Why Was Heartsteel Not Nerfed For Summoner’s Rift: An In-Depth Analysis

Shadman Sabik Zaim
By Shadman Sabik Zaim
17 Min Read
Image Credit: Riot Games

This article will discuss why the Riot Design Team has decided not to nerf Heartsteel in Summoner’s Rift.

A new patch is upon us, as the preview of Patch 12.23 is coming soon. The update will bring more changes to Ravenous Hydra, more buffs and nerfs to champions, and more. All these changes are a follow-up to the updates from Patch 12.22 and Patch 12.22B.

The ARAM changes are also coming to League of Legends as the rework is seismic. The hexgates and towers creating turrets will be great. There were already many changes to champion damage and energy regeneration in Patch 12.22. Now, Heartsteel is being nerfed in ARAM in Patch 12.23.

However, the Heartsteel nerf in ARAM raised a lot more questions. People on social media have asked why Heartsteel has not been nerfed in general and have also questioned the balance team’s priorities. Hence, I decided to take a look into why Riot decided not to do a nerf to the item in general and whether it actually rose to the criteria to be nerfed as such.

Read More: League of Legends Prime Gaming Capsule

Why Heartsteel Is Not Nerfed For Summoner’s Rift

Heartsteel is an interesting case in League of Legends. While it is obnoxious in general, it is not really overpowered in the Rift. To add to that, there are stats to back up the fact that Heartsteel is not really strong in Summoner’s Rift. In most cases, the Balance Team looks into the stats in different ELO brackets. Thus, I will be doing an analysis of the item by comparing it with other tank mythics in different ELO brackets.

The ELO brackets for this analysis will be divided into three categories of Low ELO (Iron+, Bronze+, Silver+), Mid ELO (Gold+ and Platinum+), and High ELO (Diamond+ and Masters+). The stats used for this article are also from LeagueofGraphs and are done for both Normal and Ranked games in all regions. Also, the two main stats I will be using are pick rate (popularity) and win rate.

So first, let’s identify the number of tank Mythic items there are in the game and then break the stats down into individual categories of the ELOs mentioned.

How Many Tank Mythic Items Are There In League?

For the purpose of this article, I considered any item that primarily gives defensive stats (Health, Magic Resist, Armor, Health Regen, etc.) as tank items. Also, since it is exclusively Mythic items I am looking at for comparisons, that will also be filtered into the list.

One thing to note is that Lockets of the Iron Solari and Evenshroud are tank items for the above criteria, so I added them to the list. With all of those qualifiers mentioned above, these are the tank Mythic Items available in League of Legends, including Heartsteel.

  • Evenshroud
  • Heartsteel
  • Iceborn Gauntlet
  • Jak’Sho, The Protean
  • Locket of the Iron Solari
  • Radiant’s Virtue

All of the items listed above do different things, so their popularity varies due to perception and other factors. Now, let’s move on to the analysis part of it all with different ELO brackets.

Low ELO Stats of Heartsteel

As much as many people would disagree, the majority of the League of Legends players are divided into Low ELO and High ELO. So a lot of weight falls onto these two ELOs to make a determination of what item is strong and what isn’t. Here are the pick rate and win rate for all the tank Mythic items in the current live patch.

ItemsPick Rate (Iron+/Bronze+/Silver+)Win Rate (Iron+/Bronze+/Silver+)Overall Pick Rate (Average)Overall Win Rate (Average)
Iceborn Gauntlet2.2%/2.2%/2.2%51.4%/51.4%/51.4%2.20%51.40%
Jak’Sho, The Protean4.6%/4.6%/4.8%53.4%/53.4%/53.4%4.67%53.40%
Locket of the Iron Solari2.2%/2.2%/2.3%50.3%/50.3%/50.2%2.23%50.27%
Radiant’s Virtue0.6%/0.6%/0.6%54.5%/54.5%/54.6%0.60%54.53%
Table 1: Stats for Low ELO

There are a few things that jump out in the table above. The first thing is that items except for Locket of the Iron Solari, all the rest have a higher win rate than Heartsteel. However, since most of those items are not close in terms of pick rate with Heartsteel. Thus, they are not good comparisons.

