Ranked play in season 3 of League of Legends’ competitive ladder officially ended last night. I haven’t really played much in the last 6 months or so, but I still jumped on to see where my friends ended up and what the future may hold for the biggest PC game in the world. Riot’s powerhouse franchise maintains a tight grip on the PC and eSports world. They have announced that the season 4 world championships will be held in South Korea, where eSports are king and many of the best League players hail from. With the most successful video game event ever behind them (Season 3’s championship sold 10,000-18,000 tickets and had around 18 million live viewers), League of Legends looks to the future with further gameplay tweaks, new game modes and that same unique community.
One thing you will immediately notice is that ranked stats have not been reset. Because Riot is looking to integrate new features, they felt a hard stat reset would be better placed at the beginning of season 4. These new features can be found on the website. The changes include yet another jungle change, vision/ward changes, more money for supports, some anti-snowballing adjustments, and about the 50th rework of runes and masteries. These are all pretty scary to me, but I can’t imagine how professional players feel. League of Legends has become the livelihood of many players and groups, so any changes to the game can have financial repercussions if the players don’t quickly adapt. But I feel that this is a good thing overall, because it opens up the pro ranks to new teams and sends the ones who can’t adapt packing (RIP CLG). I think this is one way that League has been able to pass shooters and Starcraft in the eSports world: the game and its players have been able to change and grow without removing any of the factors that make the game amazingly addicting.
The game will also be introducing new game modes one at a time. Each mode will only be available for a limited time, and once they are all taken down, Riot will look at player feedback and decide which modes should be added to the game permanently. You have probably already seen the first mode, One for All, in which players will be split into 2 teams of 5 and will each control the same champion. It was originally believed to be a glitch that some people “found,” but it is in fact a game mode that Riot has been testing and plans to unveil in the coming weeks. I am really looking forward to it. If you haven’t heard of this awesomeness, feast your unworthy eyes on the majesty of 10 Garens:
These silly game modes are possible now that Riot has amassed such a large fan base. But how? How did the game gain such popularity? And how does it keep it? There are good cases made for a few different reasons. One being that Riot has been enormously receptive to feedback and has tweaked the game in some way every week or two for the last four years. Another could be the strength of the game itself– the near-perfect map design that allows for one prevailing meta that simply changes over time, or the quality and quantity of champions. Or perhaps it is Riot actively partnering with social media, tournament and streaming sites to get as much buzz going as possible about its events. But I keep coming back to the game for what the internet overwhelming views as the number one negative feature of the game, its community. This video explains it perfectly (viewer discretion blah blah):
There is just nothing like the pressure you feel in ranked games of League of Legends. The word “pressure” is really the only way to describe it. You are not only responsible for yourself, but your 4 other teammates. You can’t let them down, and you are also dependent upon them to do their parts. I have played like absolute garbage and won, and I have gone full God mode on the opposing team and lost. One of these events will happen almost daily if you play enough. While the number of toxic players has decreased according to Riot, and I agree with them based on experiences over the years, you will inevitably still end up with that toxic player in your game every once in a while.
And I just– love him. I need him.
I want to destroy or carry him so hard that he stops talking, uninstalls the game and burns his PC. I know full well that none of these things will ever happen. He will just re-join the queue and end up on my team again. And sometimes if I am having a really bad day or, paradoxically, a really good day, I become him for a game or two. I will just instantly lock in to what ever horrible champion I feel like playing and let my team waste the next 45 minutes screaming at me.
The nice players are even worse. If you have a friendly player that says things like “I don’t mind supporting” or “good job” or “that’s okay, I am still having fun,” you don’t really know how to handle it. You almost hate them more because you are sweating and shaking as you are trying to get that last promo win, and they are just casually derping around as Leona. You also don’t want to let them down. If I have a troll on my team, I almost want to suck just so that they can lose. But with a nice player on your team, the pressure to win is even greater.
I went back to League today after playing games like Battlefield and NBA 2K14, and the effect on my body was instant. I just sweat while playing League of Legends. I am not hot or out of shape, I am just at such a heightened stress level that I can’t help it. My arm cramps up. I scream things like “BROKEN GAME” over and over. When I get shot in the face in Battlefield, I just shrug and keep playing. I honestly have no idea what my win/loss record is in that game. But everyone around me knows when I have had a good or bad day in League. It just affects people like no other game, and I think that is why it has had such staying power.