League of Legends is headed for its biggest update of the year, as Riot Games gear up for the preseason patch.
While League of Legends receives regular updates and balance changes over the course of the year, Riot typically like to keep fundamental mechanics the same throughout a competitive season.
Over the years, however, there have been a variety of major changes that introduce entirely new mechanics or features, and these are typically reserved for the preseason update. Preseason gives players a chance to get hands-on time with the new state of the game before they’re thrown in at the deep end with a new season of ranked play.
Riot Games recently confirmed that patch 9.22, which is due to go live on November 6, will be the final update prior to the release of preseason, which means that patch 9.23, which is due to arrive on November 20, will introduce the preseason update.
What changes will preseason make?
This year’s preseason is set to make some major changes to Summoner’s Rift, most notably with the overhaul of the dragon system.
As well as changing the effect of each element drake’s buff, Summoner’s Rift itself will now change mid-way through the game, with four possible states it could transform into depending on which elemental drake spawns third.
The Infernal Rift, for instance, sees sections of terrain destroyed, while on the flip side the Ocean Rift will result in brushes growing to extend coverage around the map.
Meanwhile, the Elder Dragon buff has also been adjusted. The Elder Dragon will no longer spawn based on time, but rather the amount of elemental drakes taken - one team must have four drakes in order for the Elder to appear. The buff itself has also been changed, introducing a new execute mechanic for the team holding it.
The preseason is also set to introduce some entirely new terrain in the form of alcoves that will sit at the corners of the top and bot lanes. These new alcoves may not be huge, but will likely have a significant effect on the dynamic of the lanes, giving players new areas to hide in and play around in skirmishes.
Naturally, the preseason will also introduce a host of balance changes, as Riot take a more fundamental look at how they want various champions, items, and more broadly the roles themselves to be balanced.
A full list of these changes has yet to be confirmed, and likely won’t be locked in until much closer to the preseason release, although Riot have stated that they’re looking to widen the range of viable jungle champions by adjusting the spawn, experience and gold rates of various jungle camps.