Along with all the changes made to the game, the 0.9.0 patch notes for Legends of Runeterra Legends of Runeterra provided some very important insight on how Riot will approach card balance in the near future. One of the key design objectives that stood out is that all champions in the game should have decks “where they’re the best fit and their ‘dream’ can be realized.” With that said, you could definitely make the argument that Yasuo has been failing on this front so far.
It’s a real shame, too, because this particular Ionian champion is a fun card. Really fun, in fact. Merely watching the animations of this spry swordsman swiftly slicing through opposing units is a visual (and audible) delight. So the fact that you’ll rarely see him in normal play, and you’ll basically never see him in ranked play, is just a huge bummer.
This is even the case after the card was slightly buffed as part of the 0.9.0 update. Previously, players were required to stun or recall 6+ units in order to level Yasuo up. After the patch, that level up requirement was reduced to 5+ units. Riot claims to have made this change because he “was catching collateral damage from changes aimed at elusive and handbuff decks.”
So far, however, the change doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference.
So what might be the reason for Yasuo’s limited play? Runeterra streamer Miguel “MegaM0gwai” Guerrero may have the answer. He makes the case that Yasuo’s effect of damaging stunned units does not offer many synergies.
“Yasuo’s effect is a little bit redundant because a lot of times when I’m stunning a unit… I’m incapacitating it for a round, right, so I don’t really care about damaging it,” MegaM0gwai stated during a recent YouTube clip. “For four mana, 4-3 with Quick Attack is also not great at all… I think Yasuo maybe would be better if he was a three mana, 3-3 with Quick Attack.”
Based on these ideas, Yasuo not only features weak stats for his mana cost but also has some core design issues that may need to be reworked.
It’s also important to note that Mogwai compares Yasuo to Fae Bladetwirler, which is a card that actually features positive synergy with Stun and Recall mechanics.
“The reason why Fae works really well with stun is because you’re increasing her attack stat which is translating into more potential damage towards the opponent.”
This, combined with the fact that she has Quick Attack ‘makes it very hard for your opponent to block and she becomes a threat really early on.’
This harsh reality is why many Stun decks are just better off without Yasuo.
But judging by Riot’s approach so far with the game, it might be safe to assume that Yasuo will get another buff in the future. Whether that buff is direct or indirect remains to be seen. Or maybe the card will indeed be reworked entirely, similar to what happened to Anivia with the arrival of the open beta update. Whatever the case, games are often fluid while in their beta phase, so there’s plenty of time for Yasuo to become great in the future.