Patch 7.8 is right around the corner and with it the introduction of League of Legends' very own pair of love birds, Xayah and Rakan. Much has been said about Riot's first dual champion release and on what the circumstances of their release will mean for the game in the future but we're here to answer a different question. We know that Xayah and Rakan will be coming soon, but we don't yet know if we should care. The question on the forefront of everyone's mind is a simple one: Will Xayah and Rakan be good?
While Rakan may have ended up being a mixed bag, Xayah is a different story entirely. While I wouldn't say that she's likely to warp the bottom lane metagame around herself like some of the more recent ADC releases -- Kalista and, eventually, Jhin are big offenders here -- she is, without a doubt, a strong pick. She is not, however, as much of a generalist as some of her competitors and she definitely has some weaknesses that she'll need to push through.
The most notable weakness is in one of the most fundamental attributes of an ADC, attack range. While she's not quite in the Sivir/Lucian tier of attack ranges, her 525 range isn't that much better in terms of in-game applications. It's the same range that Jinx has, but Xayah doesn't have the luxury of activating Fishbones in order to become a long-range menace. Furthermore, unlike the champions directly beneath her in the range standings, she also lacks a non-ultimate defensive skill. Lucian deals with his short range with his excellent mobility and burst damage, while Sivir's Ricochet makes her attack range far less of a weakness than it would otherwise be, all while relying on Spell Shield to ward off the enemy team's most precious cooldowns. Xayah has neither mobility nor defense of any kind. The crux of the
The crux of the issue is this: Xayah needs the enemy team to come to her. She doesn't have Lucian or Sivir's ability to take the fight to the enemy, and so the only way around her short range is to assure that the enemy team has to take the fight to her. When she's ahead and can rely on her team being first to critical objective, then it's a weakness that can be mitigated. There are definitely situations, however, where it makes her a horrible pick no matter what, despite her strengths. You don't want to be the team with a Xayah ADC against a team that's intent on defending a Kog'Maw, it won't go well for you.
So what is she good at? Well, for starters, she's the new queen of wave clear. If you thought Sivir effortlessly pushed creep waves, then have I got a champion for you! Sivir needs to expend all the skills on her kit in order to push like mad, Xayah needs to merely shoot her Q through the wave and then auto attack three times. Bam. No more creep wave. Considering bottom lane has become more and more about simply getting the shove going in your favor, this is a far bigger deal than it sounds. Sticking the enemy bot lane underneath their turret severely limits their ability to play aggressive and gives you the opportunity to poke away at both them and their turret while they're stuck dealing with your minions. Combine Xayah with another pushing support and you can basically guarantee you'll win the lane just due to the sheer pushing power she brings to the table. I would expect Xayah to pair very, very nicely with both Lulu and Karma though, ironically, not with Rakan.
She also wields some of the highest damage in the role, as she's more or less the only champion that not only has a set of powerful skills to call upon, but an auto-attack steroid as well. The attack speed that Deadly Plumage grants her is matched only by Rapid Fire amongst auto-attacking ADC, which is a huge boon. Considering Deadly Plumage also empowers Bladecaller, her Rend-like skill that has some incredible damage scaling if you can line up your feathers correctly, she's capable of cutting through both tanks and squishies in a heartbeat, all while providing a measure of team utility with the snare on Bladecaller. Xayah may need a lot of setup in order to get her damage to go off properly, but she absolutely shreds anything in her path if she does get that setup. Considering the same could be said of Jhin, a champion who ended up dominating the bottom lane for the majority of a season, it's safe to say that requiring a bit of legwork isn't too much to ask for mind-blowing dps.
Finally, there's her ultimate. Simply put, Featherstorm is one of the best ultimates that any ADC has access to since it just does so many things at once. Not only is it her primary "escape" tool, but it's also the fastest way to set up a devastating Bladecaller combo, since it leaves enough feathers in front of Xayah to snare and do huge damage to anyone caught in front of her when she casts it. The damage isn't even the biggest feature, however, as the ability makes Xayah briefly untargettable, which is not something that ADC's typically can do. Mages may have Zhonya's Hourglass to dodge things like Chum the Waters and Death Mark, but ADC's had nothing of the sort until now. Being able to completely negate things like Unleashed Power, Death Mark, or Enchanted Crystal Arrow is a ridiculous amount of utility for an ADC, and considering Xayah is already amazing at dealing with champions that are running right at her, I would expect her to become a staple pick against dive-heavy teams from here on out, perhaps even to the point where she displaces Ezreal's hold on that role.
So what's the verdict? Xayah is a strong, strong champion, but one that is definitely situational, which honestly sounds like the best sort of champion to me. When picked against the right champions she can be devestating, but she can just as easily be devestated by common long range hypercarries like Kog'Maw, or a team that relies on a poke champions like Jayce or Xerath. I would expect to see a lot of her in the near future.