The only proper and reasonable comparison is Heartsteel and Jak’Sho, The Protean, two new tank items that are the most popular on the list. While Heartsteel is played about 1.3% more, the win rate difference between Jak’Sho is 3.3%. That is quite significant, considering this the probably the highest play rate across all the ELO brackets.

So, given Jak’Sho, The Protean was buffed in Patch 12.22B, Heartsteel, in terms of win rate, does not rise to the criteria of being nerfed on just this ELO bracket alone.

Mid ELO Stats of Heartsteel

Onto the ranks of Gold and Silver, where the stats change a bit with Heartsteel staying the same in priority but other times meaningfully Jak’Sho, The Protean jumping up on the list. Here are the stats as follows.

ItemsPick Rate (Gold+/Platinum+)Win Rate (Gold+/Platinum+)Overall Pick Rate (Average)Overall Win Rate (Average)
Iceborn Gauntlet2.3%/2.3%51.5%/51.7%2.30%51.60%
Jak’Sho, The Protean5.2%/5.6%53.3%/53.3%5.40%53.30%
Locket of the Iron Solari2.4%/2.4%50.1%/50.4%2.40%50.25%
Radiant’s Virtue0.7%/0.9%54.8%/54.7%0.80%54.75%
Table 2: Stats for Mid ELO

As mentioned, a few of those stats jumped up a bit. Then again, the focus is on Heartsteel for this article and the biggest thing to see is that the win rate dropped and the pick rate dropped as well. More exactly, the pick and win rate in Platinum+ dropped pretty significantly.

Compare this to Jak’Sho, The Protean, and that rises fairly significantly, but the win rate remained the same in both ranks. While the change in terms of numbers does not feel significant but in a game with so many items, even a 0.1% change is still fairly telling. So, currently, the trend is that Heartsteel is dropping in terms of priority and win rate as the rank goes up.

Let’s move to the top players in League of Legends at the moment.

High ELO Stats of Heartsteel

While High ELO does not have the most players in League of Legends, they are probably some of the most significant ranks that give meaningful stats on items. So let’s jump into the stats.

ItemsPick Rate (Diamond+/Master+)Win Rate (Diamond+/Master+)Overall Pick Rate (Average)Overall Win Rate (Average)
Iceborn Gauntlet2.2%/1.9%52.1%/53.2%2.05%52.65%
Jak’Sho, The Protean5.9%/5.8%53.5%/54.0%5.85%53.75%
Locket of the Iron Solari2.3%/2.2%50.8%/52.0%2.25%51.40%
Radiant’s Virtue1.1%/1.4%54.0%/57.7%1.25%55.85%
Table 3: Stats for High ELO

Yet again, the trend continues, but the changes are more drastic. Heartsteel dropped significantly in both ranks individually as the win rate dropped as well. This does not happen if players have not identified that Heartsteel is not that great.

Yet again, Jak’Sho, The Protean, and Radiant’s Virtue, two of the new items alongside Heartsteel, are jumping up the stats. All these stats show how players in the higher ranks have identified which one of the tank mythic items work. Again, there are a few support-type items on the list, but Heartsteel dropping in priority has nothing to do with that, really.

All these signals as to what Riot saw and thought not to nerf Heartsteel.

Overall Stats

Here is another table compiling all of the average stats in the tables above.

ItemAverage Pick Rate (Low ELO)Average Win Rate (Low ELO)Average Pick Rate (Mid ELO)Average Win Rate (Mid ELO)Average Pick Rate (High ELO)Average Win Rate (High ELO)
Iceborn Gauntlet2.20%51.40%2.30%51.60%2.05%52.65%
Jak’Sho, The Protean4.67%53.40%5.40%53.30%5.85%53.75%
Locket of the Iron Solari2.23%50.27%2.40%50.25%2.25%51.40%
Radiant’s Virtue0.60%54.53%0.80%54.75%1.25%55.85%
Table 4: Compiled Average Pick Rates and Win Rates

Some trends can be spotted in these stats. The pick-and-win rate of Heartsteel kept going down as the rank went higher. The individual stats are above in different tables, and it’s apparent how Heartsteel just keeps dropping in the pick-and-win rate when player skills are higher. Meanwhile, other items rise up in stats, and they perform better.

