The latest changes to Azir takes some of his range away from him, with his soldier command range on his W being reduced from 800 to 650 units. In his prime, Azir was able to harass enemy laners with his soldiers while keeping himself out of harm’s way, using his soldiers to deal reliable damage. Now Azir players will have to put themselves more in harm’s way, as the soldiers won’t be doing anything unless he’s somewhere nearby. According to game designer Alexander “Wav3Break” Huang, it was a nerf the balance team needed to make.
“Ultimately, the results helped us realize that the core parts we needed to preserve were his signature Shurima Shuffle and his fine control over Sand Soldiers to do his bidding,” he wrote. “Given these requirements, reducing his ranges felt like the most reasonable way to deliver a middle ground that kept the core skill tests of Azir intact. Azir’s theme and mechanics definitely don’t support a short-range champion, but the notion to challenge here was: Is artillery-tier range the crux of the Shuriman emperor’s gameplay fantasy?”
This change looks like it’ll do its job, with more champions now able to deal some damage when he tries to initiate a trade. The damage of his soldiers has been increased and the attack-command time for the soldiers has also been reduced in order to compensate for the increased risk Azir will face.
The second focus point went on his ultimate. Despite the reduced cooldown time and the increased wall size, the soldiers now no longer bounce back any dashes or jumps past the wall after they finish moving forward. What this means is that enemy dashes and jumps can easily make it over the wall to zero-out Azir much more reliably. Wav3Break wrote that was an intended design choice in an effort to increase counter-play as well.
“This was also done to help us succeed at increasing opponent options against Azir,” he wrote. “We nerfed Azir’s ranges, but we felt it wasn’t enough to ensure he would not conquer the meta-game. I think this distinction sums it up nicely: the range nerfs tackle the oppressive nature of old Azir’s general gameplay, while the removal of bounce house creates an exploitable weakness in Azir’s gameplay when the meta-game calls for it. We can now rely on champions like Kha’Zix, Kayn, or Ahri to be clearer counter-picks into Azir that make it hard for him to dominate all levels of play.”
The change for Azir has been in the works for some time as one of the champions that was in desperate need for an update. As a previous headache in terms of balance, the newly designed Azir is currently live on the Public Beta Environment for testing, and is geared to go live in the next patch.