The new Bloodthirster vs The Bloodthirster from 4.9 – Has The Bloodthirster been butchered? Mathcrafted.

Hello, hello — this is DiffTheEnder and today we’re going to be looking at one of the most significant changes in the recent 4.10 patch.

the bloodthirster2
The Bloodthirster has long been one of the most commonly built items in the game. From the time of AD carries at midlane to the new age of marksmen, the Bloodthirster has been one of the best tools of butchery. Today, we come to a point where The Bloodthirster is in danger of losing its status as a top-tier item. To recap the changes to everyone’s favourite bloodthirsty sword, here’s a handy graphic:



The biggest advantages of The Bloodthirster have always been the following:

  1. It gives you a large boost in Attack Damage (perfect for AD casters and AD champions in general)
  2. It gives a large boost in lifesteal
  3. It has the most lifesteal and AD within one item

What we need to figure out is how each of those advantages have been affected by patch 4.10. This patch is a nerf in almost every way you look at it. The cost goes up and the base AD/LS values are lower (with >10 stacks). To compensate for these changes, all we’ve got is a shield.

UNIQUE PASSIVE: Your life steal effects can overheal you, converting the excess healing into a shield. The shield can block from 50 to 450 damage, based on champion level, and decays if you have been out of combat for 15 seconds.

So how does this shield work? Overheal Shield The first thing that needs to be said is that this shield’s tooltip is wrong because the highest value that the shield can give you is 440 at level 18 and not 450. The next thing that we need to sort out is how does the shield actually scale through the game? Well I took some time out and recorded some values and the results indicate that the maximum shield amount scales with levels as shown on the right.

It is important to note that this shield only “overheals” you and does not generate if you are at anything lower than 100% HP. We’ll leave this Overheal Shield matter hanging for now and come back to it later in the analysis. Let’s take a look at the other aspects of the new Bloodthirster compared to some other items first.

Where does The Bloodthirster stand?

Let’s compare how the old and new BT stack up against other top-tier AD carry items. Competitors vying for the spot that The Bloodthirster holds include items such as Essence Reaver, Infinity Edge and Blade of the Ruined King. Below is a graph comparing the Attack Damage and Life Steal values that each item provides. Keep in mind that it does not show any other statistic (such as attack speed) so it is to be taken with a grain of salt.


Immediately it is obvious that the new BT clearly provides higher base stats than the old Bloodthirster at its empty state but at what point does the old BT equate to and outperform the current Bloodthirster?

  • At the old rate of 1AD per stack, the old Bloodthirster provided more AD than the current BT when it was at greater than 10 stacks.
  • At the old rate of 0.2.% Life Steal per stack, the old Bloodthirster provided more LS than the current BT when it was at greater than 15 stacks.

To figure out how much worse or better the new Bloodthirster is — let’s use a comparison of a real-game scenario.

Base case for comparison

So to compare the changes, we’re going to have to define some assumptions and a scenario with which we can judge the numbers.

In the above scenario, Ezreal launches two Mystic Shots (Q) and three AA’s. This is a standard trade for Ezreal and the Arcane Shift can be ignored as it scales off AP (also ignore the fact that I’m bad and I hit a minion instead of Zilean bot). We shall call this scenario, “The Arcane Bully”, for future reference in this article.


We’ll also need to factor into account other sources of Attack Damage:

  • Base AD – Ezreal has 47.2AD (+3AD per level)
  • Runes – We’ll assume a standard set of AD marks which gives us 8.55AD
  • Masteries – With a standard 21/9 set up, the ADC gains:
    • 4 flat AD
    • 0.55AD/level and
    • Increased bonus AD by 5% (We’ll ignore this for ease of calculation – since the greatest difference it’ll make is about 1.5AD)
  • Other Items – There are different sets of items along with the BT depending on the time of game and champion, but let’s aim to make an assumption of other AD items you may have at points in the game.
    • Mid game – The ADC can be expected to have a Doran’s Blade alongside the BT – for 7 bonus AD (it used to be 8, but 1AD doesn’t make a significant difference)
    • Late game – The ADC can be expected to have a Last Whisper and an Infinity Edge alongside the BT – for 120 bonus AD

