Ashe is the latest League of Legends champion to be reworked by Riot Games. Ashe is one of the original seventeen champions to be included in the game when it first came out back in 2009. As new Marksman champions have been released over the years, Ashe fell out of favor with many competitive players due to her lack of mobility and overall lack of damage (she has just one damage spell not counting her ult). Despite the fact she is rarely played at higher levels, Ashe has remained a fan favorite among casuals due to the fact she is easy to learn, has a cool backstory, and only costs 450 IP so is typically one of the first champions new players purchase and use.
Riot has a history of bungling champion reworks either by making them too overpowered and thus requiring a nerf in the very next patch or by underpowering them and then requiring constant tinkering in subsequent patches to bring them back up to snuff. Unfortunately for Ashe players, it looks like the latter is true in this case.
One of the major changes in this rework was to Ashe’s passive. The way her old passive, Focus, worked is that after Ashe had not attacked for a certain amount of time, she began passively generating stacks of Focus. Once she reached 100 stacks, her next attack would always critically strike. It was sort of like a built-in Statikk Shiv only with a free critical hit instead of bonus magic damage. This passive was one of the best parts about the old Ashe. These bonus critical hits were how she inflicted most of her damage and made an Infinity Edge one of her best items.
Her new passive has been renamed to Frost Shots and the way it works is that her basic attacks and abilities now apply something called Frost to enemies, which slows them from between 5% to 35% (the slowing effect increases as Ashe’s champion level increases). Ashe’s basic attacks against enemies who have Frost applied to them will now always critically hit but only for modified damage. The damage formula for these critical strikes is: 10 + (1 + %Critical Strike Chance times Total Critical Strike Damage) %AD. Looks confusing but basically it means that although the damage from these critical strikes can be increased from buying critical strike items, these passive-inflicted critical hits are still weaker than normal.
For example, her critical strike damage modifier has been changed from the normal 2.0 to a mere 1.1. The biggest problem here is that Ashe can no longer critically hit normally either. Ultimately this new passive robs her of damage because she can ONLY critically strike enemies with Frost applied to them which means she can never, ever critically hit someone on the first attack. Ashe went from being able to deal most of her damage on the first hit to her first hit not dealing much damage at all. The damage from successful crits is also notably reduced as well. The only way they ever become dangerous is if you are able to land multiple successive attacks but who is just going to allow a low-mobility champ like Ashe to just stand there and blast away at them?
Ranger’s Focus replaces Frost Shot as Ashe’s Q. Old Ashe’s Q simply slowed enemies that she hit with basic attacks from between 15% to 35%. Now that her passive does that, this ability obviously had to be replaced.
Ranger’s Focus is a two-part spell with a passive and active ability. The passive is that every time Ashe hits an enemy with a basic attack she gains a stack of Focus for four seconds. Focus doesn’t do anything until it is consumed by activating Ranger’s Focus. Once activated, it consumes all stacks of Focus Ashe has accumulated and gives her bonus attack speed and increased slowing effect on Frost Shots for four seconds. The bonuses she gets from activating Ranger’s Focus depend on how many stacks of Focus she consumes.
Additionally, if Ashe expends five stacks of Focus (the max she can stack), it will give Ashe’s basic attacks a machine-gun like effect for a short time. Although this will make her fire a flurry of five arrows with each attack, each arrow delivers reduced damage (between 23% and 27% of her AD) so it’s not like getting five full basic attacks for the price of one.
Each normal basic attack deals 100% AD (obviously). At initially 23% AD per arrow, a five arrow flurry therefore deals 115% AD. For the sake of easy math if we assume Ashe has 100 AD, instead of dealing 100 damage per arrow, she would instead be dealing 115 damage per flurry. Not exactly a huge reward for compiling five stacks of Focus now is it?
Although this may only be a slight increase to damage, the good thing is that each arrow does stack with Frost Shots and stuff like lifesteal. Unfortunately on-hit effects are only applied once which doesn’t really make a lot of sense. It also looks really intimidating to your enemies. When they see hails of arrows being rifled at them it looks like Ashe is dealing a lot more damage to them than she really is and they will likely be inclined to retreat.
