In patch 5.24, the game changes continued for the preseason. The Snowdown skins were released, the names on the end screen were changed to either blue or red, and we finally got a Poppy rework. After years of teasing and community screams, Riot finally delivered. It’s something I would have thought was just an internet myth a few months ago.
Poppy has always been one of Riot’s tougher champions to balance. Her old passive and ultimate were broken by design, making it impossible to buff her in anyway. Her old passive took 50 percent less damage on a hit that did more than 10 percent of her health. Her ultimate caused her to take damage from only one target. In a team fight all she would have to do is put her ultimate on a squishy support, and then nobody could hurt her. In order to counter this and keep her from being over powered, Riot gave her a very weak early game. Unless you were against something that needed time to scale, like Dr. Mundo, she would just get stomped in lane.
Prior to her rework, Poppy had only been seen competitively a few times. Most notably by Unicorn’s Of Love top laner, Vizicsacsi, in their promotion games in the Spring 2015 EU LCS split. She never really was played to success afterwards. In the competitive scene she was more of a joke than a champion. So much so, that the French fans at the 2015 World Championship would chant her name, egging on the players to pick her. Riot commemorated this by giving her a “Seven Nation Army” chant for the French voice over.
But the rework changes all that. Poppy has some shiny new abilities to go with her upgraded armor and hammer. Her passive is now a tiny shield that she can be thrown as a ranged attack. The buckler then bounces, which she can pick it up to gain a shield that absorbs damage. If she happens to be getting zoned by a ranged champion, she can last hit without getting close enough to enter into a trade with their lane opponent. It’s a much less oppressive passive then some of the other newer champions (I’m talking to you Illaoi) but still stays true to the theme of the Yordle bruiser.
Hammer Shock, her first ability, drastically improves her lane phase. Using this spell takes some getting used to, as the cast range is thin and the damage has a delay. Poppy slams her hammer on the ground, slowing enemies for one second, then doing an additional burst of damage. This gives her a tiny form of wave clear, something her old kit was sorely lacking.
Her second ability, Steadfast Prescience, is a remix on an old classic. Passively it gives Poppy armor and magic resist, doubling when she is below 40 percent health. When activated, she gains movement speed and creates a circle around her which stops all enemy dashes and knocks them back. Renekton bothering you by slicing and dicing? Pop a bubble around yourself and bash him with a full rotation of spells provided by your hammer. Almost every new champion has some form of gap closer, and this ability helps counter some of the mobility creep.
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One of Poppy’s weaknesses is her lack of an escape. Heroic Charge is her only dash and an enemy has to be in range to use it. She dashes toward an enemy, carrying them with her. If she collides with terrain, the enemy is stunned. This is the only ability to be salvaged from her old kit, and it hasn’t really changed. It lets Poppy go all in, without fear of getting burst down by the opposition.
You think it’s annoying when your team’s Vayne condemns the enemy away with 10 health remaining? Now imagine if they got sent back towards their own base? Poppy’s new ultimate, Keeper’s Verdict, is going to lead to some teammate flaming. She starts swinging her hammer, charging it up. When released, a hammer pops out of the ground and knocks the enemy far into the air. The longer she holds, the farther the enemy will go. You can slam someone over a screen away, which can be amazing for team fights. Immediately hit the enemies ADC out, allowing your team to slaughter the 4v5. It’s definitely not as strong as her last ultimate, but it’s a much more balanced addition to her kit. Just keep in mind, it is not a knock up. The enemy becomes untargetable, so they can’t be attacked while blasting off like Team Rocket.
The new Poppy is more of a bruiser than assassin. Instead of bursting the enemy down, she tries to create a zone of control so her allies can help her do the damage. She works very well with strong pick comps who need a champion with peel. An Elise cocoon into a Heroic Charge pretty much guarantees a successful kill. Champions like Lux, Morgana, and Rek’sai can utilize her kit, stopping enemies from dashing out of their crowd control. Champions like Janna, Nautilus, and Nunu, can counter Poppy. Their strong peel keeps the Iron Ambassador away from the squishy targets she longs to smash.
It’s still impossible to tell if Poppy is going to be played competitively. She gets stomped by early game aggressors, like Lulu, which are very popular in the meta right now. Though if she can get to late game, she is still an absolute power house. In solo queue, she’s most commonly seen in the top lane, but can be played both jungle and support. If she finds her niche among top laners, players like Huni, Marin, and Darien will surely pick her up. They enjoy high risk/high reward champions with high outplay potential. A Heroic Charge can make or break a late game team fight.
Will you be playing Poppy?