Ok so, everyone's unhappy with the nerfs, they're awful. She needed nerfs yes, I think everyone can agree on that, but the way they nerfed her does not fit the way her kit is meant to be played, and it made it feel very awkward and bad rather than just a bit weaker. Her waveclear feels awful, extended fights feel bad, and just in general her gameplay feels a bit clunky and not right. So, I've seen a lot of people hesitant to main her, ready to quit her, complaining, etc… and that's fair enough, she isn't the best right now but imo, she is still pretty decent (good enough to reach around Masters as an OTP). Compared to old Akali yeah, she feels pretty bad, but just looking at current Akali without comparing it to last patch, she's still pretty playable and fun, and while it's not an overreaction to say the nerfs are terrible and she feels way worse than before, I feel like it's an overreaction to say that she's gutted and is absolutely awful.
If you still want to main her (like me), I've compiled all my general thoughts on the matter and am here to share and discuss so we can have a nice thread of gameplay discussion and how to play through the nerfs rather than "ahh champ bad I quit :("
General Playstyle Changes |This is mainly what y'all came for so I put this at the top.
- You can't take extended fights that well anymore so play more like an assassin similar to talon or zed rather than a fighter like Fiora. This means to pick your fights carefully. You want to get in and out as quick as possible. You now have less sustain and kill potential on tankier targets / multiple targets than before, so you want to play much more carefully and focus more on assassinating one or two squishies whereas before you would have enough energy to kill all in a 1v4. I'm not saying to focus completely on this, her bruiser playstyle is still very prevalent but it is much weaker, so remember that and play around it.
- Waveclearing feels much worse. Not much to say about that other than try use your Q on waves perfectly and/or less, that shit tanks your energy and it's very easy to do out of habit.
- Build and play more one shot damage heavy than before. Remember, this nerf shifts akali to be more of an assassin than a bruiser, so a lich bane second item would feel much better than a demonic embrace, and you wanna prioritize high damage builds like void, rabadons, and sorcs rather than things like merc treads, cosmic drive, or banshees. FUN FACT: on Akali, building void first then rabadons will always do more damage no matter what, so never build rabadons first.
- Maximize your passive procs! Before it would be fine to miss a few here and there, but now every bit of energy counts! You want to try minimize your q's and maximize your passive procs which gives 20 energy every auto proc. This means to try e, passive auto, second e, passive auto, q, passive auto, ult 1, passive auto, q passive auto, etc…. try not use two abilities at once unless need-be. This wasn't as important before, but it's very important to learn now. Of course, you don't always need to do this at maximum efficiency like when you're trying to one shot an enemy, it's just become more vital that you learn it and just try apply it where you can in order to conserve more energy.
- Overall, the change isn't just a nerf, her gameplay is changed a bit. It's gunna feel really weird to get used to. You're gunna think you have q but you'll be out of energy, you're gunna think you can 1v3 and you probably could if you're ahead but it's gunna be much harder, etc… There's not much to say for this other than it will just take getting used to.
- Also General Tip: Your W is an incredible zoning tool, so take advantage of that during teamfights, I feel like because she's less of a go in and 1v4 like a hard-carry fighter, her macro and zoning based plays become that much more important to learn.
That's all I can really think of for how the nerfs will affect your gameplay. It sucks yeah and old akali feels soo much better, but this is what we have and she still feels decent to play if you can adjust to the changes.
Her runes really don't change much other than electrocute synergizing with the kit more so than before and conqueror synergizing less so than before.
Electrocute: It remains the staple rune if you want some extra burst / one shot potential. Usually you take this when the enemy team is squishy / has a priority squishy target that the electrocute burst will help one shot. It's also very good into lanes where you're able to QUICKLY (not extended) trade with your opponent well. Akali's extended fighting is nerfed due to lack of energy, so she leans more towards a one shot assassin playstyle, at least more so than before. This means that electrocute synergizes with her more than before and you may find yourself taking it into more matchups than before.
Conqueror: This is the best rune for the bruiser Akali playstyle. You take this rune into any matchup that you don't take electrocute, and because electrocute is sort of a niche pick into certain comps and lanes, you'll find yourself taking conqueror a lot. It stacks well with Riftmaker passive and allows you to maximize your damage on your ult execute / pre-ult burst; it also gives healing which always feels nice on Akali. Due to her extended fighting being nerfed, when your conqueror gets fully stacked, you'll have much less time to take advantage of it which feels pretty bad. Anyhow, despite this loss of synergy, I still believe the conqueror rune to be generally superior and is the main / default rune for Akali as the damage it gives usually outweighs the damage electrocute gives especially during the late game. It may not show in stats, but the adaptive force gained during fights feels really good and it does add up. Also, so many champions now are much tankier due to new items and shield meta that one shot burst may not be able to kill.
Those are just my thoughts and if you want to talk about it in the comments go ahead, in the end it boils down to personal preference because both runes are viable!
Fleet: It will always be a niche pick into matchups with long laning phases that call for good sustain. The other keystones I find are almost always better, but fleet is still viable into certain matchups where you're forced to stay in lane for long periods of time, so feel free to try it out and experiment with it yourself.
I went over general item builds during he general tips, but just to reiterate, post-nerf Akali should build more assassin like rather than sustain and bruiser-like, so she wants to prioritize things like lich second into void and sorcs over things like demonic second into banshees and merc treads.
With that being said: Riftmaker or Night Harvester?
This may seem counter intuitive as I've been saying to prioritize burst, but you should almost always run riftmaker even if you take electrocute and I'm sure most high elo Akali OTP's will agree, let me explain.
Through my countless games of Akali, I've found that riftmaker gives the same, if not more one shot potential than night harvester at any point in the game thus making the extra burst from night harvester pretty useless and irrelevant. They give the same base AP and riftmaker has a better legendary passive of magic pen (very useful for one shotting) whereas night harvester gives ability haste (unnecessary on Akali and even more so with the recent bruiser nerfs); there is also the bonus of omnivamp, on riftmaker which is extremely useful to Akali. The damage passive of Night Harvester feels lackluster / equal when compared to the damage riftmaker passive gives during early points of the game; however, Night Harvester falls off hard throughout the course of the game whereas riftmaker remains relevant the whole time. Night Harvester also just doesn't synergize with Akali's damage combos. Her damage isn't supposed to come in all at once on the first second, it requires a lot of setup that takes time to prepare, during this period, riftmaker + conq stacks and thus makes your combo do a shit ton of damage, night harvester procs way too early (at beginning of combo) and takes away from the instant burst which makes it feel pretty bad.
Also, I've seen some protobelt Akali but I personally think it's pretty bad compared to the other options available, feel free to debate it in the comments tho.
That's pretty much all, I could've definitely made it more detailed but I think this is good enough as there's already really good Akali guides out there, I mainly just wanted to discuss how Akali is going to / should be played post-nerf, so yeah see you guys in the comments.
Also, I'm a peak D3 Akali OTP (rank 27 NA Akali on leagueofgraphs s10) so I'd like to think I have some pretty good knowledge of the champ, but I'm always down to discuss and learn new things. I do stream my solo queue on twitch and I love teaching about the game where I can (e.g, akali mechanics, wave management, macro, positioning, etc…), so if you wanna stop by and ask some questions then I'll always be hella down to answer and discuss and you can probably pick up quite a few things that will improve your play.
Hope to see you there!
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