Preface: This post is to discuss why Nami is currently strong, and what problems her kit poses to game health and balance.
Nami in the status quo:
At the moment, Nami is statistically the strongest (consistently played) support and has been for a number of patches. Clocking in at almost a 54% win ratio and a 16% pick rate (https://lolalytics.com/ranked/worldwide/platinum/plus/champion/Nami/) she is clearly in a very powerful place at the moment with stats that are high enough to suggest she is over the top (she currently has the highest cumulative play rate and pick rate of any champion in the game (https://lolalytics.com/ranked/worldwide/platinum/plus/tierlist/).
Statistically speaking, nami is a __low skill-cap champion__, showing only a 2.5% win rate increase on experienced players (https://www.leagueofgraphs.com/champions/winrates-by-xp). She is also lacking in strong counterpicks, with blitz being her greatest counter at only 49% (https://lolalytics.com/ranked/worldwide/platinum/plus/champion/Nami/Support/).
Contributing factors to her relative strength at the moment could be:
1) Systematic nerfing of other enchanters (shield nerfs primarily) while leaving nami relatively unscathed.
2) Increase in support item cost, resulting in less hp pots in lane (favors nami, a support with arguably the strongest lane sustain at the moment)
3) Nerfing of damage runes (Does not affect nami, but hurts the all-in supports that counter her)
Issues this causes:
Having a champion who crowds out other picks with a high win rate and pick rate is always problematic, but with nami it is a particular issue. Nami's kit has several game health issues that make her unpleasent to play against.
1) Nami recieves lane sustain without sacrificing lane damage.
This is the largest issue that i can identify with Nami's kit. Every other support who wants to provide _powerful, on demand healing_ is required to invest skill points into that heal, which results in a loss of damage. Nami, however, can invest freely in her W, giving her both a heal and an easy, reliable source of damage in the same spell cast. To give a bit of context, provided is a list of the supports who provide sustain in lane to their partner, and how much healing they can provide with 1 heal with their usual skill point investment (Numbers are level 6)
Alistar: 110 (and 55 for himself)
Bard: 70 (+.6 AP)
Nami: 135 (+.25 AP)
Sona: 30 (+25% ap)
Soraka: 140 (+60% ap)
Taric: 30 (+ 20% AP) (+ 1% max health)
Of those, we see Alistar, Nami and Soraka as the clear winners. Alistar's heal is gated by the fact that he has no control over when it's cast (and even then, alistar is performing extremely well). Soraka's heal is countered by the 10% health cost, as well as the fact that putting levels into the heal means you aren't putting any points into damage. Only Nami's heal allows her the additional benefit of damage, and has instead been gated by an extremely high mana cost. A high mana cost, however, doesn't negate the design issue behind having both a heal and a poke built into the same skill, where leveling allows you to increase both.
2) Nami's kit suffers from "generalist" syndrome.
Nami is not the only support who suffers from this, but I would contend that she suffers from it the greatest. Consider the primary roles that supports can play (not including vision, which all supports do)
Most often, supports are well-balanced when they perform specific roles on this list very well. A great example of this is Leona. Leona is balanced around being able to tank, CC, engage and damage. This is offset by her somewhat weak disengage, range and lane sustain, providing the counterplay of damaging her, then engaging and killing her. Zilean is balanced around having good crowd control, disengage and (early) damage. This is balanced by his relatively weak tankiness, lane sustain and engage. The counterplay is to kite and poke zilean to death frequently, rather than going on a full-out engage.
Nami has the unfortunate issue where she ticks every single box on the list extremely well except for the tankiness one. Her crowd control is beyond reproach, her engage is phenominal with her ult and her bubble and her on-hit slow, her disengage is extremely good with her passive speed boosts, as well as her ult and bubble for a disengage. Her damage is pretty solid all the way through, and her lane sustain is beyond reproach, as well as being ranged. Her one weakness (squishiness) is offset by her mobility, disengage and range.
It becomes difficult to identify what Nami should be particularly good at. Certainly crowd control, utility and sustain are high on the list of her attributes, but she doesn't have a niche. There is no situation where nami particularly shines, nor a situation where she's not that solid of a pick.
3) Nami's kit carries too much reliability.
While nami does have a skill shot in the form of her bubble, the rest of her kit is actually extremely reliable. Her tidal wave is massive and will slam straight through a teamfight with relative ease. Her E requires no thought or skill to use correctly: Slam it on an ememy who auto attacks and it will be used at max potential. Her W does require proximity, but no aiming and very little thought, particularly in late game.
This creates an issue that Nami can sit in lane and safely use her W to heal the laner, then her E to engage and be pretty effective. Even if she misses her bubble, she'll still be formidable and there's little to no counterplay. All Nami requires is range of her ADC, and she can cast her spells and work. The lack of skill expression is evident in nami's low skill-cieling.
In short, there seems to be a distinct lack of risk assossiated with Nami's kit.
Ideas on removing some of these issues:
-Change nami's W into a shield, rather than a heal
This is probably a pretty unpopular suggestion, but it seems to me that being able to sustain effectively from a skill that also does damage is an inherently problematic play pattern. If the skill was instead a shield, it would remove many of the issues and better fulfill the fantasy of her W being a battle skill, rather than pure sustain.
-Require nami's W to initially be cast on enemies
Barring the previous change, this would force the skill the be used offensively initially, and require Nami to get in range of the enemy. This change could possibly be offset by a larger cast range, or by an increased bounce (so that it can still heal 2 allies). It would remove a lot of the toxicity with the skill, and with nami herself.
-Make Nami's passive specific to moving (either away from or towards) enemies.
This would hopefully help solidify nami's role into either engage or disengage (engage would make more sense with her kit, particularly her ult). This change could be offset by increasing the amount of the speed boost, and would go a long way towards pushing Nami out of the realm of generalist.
Nami is undeniably very powerful at the moment, and in my opinion her kit presents problems to effective balance. This thread outlines where nami is at, what balance problems I see in her kit, and some thoughts on ways those could be addressed.
Points for discussion:
-Does nami feel strong to you in the current meta?
-What is your playing experience as/against Nami?
-What are your thoughts on Nami's health as a champion?
-If you agree with the issues presented, what are some thoughts on ways that Nami's kit could be changed to address them?