Not wanting to waste a bunch of cool info, here’s some of the extra RAW data I collected from IEM Katowice. Keep in mind it’s a little rough, but gives a good look at the overall flavor of champions played at the event. Expect something similar, with a graphical flair, for the upcoming NA LCS playoffs.
Total Bans: Viktor, rek’sai, Janna, Rengar, Nidalee, Leblanc
Any stats or information you’d like to see that I didn’t show here? I might have it and just didn’t post it. Either way, tell me what you want to see, anything from times drag was taken to blue/red side win rates, if it’s trackable,I can do it. Comment below, or tweet @timkimbirk.
Recent events forced the shutdown of a legal stream on Twitch and a public responsefrom Riot’s co-founder, Marc Merrill. On a surface level it looks like all is settled with SpectateFaker and we can put the debate to rest. But scrape off the political language and we find yet another emotional appeal to cover up a legal case. So let’s tackle the issues of recent weeks that neither Riot nor Merrill will.
SpectateFaker was a Twitch-hosted stream that would automatically broadcast games played by Sanghyuk ‘Faker’ Lee, using the Spectator Mode perspective. The service was enabled by Riot’s official streaming API and was non-profit. Last week, Azubu (streaming platform), who in September last year signed an exclusive contract with Faker, issued a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown on the stream. The claim was deemed illegal, since neither Azubu nor Faker own the rights to the streamed gameplay.
Under the alias StarLordLucian, the person running SpectateFaker rejected Azubu’s notice and said he would turn the stream off if Faker personally requested it. Marc Merrill, co-founder of Riot, reacted by shaming StarLordLucian on Twitter for being a harasser and ‘e-stalking’ Faker. StarLordLucian then retracted the offer and stated he’ll wait for a legal takedown from Riot Games.
SKT, the organization that Faker is signed under, issueda public statement that Faker didn’t want his name and gameplay broadcast on other platforms. SKT also confirmed the stream had a negative impact on Faker’s contract with Azubu.
Following the incident, Riot posted an official response to the situation yesterday. They’ve since taken down SpectateFaker’s stream.
Let’s establish what the pressing concerns here are.
First, the elephant in the room – Azubu issued an illegal copyright claim and got away with it. This should have been the focus of debate from the start; had it not been for Azubu’s takedown notice, the case could had been solved through mere discussion between SKT and StarLordLucian.
On a micro level, you have Merrill bullying a member of the community and never apologizing to that member personally.
Moving on, there’s the fact that Faker is under an exclusive contract and his gameplay is being streamed on a competing platform.
Then there’s the issue of a legal use of Riot’s API being labeled as ‘harmful’ and, subsequently, taken down. This expands into a question of what Riot consider ‘fair use’ of their property, whose interests they are servicing and what Merrill’s official update proposes as changes going forward.
Why the false DMCA claim is relevant for us as either consumers of media or creators of that media.
I’ll address the official response first before I dive into Azubu’s claim.
Merrill’s update on the case is a vacuous ‘sorry you were offended’ PR statement and the only information one could take away from it is that Riot is shutting down SpectateFaker because they deemed it ‘harmful’. For a post that was supposed to address Azubu’s illegal claim, what use of the API Riot considers harmful and how streaming and spectator mode would be handled from now on, it does an appalling job explaining any of these issues. In fact, there is zero evidence here to suggest that anything will change.
The reason I’ve dubbed the post a ‘non-response’ is because it’s littered with buzzwords like ‘fair use’, ‘harmful’, ‘feedback’, ‘perceive’ and so on. It’s not an accident that many of the concepts Merrill entertains in his post are never elaborated upon – this leaves them free for Riot to interpret in the future. What is Riot’s definition of ‘fair use’ of one’s gameplay? Is it fair to stream your own gameplay that inevitably includes other people’s gameplay? And if other players perceive that as unfair, would Riot listen to their demands? What’s the legal justification for taking down a stream that targets an individual, but allowing streams that don’t target anyone, yet still show individuals playing? If the player argues he/she is being harassed, what would that entail? How does Riot perceive harassment? And how would a player even opt out of being spectated? These and many more relevant questions are yet to be answered.
We will intervene and shut down streams where we perceive that it’s causing harm to individual players. This will usually result from the individual player requesting the takedown (although it isn’t always dependent on it), so we’ll also make it easy for streamers to contact us with those kind of requests and look into them on a case by case basis.
The above quote contains that magical word Merrill uses on a whim to justify his take on the manner – ‘perceive’. It shouldn’t have to be stated that different people have different perceptions, yet both Riot and its co-founder are intent on giving the word some greater meaning beyond ‘personal bias’. For Merrill, making perception synonymous with truth would sugarcoat his blatant bullying of another person and make it look like a misguided campaign against moral injustice. “I was wrong, but I had good intentions” is an ironic excuse to make when you’re the co-founder of a company that wants to lead by example.
