It's the end of the year, and all through the LCS, not a player was stirring—not even a grouse.
Well, okay, that's a lie. There's always something to grouse about—or put more optimistically, there's always something to improve, and the players are full of ideas about what those improvements could entail. Though they've all flown off to be with family, friends and loved ones for the holidays, the shadow of Season 6 looms just over the horizon for NA and EU LCS players alike. Team Dignitas, and Vitality's KaSing, have very definite ideas for how the next year of competitive play can be improved—for themselves, and for the rest of solo queue around the world. With luck, Santa Riot will be listening.
The day that the community stops complaining about balance changes is the day that League of Legends is officially dead. And since that day doesn't seem anywhere near close, the most immediate responses from Dignitas were all about the state of the game.
"I'd change top lane," said coach Ram "Brokenshard" Djemal. "It's too punishing and not versatile enough." The Juggernaut changes all the way back in 5.16 were a massive boon to a previously hindered character archetype, boosting the popularity of the big, meaty damage-dealer thanks to the inclusion of Dead Man's Plate, Titanic Hydra, and other high-efficiency items that help them with the business of surviving long enough to get close and hit people.
But the benefits to meaty bruisers came at indirect cost to other options in the lane, centralizing it to that one role and focusing overall game strategy around the top laner's Teleport usage. Though the preseason changes to both the Teleport spell and the overall expansion of item choices took some of the focus away, that hasn't solved some fundamental issues with balance—not according to top laner Lennart "Smitty" Warkus.
"The game focuses around one role too much. I would like to see more balance in the strength of each role from patch to patch," said Warkus. The preseason changes brought a much-needed boost to the options and style diversity of AD carries—but also nerfs to mid laners by an across-board cost to their items. While Riot's promised similarly in-depth changes to mages as well, the staggered release of their changes mostly shifts the frustrations among their player base from lane to lane instead of mitigating them.
Meanwhile, Vitality support player Raymond "KaSing" Tsang would appreciate it if they gave back some of his support options. "I would like another 'pure' support," said Tsang. "I don't think we've had another pure support in ages. There's more to peeling than being like Soraka and pressing one button—I just want something like Thresh. A skillshot support."
Lulu was originally intended to be a support champion—but between her high damage, waveclear, and roaming potential, support players were forced to give her up to their top and mid lane teammates. With luck, 2016 will bring more options for KaSing and other supports.
The pro scene
As for the esports environment itself: LCS players can't help but notice that they're not getting all that much for their efforts. "I just think we'd like a bigger prize pool, really," said Tsang. "Aa bigger prize pool pretty much gives incentives for all teams to try." According to him, the reward for first place is $50,000—just twice Riot's yearly stipend, and the overall prize pool is focused on top three finishes. The morale effect on gameplay could definitely be improved. "Maybe if they made incentives for top six, at least the bottom four teams will actually have incentive to play rather than just troll around," claimed Tsang.
A larger purse for international events might also be in order. The League of Legends World Championship's top prize has remained unchanged for three years—and the disparity compared to its kin in esports is notable. Dota 2's The Invitational, with its crowd-sourced prize pool, invokes Tsang's envy—especially since winning it outright pretty much sets the winner for life.
In absence of any announcements for Season 6's player incentives, however, Tsang would appreciate an upgrade to player treatment—specifically, the LCS catering. "I just want my chicken wings, but they give us some terrible mashed potatoes!"
PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!