Who You Should be Playing: Nautilus

by James Bates

Nautilus 0
(Photo: Riot Games)

For those of you not in the know, big changes are on the way in the next patch. 7.4 is rebalancing the entire mastery system, but in a fashion that's specifically targeting the damage-dealing masteries, while leaving the utility and resistance-oriented masteries largely untouched. Unsurprisingly, these changes overwhelmingly favor tank champions. They're already doing a great job holding down the fort as it is despite the extreme damage some of the current crop of champions are capable of putting out. In a new world where damage dealers are worse at dealing their damage, tanks are the big benefactors.

So, you might say, time to grind another hundred games of Maokai, the undisputed tank king?

Think again. The same patch is also introducing some heavy nerfs to Maokai that may finally succeed at making his laning phase so bad that his late game prowess is immaterial. The mana cost of Arcane Smash is sharply increasing at every rank, a change that seriously looks to disrupt Maokai's ability to control the minion wave, and to make matters worse he's losing another tool he uses to that end altogether. The damage that his Saplings do upon impact is being removed entirely, and the damage they deal when exploding isn't being buffed to compromise, a change that completely ruins Maokai's ability to farm while in danger. 

This whole situation provides a wonderful example of an indirect buff. Nautilus is getting no changes on the new patch. Absolutely zero thus far. Yet, he's seeing his stock increase dramatically as his biggest competition is being cut down to size. Both Maokai and Poppy before his have been brutally nerfed in rapid succession while Nautilus has remained unchanged outside of the Courage of the Colossus nerf. Thus, through no merits of his own, Nautilus has climbed up to be the best tank in his role. His control of the minion wave is now completely unparalleled by his competition, and while Poppy might still be the best duelist of the three tanks thanks to her spammable percent health damage, she's also the least reliable initiator. Patch 7.4 will be a first in the history of League, the first time that the gold standard for tanks is Nautilus, not Maokai.

So, for all the tank players, my word of advice is this: start learning Nautilus now. He's almost certainly the most difficult of the tanks to play correctly in lane, and so the practice is sure to be necessary. The practice should pay off, however. With the vanguard class update on the near horizon, there shouldn't be too more changes targetted at top lane tanks, meaning that you'll get a good couple of months to win LP with your mastery of Nautilus, a healthy exchange if I ever saw one..

By James Bates

A wanna-be novelist turned coach turned journalist, James is living proof that you never know where you'll end up. He's in love with narrative-heavy games, which he proves by spending his days writing about a game with less lore than Doom. His greatest regret in life is not having his name in the credits of Life is Strange, and it's galvanized him to truly pursue developing games that don't begin in packed taverns and use D20s.