I had the chance to talk with our own Peter "Doublelift" Peng about the state of ranged AD itemization. We discussed the state of Blade of the Ruined King and comparable attack speed items; measured Season 2's items with those of Season 3; and talked about what roles and champions he would like to play if he could not play ranged AD carries anymore.
We'll start off with the most talked about AD carry item – what do you think about the recent hot fix changes to Blade of the Ruined King?
Doublelift: Blade of the Ruined King is still overpowered. It fills the role in your item build of both Blood Thirster and Phantom Dancer for life steal and attack speed. It just gives you too many stats.
You've stated in previous interviews that AD items were overall nerfed in Season 2, yet there is still Blade of the Ruined King. If BotRK were to be reverted back to its previous state, how would you evaluate the overall strength of AD items?
Doublelift: It would be trash. But now with the current Blade it's different. The overall strength is still bad, but not as bad. They did nerf Warden's Mail though which helps a lot.
Do you think then the strength of Blade of the Ruined King balances out the weakness of the other AD items?
Doublelift: I don't think Blade of the Ruined King is balanced and it isn't supposed to be like that. They should definitely nerf it and then buff other AD items to bring them up to par. Obviously if everyone is rushing Blade it's overpowered.
In Season 2, players always seemed to have the exact same build path for AD carries. In Season 3 we've seen a little more variety with players choosing between Phantom Dancer, Statikk Shiv, Zephyr, and now BotRK for their attack speed item. Do you think that the lack of build variety was a flaw in Season 2?
Doublelift: I think people just didn't build differently in Season 2, and that's not because there weren't enough options. Zephyr is never built in competitive play as an attack speed items for AD carries. Statick Shiv is really situational; I think you should only rush that item. I don't really see a point in a lot of the items [Riot] put into the game. Definitely in Season 2 you saw everyone just go IE, BT, and Phantom Dancer. That was wrong. You could do a lot more stuff like get an early Last Whisper or Trinity Force. People just weren't really smart with their builds.
So do you think the Season 2 item sets were alright and that Riot didn't need to create more new items?
Doublelift: Yea, I don't think they needed to. Every role in the game has a go-to build and that's fine. If you deviate from that build, you're just doing something different. APs build the same stuff and ADs should be able to build the same stuff, unless you're going for something specific.
Currently there are no items that counter attack speed reduction. What would you think if Zephyr or a new item had the ability to reduce either the amount or length of an attack speed debuff?
Doublelift: The length of the attack speed debuff doesn't really matter, because if you attack someone consistently you'll always have the debuff. Initially, you'll build attack speed and then the enemy will counter your attack speed with a Randuin's Omen. I don't think you should have to further counter their Randuin's Omen with your own attack-speed-debuff reducing item. They should just nerf attack speed reductions, because it was never that bad in Season 2. It was never a consistent 20 percent slow. It just ruins all of your DPS. It's really cheap and super cost effective.
It is a little better now with the nerf to Warden's Mail though right?
Doublelift: Yea, it's much better now with the nerf to Warden's.
Runaan's Hurricane has not seen any use in competitive play. What problems does it have and in what ways can it be fixed directly or indirectly?
Doublelift: Oh wow yea, actually I've built that item in an LCS match, I think the one against Curse or Dignitas. I think Runaan's is good. It's just no one really builds it because it doesn't have a place at the moment. Your general build is Infinity Edge and Phantom Dancer – those items combined give you the highest DPS you can get out of two items. Add on Last Whisper and boots, you already have four items. The last two items you need are a lifesteal item and a defensive item. Some champions like Caitlyn and Tristana don't need the defensive item, but for the most part it's smarter to get a defensive item just in case you mess up. In your six-item build there isn't really a place for Runaan's, but down the line AD carries can have their teammates build Zeke's Herald. Then they can skip their lifesteal item and build Runaan's. It does a lot of damage for how much it costs.
So you think it's at a good place, it's just people have to adapt?
Doublelift: Well... it's not in the best place. I wish it was more expensive and gave more stats. You're not going to rush that item, it's going to be your sixth item. Your last item should be something really significant that you finish. Runaan's Hurricane only really gives you attack speed and it's passive. I don't think that's enough stats to justify having no lifesteal or a defensive item.
