Riot - in a slump or on a downward spiral?
There is no doubt Riot is struggling to please the community, and have been on a downward slope at least for a while. There has been a lot of discussion on Reddit today about Riot’s recent patch, and the direction in which they are taking LoL. They are struggling with meeting the players expectations, and they are not listening to the feedback they are being given.
Many of the players who have stuck with LoL for five years now can agree that, although the game has gotten better graphically and the gameplay is smoother, we, in many ways, miss the old days. Riot is facing a lot of major issues in the coming months, and they need to start making changes if they want to keep their client base growing, and not decreasing. As ThorDoubleYoo pointed out in his post on Reddit today “Riot, you really don't grasp the impact these changes are making…”
For months now, Riot has been making mistake after mistake with their “balancing” of the game. Every time they are doing a big overhaul, they throw around words like “Diversity”, “versatility” and “change”. Granted, they may have good intentions when they start out, but every time they make a change that is actually for the better, they either reverse it or find some way of nullifying it. They are completely disregarding the community and the feedback they are receiving, and their explanations of “buffs” and “nerfs” often make no sense and tries to be funny rather than justify their choices.
One of the biggest issues with League today is how the “meta” is set in stone. If you play at a competitive level, or you are high on the soloq tier list, you are almost stuck in a mold. You cannot play all the champions you want without starting the game with a disadvantage. There are certain champions that are “viable” in the meta, and that in itself wouldn’t be such a problem if the list of “tier 1 champions” wasn’t so small. There are only a few champions for every role that you can pick and still say you haven't given your team a disadvantage by picking it. Yes, in most games there will be picks that will be “better” than others, and this list is normally every changing and growing, but in LoL it is almost stagnant, and has been for a long time. There is currently 123 champions to pick from in League of Legends, but if you want to give your team, and yourself, the best chance at winning there are only a handful of champions you can choose from. Of course, skill and knowledge plays a huge role in winning or losing, but if your team and the enemy team is of equal skill level and they pick “viable” champions, while your team doesn’t, well then you will, in most cases, lose.
Let’s take a look at the jungle. Riot has been promising us a more balanced jungle for years. With the season 5 changes, one of their goals were to diversify the jungle by bringing out more jungle items and by customizing Smite to suit the different junglers. This was, in theory, a good idea. Most people love to be able to customize their champion and build, trying new things and being able to play different styles in different games. However, Riot has decided the jungle had “too much” diversity, and has now taken steps to correct this. The most noticeable changes:
Cost to change between tier 2 jungle items 0 gold ⇒ 255 gold
Smite change: RANGE 750 (center of champion's hitbox to center of opponent's hitbox) ⇒ 500 (edge of champion's hitbox to edge of opponent's hitbox) The above change should roughly be a ~175 range loss against champions)
To quote ThorDoubleYoo again:
“This doesn't affect most top tier junglers at all. Lee ,j4, reksai pretty much always started with stalkers. Nidalee and vi pretty much always stuck with rangers. But nice that you removed that utility from any of the other junglers because 255 is a LOT of gold early on.”
These jungle changes are, again, making the game more “narrow”. Junglers have fewer choices, as the rangers smite is now much better than any of the others. Riot successfully killed the jungle diversity, something it seems they have been trying to do for ages.
As of right now, the only really “viable” junglers are Lee sin, Jarvan (even though he was nerfed today, flag no longer gives armor), Rek’Sai and Vi. There are many more junglers you CAN play, but it gives you a disadvantage, and it is risky. Most of them won't be able to clear enough camps for the first item fast enough, and has to choose between trying to sustain in the jungle or going for a gank for gold. If you fail a gank and fall behind, it is almost impossible for those other junglers to get back in the game. Even if you successfully kill the enemy, you need to be able to snowball your advantage or you will eventually fall too far behind to make a difference in the game later on.
Riot keeps saying they want junglers to benefit from farming the jungle, and they want different types of junglers to be viable. They have failed horribly. In the current jungle, the xp and gold from jungle camps have been reduced, they are harder to kill and most junglers are being hit by nerfs every patch.
To quote Stonewall008:
“In previous Seasons, there definitely was a few junglers who would dominate and be the only ones picked in competitive. However, the off-meta junglers could do well and hold their own in most cases and wouldn't have a difficult time in the jungle. They were not at a competitive level like the God junglers but they were not awful in their own rights. However, they are completely outclassed in this jungle because the new jungle just outright stomps them. Everyone got taken down a notch but the top junglers are able to cope with it far better than the off-meta/weaker junglers can.It's like a dunk competition between shorter people (off-meta/weak junglers) and tall people (god junglers). Originally the rim was at the height of the god junglers and they barely had to make any effort to dunk the ball. The weaker junglers had to jump to dunk it but it wasn't that much of an inconvenience. However, the new season has made it even taller so the god junglers actually do have to jump to make the dunk and weak junglers can barely make the jump while many just fail and land on their faces."
