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Preseason Update: Forge Your Path

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While the CSL preseason is in full swing, professional League of Legends has just concluded with Invictus Gaming taking the 2018 World Championship trophy. With the end of the 2018 professional season, begins preseason for season 9. The preseason brings in numerous changes that Riot will evaluate and test with the intention of making these changes permanent for season 9. There are a lot of changes that have occurred, with new runes being introduced, neutral objective changes, and a major change to turrets. In this article, I’m going to cover the biggest preseason changes that are going to impact competitive play, and what I expect the impact to be on the competitive scene. 

 

Rune Changes

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While this made Dark Harvest a less desirable rune for jungle, laners began to take it and have become very oppressive. For example, even if you weren’t quite at 50%, Brand can hit you with an ability, and then his passive can tick down and proc Dark Harvest. Although the rune has already been hotfixed with a damage decrease, it’s still dominating the game. Essentially, expect to see a lot of Dark Harvest, and expect it to hurt a lot. 

All in all, Dark Harvest was the biggest rune change, but the changes to the Resolve Tree and the addition of Celerity are noteworthy as well. Another large change would be removing the stat bonuses from the trees themselves. So, instead of getting attack speed just for going into Precision, you can choose now between adaptive force, attack speed, or scaling CDR to fit your champion’s need. This allows champions to explore the other trees more liberally, instead of being forced into certain trees to obtain their stats.

Smite Mid

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Yep, it’s that time of the year. Get ready for SMITE MID! Nobody is very excited about this at all. Smite mid usually just opens up cheese strats that undermine the way the game is meant to be played. Currently, many mids are going smite and taking the raptor camp to get an early level 2 and a massive XP lead without losing any lane minions. This also allows mid laners to get a jungle item, which are fairly cheap and offer large stat bonuses.

How is this possible again? It’s because the monster hunter passive from Talisman and Machete have been removed! The monster hunter passive basically meant that if you had the most gold on your team, lane minions would give you next to zero gold. While this didn’t mean much for jungle because junglers generally get less minion kills than laners, mid laners who tried funnel would have an inordinate amount of minion kills, and thus get almost zero gold from lane minions. Riot removed this passive because of the bounty and turret changes, and now Smite mid is officially back! I expect this to be fixed sooner than later, but this strat is currently thriving in competitive.

Turret Changes

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Let me tell you about my favorite lane: Caitlyn/Alistar. Caitlyn can take your tower in about 7 minutes, and she also apparently has a hidden passive that makes your jungler flame the ADC for not having priority against the Caitlyn who didn’t have to leash. And by her side, there is Alistar! The support who can one-shot the ADC at level 3, while also tanking 3000 turret shots (not an exaggeration…probably).

So, why am I talking about my “favorite lane”? Well, because they made the first turrets in the lane much harder to kill, while also making the towers do more damage! This change, in my opinion, is a very good one, because it still allows lane bullies like Caitlyn to push in weak laners and obtain an advantage by taking the plating gold, while also allowing the weaker lanes to not have to give up their turret incredibly early. Turret damage has increased on every turret, making tower dives more dangerous and difficult than before. In competitive, we see 4 man dives all the time where the tank top or support can simply tank 50 shots, allowing for a pretty un-interactive experience. With the newly increased AD scaling, we should be seeing fewer turret dives and even less successful ones.

Minions Buffed and Neutral Objectives Changed

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Starting with minions, their health, AD, and movement speed scaling have been increased. Additionally, cannon minions spawn faster earlier in the game. This change was implemented to help teams who are ahead siege down towers easier. Baron has been strong because it has made minion waves almost impossible to kill, while regular minions feel useless in comparison. With this change, I think Riot is hoping that teams have less of a baron dance and more of a baron battle. 

As for the dragons and baron, their respawn timers have gone down by one minute. This should speed up the pace of the game. Elemental drakes have also been changed. Their first spawn is later, but their respawn is faster, and gold and experience have been increased for them. Dragons can often fall by the wayside, especially if cloud drake happens to be the first one up. Just looking at it, the first dragons now seem to be much more valuable than before, and teams should be going for them whenever they have the opportunity!

Conclusion

Looking at all of these changes, it’s clear that Riot is not happy with the game state currently, and are actively working to change it. Even if there were no insanely major changes, like when they added Rift Herald or changed the dragon from giving only gold to the elemental system we have today, I like the careful but firm approach to game change. The rune changes are fairly minuscule, and Dark Harvest probably needs another rework, but overall the rune system seems fairly decent. The turret changes so far seem to be very beneficial. I’ve noticed that laning phase has gone longer, and it doesn’t feel like either late game carries or early game bullies were overwhelmingly hit by the changes. Finally, the changes to minions will make it easier to close out games, while the neutral objective changes will cause teams to fight for them more. It is the preseason, so things can/will change, so be on the lookout for even more changes and innovations!

 

 

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