In Preseason, bruisers were given access to many new items. Introducing Goredrinker and New Steraks, two very powerful items. The combination of these items allowed bruisers to gain large amounts of burst healing and the huge Steraks shield, offering bruisers great amounts of staying power in fights with just two items.
In 11.3 both of these items were (justifiably) nerfed, but this has created an issue with lots of the users that aren't overperforming and are now suffering winrate drops despite being totally within the riot balancing guidelines such as Renekton, Urgot, Illaoi, Kled, and Sett.
But with these items getting nerfed it's shown an issue in bruiser itemization: outside these two items and Ravenous Hydra, most of the bruiser items are awful.
Firstly, with both of them sharing a lifeline passive, Maw and Steraks are always going to be in contention for what one is better, however, Maw falls short in a lot of ways. Steraks offering health and AD makes it a much more appealing purchase from a purely stat focused perspective, as health will help a bruiser absorb both physical and magic damage, unlike Maw's MR only mitigating magical damage. Additionally, both Steraks and Maw's shields scale with health, but Steraks actually offer health allowing it to scale with itself whereas Maw does not, and the extra 15 ability haste does not do enough to compensate for that.
Second of all, Black Cleaver lost 100 HP and the phage passive, along with costing 300 more gold for the butcher passive. It gained 5 AH too, but with the swap from CDR to AH that somewhat evens out.
Third, Wits end losing the healing and movement speed in exchange for AD and the phage passive feels bad on a lot of its users, and removes one of the big advantages of the item, meaning it's not being built as often as before, despite it still being fairly niche before also.
Finally, Chempunk Chainsword. It is a good item, offers AD, HP, AH, and GW. Nice stats, nice passive. The only issue is that it only offers 150 HP. That's as much as a ruby crystal. It's really not enough for bruisers especially since it takes up a full item slot.
I'm no balancing whiz, so take all this with a grain of salt, but here are some possible suggestions for what could be done.
I personally think Maw needs a rework/total restat. I don't think trying to balance its lifeline passive with Steraks is ever going to work out. Maw would have to be incredibly overtuned to compete with Steraks because Steraks is much more generalized while maw is much more specialized, along with Steraks scaling with itself, unlike Maw.
Black Cleaver would feel much better if they cut the butcher passive off, gave it some of the health back, and possibly cut down on the cost. I don't think the butcher passive is worth it, the damage it deals on most users is fairly low and Cleaver only giving 300 health is also fairly low.
Changing Wit's End would probably be hard. I assume the healing on it was removed and the AD added to make the item less exclusive and built by more champions, however, I feel like as it is now, it's too similar to Maw. If Maw was getting restatted a small amount of adjusting such as increasing the AD or focusing more on the attack speed could make wits end a better item.
As for Chempunk, it just needs a little bit more health to be worth it. 100/150 HP, even if the cost has to go up some.
In conclusion, I think the nerfs to Goredrinker and Steraks are justified, but I feel like other items also need attention. I would like to see bruisers have power taken out of the huge two item spike they're currently getting with Goredrinker and Steraks and have their powercurve smoothed out with more power put into the rest of their builds.
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