To sum up, the gap between the “God tier” junglers and the rest of the tiers is much bigger now, and only the select few junglers from the top tiers are actually viable now, while all the others gets stomped.
Riot needs to make the jungle more inviting, and they need to balance the other jungle champions, so more can become viable and you can have more choices. They should consider increasing the gold/xp gained from jungle camps, and they definitely need to buff all the junglers currently sitting on the sidelines, never being used.
Viable jungle champions: Lee Sin, Reksai, Vi, Jarvan,
Jungle champions you can sort of get away with using, but are secretly crap: Rengar, Xin, Pantheon, Amumu
Really fun jungle champions that are now shit in comparison: Khaz, Maokai, Alistar, Rammus, Nautilus,Wukong, Fiddle, Nocturne, Master Yi, Cho, Sejuani, Hecarim, Nunu, Warwick and the Udyr.
Balancing the game
Instead of nerfing everything that is popular, Riot needs to consider buffing weak champions. Generally, when a champions is used a lot, gets too popular, or is considered “OP”, Riot comines in with nerf after nerf, and eventually completely destroys that champions. I cringe when I think about all the champions that Riot has nerfed into oblivion to then be put aside to be “dealt with later”. Riot needs to learn to balance the champions they consider too strong, instead of just hitting them with the nerf bat. All the lanes will eventually end up like the jungle, with only 3-5 champions being viable enough to play. We are well on the way there, with over half of the current champions not being viable, and too weak. Think about some of the powerhouses we have seen over the years, Jayce, Yorick, Akali, Aatrox, Darius, Evelynn, Elise. These are just champions from the first two rows of the LoL client. If you were to go through all the champions you would probably end up with ¾ that are no longer viable. League has become stale, boring and stagnant. There is so little diversity, so few viable champions to choose between. You might be better off playing Dota.
To quote SirAelic:
“Gnar, Lissandra, Rumble, Irelia LeBlanc, Ahri, Kat Vi, Lee, J4 Leona, Thresh, Braum, Morgana, Graves, Jinx and Cait. That's just over 10% of the champion pool and I can safely say you see 85% of that list in picks/bans every single game, across all elos, Bronze to Challenger. Season 5 - Strategic Diversity”
In his post, he also goes on to describe some of Riots most idiotic nerfs. He mentions Zac, Galio, Eve, Urgot, Yorick, Kha'Zix, Elise, Jungle Alistar, Skarner, Azir, Kassadin, Akali and twitch. When will we be able to play these champions, and all the ones left unmentioned, consistently at any level, both competitive and with friends, without giving our team a huge disadvantage? We also don’t understand why Riot insists on nerfing champions that are already weak or hardly used, like Veigar. In case you have missed the thread with all the patch jokes, I particularly liked:
“VEIGAR IS NO LONGER A CHAMPION, NOW HE'S JUST A SHORT JOKE”
“IF ONLY THAT STUN DELAY WAS AS SHORT AS VEIGAR IS.”
“I WAS GOING TO SAY THAT ALL THESE JOKES ARE STUNNING BUT I HAD TO WAIT A SECOND!!!!”
“VEIGAR IS MORE USELESS THAN THE CASTER MINIONS NOW!”
Champion and Role Diversity
The current meta is not just stagnant in the jungle, all the lanes are affected. Riot is constantly saying they don’t want the game to have a ‘1 type wins all’ strategy. However its clearly the most beneficial to have 1 setup.
1) Top laner - Bruiser or caster
2) Jungler – A pick between Vi, Rek’Sai, J4 and Lee. Or put your team at a disadvantage.
3) Midlane – A burst caster
4) Botlane – Support and AD Carry.
Even in these roles, there is very little champion diversity. When you don’t have a much bigger pool of ~6 champions to fill a lane, the game cannot be diversive. Otherwise you are just putting your own team at a disadvantage.
Even during League of Legends World Championships 2014, 63 champions were not picked. At least 20 of the ones that were picked, were only picked once or twice, And a handful of picks were used during troll games against the weaker teams in the competition or for games that had no result on the outcome.
This leaves over 50% of the champion pool almost unused, as they are seen as weaker than the top picks in the game. When Riot is constantly shoving ‘Diversity’ down our throat and claiming they are trying to balance it out, you would think they would make more of their champions viable and have a better way of dealing with “OP” champions than pretty much removing them from the game. However, it is not just old champions being nerfed, in the last year or so, almost every champion released has had a big form of mobility, which by itself will inherently make less mobile champions less viable as they will be easy to kite, unless their kit permits them otherwise. It looks like Riot most the time takes 1 step forward, and 2 steps back, if not more.
While League of Legends is still a monster (If not ‘THE MONSTER’) in the eSports community. They still have a lot to learn with regards to balancing. Maybe the most annoying thing about the entire situations is that they completely disregard all feedback given by the community. Riot is clearly dropping the ball right now, and as the giants they are, need to step in and fix up their game before people see the light and move on to different games.
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