Time to open the can of worms that is Riot’s definition of ‘harmful’. Let’s say a popular streamer or Youtuber shows footage of him/her repeatedly killing another player. This was streamed/uploaded without asking for the player’s consent and resulted in commenters making fun of or harassing that player for his or her poor plays. Can the player in question request a takedown on the grounds of harassment? According to Riot’s vague policies – yes, but the outcome is entirely dependent on how they perceive the issue. This is a terrible way to handle requests; it actively encourages individual bias and ill-intentioned claims. It’s not a wild stretch to suggest that popular, established content creators will get better treatment in this than newcomers.
Because Riot are free to apply their own perception to each case, your legitimate complaint against a big name on Twitch can be met with “this is technically not harming you”. If you are stepping over the toes of a contracted player or an otherwise profitable figure, you may face a vastly different definition of ‘harassment’ than if you had a complaint against someone who’s just picking up streaming or making Youtube videos. On the other hand, an influential figure can put the weight of sponsors behind his or her claim, turning a policy to ‘protect players’ into a game of who has the means to force Riot’s hand on an issue.
Double standards inevitably lead to malicious acts and a likely outcome of Riot’s non-response is that people will start abusing takedown requests for personal interests. Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario with a figure that the community has split opinions on like, say, Nightblu3. Someone caught on stream or a highlight who doesn’t like Nighblu3 can stretch the definition of ‘harm’ to where it seems OK to file for takedown, putting pressure on the streamer to dispute a needless claim. This, combined with my previous paragraph, is a projection of the issues Riot will run into when they treat a very sensitive topic like what constitutes harm as if it were a philosophy class for delinquents.
Merrill’s loose language lets Riot act as moral police in private, where the community won’t be allowed to scrutinize their decision. Of course, the narrative suggests it’s all done in the ‘interests of players’ but the fact they’re left out of the debate directly contradicts that. It’s then much more realistic to expect that decisions will be swayed by the more influential party, be it a big streamer, a contractor, a sponsor and so on. A glaring example of that is the fact Azubu acted unlawfully, got what they wanted and weren’t even made to apologize to their action.
Such consequences occur when a company is free to interpret its policies however it sees fit. Take a morally neutral company, give it full control over the narrative and you will see bias on a regular basis – it’s inevitable. Given Riot’s expertise in PR language of zero substance, that bias might never become apparent unless exposed. The SpectateFaker fiasco is a template for dealing with future cases like this – turn a legal issue into an emotional appeal, sprinkle ideology on top and conclude that ‘lessons were learned’. Rinse and repeat.
Merrill’s response is part of a continuing trend with Riot that the decisions they make always set some moral standard that people should agree with. It’s a subtle way of discouraging criticism; Merrill’s framing of the issue makes it so if you oppose Riot’s decision-making, you are against community and player interests. These interests don’t have to mirror a particular player’s, but merely support what Riot believe is right. Regardless, you wouldn’t want to be on the ‘wrong side’, even if the concept is arbitrary.
I’ll give you an example with the official poaching rules in the LCS that state players from different teams can’t approach each other on the topic of leaving one team and joining the other until the contracts with their respective teams have expired. This rule puts players in ridiculous scenarios where they have to rely on managers tossing their offers to another team or look for opportunities after Worlds for a period that only lasts a few months. Players whose contracts are running out risk being unemployed for a full year; often they’re forced into using linguistic trickery in the hopes someone understands they want to jump ship.
These rules were put there and are enforced by Riot to retain the value of contracts and keep managers and sponsors happy. There are no player unions to discuss terms, nor are the actual players thrilled to be restricted in such ways. Yet Riot, instead of acknowledging the reality that they’re a business and are clearly acting to protect their financial interests, maintain the idea that this is beneficial for the players. Their stated reasoning is that the poaching rules “promote team continuity, prevent last-minute roster changes which damage team identity and cohesion, protect LCS tournament integrity and enhance fan enjoyment of LCS tournament play.” The fact is, many players are against these rules and want at least a 1 month grace period.
To put it in very simple terms – Riot do not and will not care about individual complaints if those complaints threaten a contract or a popular figure. Azubu felt their exclusive contact with Faker was threatened and that’s the whole reason this issue was escalated. These financial interests were shipped in polite packaging and stamped with Riot’s player-friendly manifesto.
