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Flickerblade: Pay to remove counterplay

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Flickerblade: Pay to remove counterplay

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Dive into Flickerblade's game-changing impact on champions like Yasuo and Master Yi in League of Legends. Discover strategic insights to maximize its potential.
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Hello fellow Legends, today we’re discussing Flickerblade, which, in our opinion, have somewhat flown under the radar. Yes, we see champions like Zas, Tristan, and Trendir utilizing it, but ever since its mid-season rework, a door has been opened for non-crit champions to start using it effectively. For example, Nocturn Z essentially has a zero cooldown with it, and Shyvana’s W gets off cooldown before even a quarter of its runtime has passed. Her Q being on a lower cooldown than in Earth isn’t just fun, it’s strategic. So, let’s delve deeper into this.

Importance of Attack Speed

Probably the most important change from Navori Quick Blaze is the switch from AD to Attack Speed. This adjustment not only increased the proportion of cooldown it reduces but also, with the 45% Attack Speed you now attain, allows you to reduce those cooldowns more frequently. This gives it a double buff. Attack Speed is also a more broadly usable stat than attack damage, and most champions that buy Attack Speed have some form of on-hit passive, making the stat more valuable than just reapplying their autos more often.

Item Usability Across Champions

The Attack Speed change and the removal of the crit strike scaling passive make the item more broadly usable by champions that aren’t just the conventional crit ADCs. Volibear and Jax are prime examples. Volibear, a classic spell cycler, makes use of the Jack of all trades build with it since he can take pretty much any stat in the game. His Q and E are both on 10-plus second cooldowns, making the CDR passive efficient. He can also use the Attack Speed with his on-hit passive, making it valuable for his whole kit. Jax, on the other hand, is quite the opposite; he’s a one-dimensional champion in team fights, extremely reliant on his E. But since his E has a long cooldown and much of his kit has on-hit qualities, Flicker Blaze also works well with him.

Non-Traditional Abusers

But the most broken non-traditional abuser of Flickerblade is Kog’Maw. His entire champion identity is built around being a short-ranged and seemingly less impactful champion until he uses his W. His W’s cooldown was set incorrectly, so he can start refunding it as soon as he activates Bio-Arcane Barrage, which applies on-hits more often with the bonus Attack Speed. These three champions’ existing builds have some pretty distinct themes we can apply to other champs that could abuse it effectively as well.

Team Fight Dynamics and Cooldown Reduction

You need really powerful team-fight-altering abilities on long cooldowns because the passive is percentage reduction. It’s not very efficient on champions with short cooldowns since 15% of 3 seconds is a very small refund, but the same percentage of a 24-second cooldown is eight times as long. Additionally, you should have some scaling with the Attack Speed, but you don’t need to utilize the critical strike chance because the item’s passive is just that impactful. This leads us to a relatively large spectrum of champions who can properly abuse it. We could spend the next 20 minutes listing them out and explaining the interactions one by one, but they all have pretty consistent themes that we can focus on instead.

Eliminating Counterplay with Flicker Blades

What makes Flickerblade borderline game-breaking for some specific champions is that it pays to remove Counterplay. Like the existing builds for Volibear, Kog’Maw, and Jax, all of the champions that can abuse this item have High-Impact Abilities which are normally balanced out by having long cooldowns, and those cooldowns generally define the skillfulness and windows of Counterplay for that champion.

Consider Shyvana’s Flame Breath, a super high-impact ability in her Dragon form, but in the eight or so seconds it’s on cooldown, she’s somewhat ineffective, which is what makes it balanced, especially in team fights. But insert Flickerblade into her build, and with just one Q and two autos, it’s back off cooldown, suddenly making that window for Counterplay evaporate.

Specific Impact of Flicker Blades on Yasuo

This is particularly pronounced with Yasuo’s Wind Wall. His W is by far one of the most powerful abilities in the game; it doesn’t get more high-impact than stopping an entire class of character from being able to hit any of their autos or spells, which is why it’s balanced out with a massive 25-second cooldown at rank one. However, introducing Flickerblade removes all of that; by the time your Wind Wall has fallen, it’s almost ready to use again, drastically altering the dynamics of engagement and Counterplay.

Continued Impact on Gameplay Dynamics

It’s almost off cooldown again, meaning it doesn’t matter if you place it wrong at the start, and it’s almost impossible for ranged champions to deal any damage in team fights. The last example I’m going to use, because I think you get the picture now, is Master Yi. He brings another caveat to the item as well.

Yi’s ultimate reduces the cooldown of his basic abilities by 70% on kill, which is sort of identity-defining. So, Flickerblade essentially becomes a way to buy his ultimate permanently, unleashing that identity-defining trait that’s normally locked behind his ultimate cooldown. But the other quality is that it reduces the cooldown of his Q, which also removes the “just CC him” Counterplay, making it arguably the most valuable item in the game for him.

Strategic Considerations for Flicker Blades

So, hopefully, you can see how this item massively changes the way you play the game, mostly because of how it alters the way your champion works. It’s essentially a utility item disguised as an ADC item, which brings us onto the important question of when should you build this.

In very simple and broad terms, most of the champions that can build Flickerblade need items to help their kits reach their full potential. Although there are some unique rules for each champion, melee auto attackers need two things very badly: one, a damage item that improves their auto-attacking DPS, and two, some form of survivability that enables them to face tank a bit of damage whilst they get into range.

Item Building and Timing

For example, Vth takes Kraken Slayer for damage and Stridebreaker for tankiness and sticking power, which also kind of indirectly improves her DPS as well. And since Flickerblade doesn’t really offer any damage or tankiness, it’s relegated to a third item most of the time. You can obviously build it whenever, but you need to think about what you’re losing in the process.

Zenzal can take it as a second item, dramatically reducing his W and E’s cooldown at the expense of the tankiness or damage he might get from building Black Cleaver or Eclipse. Belth can build it third and proc the passive with her E, essentially reducing Above and Belows’ cooldown to zero at the expense of the on-hit damage you would have got from Bork or Wit’s End.

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