To say that Lee Sin is a fan-favorite character would be one of the greatest underestimations in all of League of Legends. Lee is not only loved by the community, he is worshiped and protected by them. People love the blind monk, and for a good reason: he is one of the best-designed champions in all of League of Legends.
Back a few years ago, when they removed Lee’s ability to shield himself with safeguard, I remember being pissed. I sat there angrily and had discussions with friends about how Lee Sin is the perfect champion, and changing anything about him would be a mistake. But all champions need to grow and change as time goes on, and even the great Lee Sin is not exempt from that.
Champions like Lee Sin must be balanced extremely carefully.
Tip the scale one way, and he is utterly useless and his win rate drops to horrendous levels. But if he goes unchecked for too long, his damage extends far past his intended power level. Finding that bruiser sweet spot is hard but doable.
Lee Sin has been sitting at a pretty high win rate for quite some time now. Currently, he is rocking a whopping 47 percent in the jungle. Now you may say that is under the coveted 50 percent win rate, so if anything, he needs buffs. But high-skill champions like LeBlanc, Azir and Lee Sin almost always have lower win rates than their role counterparts.
Lee is popular, but hard.
In the right hands he can be an absolute force for destruction, but in the wrong hands he flounders horribly. Contrast this with the fact that he has the highest play rate of any jungler. A near 12 percent win rate spaks to a level of jungle power that is more meaningful than any win rate and also pushes the win rate lower than it normally would be.
Contrast this with just a few weeks ago when Lee was over 48 percent during 7.11. Late last year, in Patch 6.22, Lee Sin hit a unacceptable 51 percent win rate. As a result, his Dragon’s Rage was nerfed heavily in the first patch of Season 7 — which was of course met with criticism. In 7.10, he saw more nerfs to his ult and a move speed nerf.
The nerfs are coming in slowly and they don’t seem to be slowing him down much at all. But these nerfs are targeted at Lee’s ultimate rather than Lee’s overall stats, which is what is needed. The prospect of big changes like that are scary to Lee Sin mains, but a re-balance needs to happen.
Lee’s kit is not built to assassinate, it’s built to brawl.
Lee’s current issue in the meta is that he is able to duel or assassinate almost every single character in the game in the first 20 minutes. I believe that this goes against his core design and philosophy. In fact, Lee’s kit is so damn powerful that he must have weaknesses, even during his early game. Lee’s only current weakness is that he can miss, so it is completely reliant on player error.
Being as mobile and fast as he is provides Lee with a solid opportunity to destroy every living thing on the enemy team with next to no consequences. When Lee has the early game damage that he does right now it feels unfair. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked through the river only to see the enemy Lee Sin and promptly run away, knowing that if he sees me he will kill me. I could be up a level on him and it still wouldn’t matter. Lee is an early game god, and it is a waste of his brilliant design.
What makes Lee cool and unique is his speed and his cohesion. All of his abilities work together in such a way that allows players to find new combos years after his release. Watching a good Lee player work is actually incredible, just as watching a bad Lee play is kind of pitiful. He requires so much skill that being defeated by him feels like an accomplishment, or at least it should.
Lee’s problems aren’t with his design. He is currently a hard to play fast moving jungler with a difficult to manage resource. However, his current ratios have reached levels that they never should. Suddenly what was once a impressive combo that could help his team has become a way for him to act as a one man army. Lee Sin has so many ways to serve you up to his teammate’s on a silver platter that he feels broken when he doesn’t need them.
When Lee Sin is frustrating to play against, it makes me very sad. He is such a brilliantly designed champion that feeling hopeless against him can taint your memory of how great he really is. To the community that hates Lee Sin (I see you on the forums), ease up a little but know that I feel your pain. To those who defend him so fervently as to complain loudly any time he sees a nerf at all, please trust the powers that be to keep things in check and ease up a bit.
Lee has been in great places before and he will be in great places again. I just hope that he finds equilibrium soon so I can have my ban back every game.