When you first start playing Lee Sin, one of League of Legends’ 118 available champions, you’ll notice that he often says “As balance dictates”. Riot is currently considering reworking Lee Sin, one of League of Legends’ most popular and notoriously difficult to play champions in the name of balance. The community has been up in arms for the past few days about the potential change, which ultimately lends itself to the discussion of “what makes a champion balanced?”
MOBAs as a genre are relatively new in the grand scope of gaming. Balancing different characters has been necessary since the advent of RPGs as a whole, when character customization and different decision-making paths became prevalent. With MOBAs, however, Riot Games has to keep in mind the playing power of 118 unique champions and how they can interact on Summoners Rift. What is especially challenging to Riot, and perhaps part of the reason they’re considering changing one of the highest skill-cap champions in the game is the grand disparity in overall skill between the top LoL players and your average player.
Before I continue with this discussion, I’d like to preface this by saying that I don’t necessarily agree with the changes being proposed for Lee Sin. Riot wants to make sure he can maintain a more consistent presence throughout the game which, while sensible, kind of defeats the purpose he is currently used for. Lee Sin is essentially what would be considered one of the most high-risk, high-reward champions in the game. You trade the late-game utility for more early-game presence when you choose Lee Sin, though the most skilled players can usually make good use of him all throughout the game. This is perhaps where most people find that the changes are unnecessary, Lee Sin is just a champion that you need to be good at in order to reach full potential with him. Riot has provided LoL players with a wide enough pool of champions so that anyone at any skill level has something they can play and understand. It just so happens that Lee Sin falls on what is arguably considered the more difficult side of the spectrum.
In spite of the difficulty that Lee Sin represents as far as play-style in LoL, it isn’t necessarily something that should be fixed. Several pro players and professional caster and coach of Counter Logic Gaming, Montecristo, posted on his Twitter the other day that Lee Sin is “… one of the few champions that has remained balanced and consistently used in pro play across metas.” At the end of the day, what the fanbase, the professionals, and anyone else opposed to the changes are basically saying is that if you think Lee Sin is too hard to play, either practice with him until you’re good or play another champion.
Considering the nature of Riot Games as a company and the outrage that has spawned out of the whole Lee Sin rework dilemma, we can safely assume that the changes, if any, being made to Lee Sin will be thoroughly considered before being made final. Some Reddit users are even speculating that the whole announcement of a rework to one of the most beloved champions in the game could just be an elaborate April Fools’ Joke (similar to the Champion Spotlight joke they made for Lee Sin when he was announced that you can check out here.) In any case, all we can do as LoL players is hope for the best and put our trust in Riot.