Upcoming Zyra Changes

As we found out from the datamined info a few days ago, it looks like Zyra will be getting some nerfs across the board.

As Morello mentioned in an early post, Zyra is a wee bit strong at the moment. This post summarizes our plant to address that. The following changes will be deployed in a hotfix as soon as this evening on North America.

I. Summary

We're going to be making some changes to Zyra designed to tone her down in some respects while leaving what we see as her core play pattern intact. I'll first list the nerfs and then discuss our reasoning for them:

*Base movement speed reduced to 300 (from 310)
*When multiple plants attack the same target, additional plants deal 50% damage (from 75% damage)
*Grasping Roots (E) damage per level decreased to 60/95/130/165/200 (from 60/105/150/195/240)
*Stranglethorns damage reduced to 180/265/350 (from 200/300/400)
*Stranglethorns cast range reduced to 700 (from 800)

That's a lot of changes, and some big ones at that. We're confident that they leave her in a good spot though. Zyra's two major issues are that she is too bursty and too safe. This makes her hard to exploit. Enemies are having a hard time catching her, and when they do, they get blown up before they can output their damage. It gets worse: Zyra's burst comes from her base damages, so she can build defensive items to live through enemies that make it through her zone of control.
II. Safety changes

Before I begin, note that we are primarily hitting particular play patterns. If you weren’t doing phenomenally with Zyra, you were probably were not “abusing” her kiting or burst combo potential fully. I have good news for you -- these changes will barely effect your damage output and survivability. If you were dominating with Zyra, sorry these nerfs will sting a bit and you’ll have to work harder for wins.

Zyra still has a lot of great matchups mid, she just has some actual bad/even ones now. In particular, she’ll have a tough time dealing with assassins (e.g., Fizz, Kat), and an even to slightly unfavorable matchup against highly mobile casters, and enemies that excel at killing plants quickly (Ahri falls into both camps).

*Base movement speed reduced to 300 (from 310)
Zyra is an impressive zone controller. Her plants, the fact that E is less dodgeable close, and her ult all give her powerful control over a pre-defined space. This change brings her in line with our other potent zone control mages -- Heimer, Orianna, and Anivia. It means that if you catch her out of her zone (or she over-extends her zone and you can quickly dash through it), you have an easier time reaching her before her cooldowns come back up. Note that Zyra still has the tools to stay safe in lane and team fights through her root+slow; it's now just a meaningful cost to put those spells on cooldown.

We were concerned about Zyra losing too much map mobility, but this turned out to be false. Small changes to base movement speed are incredibly impactful when chasing or fleeing (Brand now catches up to Zyra 200% faster) but relatively minimal when traversing long distances, such as to gank bot from mid (Boots 2 Zyra reaches another lane 2.7% more slowly).

*Stranglethorns cast range reduced to 700 (from 800)
Again, this change is designed to make Zyra less safe -- or rather to make Zyra choose between safety and power. 700 range is identical to Vlad ult, which I am sure our Vlad players will note is not especially large. For you math nerds, this is a 23.5% reduction in the total area in which the ult can be cast. Since Stranglethorns itself has a large radius, Zyra will still be able to hit a high priority target with the initial damage most of the time, but she won't be able to drop that perfectly positioned ult on all 5 of her enemies without wading dangerously close to the center of a fight. 

A related change we released last Wednesday is that Zyra's ult damage expands slightly slower (0.2 seconds longer to outside of the effect). Combined, this means that enemies are both more likely to be near the outside of her ult ring and are more able to run out of it if they are on the ball. Enemies at the center still are virtually guaranteed to take damage, but Zyra has to put herself at greater risk to get them there.

III. Burst changes

The remaining changes are all targeting one thing: burst. Zyras on Live are simply doing too much damage in too short a window. I'm not opposed to burst mages, but Zyra to me is a much richer experience as a sustained damage mage who uses plants and moderate cooldown skillshots to whittle down an enemy over the course of an engagement. Note that we've primarily hit Zyra's base damages here, not her ratios. If Zyra wants to build glass cannon (say, DFG + Deathcap), she'll be pretty bursty. If she wants to build tanky (say, Abyssal + Rylai's + Zhonya’s), her damage per second will suffer, but she will hopefully live long enough to deal a net greater amount of it overall. 

*Grasping Roots (E) damage per level decreased to 60/95/130/165/200 (from 60/105/150/195/240)
We needed to take damage from somewhere and, looking across her kit, the rank up on this skill was just too generous. Not only were Zyras getting an increase in the duration of their primary CC, but they were also getting more damage from a spell combo (e.g., EWQ) by ranking E over Q. Now choosing to level up E less damage but more control compared to Q.

*When multiple plants attack the same target, additional plants deal 50% damage (from 75% damage) -- a 14% nerf to the plant damage done when comboing two.
This is a sizeable hit to those of you who were playing Zyra as a combo caster (EWQW, EWWQ, EQWW), unloading on the enemy all at once. The problem is that this combo casting strategy was pretty much always optimal. Now, you'll frequently still want to execute those combos, but by choosing to compress your damage into a small window, perhaps against a juicy 50% health target you catch in a root, you'll be sacrificing a greater amount of sustained damage. 

We think this adds more strategic depth to her gameplay: Zyras will have to balance sustained harass against combo play. The result is we anticipate more Zyra players will adopt a "1.9 seed" gameplay, where they are constantly managing their seed resource to have 1 available for emergencies but not sit at the seed cap. On Live, I frequently just sit on two seeds so that I can be sure to burst someone if I land a random E or they go aggressive on me.

A cool result of this change is that it makes the combo of spawning one Vine Lasher and one Thorn Spitter even better than two of one plant -- the enemy will take extra hits while slowed and then, once out of the Vine Lasher range, will take full damage from the Thorn Spitter since only one plant is attacking.

I know it sounds a bit silly to say that we are giving you more options by nerfing your champ. And that would be silly. My point is that while we are nerfing a certain playstyle pretty hard (burst mage), Zyra has alternate play patterns to fall back on that are still powerful. If we nerfed Garen Spin to Win, for example, the dude lacks a fallback play pattern and so he would be crippled. When we nerfed Amumu’s AP ratios, it didn’t hit him that hard because he could replace some AP itemization with tanky gear and deal the same damage, but over time. Zyra is in the later position. 

*Stranglethorns damage reduced to 180/265/350 (from 200/300/400)
We wanted to shift the focus of Stranglethorns damage from the up front damage to the plant damage Zyra gets from proper ult positioning. You'll still chunk people with this ability, but now the game is about keeping a wounded enemy in range of your enraged plants and the knock up zone. At the same time, we thought that Zyra needed some form of guaranteed damage. If you point blank ult a person (with it on their zero point), they will take a substantial amount of damage, unlike the rest of her kit which is all delayed skillshots.

IV. Future changes

We have a few quality of life changes slated for the next patch that were deemed inappropriate for a hotfix. For example, we’ll be slightly increasing the size of her plant’s hit boxes to make them easier to right click, re-coloring the Grasping Roots missile so it stands out a little better, and making her passive form feel more responsive for Zyra players.

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