League of Legends Zeri nerfs keep on coming, but why?

League of Legends Zeri has been at the centre of controversy for quite some time now, and Riot have posted why she finds herself on the end of so many nerfs

League of Legends Zeri nerfs keep on coming, but why?: a pink-haired woman leaps over an obstacle holding a gun

League of Legends’ Zeri has found herself on the wrong side of the MOBAs patch notes for months now, each time reducing or altering her power in an attempt to balance the Zaunite – something that is proving to be very difficult.

Zeri is quite a divisive figure; she can seem completely overpowered in the right hands, with seemingly no outplay to her infinitely-scaling movement. Those players who have mastered the art of moving around the map and kiting enemies are the ones to get the most out of the unconventional ADC.

For those who haven’t played as Zeri before, her kit deviates from a regular ADC in that her auto-attack is on her Q. The non-point-and-click nature of her auto means that kiting around enemies and attacking becomes a lot easier. Her abilities are geared towards bursting an enemy down, rather than the consistent damage of a traditional ADC.

Because of this burst, Riot has found it difficult to balance the champion to a level they would find sufficient, with this post by Phroxzon going into some detail about what makes a champion ‘balanced’.

The League of Legends balance team considers four things when looking at whether a champion is balanced or not:

  • Perceptions of fairness and counterplay
  • Champion is exciting to play and has ‘high moments’
  • Performance in elite/pro play
  • Performance in average play

When considering Zeri, Phroxzon goes into how she has three main high moments when played correctly. Her infinitely-scaling mobility from R, the high damage poke from the W ability, and the mobility from her E. The issue that the design team runs into however is if a player knows how to use all of these abilities correctly together, there appears to be very few outplay opportunities for the enemy team.

While it’s easy to say that a good player will perform well, the issues arise from the low/average player not having the ability to use Zeri to a satisfying level. There is a middle ground somewhere in Zeri’s kit that is appealing to both elite and average players – I do however think it’s safe to say that Riot hasn’t quite found it yet.

It looks like Zeri has managed to avoid any further nerfs with the upcoming League of Legends 12.17 patch. Because of the proximity of Worlds, there may not be any sweeping changes until much later on in the year. 12.17 is dropping this week, along with the Zenith Games skin release. It might be worth checking out how much you’ve spent in League of Legends to see if the budget will stretch to that fancy new Jayce skin.