“The situation we want to avoid is to have an endless arms race, where damage becomes so potent that we add shields, then shields are so potent that we add a shield breaking mechanic, and then a counter to that mechanic and so on,” design director Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street wrote. “If shields overall are too strong, we’d rather ease up the shields or increase the damage that shields are intended to counter. That said, we do have mechanics like grievous wounds in the game, and we have mentioned recently that we might explore say an item with an active shield break mechanic.”
Shields have recently become a subject of scrutiny, as there is not really a way to counter a shielded champion. With almost all supports either building the Iron Locket of the Solari — which grants a shield to all nearby allied champions upon activation — or having some form of heals and shields, there has been an over-saturation of the mechanic. As a result, late-game hyper carry champions such as Kog’Maw and Tristana have seen a resurgence, with the main strategy being “protect the carry until the late game,” and win the game.
Such strategies have been effective in professional play, too, as seen in the first round of the gauntlet in League Champions Korea, where Afreeca Freecs jungler Lee “Sprit” Da-yoon went for a puzzling Lulu jungle against MVP. Although Lulu isn’t the most effective jungler, the focus was simply to shield the Ha “Kramer” Jong-hun as Tristana so that he could carry any and all team fights, and that’s exactly what happened.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games