How Riot Games decides what champions to buff / nerf

Riot have recently released a post detailing their criteria when deciding to either buff or nerf champions. This aims to add greater transparency towards the balancing process to address the widespread speculation that Riot are randomly adjusting champions without proper attention.

As a whole, Riot aims to balance champions for the benefit of all skill levels and divisions. While this criteria may not always stand true, especially for patches closer to major international League of Legends competitive events where Riot will hold off on any major changes, it will generally apply to the regular seasons.

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© Riot Games

Criteria to nerf champions, if any statement is true

  • If a champion has a win rate higher than 52.5% and its ban rate is five times above the average ban rate throughout Iron 4 and Gold 1.
  • If a champion has a win rate higher than 52% and its ban rate is five times above the average ban rate throughout Plat 4 to Grandmaster.
  • If the ban rate exceeds 45% in Challenger
  • If 90% of games pick a certain champion in one certain patch, or 80% of games pick contain a certain champion across two consecutive patches in professional play.

Criteria to buff a champion, all statements must be true

  • Below 49% win rate average between Iron 4 and Gold 1.
  • Below 49% win rate average between Plat 4 and Grandmaster
  • Below 5% of games pick the certain champion in Challenger
  • Below 5% of games pick the certain champion in professional play

The criteria to buff champions must all be met, and are thus much stricter than nerfs. This is to avoid “power creep”, a situation where all champion in the game gradually get buffed, which will eventually spiral out of control. Power creep should be avoided, as it reduces the relevance of other areas in the game, like items and runes.