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Faye's 9.20 In-Depth Patch Review
First off, hello! I’m Faye, a current challenger player in the North American region. I’ve played a ton of TFT and a lot of its predecessor, Dota Auto-Chess! I’m going to do an overview of the patch notes for 9.20 with a follow up post about my thoughts and speculation on the 9.20 meta.  We’re here to explore the patch notes and changes to the previous meta champions, traits and items -- what’s weaker? Stronger? And my opinions on it. That said let’s get into it!

Here's a link to the patch notes so you can follow along:
Level & Drop Rate Changes

Straight out of the gate they are tweaking leveling experience again, presumably due to altering the amount of gold dropping that they reduced last patch. The main impact the leveling at 5 has is hyper-rolling (rolling for early 3 stars) will be a round earlier than 9.19 thus you’ll have less gold to roll. 

The leveling change also ties into the next change, altering the drop rates of units at level 8 and level 9. This change affects 5 cost units the most as they’ll drop more frequently and it’ll be slightly easier to get to level 9 as it will only cost 66 instead of 70.

The impact of these two late game changes has the potential to be overall bad for the game. Without addressing player damage, particularly early game damage, and without addressing Neeko’s Help, the pace of the game is going to be insanely slow. What exactly does that mean? Well currently, in North America, the meta developed into a slower paced economic early game because of lowered player damage, meaning the majority of the lobby can get to level 8, and a high-roll crazy late game due to the power two star 4 cost and 5 cost units. In 9.20 with these changes more people will likely try to greed even harder for level 8 and 9 and try to hit two star 5 cost units more, so the game will slow down significantly. Once those 5 cost units are hit though, players will take absurd amounts of extra damage.

Neeko’s Help exacerbates this issue because the item has no cost investment to it, you simply get it and it sits on your item bench until you choose to use it. Now the people that do get the consumable in 9.20 can just sit on it until level 8 and hit a two star 5 cost unit much easier than before, thus making the issue of high-rolling worse. 

Now it could mean that with 5 cost units dropping slightly more often there will be more than one or two people in a lobby having them and this would hopefully dilute their strength. Perhaps that will be enough to make high-rolling less of an issue in late game but I can see issues arising with the drop-rate changes. It also doesn’t address the fact there are eight 5 cost units meaning it’s very hard to find a two star of a specific unit unless you’re getting lucky or have a Neeko’s Help.

A big thing to note, that I touched on, is that player damage is not changed this patch. Early game the economy will still be very greed based and late game players are still going to take a lot of damage. Assuming the pace of the game in 9.20 remains the same, and I see no changes that allude to that being different, there’s going to be a lot of people hitting level 8 and finding 5 cost units and it’ll just come down to ‘please don’t let me hit that one guy oh shit I did now I’m dead from 30 health’. Honestly without lowering the late game damage while increasing the chance to find 5 cost units is going to potentially make the late game a bit of a coin flip.

Okay, those changes out of the way, let's talk items!
Item Changes

Not a lot to talk about here but a few key things to note. Infinity Edge and Frozen Heart being nerfed is going to make Assassin’s a bit weaker (yay). The Infinity Edge change isn’t huge but that combined with the Frozen Heart change lowers the power level of the typical Assassin composition enough that there will be less people playing them per lobby. 

Frozen Heart is a big change for Assassins because one of the key things about the item in 9.19 was during the start of a round when an Assassin, mostly a Pyke or Katarina, jumps across the board it slows a lot of the units for four seconds. Now it only lasts one second meaning it will be much less potent for Assassins (and way less frustrating to play against).

That said it is still a 35% attack speed reduction and will certainly be useful when your Assassin is next to a carry slowing its attack speed. This change just removes the obnoxious early round slow. This change is definitely the biggest hit to 9.19 Assassin comps as they rely on the Frozen Heart slow at the start of a fight. We’ll have to see how people adapt to that if they run Assassins.

Infinity Edge gives a bit less critical damage but is still going to be a key item for Assassins so while it is less effective, it's still going to be very good when you have two of them. I don’t see this really altering much for Assassins but the double nerf to Assassin items hopefully makes them slightly easier to deal with but I think I’m still really going to hate playing against a double Infinity Edge Akali.

Quick thought on the other items; Deathblade is pretty underwhelming for an item so it needed a buff. Not much to say other than it needed a buff, not sure this is what it needed but hey a buff is a buff. Quicksilver will likely be more usable but there isn’t a ton of CC past the first couple that a 3s cool-down is really going to make a huge difference. I’m definitely going to try it out more and see how it feels.

Lastly, Thieves Gloves being nerfed slightly is probably good because for two items you get five to six items of stats. The stats are still going to be a strong feature of the item so I don’t see it being built less than it currently is but it makes the randomness of the items the unit gets a bit easier to play against. Priority for picking up Sparring Gloves may go down though with Infinity Edge & Thieves Gloves being getting hit by the nerf bat.