The bottom line is that Riot will continue to do what they wish. Nothing was really learned from the SpectateFaker debate; it merely led to a regurgitation of old slogans that seem to apply less and less to Riot as their control over the eSports industry grows. They’ve shown they want to test how far players will let them overreach, as was the case with the Season 4 LCS contracts that forbid players from streaming or advertising competing games. And they’re getting more competent at framing their decisions in a way that lets them act selfishly with minimum backlash.
StarLordLucian is far from the inconsiderate jerk Merrill would have you believe he is. The ‘conversation’ between him and Azubu began with Azubu filing a false DMCA claim. He refused to take the stream down, as there were no legal reasons for him to do. He further added he would agree to do it at Faker’s personal request. At this point, the whole issue could’d been resolved if Merrill had reached out to Faker personally, sent StarLordLucian the response and then discussed a punishment for Azubu internally at Riot.
The next part is a spectacle of abusive language and an example of how low someone can sink to remain morally righteous in his own eyes. Instead of doing the above, Merrill accused StarLordLucian of ‘harassing’ and ‘e-stalking’ Faker, brought up several fallacies to guilt him further and ended on the now-familiar ‘we care about the players’ tune of complete hypocrisy. His uninformed rant was addressed in detail by both Richard and Thorin.
StarLordLucian retracted his offer to Faker and said he’d wait for a legal DMCA takedown from Riot. In doing so, he was accused of changing his position on the case, which was a reaction to the way he was being portrayed in the issue. Mind you, at no point did he refuse reasonable debate. He used free and legal means to host a stream through Riot’s API and agreed to cooperate with Faker on the issue; for his efforts, he received an avalanche of vitriol and bully tactics. And he’s the bad guy? If one side spends most of its time badmouthing the other, there can be no discussion.
If Merrill had apologized to StarLordLucian (which he didn’t and still hasn’t) it would had confirmed that the guy was mistreated and bullied by both Riot and Azubu into folding and taking down the SpectateFaker stream. It would had taken away the emotional angle Merrill still tries to pitch, along with Riot’s ‘community friendly’ facade that the co-founder has repeatedly referenced.
On a more personal level, it would had shown that people who throw unfounded claims around don’t get to walk away without retracting them and issuing a public or private apology to the target of their claims. Merrill’s position in Riot doesn’t mean he can bully someone and then apologize for it to the ‘community’. An apology to the masses is a PR maneuver to preserve a brand’s image; an apology to the individual shows common human respect. If Merrill lacks it, he should acknowledge that he has his company’s interests in mind and not some ‘holier-than-thou’ concern about online harassment.
This next topic will never be discussed transparently by Riot. How Azubu managed to claim copyrights on game assets and get away with it is an issue we ourselves have to bring relevance to, as responsible consumers of media. But before that, let’s examine the nature of the beast we’re dealing with.
What is Azubu? The answer is, surprisingly, almost impossible to find. Few can say what the company is supposed to be. Azubu has no real profit source and yet managed to receive obscene amounts of investment to the tune of $35 million with which to fund the streaming platform Azubu.tv. The company is a registered business entity; its trademark is owned by a company called SYSK Limited. However, there is no evidence of Azubu’s existence or the products it claims to sell.
Two years ago Korean media launched an investigation on the company and the facts they collected unanimously point to Azubu being a criminal enterprise used for money laundering. Azubu is, on paper, a German company with a main office situated in Berlin and a game studio in South Korea. But reporters on the spots found that neither the office nor the game studio exist. In fact, it was found out that Azubu’s main office was in South Korea.
Azubu’s claimed CEO is Lars Windhorst who co-owns the company with Dr. Seok Ki Kim. Both figures have extensive criminal records.
Windhorst moved to the shadow banking world of London after facing two bankruptcies in Germany. In December 2009 he stood on trial for 35 fraud charges of fraud, breach of trust and embezzlement. In 2010, he faced a civil suit for manipulating the share prices of a U.S. company called Remote DX.
Kim’s past is difficult to trace. He’s currently wanted by the Korean government for stock market manipulations he conducted in the 90s. He was also planning stock fraud in Luxembourg. Kim is the ex-husband of the vice-president of CJ Group, a conglomerate headquartered in Seoul. In September 2013 Azubu sold its League players to CJ. An investigation into CJ Group being involved in tax evasion launched about the same time as it did for Azubu. In September 2014 the company’s chairman was sentenced to 3 years in prisonover claims of tax evasion worth over $150 million.
Translations of Korean articles have elaborated on Kim’s plans for Azubu; the goal is to have Azubu gather enough reputation through sponsoring teams and tournaments so it can be put on the stock market. To iterate, KeSPA signing its players on exclusive Azubu contracts is a way to give the company legitimacy for future investors and stockholders. This is now impossible in Korea, since the media there have repeatedly exposed the shenanigans happening behind closed doors. Legal actions against Kim have been reported by reputable newspapers in Korea, such as Jo!ns and dongA.
