League of Legends ability reworks to Mordekaiser, Garen, Darius and Skarner hit the PBE
Riot games recently announced ability updates to four champions, collectively known as "juggernauts," are now available on the PBE. While most, if not all, of these champions are technically classed as fighters, juggernauts occupy a specific niche, defined as "powerful, durable, immobile and melee" according to the official statement. These are the guys that shine late game by becoming that horribly unfair hybrid of tank and assassin if you don't take care to shut them down (Nasus and his Q farming springs to mind here).
Whenever changes are mentioned regarding a strong set of champions, players tend to assume nerfs. However, Riot has made it clear they intend to retain the juggernaut identity of a late-game terror. The goal of these changes is to add a more unique element to each of their kits. Standard PBE disclaimer that all changes are not final and are subject to change.
Mordekaiser - Yes, Sauron's heavy metal cousin is finally getting an ability rework. The biggest changes will be to his W, Creeping Death and his ulltimate, Children of the Grave. His W now requires a lane partner to be effective, dealing damage if Mordekaiser and his ally are together and increasing move speed as they move towards each other. While some may not be thrilled with this as it will go against the solo lane identity he's had for years, the next change makes up for it to my mind. When he deals damage to the dragon, he curses it and if his team brings it down, the Master of Metal receives a specteral dragon to follow him around for a time (remind you of anyone?).
Skarner - Our depressed crystal scorpion has also received a fairly drastic change. Similar to Bard, playing as Skarner will activate special mechanics on Summoner's Rift. Six crystal spires will spawn, one by each of the large neutral monster camps (both teams' red and blue buff along with Baron and the dragon). If anyone on Skarner's team captures these, they will create large zone granting Skarner movement and attack speed. The enemy can also capture them for gold, vision and denying Skarner. These changes shift an already jungle prone champion further out of lane to play effectively but they still serve their purpose in providing another unique mechanic besides his ultimate.
Garen - Like Mordekaiser, Demacia's poster boy will receive his biggest changes to his ultimate. Demacian Justice now has a passive component where the champion with the most recent allied kills is marked as the "villain" and will take bonus true damage from his spin, basic attacks and most importantly, his ultimate. It certainly fits Garen thematically but the random element dictating the true damage will make the bonus unreliable at best.
Darius - Remember those Darius changes referenced here? Destiniislands had the right of it - they are quite terrifying. Of the four, his changes could most easily be called an outright buff. Whenever he either executes an enemy with his ultimate or fully stacks his passive, he'll get the "Bloodrage" buff. Not only does he deal increased damage but each attack will place maximum passive stacks on the target, receiving an unwanted one way ticket to chop-town.
In their statement, Riot expressed a desire for all champions to bring something unique to the table, so with each combination of champions in play, every match would feel markedly different. These four were referred to as "the first batch" and other juggernauts would be worked on as well (Shyvana and Olaf have been referenced) but the wording is also indicative of a wider philosophy towards champion design beyond a single class.
New champions have been examples of this for a while now, and we can expect more updates for older members of the roster. An especially ambitious goal for a game with already over 150 characters and rapidly approaching 200. However, this first set of PBE changes definitely show that Riot isn't afraid to explore outside the box in order to follow through.