League of Legends Season 9 began last week, and players and fans alike are hyped. This season is unveiling a lot of changes: from a new ranked system to the highly anticipated return of LCS, a new champion, and more. After Riot dropped their newest video, “Awaken,” I’d be surprised if you could find a fan who wasn’t excited. Their cinematics rarely disappoint, and if this video is any indication of what we can expect in Season 9, we’re in for what will likely be one of the best seasons yet.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the updates, and what we can expect.
One of the biggest changes players are going to encounter in Season 9 is the new ranking system. This year, two new tiers have been introduced: Iron and Grandmaster. Iron is one step lower than Bronze, and Grandmaster has been placed between Master and Challenger. There are also now only four divisions per tier, rather than the previous five.
The other major change to ranked is that players can now receive a specific ranking for each position, rather than one overall rank. What does this mean? To put it simply, you can do placements for top, middle, ADC, support, and jungle, and receive unique ranked placements for each position. For example, I am an ADC-main, and have a higher ranking for that position than I do for top (which I rarely play).
Depending on where you’re placed, you’ll be against players of a similar standing. So, if you’re auto-filled and given a position you don’t excel at, you’ll be pitted against players at a similar level, rather than whatever level your main position is. However, wins and losses will still affect your overall LP, so you should always play to win.
Riot also announced that the ranked season will now to divided up into three splits, which will give players more rewards for playing. Playing games will earn you split points, which will unlock rewards along the way. Most of them are aesthetic, which will help show off your ranked placement. However, the victorious skin reward is staying as a gold-ranked reward, so if you want it, you better start climbing.
Season 9 began with Patch 9.2, which ushered in a few major changes.
A lot of champions have been buffed: Jarvan’s E now has increased attack speed, Ornn received more health and armor, and Shyvana’s passive now does more damage to dragons, among others. There have also been quite a few nerfs: Zyra’s mana regen was decreased, Rakan’s armor was decreased and his W’s speed lowered, and Brand’s passive damage over time was also decreased (although he’s still a strong pick, especially with Dark Harvest).
In terms of item updates, changes were made to Oblivion Orb (higher cost with lower AP), Morellonomicon (lower AP), and Sunfire Cape (lower cost).
However, some of the biggest changes can be seen in the jungle. Now, experience from killing smaller camps scales every other level, down to +25% from +50%, and buffs are down to +25% from +57%. Rift Scuttler also scales less and rewards less gold: from 70-140 down to 70-126. Junglers who rely heavily on smite will also notice that its damage has been decreased from 60-162 to 48-125 over 2.5 seconds.
Full patch notes are available online. It’s been fun seeing how these changes affect solo queue, and those worried about adjustment should play a few normal games before jumping back into ranked.
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Sylas, the Unshackled
Riot dropped a few teasers about the newest champion before he was fully revealed. Now, Sylas has entered the Rift, and is tearing up games. A lot of people were excited to try him out because of his ultimate (Hijack), which allows him to steal ultimate abilities from nearby enemies. That’s right, if you’re against champions with annoying ults, have no fear: Sylas can take them and use them for your team’s benefit, too.
However, Sylas can’t Hijack the same enemy multiple times in a row, so players will have to pick and choose when the best time to do so is. For example, if you’re anticipating an upcoming team fight, you might want to steal an ult to help with crowd control, such as Bard’s Tempered Fate, rather than Caitlyn’s Ace in the Hole, which would be better for sniping someone in one-on-one combat.
So far, I’ve seen Sylas played in both mid-lane and as support, which makes sense considering AP champions are currently popular in bottom lane. It will be interesting to see how players utilize him in solo queue, but I’m looking forward to seeing him in professional games as well.
The Return of LCS
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days for LCS to start up again. After seeing North American teams compete on the world stage, I was craving more action. Our home-teams made it further than they ever had before, and I think it’s safe to say that Cloud9 made everyone proud by advancing all the way to semifinals.
Quite a few roster shuffles were made during the off-season. Team Liquid picked up Jensen in the mid-lane, 100 Thieves got Bang to fill in as ADC, Froggen returned to the pro-scene by joining Golden Guardians, and TSM broke up the so-called “best in the west” bot lane by replacing Mithy with Smoothie as support.
After the first week, the standings are as follows: Team Liquid, FlyQuest, and Clutch Gaming are all tied at 2-0; TSM, Cloud9, Echo Fox, and OpTic Gaming are tied at 1-1; and Counter Logic Gaming, Golden Guardians, and 100 Thieves are tied at 0-2.
It’s still early in the season, but I think it’s safe to say that we can continue to expect big plays from Team Liquid and Cloud9. Their rosters are loaded, and their plays have looked tight. However, I’m not ruling anyone out just yet. New teams always need time to get in sync, and anything can happen.
Needless to say, this split will be exciting to watch. And who knows, maybe we’ll get to see Sneaky cosplay on stage again (my fingers are crossed!).