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Jul 3, 2013

Olaf Overnerfed? Riot Proposes High Level Changes


"We overnerfed him, but we need to buff him in ways that don't just revert the nerfs. Scarizard is working on this now." 1
With a paltry 39% win rate in solo queue, it's no wonder that the general consensus believes Olaf is overnerfed and underloved. Although I've seen Olaf still do will in games, the times are far and few between.

Also, it turns out it's not Scarizard, but in fact SmashGizmo that will be heading up the changes! (Gotta love the name!) Check out his responses below:

High level Summary of Proposed Changes:
Let's start off with some basic info on the scope of Olaf changes. Right now we are not looking at a full scale rework of Olaf (think Karma), but rather a refactor (think Kha'Zix). What this means is that we're sticking with the core skills of the kit and trying to solve the problems with the character through shifting mechanics rather than redoing skills. 2

As his kit is not getting rework levels of change, Olaf will not be getting a gap closer. While I get the knee-jerk reaction that he needs a gap closer, I think it's important to realize that his lack of one is a crucial component to defining Olaf's weaknesses and making a CC-immunity not completely stifling to play against. 2

Detailed Changes:
Let's start with a rough statement of my high level goals for Olaf changes.

1. Reduce the disparity between high skill level power and low skill level power on the character.

The biggest reason Olaf is where he is now is that he was sitting below a 50% winrate when we nerfed him, despite being among the top 4 competitive picks for a staggeringly long period of time. The simple fact of the matter is that pro players are exceptionally good at optimizing everything about Olaf and our average player is not. While having a high skill cap is typically a good thing for champions, it's best when the skill differential is in aspects of the game that are noticeable. Take Lee Sin for example. Our average player is no inSec, but when they watch inSec, they see how he uses his skills quickly and flawlessly and they immediately understand what makes him so successful with the champion and how they need to improve. With Olaf, the pro level optimizations largely come from difficult to see places, namely in optimizing the usage of his steroids, ghost usage, build order, pre-teamfight positioning, teamfight coordination and Undertow usage. Basically, it would be great if learning to play the wild berserker who's entire goal in life is to go ape**** on the opposing carry wasn't so hard and mathy.

2. Clear up the use cases for Vicious Strikes and Ragnarok.

This goes hand in hand with goal 1, but I think it's important to point out specifically. In my research on the current iteration of Olaf, I found myself frequently frustrated by the assortment of stats on both Vicious Strikes and Ragnarok. It doesn't seem to make sense that you get Armor Penetration when Ragnarok is active, as this creates weird incentives on the ability that make you want to cast it as soon as you start hitting someone, rather than using it to wade through CC effects. Vicious Strikes suffers from a lack of clarity in when I want to use it (before I Q to get bonus AD for the ratio? before I E to spell vamp off it? only when I'm low to use the lifesteal with Berserker Rage?). Clearing up what these buttons are meant to do should really help the usability on the character which should go a long way to solving problem 1, as well as generally making them more viscerally satisfying.

3. Clear up Olaf's itemization options.

This thread has confirmed my suspicions that people are generally pretty confused about what they want to build on Olaf. Most people seem to be onto HP and CDR as the optimal current builds, but there's also a large segment of people who want to build offensive items on the character ranging from 1-2 offensive item splashes to full balls out offensive builds. While I have no delusions about making offensive builds competitively viable on a Melee with no gap closer, I also don't want our non-pro players to feel bad about building swords and axes on a berserker... that just feels like what I should be building and it shouldn't feel as awful to do it as it does right now. I personally think it would be thematically awesome if people could enjoy a ravenous hydra + black cleaver on Olaf and just roleplay having 2 super badass axes through their build (again, with no delusions about the competitive viability of such a build).

4. Overall buff to the character.

Competitive vs. noncompetitive disparity aside, Olaf's in a pretty poor spot right now and he straight up needs a buff. The changes are not a success if they do not make Olaf more powerful than he is now. Obvious, I know, but considering his current state, I consider it irresponsible to not list this as a goal.


That being said, let's run through the kit and what I've gathered from your feedback in here along with my own thoughts on Olaf's abilities.

Berserker Rage
I'm seeing a small number of complaints about this ability being hidden power within Olaf's kit, but most people seem to see this as a visceral representation of Olaf's berserker nature and a key piece to some of the high points of the kit (outlasting fights on a sliver of health through this + lifesteal). I tend to agree with the latter line of thinking and am a rather large fan of this passive. I would like to make a minor tweak to this ability to clear up it's optimization by putting a floor on how low your HP % can go to still gain AS, as I think it feels like a false promise to have the ability scale all the way down to 1 HP. This sort of scaling can work for Tryndamere's Bloodlust, as he realistically does get to live at 1 HP routinely, but I think Berserker Rage should be hitting it's optimization somewhere around 10-30% max HP (tbd based on testing).

Most people in here seem to find Undertow's play pattern very cool and central to how Olaf functions but there also seem to be a number of people who point out how the potential perma-slow is one of the most frustrating pieces of Olaf's kit. I think the potential for a perma-slow is crucial to Olaf's ability to function in the game today, as he has no innate mobility and needs to function in melee range of his opponents. I think there are some superfluous bits of power on this ability, namely in terms of it's value for scouting, and it's power in the burst case due to repeatedly throwing the axe right at your feet and I'll be trying some experimental changes to solve these issues without disrupting the core chasing pattern of "throw axe -> chase after axe -> pick up axe -> throw axe again -> repeat" (which I believe is a thematically awesome pattern that plays very well in game).