Other assumptions made/important points are as follows:

  • Mid game scenario is when Ezreal is level 9 – using the above assumptions — he has a grand total of  98.7AD not including a Bloodthirster.
  • Late game scenario is when Ezreal is level 18 – using the above assumptions — he has a grand total of 211.7AD not including a Bloodthirster.
  • Ezreal is a very unlucky explorer and does not crit (any crits made favour the higher AD set up as it’s multiplied – crits brings unwanted entropy into the calculation and is ignored)

We’ll work with the above numbers for the rest of the article using the terms – mid game, late game and “The Arcane Bully”. There is obviously a factor of error in these calculations simply due to the fact that calculating it purely for Ezreal and a limited scenario does not provide a full view of the impact of the changes to The Bloodthirster, the aim of these calculations is to provide a clearer view of how our game is affected! On with the results…


Here come the juicy numbers.

To figure out how much damage The Arcane Bully does – we need to figure out how much damage Ezreal can do with three basic attacks and two Mystic Shots at both mid game (level 9) and late game (level 18).

  • At mid game – level 9, Ezreal does:
    • With 3 basic attacks = (98.7 + BT) * 3
    • 2 Mystic Shots = (115 + 1.1AD) * 2
  • At late game – level 18, Ezreal does:
    • With 3 basic attacks = (211.7 + BT) * 3
    • 2 Mystic Shots = (115 + 1.1AD) * 2

Ezreal procs on-hit effects with every one of those hits, so the lifesteal will be calculated from all the damage he’s dealt.

With that being said — let’s take a look at the numbers for both mid game and late game for The Arcane Bully.

Those who actually looked at the values in the graph would notice that the difference in values between the items is actually the same regardless of whether its mid game or late game and that is because the only variable factor is the change in Bloodthirster’s stats and that is what is reflected in the graphs.

So in simple terms – for The Arcane Bully:

  •  The new Bloodthirster can do 41 more damage than the 0 stack old Bloodthirster and does 82 less damage than a fully stacked old Bloodthirster in the Arcane Bully scenario.
  • The new Bloodthirster lifesteals for 37HP more than the 0 stack old Bloodthirster and steals 46 less HP than a fully stacked old Bloodthirster in the Arcane Bully scenario.

The differences in damage done and life stolen are significant enough that you would need one more basic attack to equate to the old Bloodthirster, but how important is that one basic attack when we take into account the…

Overheal Shield

The crux of the debate between the old and new Bloodthirster falls upon this shield.

UNIQUE PASSIVE: Your life steal effects can overheal you, converting the excess healing into a shield. The shield can block from 50 to 440 damage, based on champion level, and decays if you have been out of combat for 15 seconds.

Through some simple mathematics we arrived at the fact that the new Bloodthirster is worse than the old Bloodthirster by roughly one auto attack in a trade such as “The Arcane Bully” as seen in the above section.

Now here’s the magic question to answer — can the Overheal shield provide you with enough time and protection to counteract the fact that you have to land one extra auto attack?

Here are some situations the Overheal Shield/new Bloodthirster is far less effective in:

  • You start a fight without being at full HP = you don’t even have a shield to start off with! – The old BT had no such prerequisite for your fighting strength and so was better in this aspect.
  • It’s a fairly safe fight for the ADC and they are not taking much damage — you’d want more damage and less shield/lifesteal in this case and the old BT is preferred for this.

