So assassins, remember them? No not Rengar, not Diana, not tanky-bursters. Assassins, those guys like Talon, Kha'Zix, and etc. Oh right that really crappy one counts too I guess, Zed. I think that somewhere down the line assassins have been becoming worse and worse and worse. I wasn't originally going to make this post, but the AP post and discussion following it really... well what's the way to put it, it really got me annoyed because of how much proof there is out there that assassins are losing their job to AP anything yet Riot doesn't do anything about it.
The most popular "assassins" are tanky-bursters, not assassins.
Something people always say is "assassins aren't bad, look at Diana!" Yeah, so what about Diana? She's as much as an assassin as Jax is. I mean would you consider Xin Zhao an assassin? Yet they function pretty much exactly the same in concept: Gap close up to a target then CC them as you burst them. The problem with this is that true assassins like Talon and Kha'Zix lose their place to these tanky-bursters because why take Kha'Zix when you can take Diana who does 90% of his damage, has CC, and is 2-3x as tanky?
When Akali came out I thought to myself "are you really an assassin if you're hard to kill with tons of sustain and multiple ways to forgive mistakes?" Well bruiser-assassins like Irelia and Xin Zhao came out and champions originally intended as assassins such as Jax got remade to be far tankier. And the natural end of all of this is an assassin who outright plays more like a bruiser than an assassin (Diana.) HOWEVER, the evolution of the tanky-burster has not caused the orignal assassin to become extinct and we still see champions like Fizz and Kha'Zix come out that are still squishy as hell yet barely do more damage than Diana to possibly explain the difference in CC/tankiness.
Mobility has powercreeped, assassin mobility has regressed over time.
Talon with 18-10 second CD gap closer. Kha'Zix with a single leap that until evolved is practically melee ranged. Then finally Zed who moves about three feet with his "gap closer", and their real gap closer attached to an ultimate. Yeah, it's sort of becoming incredibly noticeable that assassins simply can not stay on target. The real irony though is that tanky-bursters like Xin Zhao and Diana have actually increased in mobility. Ever played Zed against a ranged carry with trinity and red buff? You'll never get in range. Same with Kha'Zix.
While mobility is going up and up and up the newer assassins are actually regressing all under the guise that they need counter play, to the point where they actually can't function anymore. All this "they need counterplay, assassins need more counterplay! MORE COUNTERPLAY!" has caused every new assassin to be unable to perform their duties against organized opponents, and struggle to do it even against an enemy standing out in the middle of nowhere. They got so much counter play now (which just functions as lack of power) that AP mages are better assassins than assassins now.
Counter play deserves a section of its own.
The lack of counter play in assassins has been a historical thing. They kill you, or you survive them and kill them. We're not all Ryu Hyabusa here with multiple combos, blocks, and blocks we have to execute in professional order in order to win. Most assassins either do their job by hitting a few buttons correctly or do their job by hitting a few buttons correctly and don't get the kill. Now Talon might require his buttons be hit correctly really well, but still you're playing against a wall most of the time countering THEIR actions rather than trying to let them counter your own.
HOWEVER, the excessive amount of counter being added to assassins isn't actual counter play, it's just weakness being added. Kha'Zix isn't gaining counterplay by being crazy easy kited, he's just weak. There's nothing you do directly against Kha'Zix than you do against Akali, one is just weaker. On Diana for example you can dodge her Q and deny her ult reset. On Fizz you can dodge his ultimate. Going beyond that to other champions on Cho'gath you can dodge his rupture. It's more than just skillshots though, often it's plays style: For example on Jax you can poke him effectively and deny an all-in situation. On Wukong you can predict where he will travel when stealthed and know when to not go all-in and get killed via ult. It goes on. Against these new assassins? You use your escape ability then walk the other direction.
So assassins "counter play" is just "making them weak." Where assassins fail however AP mages succeed. Most AP mages (Barring like Karthus) do exactly what assassins do, they simply are also able to hurt bruisers, do it at range, and AoE to win team fights.
And isn't that the problem, assassins being out performed by AP mages?
Every AP mage can burst. Even kite based AoE nuking CCers can burst (Orianna.) By mid game they 1 shot most AP champions with an ignite. The problem here is that the counter play to AP mages is "stay out of range." If only assassins had such ... lenient? counterplay options. You can counter Talon by being too tanky, getting allies to peel, flashing, stunning him off, using an escape move. You can counter Orianna by flashing her ultimate or being tanky enough to survive it. That's it. There's no kiting Orianna, and her combination of speed boost + slow + functioning entirely while never having to stop makes it quite difficult to escape. Kha'Zix on the other hand is COMPLETELY kited by using a single escape move after his gap closer then running the other direction. What's he gonna do, use his ultimate 3x while running at you and maybe after 5 seconds get maybe in range... maybe?
So really, the hope I have here is that assassins will be good in season 3 finally.
Because lets be honest, Kha'Zix is barely tolerable, and I hate champions like that. Just like how Sejuani is so bad for so long because riot doesn't want more GP10 tank junglers. Champions like Talon, Leblanc, Pantheon, etc. all straddle the "well they're kinda useful I guess" category. They'd just need a small bump up and especially with so many AP AoE burst champions existing I really don't see what the problem is with only killing one champion. Maybe that's what Riot hates is they only kill one?
Anyway, I think we all know that assassins in S2 were all over meh, and in S3 I'm hoping they get somewht of a boost.
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