Welcome to patch 7.8, the patch that the Mid-Season invitational will be played on. Since it's the patch directly before the Mid-Season Update, as well as a patch that a major international tournament will be played on, 7.8 is pretty light on changes. The changes that have been made are either to pressing balance problems (Shen and Nautilus) or to improve playability for the rest of playerbase in ways that are unlikely to affect tournament play (Karthus and Ryze).
Still, that doesn't mean that some champions didn't get away better off than others. Who are those champions? Who won and who lost in Patch 7.8? Read on and find out!
The time for the Prophet of the Void to shine is coming to an end, and not in a silent fashion. While Malzahar may only be getting two changes in this patch, those changes are enough to perhaps completely remove him from viability, at least as a support. This isn't a gentle tap from the nerf bat, it's a full blown shot from the orbital nerf cannon.
So what are the changes? Well, the first is a fairly minor base stat change. Malzahar is losing 2 armor at level 1. While that's definitely a hit to the champion, it's not exactly a dealbreaker, and it's honestly not likely to make much of a difference one way or another. What will make a differenc,e however, is the nerf to his voidlings that is accompanying the armor nerf. His voidlings are having the number of hits it takes to kill them reduced by one, from three to two. What the means in practical terms is that a single autoattack from a support and an ADC is now enough to stymie Malzahar's voidling swarm before it can even begin. Without the ability to mass voidlings for trading, support Malazahar is little more than a walking ultimate, and that's unlikely to be good enough if he can't trade at all before level 6.
While this may not be the death of Malzahar, especially since Riot has mentioned that they want to buff solo lane Malzahar in the near future, it's going to definitely kick him out of the top tiers, and is likely going to result in a reorganization of the support tier list, as Malzahar's very presence has warped the viability of other supports so strongly for the last few months that his absence is certain to be felt.
Last patch Amumu received what was intended to be a massive buff to his passive but, as it turns out, he instead got a watered own version of the finished product he was intended to receive. Amumu's passive, Cursed Touch, claims that it makes any champion under its effect take 15% of all magic damage they take as additional true damage, and while that's technically true it turns out that there were some shenanigans going on behind the scenes that were limiting Amumu's potential.
See, while cursed targets were, in fact, taking more damage, the way that said damage was being computed wasn't quite the way players were led to believe. Turns out that Amumu's passive was causing enemies to take 15% of all post-mitigation magic damage as true damage. That's far, far worse than what was promised, as Curse was intended to help casters punch through tanks and the like.
Well, that will no longer be the case come patch 7.8. Riot has realized their error and worked to correct it. Cursed Touch will now judge it's damage based upon pre-mitigation values, but it now also has a ratio to compensate, 10% instead of 15%. Additionally, Despair is getting it's % Max HP damage nerfed, as it turns out that Amumu was laughably broken once Riot made his passive actually work as intended. Considering Amumu is doing just fine on the live servers despite having a broken passive, he's likely to only do better once this change comes through and he starts being able to enable teammates the way he was supposed to.
Whether or not Shen even got nerfed is a pretty difficult question. He got two major changes in this patch, as well as a minor change that was a straight buff.
First off, the damage that Twilight Assault does the minions has been dramatically reduced, but Shen now also gets that bonus damage against any target, not just minions. The change is intended to hit his split pushing but it's dubious as to whether it even has that effect. A Shen with a Taimet is going to wipe out a wave in no time even with less bonus damage, and the fact that the damage now applies on turrets may well change how effective Shen is at actually killing objectives in the split push.
Secondly, Shen's ultimate is getting flatly nerfed across the board. To be honest, it's not as big of a deal as it looks, however. The early game cooldown is going up a tinge, and the shield amount now scales based on the missing HP of the target, but it's still going to do what you want it to do more times than not. If used on a teammate that's actually in danger, the shield is still almost the same amount, so it's really only the cooldown that's a major factor.
Finally, Shadow Dash is being buffed to both cost less energy and to have a wider area of effect. Both of these are great changes but are honestly difficult to understand since most people would probably say that Shen is powerful enough to not need compensatory buffs. It's up to Shen's mains to figure out whether he's gained or lost power, but it's definitely one of the two.
High ping players rejoice! High APM player rejoice! Ryze buffs for everyone!
Well, "buff" might be putting it a bit generously, but for a champion who's struggling as much as Ryze is, every little bit of help is welcome. Riot has deemed that Ryze is impossible to play at higher pings, and they're not entirely wrong about that. Their solution for this issue, however, is to just buff Ryze across the board with a seemingly innocuous change. After patch 7.8, Overload will no longer refresh it's cooldown when Ryze's other abilities make contact with a target, it'll now refresh the moment he casts one of his other spells.
That might seems like a small difference, but it dramatically shortens the amount of time required for Ryze to throw out his full burst combo. His only limiter is now his cast animations, which aren't all that long. For veteran Ryze players, this will be a strong increase in power, while it will also make the notoriously difficult champion more accessible to newer players.
The Titan of the Depths has been the premier tank top laner for the last few patches outside of competitive play, where Gragas is starting to slowly edge him out thanks to an excellent Rumble matchup. Nautilus' combination of strong early trading and wave control has made him a shoo-in for teams around the world, especially considering he's also a nightmare to handle in teamfights.
Well, that might all be coming to an end with patch 7.8. Riot's approach with Nautilus echoes the one they took with Maokai a few patches ago: nerf his early game. In the case of Maokai, that proved enough to more or less remove him from viability completely. Unlike Maokai, however, Nautilus is only taking hits to his mana sustain, not his damage output. Riptide is getting a higher mana cost, while Nautilus' mana regen scaling is also taking a hit. While the two combined will tone down his laning to some extent, it's dubious how much of an effect it will have after the first back, as Nautilus already routinely picks up three Doran's Rings on his first recall, which is more than enough mana sustain to cover even these nerfs. I'd expect Nautilus to be more constrained on mana in the later stages of the game, but these changes aren't likely to impact his early game all that much.