The 4 things that ruined Volibear Rework

Volibear rework is a perfect storm. The new kit received a lot of flack from long-time mains, and they were apparently right. After all, the new Volibear enters June with a stunning win rate of 40.4%. Here’s the recap of this perfect storm so far.

Volibear Rework Context

One of the League’s most dated champions, Volibear (mains) literally fought for his right to be reborn. In May 2019, he narrowly outperformed Fiddlesticks in an open vote for a 2020 rework pick. Interestingly, Riot decided to update both champions. They even ended up finishing with Fiddlesticks earlier, which resulted in a much less problematic overhaul. 

Volibear & Fiddlesticks Rework Vote
May 2019 Rework Vote Results
  • [P] now provides attack speed and throws chain lightning, inheriting the old W passive and the ultimate effect
  • Q seems more or less the same: you run toward people and CC them. Except you now stun and not flip them?!
  • W is now a two-stack low-range nuke. If you land the second W, it hits harder and life steals. The ability no longer flips enemies over
  • E is a delayed long-range nuke with a longer range. It shields Volibear on successful hits as well as targets and slows multiple enemies
  • R is an uninterruptible leap that gives Volibear the ghost effect as well as slightly increases his HP and range. The landing area has turrets disabled and, after a delay, explodes with a brief slow.
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The Volibear rework was unleashed upon live servers on May 28, 2020. May 29 had his win rate at some 37.5%, but I wrote it off as early adopter struggles. Now that people had a whole weekend to figure him out, it’s clear that something is amiss.

Volibear Rework Blunders

Reveal

Riot has always worried about reworks potentially underdelivering on hype, although it is a smaller concern with visual+gameplay reworks. It is no wonder that the developers tried things differently with Volibear. Instead of walking the old path of lore tidbit->lore->gameplay video, they did a separate gameplay reveal stream. Long story short, the reveal didn’t contribute to the hype. 

In 32 minutes, Riot showed 7 short snippets of gameplay and showcased his abilities in 5 other clips. The rest of the recording was filled with looped “Volibear=lightning” type of background footage. Note that I’m saying “recording”: although the reveal ran as a live stream on YouTube, it was a premiere in everything but the name. There was no interaction with the viewers whatsoever, not even a QA session (that Riot could’ve pre-recorded if a real life stream didn’t fit their plans). Unsuccessfully faking hype is not a good start.

Mobility Creep

Volibear rework failed to address what arguably is the most dated of the kit. It questionable decision to remove the iconic flip, but the movement speed increase (10/15/20/25/30%) is not enough. Most modern champions have a dash (or three). As of now, the 2020 Volibear struggles to catch up with enemies just like the 2009 one.

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Furthermore, E and R have three delayed procs between two abilities. Delayed abilities without epic pop-up (like Fiddlesticks’ ult!) always feel frustrating, even more so with experienced players having very quick fingers.

Numbers

Personally, I believe that Volibear’s numbers are too low. His W against minions is just pathetic, a 2-second turret disable on lvl1 ult is negligible, and the attack speed stacks cap too fast (at 25%). 

On the contrary, Volibear has sick ability scaling: 250% bonus AD and 125% AP on R, 120% bAD on Q, 100% AD on W. The problem is that Volibear was designed as a bruiser, so you won’t be building the items to nuke people down with R.

Also, Volibear has mediocre base health scaling. Level 18 Vayne has 2028 HP while Volibear is 2025. This is a small difference and arguably nitpicking, certainly worth raising an eyebrow or two.

Humming

It’s an open secret that the League’s sound engine is very old. This is the reason why certain voice lines are played more often or disappear entirely. You can still find them on an LoL wikia resource but never hear them while playing the champion. This is a known limitation that Riot developers have had to put up with for a while. 

Despite a long history of sound bugs, Volibear was still shipped to live servers with a major issue. He hums every few seconds. It’s not about something that you do or do not do in the game: Volibear simply likes humming. Sure, you can disable champion voices, but was that something we’ve been waiting for?

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Volibear Rework Outlook

On May 29, Rioters said that Volibear’s Day 1 performance was within the expectations and that it should pick up over the weekend. The idea was apparently letting him find his footing on his own, not setting up the champion to be OP in a couple of patches. The weekend showed that Riot may have tried too hard.

Luckily, the champion designers seem to already have a plan. They will be discussing potential buffs as early as this week, and Voli’s rework designer already has a list of potential buffs. This can be urgent enough to fit some buffs into Patch 10.12. Most changes for this patch will be finalized around June 4, but emergency buffs are an option even after that. 

Patch 10.12 with potential Volibear buffs drops on June 10. As is tradition, you will find the latest stats and builds in our desktop assistant

When is Volibear rework coming out?

Volibear rework is part of Patch 10.11. It was released on May 28, 2020.

How did Riot rework Volibear?

The developers played around with his attack speed passive and lightning. They also introduced a new leap and made the kit a bit more clunky with more delays. Naturally, the visuals were updated as well.

Is Volibear a good champion?

As of early June 2020, Volibear is doing terribly. His win rate barely reaches 40% in both Top and Jungle.

by Simon Kaastrup-Olsen
June 01, 2020

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