After finding her way into a different role and seeing an increase in play, Neeko was the subject of a hotfix by Riot Games which nerfs her AD build.
Riot Games Nerfs AD Neeko Builds With New Hotfix
It’s time to say goodbye to AD Neeko. Riot Games has deployed a hotfix to patch 9.5 aimed at stopping players from building attack damage and attack speed items for Neeko. Andrei “Meddler” van Roon, the Design Director for League of Legends, officially confirmed the information. Her attack speed per level goes down from 3.5% to 1.5%, while her AD scaling drops to 2 from 3 per level.
A recent trend in ranked and professional play, the “exploit” relied on Neeko’s skill Shapesplitter and its passive, which dealt additional magic damage every third basic attack by the champion. Originally a mid lane mage, it turned out that Neeko had great synergy with AD carry-oriented items such as Guinsoo’s Rageblade, Wit’s End, Blade of the Ruined King and Runaan’s Hurricane. With the nerfs, the additional magic damage from the third hit goes from 50-170 at skill level 5 to 50-130.
Despite struggling in mid lane, Neeko still sported decent numbers both in attack speed and attack range. It turned out that she could hold her own against most AD carry picks in the meta. While the usual mid lane opponents gave her trouble, it wasn’t the case for her bottom lane match-ups. Her AD carry build turned a champion largely forgotten since her recent release into one of the meta’s power picks. Neeko had found her way onto the big stage – just not the way she was supposed to.
The rise and fall of AD Neeko
Funnily enough, the potential for her AD build had been there from the beginning, as the Neeko’s lone buff came with patch 9.5 and affected her E skill, Tangle-Barbs. This buff, however, also worked incredibly well for AD carry Neeko. Much like Cassiopeia’s Miasma, Tangle-Barbs was a vital tool for trades in lane, rooting the opponents to the ground.
Neeko now offered additional versatility and could be flexed into a solo lane. Relying on the attack range, she could easily punish melee champions in the top lane. Some situational mid lane match-ups also played into Neeko’s favor, giving her free-farm lanes to scale without too much trouble. Overall, Neeko felt like a completely different champion and finally had her chance to shine.
Riot did not think the same way. Given the fact that the AD carry role seemed to be Neeko’s lifeline, we can expect the champion to return to its previous spot in the meta. It’s also safe to assume that Riot will compensate the recent nerf with some sort of buff, as the hotfix deals with an immediate problem but further weakens a champion that has struggled to find a place in the meta. AP Neeko did see some limited use in the top tier of Chinese League of Legends, the LPL, as a bottom lane carry, but it never really took off.
Riot Games and off-meta builds
This is not the first time Riot Games deals with an off-meta build in controversial fashion. Not that long ago, the rising trend of building tank items for assassins such as Ekko and Fizz caught Riot’s attention, and the unconventional builds eventually got nerfed to the ground. Some months ago, tank Pyke suffered a similar fate. The assassin-support hybrid AD-scaling skills, combined with his passive (converting additional health from items into attack damage) meant that Pyke had great synergy with tank items. This way, the frail support could build additional resistances without sacrificing his role as an assassin. A mini-rework made Pyke’s skills scale off lethality, forcing the champion into his originally intended build.
While some may argue that those cases, AD Neeko included, made those champions obnoxious to play against, completely cutting the cord on unconventional builds curbs any sort of creativity. In other words, it directly clashes against one of Riot’s slogans – play your way. For now, we wait and see whatever happens to Neeko from now on. And keep an eye out for unconventional, off-meta builds – they might soon find themselves on the chopping block.