Every season of League of Legends, Riot switches things up and throws things up in the air for all of its players. As each season draws to a close, another opens with the preseason. The preseason is one of the most intense time for League of Legends players. This is the time when new metas are tested and created while new items and gameplay emerge. It is a hectic and chaotic time for both Riot and its players but one thing is for sure – the game itself will always evolve year after year after year making League of Legends one of the most innovative game in the world.
We have looked through the main changes toward their impact on the upcoming LCS Season 4 as some of these changes are already used in competitive play like in the Battle of the Atlantic tournament between LCS EU and LCS NA or the LCS Spring split Promotion for both regions. (Those matches where played on the 3.14 Patch)
Main changes summary
- vision game
- gold incomes (items, turrets, first blood, dragon,..)
- support champions
- jungle gameplay
- summoner spells
Let’s get into it!
Changes to Vision
One of the main problems in Season three was that when a team is ahead they engulf the entire map with vision wards and stay ahead the entire time. This means that the losing team will have lesser chances of getting back into the fold since they do not have the resources to fund for their vision in the map. In addition, the support carries the burden of supplying the ward needed for the vision game. In the preseason, that is about to change. The vision game has received a huge overhaul. Now, it has become a team effort. Each player of the team can only place up to three stealth wards previously called sight wards or green wards. When that same player places a fourth ward, the earliest ward placed will be removed. This effect includes wards from Sightstones, Wriggle’s Lantern, and the new Trinkets which we will discuss later on. Vision wards formerly known as pink wards are now limited to one per each team member and the ward itself is visible with 5 hit points. This makes the vision game much more interesting as teams will try to defend both the objective as well as the ward itself. Players will have to find a different strategy in order to control the overall vision of the map.
With the recent changes to vision, the new Trinket system is also introduced. There are currently three trinkets that are free to purchase at the start of the game. They will have a cooldown for 90 seconds when the game starts. Each trinket brings something new to the overall vision game. By level 9, the selected trinket is automatically upgraded to second tier for free and the player will have the option to upgrade it to third tier for a small price. The starting trinkets are as follows:
New trinkets in LoL / LCS Season 2014
- Warding Totem or Yellow Trinket gives you the ability to place a stealth ward that lasts for 60 seconds with a 120 second cooldown. By level 9, the yellow trinket automatically evolves to Greater Totem with a ward that lasts 120 seconds with a 120 second cooldown. Upon upgrading the yellow trinket to second tier, one can choose between Greater Stealth Totem in which the ward placed will last for 180 seconds with a 120 second cooldown or Greater Vision Totem which gives a vision ward with a 180 second cooldown.
- Sweeping Lens or Red Trinket gives you the ability to scan a specified area for wards and traps for four seconds. This disables any ward or trap in the process. Upon level 9, it is automatically upgraded to Greater Lens which improves the radius of the trinket and lowers the cooldown to 60 seconds. The Oracle’s Lens upgrade allows you to scan the area with the same radius and same cooldown but allows you to see stealth units as well for 8 seconds.
- Scrying Orb or Blue Trinket reveals a certain location of the map for 1 second in a 1500 units range. Champions that are revealed during the duration are further revealed for 5 seconds. This does not affect stealthed units. After level 9, it becomes Greater Orb with an upgraded 2500 unit range. Farsight Orb allows you to reveal an area up to 3000 units away for 1 second with a 90 second cooldown.
Current trend (in competitve play):
The current trend with trinkets is that most mid and toplaners get the yellow trinket while botlane duos either take one yellow and one red or both get yellow trinkets. When the support gets the sightstone, he usually swaps the yellow trinket with the red one and start sweeping away wards and traps. Junglers often take red trinkets by default. By mid game, most of the time most players switch to red trinkets if they want to control a certain area of the map or they are ahead of the game. The losing team would usually get the blue trinket to avoid face checking brushes and take control of the map back to their side.
Changes to Turrets and Inhibitors
Turrets have also received a few changes. Early tower kills were often done to get ahead of their lane opponents. This makes games snowball out of control. Now, outer turrets have much less value and the player who last hits the tower earns an extra amount. Inner turrets on the other hand provide more global gold while inhibitor turrets reward the most amount of gold. This allows the players to extend the laning phase as much as possible but if they want to fast track the laning phase, they run the risk of having lower global gold for their team.
Inhibitors have also been tweaked this preseason. Once a team destroys an inhibitor, the death timer is lowered and the buff that minions received are removed. This allows teams to have decent comebacks and provide a much larger role in strategy.
Most pro teams usually swap lanes and this can lead to snowballing lanes while the solo laners suffer. Although this strategy is still viable to avoid counters in lane, this allows solo laners to be able to get back into the game and be able to catch up with their creep score and gold. With the inhibitor changes, there is an even more possibility of comebacks making games much more exhilarating and exciting.
Changes to Support Position / Gold income
Supports have always been the go-to guy for wards. They severely suffer from the lack of gold back in Season Three and usually come out with just a gold generating item and sightstone and the rest are just wards. With the vision changes, supports can now focus on getting to their end game fantasy of being able to support their team through items and skills. Riot has also buffed core support champions and help them be more impactful in the game than ever before. Supports such as Nami, Soraka, Lulu, Janna, Taric, Leona, and Sona are all getting buffs through their utility. For example, Janna’s shield buffs a champion with AD and if Janna has enough AP, she can generate even more AD buff to her shield.
Gold generating items have also received an update. Philosopher’s Stone and Kage’s Lucky Pick are now gone and are replaced by Ancient Coin which acts like the old Philosopher’s Stone, Spellthief’s Edge which acts like the old pickpocket mastery, and Relic Shield which has had a controversial nerf in the last patch. All three of these gold generating items can be upgraded to provide even more utility to the team. Each upgrade provide a different aspect to teamfights.
With the buffs on supports, support champions can finally be able to support through and through without worrying about warding the entire map or budgetting their gold. Although there is still a huge gap of gold from supports and other roles in the game, it is a step in the right direction which helps supports become more viable and fun to play. Taric, Leona, Annie, and Karma have seen a lot of professional plays in the recent tournaments after the buff they have received.
Changes in the Jungle
Junglers have suffered greatly if they are invaded or their buffs have been stolen. Other jungler champions usually get ahead if they are able to gank by level 2 or 3 and snowball the entire game. This can ultimately mean that games can be one-sided due to the fact that the winning team’s jungler is owning the enemy team’s jungle. Now, Riot has imposed changes in the jungle that allow carry type champions to be able to farm up and catch up if they are on the losing side. Changes to jungle items allow junglers to be able to get enough gold and gank lanes. An additional camp has also settled in the Summoner’s Rift which brings changes to jungle routes as well. The Dragon camp has also received changes. Dragon now rewards gold and experience based on level. The longer the game goes, the more gold and experience reward is catered to the team that takes dragon. Now, teams are able to comeback with the help of the gold boost in the mid game. This also makes Dragon become viable in the late game as well unlike in previous seasons.
Junglers are now able to farm up and become the secondary tank for the team or become the secondary carry. It all depends on the team compositions and the ability to maneuver the jungle to their advantage. Junglers such as Lee Sin, Elise, and Olaf have been viable and are far more powerful in this patch than ever before.
The preseason has always been chaotic and players are still trying to learn new ways and strategies to play the game. Riot has promised to fine tune things before the start of LCS Season 2014 / LoL Season 4. All in all, the changes made have been healthy for the game and pro players and teams have all raved with the recent changes to game. It is one step closer in the right direction.