The first problem that Katarina players often faced was weak performance very early on, primarily related to the steep damage curve of her core damage ability, Bouncing Blades. While Bouncing Blades scales dramatically as it levels up, early on it ricochets only a few times, dealing relatively low damage. This forces Katarina players to play conservatively early in the laning phase, encouraging passive play until Bouncing Blades can be used to harass effectively.
To address this disparity, we normalized the damage inflicted by Bouncing Blades and made it bounce the same number of times at every level of the skill. In addition, each ricochet will now select the nearest available target instead of bouncing randomly. This change should both facilitate interesting counter-play for opponents and open up new harassment opportunities for advanced Katarina players who are able to predict where their daggers are going to bounce.
In addition to her early game difficulties, Katarina’s reliance on the massive damage potential of Death Lotus has always made her a challenging champion to balance. A fully channeled ultimate could quickly reduce a team to ashes, but a well-timed interrupt from a canny defender could quickly transform Katarina from a maelstrom of death into an easy kill. For this reason, we decided to move the healing debuff from Killer Instincts onto Death Lotus and decrease the channel time slightly. While this reign in the overall damage numbers slightly, replacing some of this raw punishment with a bit of utility gave us the opportunity to make remainder of Katarina’s kit more dangerous.