Most fans and analysts agree that games last way too long in the current League of Legends metagame. Due to various factors like practically everyone running Stopwatch to get a one-time Zhonya’s effect, the vision from the Junglers making successful ganks less likely, the innate caution in pro matches due to higher stakes and the superb vision pro teams have when compared to your run of the mill solo queue match, it’s not weird at all to see hour-long battles where nothing happens for forty minutes and then both teams try to use their scaling comp to win.
Fans and analysts aren’t the only ones who don’t like this state of affairs. It seems like Riot Games are planning to nerf or remove the main causes of this metagame with the goal of making LCS exciting again.
In a recent dev corner post, Riot’s reps said that there are plans to make several significant changes in 8.4 which will hopefully force faster games. What are these changes?
Tracker’s jungle item line removed
The reasoning behind this change is obvious. In pro play, the Tracker’s jungle items are practically mandatory. They give junglers a Sightstone, which allows junglers to place deep wards in the enemy jungle, tracking where the enemy jungler goes, making early game plays all but impossible at this level.
Baron Nashor and Elder Dragon buffed
Currently, Baron and Elder are buffs that are very nice to have but getting them is not a cause for surrender if you have wave clear in your comp and you still have some inhibitors left. If the proposed changes go through, Baron Nashor will become a must-contest objective in 8.4. It will scale in strength far farther into the game. Baron-empowered cannon minions will also do significantly more damage to enemy structures.
Elder Dragon buff remains on the same level in terms of strength as the game progresses currently. If the changes Riot planned go through, the buff will be much stronger the second time you get it.
Finally, Riot’s planning to make the free Stopwatch from runes become active at 8 minutes into the game instead of 6, which would theoretically allow junglers and other players to make plays with their ults up but no Stopwatch to save your life. With less wards coming from the jungler overall, this might just work.
There is no question that something had to be done about game length. Is Riot’s plan the best thing to do? Not exactly.
Removing Tracker’s jungle items is a good idea. It will actually allow junglers to pick the item that best suits the playstyle of their champion instead of taking ward bot duties up their… derriere by default. This will give them more early game power to make impactful moves. There will be some complexity lost, however.
Baron and Elder Dragon buffs just feel like… Riot implementing a soft enrage on the game, at least on the professional level where people generally know to go for objectives instead of chasing kills. This will have zero to do with players skillfully outsmarting their opponent to win the game. Instead, they will simply win a fight and crush their opponents under the immense weight of numbers. While getting an objective should be rewarded, this is probably not the way to go.
Finally, the Stopwatch. The biggest play blocker in the game. If it was up to us, we would simply remove the rune that gives it for free or buff its competitors for a slot so much that it would actually be a hard choice to make instead of an after-thought. Will the activation time increase help? Yes. Will it fix the problem? Maybe, but we’re not very optimistic.
With these changes, Riot missed an opportunity to change the game in a satisfying way by making early game strategies just as rewarding as the “wait for late game” gambit. Instead, Riot is implementing numbers-based resets and nerfing or removing. Of course, that’s nothing new, it’s what this developer seems to prefer.