Vicious Strikes
This is by far the least commented on skill through all of your feedback and it seems like very mixed feedback. As I mentioned in my goals, I think the use case on this ability is a bit of a nightmare and at the end of the day I really want to clarify and emphasize that rather than trying to solve this ability through raw power. To me, Vicious Strikes is at its coolest when it's enabling Olaf's survival and brawling in prolonged fights in conjunction with Berserker Rage, so my changes to this ability will be aimed at emphasizing this case and trying to deemphasize its power in terms of staying topped off on health throughout the laning phase.

Reckless Swing
Feedback in the thread seems to mostly be positive on this ability, though it's also pointed out as a playing against frustration point. While I agree that this ability can be very binary in terms of laning trades, my feeling is that this ability is exactly what Olaf holistically needs out of his E slot and as such I don't have any intentions on touching this at first. I also think there's a strong case to be made that the frustration of getting outtraded at Melee range is outweighed by the satisfaction Olaf players get from using Reckless Swing.

The hands-down most Olaf-defining aspect of Olaf's kit. Your feedback on this is mostly positive because of the Juggernaut vibes you get using the ability and the strong thematic connection to being so engrossed in combat that you cannot be stopped. Some expressed concerns about the frustration from the opposing end of Ragnarok, but the resounding voice in here is saying that this is what makes Olaf Olaf. And I agree, but as I've stated in the goals, I believe that Ragnarok's use case is currently muddied by the Armor Pen. In this light, I'm going to be exploring options for a replacement stat on Ragnarok that helps Olaf during the phase of the fight when he's wading through CC effects rather than the phase of the fight when he's hitting people with physical damage.

All that said, I wanted to touch on one more thing before I head off to bed...

I'm seeing a fair number of suggestions in here discussing how they're frustrated at being oom with Olaf and how something like a fury system or straight health cost system would further drive the themes of the character home. I don't see myself taking this approach, as I think Mana is an essential gate to Olaf's ability to otherwise endlessly throw axes. That being said, I'm strongly considering stripping the mana cost entirely from Ragnarok and drastically reducing it on Vicious Strikes. To me, Olaf's steroids should be Cooldown gated, while his Undertow needs to be resource gated due to the Cooldown refresh mechanics on it. 3

1 Morello on League of Legends boards
2 Smashgizmo on League of Legends Boards
3 Smashgizmo on League of Legends Boards
4 Olaf art by Skrubhjert from deviantART

What do you think about the proposed Olaf changes? Does Olaf need some lovin'? Is this picture below real or photoshopped? Comment below!

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  1. PerpetualNewbJuly 03, 2013

    Seems to me that they should attach ArPen to his W. Would make it a much more worthwhile skill to max and then add move speed to Rangarok, which seems more fitting.

  2. I agree. I hate hacing to take ghost on him to actually have Ragnarok save me.

  3. Erik GooaalJuly 03, 2013

    i hate olaf, hes a health manipulator just like vlad. leave him nerfed and people will learn to optimize him eventually.

  4. Finally, they realized Olaf is garbage right now. :D I would love him to be viable in my average player's ranked queues again (and not just in pro leagues) so I can pick him and own faces on the Top Lane or Jungle.

    Here's what I think they'll do:
    1. Put arpen on Vicious Strikes or an armor shred debuff on Reckless Swing.
    2. Allow Olaf to break out of crowd control using Ragnarok again, along with free movement speed and the usual Immunity to CC. To balance this, give it some counterplay and make it look cool, if Olaf uses Ragnarok to break out of CC, he does a 0.5 second pose (a berserker roar) where he can't move or attack.
    3. Cap Berserker Rage's max benefit at 30% health left, just like they did with Maw of Malmortius. Give Olaf a slight motion blur when Berserker Rage is nearing max power.
    4. As stated, Ragnarok will cost no mana, and Vicious Strikes mana cost lowered (say, 20). Axes will be mostly untouched, or slightly more expensive.

  5. Like Aatrox, Olaf suffers from one crippling weakness Vlad doesn't have: being a melee fighter :D

  6. voyboy will be happy :3

  7. MY GOD IF RIOT KNEW WHAT THE FUCK THEY WERE DOING THEY WOULD PUT THE ARMOUR PEN ON HIS W, IT JUST MAKES SENSE. And his new nerf on his E is complete shit. At level 5 his true damage will only be around 250 instead of 340, his Q nerfed even more to 70 dmg at level 1 and less slow. His W doesn't give him attack damage based on hp anymore. His ult no longer gives ANY ARMOUR OR MAGIC RESIST OR ARMOUR PEN only a small passive amount of armour and MR, (20 at rank 1). Instead his ult gives him 60ad to start replacing his W skill essentially. I don't know what the fuck riot is doing with olaf, but they clearly have no idea what the fuck they are doing. The only way you can do something with olaf is if you role with ghost to chase down enemies as his Q is no longer viable, and his damage output is now terrible


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