Next, Traits and Champion changes!
One got a small nerf the other hopefully isn't unbearable to play against!
Traits & Champion Changes

Assassin nerf! Yay! Is it enough though? Hmm. Likely not but the multiple nerfs to Assassins, especially Wild Assassins, is going to make them less consistent meaning you will see them less often. A two star Akali with double Infinity Edge is still going to shred most units, she just might do it slightly slower now so it isn’t as oppressive to play against. 

The attack speed nerfs don’t make a huge difference for the Assassin comps, the power of Wild/Sin comps is due to Infinity Edge and the attacks being undodgeable, alongside being able to play Gnar with three Shapeshifter and double Hextech. A lot of that is unchanged. Still there are enough tweaks to Assassins that they likely will be less popular and that allows other compositions to pop up that weren’t able to when half the lobby had Akali 2’s.

With Wild being nerfed we may end up seeing the rise of more dodge-based comps such as Yordles or just utilizing items that give and work well with dodge chance. Items like Iceborn Gauntlets and Phantom Dancer may become more popular if Wild is run less in 9.20.

Let’s talk about.. Knights! Knights are really strong. But it isn’t just six Knights that’s super strong, it’s four Knights. 9.19 early game was find four Knights and play them until you can transition into your main comp, which half the time also used four Knights. But that wasn’t addressed at all, just six Knights. While six Knights is certainly strong it’s not nearly as potent as the power creep that four Knights allows. 

Poppy was nerfed so maybe playing her in four Knights the strength will be weakened slightly but I don’t foresee there being much of a reason to not play four Knights early and mid game still, as well as with a lot of meta comps late game. Most likely you'll just try and replace Poppy with Sejuani instead of replacing one of the other Knights. I think the potentially larger change to Knight compositions in general is that with Assassins getting nerfed a bit there may be more spell based comps popping up so Knights won’t be as effective against that. Hard to say but likely four Knights is still going to be the most popular mid game comp.

Quick point on Gunslingers, the buff to six Gunslinger seems… pretty useless. Committing six units for Gunslinger is a lot so I don’t really know why they’d change six Gunslinger only when it’s the most unlikely comp for Gunslinger to be put into. They also buffed Gangplank slightly but honestly that will probably make him played more in a Blademaster Draven comp than a Gunslinger comp. 

The only change that actually buffs Gunslingers is the Lucian spell buff. He’s already a strong early/mid game item carry while you’re waiting for late game units and the spell damage increase, while small, just makes him even better at his current job. It’s an odd change and again likely has no real impact on a Gunslinger based composition it just makes Lucian better as the early item carry he already is.

Having mentioned Blademasters let us talk about Fiora and Aatrox! Fiora, girl, you been through a lot in TFT. She has had small buffs overtime that she is playable early game but still, even with a 50hp increase, she is likely to be ditched once you hit level 6. That said, early game Blademasters could be a thing considering three of them are buffed this patch (Aatrox, Fiora, Gangplank). 

Speaking of Aatrox, 10 extra armor is a lot! It’s also strange that he’s getting buffed because he’s already used a decent amount. You’ll see him in a Blademaster/Draven comp or in Demon/Sorc comps, so it’s not like he’s unpopular or unused. This change will likely make front-line Aatrox in Demon/Sorc comps even better.

Guardians are buffed back up to 45 armor. Jeez, they are starting to become the bunker of this game (Starcraft 2 reference, look it up!). They can’t seem to find the right place for the Guardian buff and units. Interestingly enough a comp was popping up in the last bit of 9.19 that used Guardians. It was Dragon+Guardian+Knight where you make Pantheon almost invincible and have Aurelion Sol doing a ton of back-line damage. With the changes to the armor and Leona getting a small HP buff that comp could become quite popular in 9.20.

And last but certainly least is Kai’sa and Volibear. Kai’sa is a weird unit and I honestly don’t know if the changes will be enough for her. Sure a two star Kai’sa with full items can pop off and do well and these changes make that more likely but she seems hard to fit into a comp. I love Rangers but she comes way too late for a Ranger comp and while Void/Brawler/Sorc is a comp in 9.19 I don’t know how much buffing her will matter for either styles of play. I’d love for her to be viable I just don’t know if her kit allows that, regardless of the buffs.

Volibear used to be so awesome during the carry bear meta. Nowadays he’s used in Brawler comps because he has a lot of HP but the days of his carrying are gone and I don’t know if .65 attack speed is going to change that. It does mean he scales better with attack speed items so perhaps there will be a comp that pops up with him as the star but Mr. Volibear is likely still going to be a support unit for Brawlers.

That’s all of patch changes for 9.20! Not a lot changed this patch, it was mostly just a hit to Assassin comps. Frozen Heart got nerfed pretty hard so it'll be interesting to see how that affects the meta in 9.20. Speaking of the 9.20 meta if you'd like to check out my snapshot of it, it'll be posted soon! I go over 9.19 meta comps and how they may change in 9.20 and theory-craft other potentially good comps going into 9.20. Thanks for reading! <3

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