How is Gwen doing as a champion in the current metagame? Was she released at too low a power level, or does she have room to grow upward?
The new girl on the block
League of Legends’ newest champion, Gwen, was released in Patch 11.8 to the excitement of many players. As members of Riot had highlighted on the road map, the next few playable characters to be released would eventually fit into the story of Viego and The Ruined King storyline. While players may be very happy about the new chapters in the tale, few are pleased with the actual release of Gwen.
Her kit seems interesting at first, and the fact that she is fairly mobile and can dodge damage appeals to a lot of players. To make things even sweeter, Gwen is a special breed of champion that is designed to be an AP bruiser in a solo lane. There are already a few of these out there, such as Swain or Malphite, but neither of their gameplay quite match what the creators of Gwen had planned for her.
Since her release, players have been lining up to get their shot to test out this cool new champion. At first, she was banned so often that she was impossible to play, but the longer she was available to play, the more her ban rate went down. In her current state, she simply wasn’t good.
Saying so doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the potential, but it would take a lot of changes to transform her into a competitively viable character. Her kit clearly shows that she has the potential to be powerful. There have even been players who have seen her on her best day and thought she was overpowered, although that is simply not the case.
A flawed toolkit
One of Gwen’s biggest weaknesses is that she requires an early lead to snowball into the late game. To make matters worse, the game is sometimes already over by that point. Even the items she builds require her to put in extra work just for her to be decent. Buying Riftmaker is her way of making up for her massive lack of damage, and she needs to build armor or magic resist boots just in order to stay alive in trades or fights. Even then, her base damage is far too low, meaning that in order to make her viable Riot would have to perform an full-scale remake on the champion to completely boost her damage output.
Across all ranks, Gwen has a win rate of 44.42%, which is abysmally low. Even at an average gameplay level of gold, her win rate is not much better, still only at 44.67%. For a new champion, this rate is far too low by most standards. The last champion to be this bad on release was Ornn back in Patch 7.17, who also required a big overhaul to make decent.
Riot has a trend to release champions at a higher power level than normal so that players can get a taste of what they can do at maximum strength before the devs would reel them back to be more manageable. They may have tried something new with Gwen and released her at a lower power level, which is an interesting move. However, if she gets her abilities strengthened in the near patches to come, she can easily be a force to be reckoned with.
In order to change Gwen to make her a more viable champion, Riot would have to change her base damage in the early stages of the game as well as her health and her scaling damage. As it stands, she has a lot of trouble making it out of the laning phase without accumulating a few deaths. This is odd since she was intended to be an AP bruiser, so by giving her some more base health or armor and magic resistance stats, she should already be in a better spot.
However, she can still be improved just with health buff. It is clear she is meant to scale, but her damage for the first 20 minutes of the game is far too low. Because of this she has trouble making trades and farming minions. By buffing her base damage she will be able to survive the laning phase and get into the late game so she can be more impactful for the team.
Champions similar to Gwen, like Irelia, already scale well into the late game, so Gwen should be able to as well without being overpowered. This would allow Gwen’s team fight power to be much more impactful than it currently is. By giving Gwen a stronger late game as well as some better base stats, she has a goal to shoot for so that she can help her team more than just being another body on the map.