Coming into season 6 Riot made a lot of changes to the game in an effort to push the game in more kill focused, faster paced direction. Changes to vision, bounties, items, big marksman reworks, and a few other bits and pieces were supposed to promote faster games, aggressive playstyles and an overall more action focused game.
Now sitting 5 weeks into the LCS season and a good few months since the preseason patches hit, we can safely say that a lot of the changes have been a big swing and a miss from Riot’s perspective; pro games are longer than ever, build pathing is still fairly static for most champions, and the name of the game at the highest levels currently is “passive”. In certain instances however, one particular example being the Marksman changes, Riot have managed to really improve the experience for players and the spectacle that is the pro scene. In the coming weeks we will be taking a look at the changes bit by bit and assessing the impact it has had on the meta, for better or worse.
Let’s start by taking a look at one of the more successful areas for Riot this season, the changes to the ADC or Marksman role. Riot begun with a huge raft of champion reworks, which in itself changed a lot of ADC’s for the better. Instead of every ADC sitting in the same niche, and therefore one or two champions consistently dominating and simply being stronger than others, Riot sought to push individual Marksman into more defined roles. Want a super long range siege Marksman? New Caitlyn fits that role better than ever. Want to play some funky compositions and need a magic damage ADC? Go for Corki. Want a tanky, bursty ADC that has to take some risks to blow people up? Graves is your man. Whilst some of these champions have found homes in other roles, what this has caused is for 10 different champions to be played in the ADC role so far this year in EU. We still see a tendency toward certain strong and versatile champions, Lucian and Kalista being the main offenders this year, Riot have succeeded in making other champions pickable due to fitting a niche well.
The item changes helped ADC’s out as well, as a little bit more variety allows builds to better fit individual champions and we are seeing ADC’s spike sooner in the game now, becoming relevant much faster. A big problem in the past is that the ADC role was essentially useless until 3 items, and whilst we aren’t back to season 2 or 3 where a BT and Zeal was all ADC’s needed to hard carry, Riot have found a healthy balance to allow the Marksman of this world to impact the early and mid game a little more.
Mid lane itemization:
Riot rejigged AP itemization several times in the preseason and since, yet are still struggling to find a good balance. Firstly we saw all AP items nerfed hard and made more expensive, which led to Rod of Ages and Lich Bane being incredibly strong (suffered the least from cost nerfs and actually both had nice stat buffs), then we saw Frost Queen’s Claim become the stable on all AP mids which was then repeatedly nerfed, and now we are in a world where Abyssal and Morellonomicon as your first two items is staple. Riot have always struggled to make itemisation interesting and variable, as usually in order for items to be worth buying they have to cover a range of stats that ALL AP mid laners need; mana/mana regen, AP and CDR. A massive overhaul is probably needed to make AP itemisation include meaningful decisions; for now, Riot will probably be satisfied with the fact that there is at least some variation beyond the 1-2 item core, and still items like Zhonya’s are very viable situationally.
Check back in the coming weeks for more of my opinions on Riot’s early season 6 changes!
By: Arron “King Dempz” Dempsey – @arrondempers