UPDATE: Due to Aatrox’s exceedingly low win rate after Patch 7.5 was implemented (he is currently sitting at sub 40% in both the top and jungle roles), Riot has issued a hotfix for the Darkin Blade. His base health has been increased from 537 to 580, his Q cooldown has been decreased from 16-12 to 13-11, and his W damage has been buffed from 30-150 to 45-185. Riot also noted that additional Aatrox changes are likely coming in Patch 7.6.
Do you all remember Aatrox? That red guy with the slinky sword Riot released in 2013? Most people don’t, which is probably why he is getting a massive rework in Patch 7.5. Now, this isn’t a Poppy or Sion-sized rework. It isn’t even a Assassin-sized update like at the end of last season. It falls in that sweet spot of regular patch changes and a soft rework.
Now, since Aatrox is an already-released champion, I am just going to break down how his abilities differ from their original form. The biggest change comes in his passive, so we’re going to start with that and spend the bulk of our time there.
Passive - Blood Well
This is far and away the Darkin Blade’s most changed ability. Aatrox no longer just passively revives based on the amount of health he has spent on his abilities. Now, all of Aatrox’s abilities fill his Blood Well to a certain point. Once it is filled, Aatrox gains “Blood Rush,” which massively increases his attack speed and attack damage for four seconds. If Aatrox is killed mid-Blood Rush, he will revive a few seconds later with 30% health. Aatrox can only be revived during Blood Rush every 2-3 minutes, depending on his level.
Making the revive more conditional means Aatrox is actually more dangerous to play. You can’t just dive in all willy-nilly like you used to (the two Aatrox players out there know what I mean). Instead, you have to play a little safer, and be ready to go whenever you get your Blood Well up. Think of Kled, and how he should never run from a fight. New Aatrox has a similar idea, but you have a very small window of opportunity to make that fight happen.
Playing around Blood Rush is now the style for Aatrox, like it or not. When you jump into a fight and finally activate that bonus attack speed and damage, hesitate to use your abilities. The animations for the abilities would be a waste of your attack speed, not to mention leaving them to refresh cooldowns during Blood Rush gets you that much closer to filling up your Blood Well all over again.
Q - Dark Flight
No longer costs health. The damage has been reduced but the scaling has increased significantly. When cast, this ability will fill the Blood Well by 20%.
W - Blood Thirst/Blood Price
The heal of Blood Thirst has been increased. However, Blood Thirst no longer heals Aatrox by triple when he has low health. Blood Price no longer costs health when it procs and the overall damage has been reduces. When Blood Price procs, it will fill the Blood Well by 20%.
E - Blades of Torment
Now only costs 30 health, down from 5% of current health. Now deals AD instead of AP. Damage has been increased by a small amount. The slow it applies starts lower than before and scales a little higher. The slow now lasts for two seconds across the board. When Blades of Torment is cast, it fills the Blood Well by 20%.
R - Massacre
No changes whatsoever.
There are a couple different ways to build Aatrox now, but you should probably make sure you purchase Blade of the Ruined King every game. Aatrox has always waxed and waned with BotRK, and it is no coincidence both he and the item are being buffed in the same patch. This is not a subtle hint from Riot. Build it.
Other than BotRK, you are going to have to decide whether you want Assassin Aatrox or Bruiser Aatrox.
If you are going hard on damage, you want to build Ravenous Hydra, Phantom Dancer, Bloodthirster, and Black Cleaver.
If you want a beefy Aatrox, consider this:
The benefits to his passive make staying alive longer in fights pretty helpful and also allows him to get out some decent damage with tank stats. As such, a more defensive Aatrox would build Spirit Visage, Dead Man’s Plate, Iceborn Gauntlet, and if you want to be a real bastard, Guardian Angel.
All in all, we have some good changes here for Aatrox, but the problems that have always plagued him still remain. Aatrox requires a reckless style that doesn’t really fit most metas. The Blood Well changes make him technically scarier if he gets on top of you, but the window for revival and high damage is so damn small that the risk is hardly worth the reward. The biggest thing with this update is actually the numbers. Aatrox won’t be able to bully a lane the way he used to (with his raw ability base damage being taken down), but he may end up scaling better into the mid and late game. If you were hoping that this would save your favorite winged bat man with a phallic sword, I’m sorry to report that he is still in fact Aatrox.
At the end of the day, all remains to be seen, but in 2017, Aatrox just feels like the poor man’s Kled.