Along the same lines, are there any stats that you feel are hard to itemize as an AD carry that you wish you could use?
Doublelift: Well before Blade of the Ruined King got changed, attack speed was really hard to itemize. They nerfed Phantom Dancer and Berserker Greaves. So overall you just felt like you attacked a lot slower than you did in Season 2. But now with Blade, it's like you have two attack speed items: you have Blade and Phantom Dancer; that's almost too much attack speed. Now that Blade is in the game you can itemize attack speed pretty well. But if they revert Blade to having no attack speed it's going to be pretty hard again.
Would you design another item then for attack speed or would you change one of the existing items?
Doublelift: I definitely think Blade of the Ruined King needs to be nerfed. I really wished they would just revert the nerfs to Phantom Dancer. I didn't think those were really needed at all, no one was crying because Phantom Dancer was overpowered. It was really random and hit AD carries pretty hard. They should just revert the nerfs to Phantom Dancer and nerf Blade of the Ruined King a little bit.
If they do revert the nerfs to Phantom Dancer, what should happen to Zephyr and Statikk Shiv? Do you think those items need to be buffed as well?
Doublelift: Zephyr is an item that is actually really interesting. You can replace boots with Zephyr in your six item build, because it gives the highest movement speed in the game. It's purely a movement speed based item that replaces boots in a six-item build, otherwise I don't see the point in Zephyr at all. You don't need tenacity as an AD carry; for other roles it may be a good item.
Statikk Shiv is only good as soon as you get it. A flat 100 damage is good if you rush it, but as soon as you get to late game it's trash because everyone has MR and 3000 HP.
So should Statikk Shiv scale to allow people to have more variety in their builds?
Doublelift: I understand that Riot is trying to give people more options, but I don't feel that Shiv is the answer. It's a very situational item. In competitive play you don't see people regularly getting Shiv. It's not really part of the AD repertoire. In maybe one or two percent of games you'll get a Shiv. Otherwise you'll get a Phantom Dancer anyway. Riot's idea is good, but personally I think Shiv isn't a useful item for the most part and neither is Zephyr.
Other MOBA counterparts are known for their large quantity of activatable items. Is there an item that you would like to see AD carries have that can be activatable?
Doublelift: Hm... yea I would. I think AD carries have to press the least amount of buttons. I don't really know what the activatable effect should be though. I liked Sword of the Divine, but then they nerfed it a lot. It was a really cool item, but they ruined it by making it too expensive and weird with the reset timer.
Certain professional AD carries have stated that due to the overall nerfs to AD itemization that they have opted to pick champions that offer more relative utility or damage without items such as Varus and Miss Fortune. If the game continues down this path, do you see yourself picking utility AD carries or would you still stick to champions that have the ability to outplay?
Doublelift: I would never switch to utility AD carries, just because of the way our team works. Our team works because Hotshot plays tanks and he plays to protect me. Playing protect Miss Fortune doesn't really work. Other teams are using utility AD carries because they have three threats, which is the golden standard for most teams. Three threats can kill anything; you don't really need AD carries to do most of the damage as you did in Season 2. Our play style hasn't really changed and so we only have two threats. If I pick a utility AD carry and we don't kill the enemy, then we're screwed. So I'll probably continue to play the champions that I play: hyper carries with high DPS.
Lastly, if ranged AD carries do end up becoming non-existent, what role would you see yourself playing as and which champions would you like to use?
Doublelift: I like Blitz and still think he is pretty overpowered. He's just extremely strong and no one really plays him. If I had to pick a role that isn't AD carry I'd play mid. I really like the concept of mid. I like farming, fighting, and making an impact at all points in the game. I think mid is the most important role and I'd really like to play it. Most likely though, if AD carries were non-existent, I'd play bruiser bottom with Aphro.
Aside from Blitzcrank, what other bruisers would you like to play?
Doublelift: To be honest, I kind of suck at playing bruisers. I played Blitz and Alistar a lot in Season 2. I like playing champions with movement displacement. Blitz and Alistar are just really ridiculous tanks that can displace the enemy team. Other than that I don't really see myself as a bruiser player actually. I kind of suck at Irelia and the standard bruisers that everyone plays these days. I think other than those two bruisers I'm only good at playing ranged champions.
Thank you for your time and the interview, good luck on your matches this week!