Earlier this week Riot released the Patch 4.1 Notes, and they included significant changes to champions, items, and towers. These should, of course, influence the way the game is played, and I'll take you through the more significant changes and the affects they should have.
My analysis will be primarily focused towards competitive play and not reflect the current trends of solo queue or ranked 5s play. Please keep in mind that there will be areas of the patch notes that I will overlook
Basic attack projectile speed increased to 1400 (from 1100)
Q - Flash Frost
Mana cost reduced to 80/90/100/110/120 (from 80/100/120/140/160)
W – Crystalize
Mana reduced to 70 at all ranks (from 70/90/110/130/150)
R - Glacial Storm
Now displays a warning particle over Anivia that only the Anivia player can see when she is close to the maximum range of her ultimate
Anivia is a champion that has not seen play in recent months due to her incredibly weak early game. With such a slow skill shot in her flash frost, she does not have much of a chance against the flavor of the month picks that are relevant today. Champions like Orianna and Ziggs have a much easier time shoving and harassing with easy to land projectiles. Assassins can easily dominate Anivia by either dodging her abilities or forcing very early all ins (Kha'Zix, Leblanc, Zed, Yasuo, Riven, Gragas to name a few). The changes in this patch were merely quality of life buffs for her laning phase, they do not make or break any of the previously mentioned match-ups.
Anivia will remain unplayed.
Passive - Pyromania
Stun duration now scales 1.25/1.5/1.75 seconds at levels 1/6/11 (from 1.75 seconds at all levels)
R - Summon Tibbers
Cooldown reduced to 120/100/80 seconds (from 120 at all ranks)
The main reason Annie is played right now is because she is able to deal major damage in bottom lane without having to land a crucial skillshot. Although they are nerfing her early game stun by 0.5 seconds, which is a substantial amount, she will still remain a top pick.
If anything, her early game previously was a bit overpowered due to the fact that she is inherently tanky while having insane kill potential on a 625 ranged champion. This was a good nerf aimed at a champion that may have been a bit too strong for her niche.
Annie's strength as a support should not change.
Q - Hate Spike
Missile speed reduced to 1250 (from 2000)
E - Ravage
Damage changed to physical (from magic)
R - Agony's Embrace
Now grants the shield instantly (instead of 0.5 seconds later after the projectiles return to her)
The vision changes in season four are the biggest reasons why Evelynn is considered a strong pick. The ability to flank with a huge upfront burst is what makes Eve scary. With her ultimate still intact, her late game potential will stay relatively the same. The missile speed nerf will hurt Evelynn's early game, which will make laning phase much easier for opponents. The ravage damage change from magical to physical will affect her DPS overall in both the early and late game.
Evelynn's early game nerfed, late game relatively the same. Eve remains a solid pick.
Base health reduced to 462 (from 500)
Health per level increased to 82 (from 80)
E - Flame Chompers!
Standardized arm time to 0.7 seconds (from 0.5 to 0.74 seconds)
Fixed a bug that would cause Chompers to sometimes not activate on champions dashing over them
Reduced damage at earlier levels to 80/135/190/245/300 (from 100/150/200/250/300)
The Flame Chompers change makes it so that comboing CC into chompers becomes harder. The health nerf also affects her early all in potential by 36 HP, which is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.
Jinx will remain a top pick in competitive play.
W - Wither
Range reduced to 600 (from 700)
R - Fury of the Sands
No longer increases the cast ranges of Wither and Spirit Fire
Nasus' strength is that he is able to shut down attack speed based champions and scales incredibly well into the late game. Nasus' problem is that he has a weak early game where he gets pressured in consistently. These nerfs to his Wither and Ultimate nerf his godlike late game, making him even less of a viable pick in competitive play as he is already a liability early.
Nasus' viability top lane has been hindered. Historically range nerfs from the 700-600 range have been catastrophic to pick rates. Champions like Malphite, Vladmir, Brand come to mind.
Base attack damage reduced to 54 (from 56.7)
Attack damage per level increased to 3 (from 2.7)
Q - Broken Wings
Damage per strike decreased to 10/30/50/70/90 (+40/45/50/55/60% total attack damage) (from 30/55/80/105/130 (+70% bonus attack damage))
E - Valor
Shield duration reduced to 1.5 seconds (from 2.5 seconds)
Riven is strong because she is an incredibly snowbally champion with virtually no weakness early, mid, and late game. The nerfs to her early game does hurt her laning phase, but she remains the strongest AD scaling melee champion due to the double AD scaling with her ultimate. The nerf to her shield is pretty significant as you have to actually think about casting your shield. If you use Valor as a gap closer, it will not be available to you once your stun wears off.
Riven nerfed significantly early game, her snowball factor has been affected. She will not be as strong a pick as before, but will remain viable.
W - Burnout
Damage per second reduced to 20/35/50/65/80 (from 25/40/55/70/85)
Minimum magic damage reduced to 60/105/150/195/240 (from 75/120/165/210/255)
Maximum magic damage reduced to 140/245/350/455/560 (from 175/280/385/490/595)
E - Flame Breath
Damage reduced at earlier levels to 60/100/140/180/220 (from 80/115/150/185/220)
R - Dragon's Descent
Damage now correctly matches the tooltip at 175/300/425 (from 200/300/400)
Highly contested pick currently because of her ridiculous pressure throughout the lane phase and team fights. The changes to Shyvana are just tiny quality of life changes to make the laning phase against Shyvana more bearable.