This signifies many different reasons are at work, and the Riot Balance Team definitely had these stats that I put out here. So, when you see the stats at face value, it is clear why Riot never moved to change anything about Heartsteel in Summoner’s Rift.

Why Heartsteel Kept Dropping in Stats in Higher ELOs

As you have seen, the higher the rank goes, the more Heartsteel drops. Let’s answer why that is the case. In my opinion, these are the main reasons, and there are probably more if you dig far enough and talk to different players of different ranks. Nevertheless, here are the three reasons why I think Heartsteel just kept dropping in higher elos.

1. The Experimentation of Heartsteel

The higher the ranks go, the experimentation of items tends to decrease. This is the case for most items. It is because the stakes are so high in higher ranks that people just stop experimenting and play what works best. So, while it is a pretty small reason, it is still significant enough to skew stats.

2. Maybe The Item Is Just Not Good Compared to Others

If you really look at the stats, maybe Heartsteel is not that strong. All the other items increase in pick and win rate while Heartsteel either stays the same or drops. That is an indicator that players in higher ranks do not think it’s good. So, maybe everyone should come around to the fact that Heartsteel is just not that great as a Mythic item.

3. Skill Level

As much as we all would love to say that skill level does not affect item performance, we cannot say that. Skill level heavily impacts item pick and win rates. In lower ELOs, players like to take the item on champions that do not really use the item effectively. On the flip side, players in lower ranks do not really know how to handle the item yet.

So, the higher the rank, the more aware people become of how to counter the item, and the more conscious people are of not building items improperly. Thus, in a way, they all balance out, and the trend goes downward for Heartsteel. This is something to think about.

Why Was Heartsteel Nerfed in ARAM Instead?

Many people will say perception is reality. So if Heartsteel is not a problem in Summoner’s Rift, why was it nerfed in ARAM? Coincidentally, it is for a completely different reason than most people think it is. There are several factors as to why it was nerfed in ARAM, which is not applicable to Summoner’s Rift. Here they are.

  1. One Lane: Having One Lane changes everything as you are forced to constantly skirmish or fight. So, this just makes it easier to stack Heartsteel, considering it procs as long as you are in 700 range of an enemy for 7 seconds and you hit said enemy. Thus, it is easier to stack and is more of a nuisance.
  2. Faster Stacks: As I eluded to in the above reason, Heartsteel is easier to stack because it’s more fighting and skirmishing. Thus, you deal more damage, and you get more HP out of it. It makes Heartsteel incredibly annoying to deal with.
  3. Stats Speak For Themselves: It’s as simple as it gets. Everyone makes Heartsteel in ARAM games. It is obviously a bit of an exaggeration, but Heartsteel is picked at least 12%, if not more, in ARAM games. The win rate is not very high, as the pick rates kind of keep it down. All in all, a terrifying number of picks for this item in ARAM.

For all those three reasons above, there is a good justification for Riot to nerf it in ARAM. The game mode and the stats speak for themselves, and it is undeniable that Heartsteel is really strong in ARAM games.

Final Remarks

There was a lot said and shown in this article. A little brief of what was said is in order. Basically, the reason Riot did not nerf Heartsteel in SR games is that neither the pick rate nor the win rate is high enough for it to be a justified nerf.

On the flip side, ARAM pick rates are through the roof, so they had to nerf Heartsteel in that game mode. The sheer difference in game mode types of ARAM and SR made a huge difference in Riot’s decision-making as well as the stats to back it up.

So, my conclusion is that Riot is in the right not to nerf Heartsteel in Summoner’s Rift. The reasoning is there, and they made the correct decision in not doing so until the item rises to a situation where it is indeed too strong.

I hope this article has helped many of the players who were not sure as to why Riot never made a decision on it in Patch 12.23. However, as you can see, if I and anyone else can have access to these stats, then Riot for sure does, and they made the right call to not nerf Heartsteel for now.

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By Shadman Sabik Zaim Deputy Editor
Shadman is a Deputy Editor of League of Legends and other Riot IPs (excluding VALORANT) at GameRiv. He is a computer science and engineering graduate who got into games pretty early. Also, he takes pride in trying multiple types of games and got into League of Legends pretty early. Games, Board Games, Writing, Music, and Sports are his passions and hobbies.