that 50% winrate sweet spot are like radio static for the community, confusing their impressions and making it harder to understand the actual power level of the champion. Riot themselves have mentioned that a Vlad nerf affected his winrate even though a bug meant the nerf never actually went through. Balance changes are about the perception of fairness, and because of this, Riot's assisted learning curve strategy only ends up disrupting this perception and confusing players who are trying to both learn how to play the new champion and keep abreast of balance changes that may affect their decision-making.
People are okay with some champs being strong and others being weak as long as they understand fully when, where, and why they are strong. This, more than the actual numerical balancing of the champions, is what makes the game healthy. While this does get people closer to "solving" the game, addressing the solutions is generally more fair and more just than just manipulating winrates, and makes the game more fun and interesting. Sure, you can "win" debates by using strawmen, but you look a lot more competent when you can take on opposing points in a steel-man argument and actually come out on top.
While I would never go so far as to say the balance team doesn't take their job seriously, or that they ought to be infallible and unbiased (they're just people), I do suspect that they may not be taking the time to properly evaluate the responsibilities inherent in their position. Over time, I think it's very easy to fall into a rhythm of "Just get the champs to the 40-60% range and nerf whatever the plats are complaining about, then focus on working new champs and items into the existing tapestry." Sitting back and allowing players to experiment playing as and against Sylas will be better for everyone in the long run than trying to fiddle with his numbers even after release.