Ability Update: Shyvana

If big changes for Shyvana seem out of left field, you’re not crazy. Compared to the champion updates you’re used to, we didn’t pick Shyvana to solve major issues that need huge time investments. Instead, she’s one of League’s first opportunistic updates: updates where a smaller amount of work can yield big improvements. While not entirely without issues (she’s had a tough year), Shyvana’s already a pretty cool champion – we wanted to make her better. As pre-season work wound down, we decided to take on that challenge.

Half-Dragon, Half-Diver

Shyvana was created long before today’s champion class/sub-class framework. Within that framework, Shyvana’s closest to the Juggernauts: a durable and devastating group of champions who lack reliable ways to get to their targets. Of that group, Shyvana’s selling point is that Dragon’s Descent… gives her a reliable way to get to her target. Through this lens, her unique strength is that she periodically gets to ignore one of her weaknesses.

This is why Shyvana has such a hard time clawing her way back from a disadvantage. Ignoring weaknesses doesn’t help when you’re too behind to flex your strengths! It also gives number changes a short shelf life, since even slight meta shifts push her aggressively ahead or behind the rest of the pack.

That said, Shyvana isn’t fundamentally flawed. Even while ahead, her weaknesses are still pretty clear: once she ults into the enemy backline, she lacks both crowd control to shut down enemy kiting and sustain to outlast it. We felt a few carefully targeted changes would go a long way – hence this project!

Kill It With Fireballs

We’ll start with Shyvana’s shiniest new toy: an exploding fireball. E – Flame Breath used to become a cone of damage in Dragon Form, which let Shyvana hit more things, provided enemies clumped up nicely for her. Most aren’t that accommodating, so we wanted to give Shyvana something she has more control over.

Instead of a cone, Dragon Form now gives Shyvana control over how far Flame Breath travels, exploding for bonus damage. The explosion leaves “scorched earth” that constantly marks enemies for Flame Breath’s on-hit proc. Basically, cast E at a distance for spicy fireball snipes, or cast it in melee range and claw face on whoever’s stuck in the blast zone.

  • E – Flame Breath (click for tooltip)

    Shyvana unleashes a fireball that stops after hitting a champion. All enemies hit take 60/100/140/180/220 (+0.3 ability power) magic damage and are marked for 5 seconds.

    Shyvana’s basic attacks against marked targets deal 2.5% of their maximum health as magic damage on hit.

    Dragon Form: Flame Breath explodes on impact or at target location, dealing 100~200 (at levels 1-18) (+0.3 ability power) bonus magic damage and scorching the earth for 4 seconds. Enemies on scorched earth take 60-120 (from levels 1-18) (+0.2 ability power) magic damage per second.

    Flame Breath’s on-hit damage against monsters is capped at 100 damage per hit.

Just Dragon Things

Looking toward R – Dragon’s Descent, we felt we could deliver a much more epic transformation. That means a bigger dragon and uninterruptible flight (think Malphite or Hecarim). We also swapped Dragon Form’s resistances for bonus health – while both are survivability stats, Juggernauts find more interesting ways of using health (Titanic Hydra, Sterak’s Gage, etc.) It also fills up a chunk of Shyvana’s HP bar, which is nice.

Of course, we had to trade a few things to get there. Beyond the loss of resistances, Dragon’s Descent does less damage and travels less distance. Overall, we don’t expect these changes will shake up how Dragon’s Descent is used, but we’re pretty sure it’s cooler now.

  • R – Dragon’s Descent (click for tooltip)

    Active: Shyvana transforms into a dragon, gaining 150/250/350 Health and flying to target location. Enemies along her path take 150/250/350 (+0.7 ability power) magic damage and are knocked toward her target location.

    Passive: Shyvana generates 1 Fury every second. Basic Attacks generate 2 Fury.

Keeping Focus

Time will tell if we’re right, but the E and R changes look to be a big buff to Shyvana. While we want this update to be a net-power-up, internal testing showed us she didn’t need that much love (a kiss on the leg should be sufficient). Rather than hit the active elements of Shyvana’s success, we targeted mechanics we think she’ll still function without.

First, W – Burnout no longer leaves a flame trail in Dragon Form. Shyvana wants enemies in front of her so she can attack them, but Burnout asked her to stay in front of theminstead. Felt weird. So, Burnout now gets bigger as Dragon Form does, letting Shyvana focus on what’s in front of her.

Next up is Shyvana’s Passive – Dragonborn. As work progressed, we noticed Shyvana was becoming unkillable in playtests. Dragonborn – a big ball of resistances – was an obvious lever to pull to reduce that tankiness. It got fairly sad to read as we whittled its numbers down, and we wondered if we could make it more interesting, rather than just weaker.

To be clear, in most cases, Dragonborn will be weaker than before. Shyvana gets much fewer resistances by default, and those resistances no longer scale with level. However, she can recoup some of the loss if she and her team secure dragons. This gives Shyvana – a champion frequently left to her own devices on top-lane island or the jungle farmhouse – a unique way to participate and celebrate in her team’s success.

  • Passive – Fury of the Dragonborn (click for tooltip)

    Shyvana deals 10% more damage to dragons.

    Shyvana gains 5 Armor and Magic Resistance. Elemental drakes defeated by Shyvana or her allies grant her an additional 5 Armor and Magic Resistance.

With everything going on, it’s hard to nail down exactly where Shyvana will land. All said, we’re hoping she comes out stronger than before. If we miss the balance mark (in either direction) this update’s put us in a much better position to follow up.

Dive well, Shyvana.

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