Riot details big changes coming to League of Legends' 2016 season

Graves league of legends

“League is an evolving game,” Riot tells us at the top of its 2016 Season Update page—and from the looks of how many changes are coming to League of Legends next year, it’s evolving fast. Huge balance and map changes, alterations to ranked play and match making, the addition of a “chest and key” loot system, and a whole new client are coming to League of Legends in 2016, and Riot has started to detail exactly how those changes will appear. Here are some of the biggest changes coming to League next year.

Preseason updates

Before the 2016 season even officially begins, there will be a large number of changes to many core aspects of the game. Riot had previously announced a coming rework to League’s “Marksman” champions, aiming to give them each “a specific meta-agnostic identity” as opposed to just balancing them around the game’s current power-level. With that comes reworks to many of the Marksman items. Additionally, although not Marksman specfic, the Mastery system is being reworked, with more significant abilities being put at the bottom of each tree.

Apart from the Marksman changes, a number of alterations are being made to the jungle and vision. A new neutral creep called “The Rift Herald” is being added to the area where Baron Nashor usually spawns for the first 15 minutes of the game, balancing early game objectives of the top and bottom lanes. As for vision, wards will now leave behind evidence of where they had been placed after they expire, giving you an idea of where your opponent’s have been warding.

League Potions

Another significant change is being made to League’s potion items. The mana potion is being completely removed, and three new ‘refillable’ potions are being added in its place; a regular health potion, a Corruption Potion which causes your basic attacks to deal damage over time, and another health potion that will refill from killing jungle creeps—all three of which refill each time you visit the shop.

Ranked changes

In the 2016 season, ranked play will ditch solo and duo queues for a "dynamic group queue." Riot writes "you'll be able to climb the ladder with any number of teammates, going from single participation all the way to a full team comp. There's no longer a penalty for players ranking together, so the benefits of grouping up will always prevail." Ranked teams aren't going anywhere.

Riot also plans to optimize its matchmaking system for high-level players and widen the MMR range to cut down the length of queue times highly ranked players are currently stuck with.

League Champ Select

New Champ Select

Riot will be rolling out a new champion selection process to PBE before applying it to the normal draft process, with "ranked and blind pick later during the 2016 season." Before a match, players will now choose two positions (out of top, mid, bottom, jungle, support) they want to play or a "fill" option before queuing to find a team.

"Requiring two positions ensures short queue times and that no one on your team gets stuck in a position they don't want to play," Riot writes. "We know some options (*cough* support and jungle) aren't always quite as popular, and plan to incentivize these roles with IP bonuses if necessary."

Before the ban phase, players will now highlight the champ they want to play to hash out team combos; Riot calls this the "pick intent" phase. The new ban phase "distributes one ban each to the players who receive the last three picks, while the top two have a shot at securing priority champs for the team." Picks are then made one at a time and locked in.

Champion Mastery league

Hextech crafting

League of Legends is getting a “chest and key” loot system that can earn you “loot items ranging from 7-day rentals to permanent skins and champions.” It sounds similar to TF2’s “Crate and Key” system, but without as much of a heavy emphasis on micro-transactions. You will be able to randomly earn keys or key fragments at the end of every game you win, while earning Chests will be tied to your “post-game grade” for a match. Riot is still determining how often you will be able to earn chests, but they will also be available to purchase with real money in the store.

Updated client

After six years on the same client, League of Legends is finally getting a new one. Riot said it is “abandoning the legacy client's tech framework and building the updated client from the ground up,” which will come as great news to fans who’ve been complaining about the current client for quite some time. It will also feature a “streamlined” visual style and an updated chat system. Riot said it will be taking sign-ups for those who want to alpha test the new client early next year, but sign-ups have not yet begun.

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.