Shyvana will remain exactly where she is, the number changes are not enough to affect her being a contested pick.
W - Dark Passage
Now shows indicator particles to nearby allies to indicate that it is a clickable object
Lantern now has a small collision radius
R - The Box
Delay on wall formation increased to 0.75 seconds (from 0.5 seconds)
One of the top three supports currently, Thresh will take a significant hit this patch. In lane, Thresh box is generally used appropriately with the edge clipping the opponent. By increasing the box activation time by 50%, Thresh's combo will become much harder to do consistently as you will have to set up the ultimate with reckless positioning; seasoned veterans of Thresh will not welcome that change. Lantern buff sounds great on paper, but good Thresh players can already work around the current interactions with Lantern.
Thresh's laning phase has been hurt, not as strong post 6 as other supports previously. Thresh will remain a solid pick overall.
Now properly applies the 10% critical strike damage reduction to Statikk Shiv critical hits
Improved the functionality of his E – Sweeping Blade to Q – Steel Tempest combo
Q – Steel Tempest
All casts are now automatically smart cast
W – Wind Wall
No longer blocks friendly Syndra orbs
R – Last Breath
Now grants maximum Flow on cast
Spell animation shortened by 0.1 seconds
Now less likely to be teleported out of by enemies spamming flash
Now properly alerts spectators and allies when it is on cooldown
Untested in competitive play, he has already seen high amounts of bans in the EU LCS.
Yasuo previously only had problems dealing with enemies who could deal significant damage to him before he got to his third Steel Tempest charge for the knock up. By giving Yasuo maximum flow on casting his Ultimate, he will be able to get around losing the first few seconds of an exchange to superior dueling champions and beat nearly all of the champions he could not previously.
Yasuo has been buffed substantially.
Cooldown reduction reduced to 10% (from 20%)
This item was originally intended for players to buy in order to maximize heal/regen while giving CDR. The fact that most top lane players and even junglers started buying this item purely for the 20% CDR means that the item was too cost efficient for its own good.
The nerf to 10% CDR makes it so that many champions will no longer purchase Spirit Visage unless it is actually a good buy in terms of its other unique item benefits. Now we will see less Spirit Visage buys on champions like Shyvana who don't synergize in the slightest.
Magic damage changed to 25 + character level (from 40)
This is an item intended for the early game. Due to the cost of Sunfire, many champions do not have enough gold for this item until they are around level 10. This means that the damage nerf from the change ranges from 10-20%, which isn't a huge deal considering the low amount of damage Sunfire does. Everyone that buys Sunfire will still buy Sunfire, there should be no change in deciding whether or not you are going to purchase the item.
Spirit Stone and Variants
Now gives 8% of damage dealt to monsters as health and 4% as mana (half effect for area of effect spells)
No longer has health or mana regen
No longer has Maim passive
Spirit stone and its variants, like Spirit of the Ancient Golem/Spectral Wrath/Elder Lizard, the decision to give junglers sustain is a very bold move.
This will enable more junglers to efficiently clear while staying relatively topped off in HP, making it so that the current top tier junglers will have more competition from other junglers. This also makes it that current top tier junglers can become even more efficient in their clears.
The change to the towers on Summoner's Rift could have far reaching consequences. The reasoning for this move should be to deter competitive teams from playing the 2v1 lane swap game, which will make the game less dynamic. If this is the case and 2v2 lanes happen exclusively in the bottom lane, then once that tower is taken by force the map rotations will yield far less results than previously as now you will have regular tower stats bolstered by a 20 damage champion block. Sieging will be incredibly hard when you have Berserker greaves and 2 doran blades at the 10 minute mark, resulting in much slower gameplay and extended laning phases.
The reason lane swaps happen in the first place is to either dodge the 2v1 or to dodge the disadvantaged early game 1v1 for top lane. By making it so that towers are incredibly hard to kill early game except for bottom lane, the potential for a designated roamer also becomes possible. Since there is literally no potential for the towers to go down in the top and middle lane, you can ignore those designated solo lane towers and concentrate on shutting down the enemy farm having both a jungler and a roamer (or 2 junglers). This kind of play style is very reminiscent of season one, and puts much more emphasis on roaming versus the map rotations that we see today.
The biggest change to competitive play will be the way teams interact with towers.
2v1 lanes from the past will still exist, but the plays tyle around it could possibly change. The 3:00 minute dive on tower with the cannon wave will still be doable. The tower just won't fall as fast as 50 auto attacks resulting in nearly 1000 mitigated turret damage.
Itemization is also in for an overhaul as top lane bruisers that don't synergize with Spirit Visage will no longer buy the item. There may also be a revolution in the jungle with the new vamp effects on Spirit stone which could possibly make formerly obsolete junglers viable now. Champion picks will be mostly the same. Riven was hit the hardest, and she remains a strong pick. Thresh and Annie received notable nerfs but will remain top tier picks in the next patch.