A closer look at the League of Legends map that didn't make it

Magma Chamber, we hardly knew you.

The Magma Chamber was planned to be one of the most expansive game modes introduced to League of Legends. Riot had originally shared their plans for a new Field of Justice back in 2010, as the development team wanted to explore new ways they could build upon the MOBA genre. The community was excited to explore the new volcanic arena, but after multiple teases the new map was cancelled and its development ceased. Here are all the details on a map that briefly saw the light before being condemned to the darkness of League of Legends history.

The lore

The volcanic Field of Justice was sculpted deep within an obsidian mountain by the Institute of War in order to create the League’s most intense arena. The Magma Chamber was built specifically to address the increasing number of disputes between Demacia and Noxus, while also stopping the violence from ravaging the surrounding land. Summoner’s Rift may be the most commonly used Field of Justice in Valoran, but the Magma Chamber was by far the largest.

Hot magma oozed and cascaded throughout the arena, which forced champions to work together when pushing toward the enemy nexus. The molten landscape also created many options for those who enjoyed planning their attacks, but because of the map’s size, coordinated team play was always essential to every victory. The League even prepared a host of new monsters that would inhabit the Chamber, and aimed to provide champions with their greatest challenge yet.

How it played

Magma Chamber was designed for 5v5 play, similar to Summoner's Rift, but it was intended to have a different feel and strategic approach. Unlike the Rift, which focuses on larger team fights in the mid to late game, Magma Chamber put emphasis on smaller, more tactical fights that required players to have excellent map awareness if they wanted to achieve victory in specific lanes. The map was much bigger than Summoner’s Rift and featured longer lanes that actively discouraged players from roaming round as a team. The sheer size of the map meant that players also had to rely on their own skills in 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 scenarios, as receiving support from a fellow teammate would be a much rarer occurrence.

A failed gank in Magma Chamber would waste a lot of time and had a greater impact on the outcome of the game. In Summoner’s Rift ganking has it risks, but you rarely lose multiple turrets when you’re roaming to help a fellow teammate. It was hoped that the increased risk would lead to greater strategy and coordination between players.

The map concept art shows that Magma Chamber featured four static teleportation pads located between the lanes. These pads weren’t designed with ganking in mind, but they did offer unique ways for players to quickly get back to their lanes and access key objectives. Riot had also planned a slew of new neutral jungle monsters that would buff the team who managed to successfully defeat them. Even League’s resident minions were going to be given a fresh new design to better reflect their new fiery surroundings. However, despite these additions, Magma Chamber still followed the same three lane formula of Summoner’s Rift.

Why it was cancelled

It’s speculated that Riot cancelled the 5v5 version of Magma Chamber as the mode didn’t fit all of the game’s various playstyles. For example, champions who greatly benefit from grouping up and supporting their team in 5v5 encounters would be at a major disadvantage. The huge emphasis on the solo lane would also force many players into picking strong carry champions and duelists, as they can win their lane without the fear of being ganked constantly. Magma Chamber had set out to create an entirely new meta, but in doing so it created one that punished more play styles than it encouraged.

After further testing, Riot decided that they wanted to create a new mode that would offer more features than just a bigger map with the same three lanes.

However, the original Magma Chamber concept wasn’t entirely scrapped, as Riot used it as a platform to find a new ways to evolve the MOBA genre. After thousands of hours of playtesting Riot came up with the game mode known as Dominion. Dominion delivered fast-paced matches that involved small skirmishes centred on objective control and was confirmed to be the successor to Magma Chamber. It finally looked as though Riot had locked Magma Chamber in their vault for good, but the mode made a surprise appearance at the 2013 All-Star Showdown in Shanghai, China. However, the 5v5 mode had been tailored towards 1v1 and 2v2 skill matchups, and only featured a single lane with one tower either side.

Victory was achieved by either killing 100 minions, destroying the turret or obtaining first blood. The idea was that Magma Chamber would support this ruleset, so players could create custom game modes and play solo or duo matches with a partner. This mode allowed players to settle disputes in a clean and fair environment with no outside influences to distract them.

The newly revamped Chamber was originally scheduled for release before the launch of season four, but once again Riot cancelled the map in January 2014, and this time it would be gone for good. Riot concluded that Magma Chamber wasn’t the right place to develop a 1v1/2v2 experience and found that the mode wouldn’t be sustainable as a permanent feature. It’s certainly a shame that such a great concept was ultimately cast aside, but in a game with so much diversity there'll always be concepts that get sealed away never to be seen again.