League of Legends’ ninth season will soon come to an end, and we know what follows next— the immensely chaotic time that is known as the preseason update. Preseason updates are often full of huge changes not only in terms of the usual champion, item, or rune balance, but ones that entail fundamental game changes that intend to keep our League of Legends experience “fresh”.
This year’s preseason will not be any different. There will be changes to Elemental Drakes, to side lanes, to experience gained, and of course, to items. Let’s dive into all of them:
This particular preseason’s main theme is The Rise of The Elements, and it brings us some changes to Summoners’ Rift brought about by the only elementals we know so far: Drakes. The third drake changes the landscape of the Rift before it spawns and after that, its element will be the only one to spawn for the rest of the game. An Infernal Drake will create an Infernal Rift, wherein some walls and brushes around the jungle disappear, seemingly burned off. An Ocean Drake is said to “bring new life” to Summoner’s Rift, creating an Ocean Rift, causing some additional brushes to appear in the dragon pit and in the jungle. A Cloud Drake would spawn air currents to create a Cloud Rift. The air currents would flow around the jungle and the dragon pit, creating a movement speed boost for nearby champions. A Mountain Drake, on the other hand, would trigger some sort of seismic event that would make some rocks emerge from the earth, creating new choke points around the dragon pit and in the jungle.
The Drake buffs will also change significantly in the coming season. The Infernal and Ocean Drakes remain mostly the same, while the Cloud Drake will now provide cooldown reduction for ultimate abilities— imagine running ultimate hunter with that! The Mountain Drake will no longer provide bonus damage to neutral objectives and structures, but will instead provide a percentage increase in Armor and Magic Resistance. When a team kills its fourth elemental drake, a Dragon Soul is gained, and these bonuses persist through death and last until the game ends. An Infernal Dragon Soul will cause spells or attacks to gain a small area-of-effect explosion, dealing adaptive damage. An Ocean Dragon Soul will cause champions to gain immense resource regeneration upon dealing damage. Cloud Dragon Souls will lower the cooldown of one’s base abilities. The Mountain Dragon Soul provides a shield after not taking damage for a while. After a Dragon Soul is claimed, the Elder Drake takes the pit, which means that only one team can have a Dragon Soul per game.
The Elder Drake no longer scales off of the Elemental Drake buffs, and now creates an execution mechanic: if the Elder Drake’s burn damage affects a low-health enemy, they are instantly killed.
All of this implies a great shift of focus towards the bottom lane, especially in professional play. Drakes would be contested heavily, and having a draft with a favorable bottom lane matchup can increase a team’s chances of securing these.
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The side lanes now have some alcoves: this means that there are more options for players in terms of juking or outplaying their opponents. This also means that there are more areas champions could hide in. In addition, new brush opposite the Baron and Dragon pits will be added, possibly enabling more strategic play.
Jungle paths will no longer be centered around Krugs as the experience and gold that they give off will be decreased. Additionally, the experience and gold given by the Gromp will be increased, to make up for the Krug nerf and so that junglers could hit level 3 off of one buff, Gromp or Krugs, and any third camp. Additionally, timers will be added to the minimap for every camp— this means you will no longer have to take note of each camp’s respawn timer!
Top lane influence will also be looked at, with some increase into experience gained from minions in solo lanes (approximately 2% more), and a decrease in the amount of experience generated when minions are shared so that bottom lane will level up a bit slower than we are used to (approximately 2% slower). In addition, jungle experience is slightly decreased (also 2%). So as not to fully invalidate the relevance of top lane due to the Elemental Drake changes, the Rift Herald can spawn twice in a game if killed early on in the game, so junglers, please make sure you give your top laner some love once in a while.
Support items will also face some changes, with Ancient Coin being removed entirely. Tier 1 support items have a gold generation passive, and tier 2 support items have capacities for 3 wards. Another upgrade will give major stats upgrades and have the capacity for four wards, but then the gold generation passive is removed. In addition, the Spellthief’s and Targon’s items are “split” into two paths: for Spellthief’s, there is an option of high attack damage and low HP, and the other being high in ability power while also having low HP improvement; on the other hand, the Targon’s items will now give a high HP improvement, and is also split into an attack damage option and an ability power option.
Lethality items will get some changes as well. While Duskblade of Draktharr and Youmuu’s Ghostblade remain the same, Edge of Night will have its passive become similar to Banshee’s Veil. A new Lethality item, Sanguine Blade, makes its way to the Rift— it will be a huge splitpushing item as it will provide a burst of attack speed when no allies are nearby.
Speaking of items, Spear of Shojin will be gone from the shop next season. This mainly means that we may no longer see Renekton be a viable option in professional play. Further into that discussion about Renekton, Conqueror will also be nerfed by removing its true damage component and will have a greater focus on the adaptive force that it provides.
Kleptomancy in its current state will also be removed from the game to prevent it from skewing some matchups and removing a rather “farming your opponent” style of play. It will be replaced with a new keystone that cycles through other keystones randomly. Aftershock will also be adjusted further to avoid squishier champions from depending on the rune.
Another season is coming to a close, and several changes are about to hit Summoner’s Rift as the new one begins. While all of these may be a bit difficult to track at first, make sure that you study up on these changes before you hit the Rift. Good luck, Summoners!