My biggest complaint with Ranger’s Focus is that her old Q used to slow a lot more early on than her new passive does. At level one, her old Q used to slow by 15%. Ashe’s new passive only slows enemies by a mere 5% at that level. It takes Ashe until level 10 to reach a 23% slowing effect with her new passive while old Ashe could have a 20% slow by level two or three depending on how she leveled her abilities. The key piece of Ashe’s kit was her crippling slowdown effect. Ashe could constantly slow enemies by so much they could never get away and she could either whittle them away herself by kiting them or an ally would finish them off. A few well-timed basic attacks could also help Ashe escape an enemy chasing her.
A 5% slow isn’t going to make much of a difference and Ashe now has to be level 16 to get the maximum effect out of Frost Shot. In the past she could have had a 35% slow much quicker by maxing out her Q. I can’t help but think this ability got heavily nerfed because a higher slowing effect is more important in early game than late game. During laning phase is when you want to be able to kite enemy champions. Riot took that ability away from her early on then restored it in late game, when it matters less. It is true that Ashe regains a significant amount of slow when she activates Ranger’s Focus and consumes Focus stacks, but it is only for a short time and only after attacking enemies to gain those stacks whereas before she had higher slow permanently. One good thing about her new Frost Shots is that it no longer saps her mana with each and every arrow. In my opinion, the new Frost Shots-Ranger’s Focus combo is worse than her old Focus-Frost Shot combo.
Still, learn and level Ranger’s Focus second after Volley.
Ashe’s W is still Volley and works in much the same way that it used to, only it was kind of nerfed as well. Rather than firing seven arrows in a cone it now fires nine arrows which at first might sound better except that enemies can now be hit by multiple arrows while only being affected/damaged by one. So in other words, two or three arrows from the Volley can be wasted on one enemy without any additional effects. This makes it harder to hit groups of enemies, especially if there is a large tank in front of them. The damage wasn’t changed but the cooldown and mana cost were slightly reduced so that kind of makes up for it.
Considering Volley is still Ashe’s only damage-dealing ability you’ll want to learn it first then level it up first after learning your other abilities.
Ashe’s Hawkshot is still pretty much the same as well with a few slight changes. First, Hawkshot no longer generates gold per unit killed. This might seem like no big deal but the free gold Ashe received per minion kill could really add up over time. For example, 200 minion kills was 600 free gold that Ashe no longer pockets. To make up for this, Hawkshot itself now no longer has a maximum range – it’s a global ability that can be fired anywhere on the map. So basically Ashe now has a built-in Clairvoyance. Ashe can now store up to two Hawkshot charges once the ability is leveled up to rank two. After that, leveling it up simply reduces the ammo recharge rate.
Learn Hawkshot third then do not level it up again until you have nothing else to learn/level.
Enchanted Crystal Arrow is also the same for the most part with one exception – it no longer slows enemies in an area of effect by 50%, instead only slowing them by the % slow that Ashe’s Frost Shots currently has at the time.
Attack speed is more important for Ashe now than ever before because you want to be able to generate stacks of Focus as quickly as possible so that you can reach five and get that machine-gun effect. Attack speed will also help you land more critical hits once Frost is applied. Runaan’s Hurricane, Zephyr, and Blade of the Ruined King are all good items for her in this regard. Get a Black Cleaver and perhaps Last Whisper for added damage and to shred heavily armored tanks. Of course Phantom Dancer and Infinity Edge can help boost her critical strike damage since it increases with critical strike percentage. Bloodthirster is still a really useful item for Ashe as well for the lifesteal.
In my opinion, the new Ashe may be more fun to play but is actually worse than the old Ashe in a variety of ways. Contrary to popular belief, her damage-dealing capabilities have been reduced with her neutered 1.1 ratio critical strikes. Her slowing effects have been diminished early game which is when it mattered most. Ashe can no longer kite early on as effectively as she used to.
Some players have praised her newfound “burst damage” thanks to the arrow flurry from Ranger’s Focus but as we saw above she is gaining hardly any damage from these flurries, it just feels like she is because the flurry looks so impressive on screen. She is still dreadfully lacking in mobility which is even more of a problem now that she can’t radically slow enemies chasing her early on. She is woefully vulnerable to ganks and much more complicated to play now that players have to keep track of both Focus on her and Frost stacks on enemies.
Ashe used to be able to surprise an enemy with a high-damage first attack then kite them when they tried to escape. Now Ashe’s have to do the opposite and it takes time for her to build up damage on enemy champions – time that a squishy champion without any escapes simply will not have against skilled players.