Here are some situations where the Overheal Shield/new Bloodthirster is quite effective in:

  • It’s a poke/siege situation and while the ADC takes some light harass, he/she can heal it back up off the minions and regenerate the shield safely. This allows for any all-in situation to be safer for the ADC as they now have a decent sized shield to give them some extra protection.
  • You’re being bursted from full to zero – the extra 440 HP the shield provides may actually save you and thereby your team is prevented from dealing with a disappointing loss.
  • You start a large 5v5 fight with full HP + the Overheal Shield – the extra HP may let you outduel someone you could not have otherwise!
  • You may have just died or purchased the Bloodthirster and therefore would have had less than 10 stacks — in which case the new Bloodthirster is automatically better.

In an ideal scenario, the Overheal Shield can be magnitudes better than the old Bloodthirster as a lot of auto attacks would be required to life steal up to 440 HP more than the current BT (3% higher lifesteal for 440 HP will take a lot of attacks! At a rough estimate, about 30 attacks) – however this situation does not occur often. Here’s a patented Rainbow Graph™ to show you the results (click for a larger version):

How to
Disclaimers about the graph: Firstly, I apologise for such a complex graph! The Rainbow Graph as I like to call it (or a contour plot), is the most effective method for me to display 3-dimensional data and I’ve explored a lot of options regarding it in the past. Having said that, if you are having trouble reading the data even after looking at the how-to, feel free to leave me a comment and question me or tweet me @DiffTheEnder and harass me there regarding the graph choice! The white artifacts at the bottom right of the graph are a rendering flaw – the above graph took me around an hour to render — to get rid of the artifacts, it would take me another two hours to render perfectly. Just pretend the white doesn’t exist and it is in fact a deep shade of blue. The dark block of red is used so that the colours of the rainbow can be used to discern the smaller values better — in reality, you might need over 100 attacks to equal the Overheal Shield at some points in the graph, I chose to omit it since anything higher than 50 is already unrealistic in a game scenario and I’d rather preserve the colour detail for the more realistic scenarios of 0-25 attacks.

Important notes about the graph: It assumes a level 18 Ezreal with the runes/items as described previously. The graph simply shows how many hits it would take to out-sustain an amount equal to the Overheal Shield value that you start off with. Most importantly, the above graph assumes that the target enemy has 100 armor (a common enough value). This means that the damage you are doing is decreased by half, and so is the lifesteal. If you wanted “AAs needed” against a 0 armor target, you can effectively halve the number of attacks needed from the graph above. Alternatively, this can be interpreted as having been Ignited while dealing damage against a 0 armor target. If you were wondering why the x-axis starts at 15, it’s because at a stack value lower than that, the old Bloodthirster would not keep up with the new Bloodthirster.

Interpretations from the graph: This graph shows you how incredibly strong an Overheal Shield can be compared to 0-3% extra lifesteal. In the scenario where you’re relying solely on sustain, the new Overheal Shield is amazing – it can be around 25 attacks worth of sustain better in terms of the raw HP you have in a fight. However, in the games I’ve experienced (I’m at a low Plat level this season — high Plat last season) and watched (LCS, OGN) – a scenario where you’re going to get such prolonged fights where the benefits of a full Overheal Shield can be seen is quite rare. So while the numbers show how strong it CAN be, it usually does not get to benefit from this use case and is therefore weaker than the numbers strictly indicate.

Other Factors

In the interest of keeping the article to a somewhat reasonable length, I didn’t delve into talking about every phase of the game. As a result, there are a few loose ends, arguments and counter-arguments for the Bloodthirster change that I haven’t got a chance to bring up  that I’ll list here:

  1. During mid-game you may still be farming up, and cycling between having a shield -> trading -> regenerating shield  -> trading…. etc. may help you force an all-in sooner in some situations as you would have a higher net HP and be in a better position to force the duel to the death.
  2. The cost of the Bloodthirster’s combine cost went up by 300 gold. This has three major downsides:
    1. You are delayed by 300 gold in your first big item – which means it is harder for you to be a real threat in the game until 3 minutes further on (which may be a deal breaker in contesting objectives such as Dragon)
    2. You could have used that 300 gold to buy something else earlier, e.g. in a late game situation you may be fighting a teamfight without a Elixir of Fortitude due to having less gold at the time.
    3. You would have been stacking up the old Bloodthirster in the time it took to farm the 300 gold (thereby reaching the 10-15 breakeven stack amount from the old BT easily).
  3. You can think of the Overheal Shield roughly as a shield provided to you buy a support Lux in terms of shield amount (if that helps you judge its worth)
  4. Shields are for cowards, face it. Real warriors fight with HP, not shields (just ask Tryndamere)
  5. The Bloodthirster is an item that used to excel at providing a raw boost in damage and sustain in a fight for the user. It is no longer as offensive an item and is more “protective”, if that’s the right term to be using.
  6. A skilled ADC/marksman or a player in general can argue that the old Bloodthirster was immensely more useful to the user as they were extremely good at positioning in fights and the priority for them was to deal as much damage within a short time as possible and survivability is something they do not require as they are very skilled or is a secondary priority to them (Players like Doublelift have made this argument and it is valid!)
  7. The Bloodthirster provided a huge boost in damage earlier in the game compared to an item like Infinity Edge — and by increasing the cost, this power spike is much more delayed and itemisation currently favours Infinity Edge and higher damage itemisation options in the interest of having a stronger late game since your power spike is delayed.
  8. The new BT provides less AD — this means that if you are playing champions that rely on their high AD ratios on their skills (eg. Graves) – you’ll be doing a lot less damage!

Having spouted some thoughts on the matter, let’s try to wrap up this mammoth of an analysis!


Firstly, hello to the readers that skipped past the graphs and walls of text – do not worry I’ll recap the useful bits for you!

Mathematically speaking, the new Bloodthirster is roughly one auto attack worse compared to a fully stacked Bloodthirster from the last patch in a quick trade as seen in the GIF above. The Overheal Shield, depending on the situation, can provide you with enough safety that you can counteract this one auto attack deficiency in a short trade.

Several arguments can be made for and against the change as seen in the “Other Factors” and “Overheal Shield” section – and this comes down to your playstyle, how good of a player you are and what you’re looking for from the item. Make sure to keep in mind that the above analysis was completed based on one simple scenario and is by no means all-encompassing, but it does provide a good idea of the impact the changes have had.

There exists an ideal fight scenario where the durability the Overheal Shield provides far outdoes the 3% higher lifesteal you got from the fully stacked Bloodthirster in 4.9 — however the frequency of these ideal fight scenarios from personal experience does not occur often.

Overall, it is of my opinion that it is a change for the worse and would have liked to see a shield/lifesteal item as a NEW item as opposed to a modification to the Bloodthirster we know and love – purely due to the fact that the Bloodthirster used to reward aggressive play and a change for it to provide greater durability isn’t very “aggressive” as such and takes away from what I believed to be the concept of the item.

So, has the Bloodthirster been butchered? No, but it has been bopped on the head and told that it can’t hurt people as much anymore. So the helpless Bloodthirster will probably be thirstier than ever thanks to the nerfbat!

Author’s Note/Disclaimer: As a fun experiment, I’ve tried to summarise my opinion in a “review” box below. Let me know your feedback on that as well as any other aspect of the analysis and it’s much appreciated – I’m always looking to improve the way I do things! And as a disclaimer — everything apart from the raw calculations/results IS OPINION and is NOT FACT. I’m not a perfect player or a perfectly neutral person (as much as I may try!), so please take that into account when making comments 🙂 And for those of you who read the whole thing — congratulations on reading ~3400 words on one patch change, you are a truly dedicated League player and may the Elo-Gods favour you!





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A prominent mathcrafter in League of Legends. He is notable for several analyses on damage output comparisons of items. One of his most popular works was on the comparison of the damage output of Rabadon's Deathcap vs Liandry's Torment. He is also the co-founder of Cloth5.

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