Azubu’s past is so shady that the company’s listed field of operation miraculously transformed from publishing computer games(no games have ever been published by Azubu) to selling wholesale and tobacco. Even without this evidence it’s clear that Azubu is not an actual business company.
Of course, money laundering isn’t mentioned in Azubu’s audit reports. These reports provide a reasonable, not factual assurance that Azubu isn’t involved in fraud, which is why the company hasn’t faced federal court yet. All facts point to this: Azubu exists to attract investors through contracts and sponsor deals. The money it needs to sign these is obtained fraudulently and is subsequently laundered using the Azubu business entity.
KeSPA’s exclusive partnership with Azubu pays players a fixed salary, irrespective of the actual revenue they get from viewers. For Faker personally, whether he gets 4,000 or 40,000 viewers is irrelevant. It matters to his contractors and so their interests become Riot’s interests.
The reality is that neither Azubu nor KeSPA work to benefit players here. Riot are aware that Faker is being royally ripped off from being signed on with Azubu, yet continue to claim they’re defending his interests. If that weren’t enough, there is a plethora of Chinese streams that specifically target Faker and they’re not being shut down. In the context of this information, Merrill’s quest to prevent material harm to Faker is, really, a joke.
Let’s assume, for a moment, that Azubu pays fairly. It is not provable that SpectateFaker caused a financial impact on the company. One argument would be that shutting down StarLordLucian’s stream would cause all those viewers to switch to Azubu. This runs into the common ‘piracy fallacy’ that music labels and movie houses have refused to grasp over the years: it’s not guaranteed that if people were denied free access to your content they’d buy it. Similarly, if people who’d chosen to watch Faker on Twitch were forced to watch him on Azubu, there’s no evidence to suggest they would do so.
Let’s make another assumption then, for the sake of exhausting arguments. Let’s say SpectateFaker was causing financial harm to Azubu. The stream existed as a legal competitor: it showed a different perspective of Faker on a different platform. The fact that all entertainment value – webcam, clicks, responses and so on – safe for Faker’s raw gameplay was stripped from StarLordLucian’s stream points to an issue with Azubu itself. If it couldn’t provide a service that would compete with an automated broadcast of Spectator Mode, then how could its monopoly be beneficial for consumers in any way?
My argument here is a simple defense of free markets. Azubu’s contract is meant to choke competition and SpectateFaker challenged that. It wasn’t a popular service but a few hundred players found it preferable to Azubu. SpectateFaker also provided links to Faker’s Azubu stream. In a proper market, the scenario would had led to Azubu improving their stream to attract these players. Instead, one side received a DMCA takedown.
Speaking of which, let’s finally tackle Azubu’s illegal claim which started the whole fiasco.
Of all the parties involved, the only one who can issue a legitimate takedown here is Riot. They own every asset of the game and, as a result, can choose to take down any stream of League. Players sign away ownership of their gameplay to Riot in accordance with the official Terms of Service. Riot have more control over their IP than regular video game publishers; their blanket policy claims ownership over all content, be it gameplay assets, audio, logos, streamed footage and so on. This is done to protect their IP. So why did Azubu, a company with no rights to any of League’s assets, file a claim against SpectateFaker, knowing their action is illegal? Because they’re a sponsor of KeSPA, a business partner of Riot’s, and so they know they can get away with it. It’s really that simple.
I’ll make a point here before I give my understanding on why the claim was issued – from the very beginning, Riot, Azubu and KeSPA were all aware that the DMCA claim was unlawful. They ignored the topic not because they didn’t understand it or because there was some debate over ownership, they did so because they all saw it was a cheap, zero-risk way to bully StarLordLucian into shutting the stream down without Riot ever involving themselves in the case.
I can only speculate here, since there hasn’t been an official explanation from Azubu (and there never will be one), but the DMCA claim was likely suggested by KeSPA and purposefully ignored by Riot. Had it not been for Travis exposing the issue initially, the community would had never caught on and Riot would had kept quiet.
As many have pointed out – and as we’ve given feedback to Azubu directly – their DMCA action wasn’t based on a valid legal claim of ownership.
This quote suggests that Azubu’s legal department was so incompetent that Riot had to explain to them they had no rights over Faker’s gameplay. Don’t be fooled; all the people running this show had knowledge of Riot’s Terms of Serviceand were fully aware of their action. They knew that StarLordLucian couldn’t bring Azubu to court as the legal expenses would be too great for him to cover. They also knew (or had an agreement) that Riot wouldn’t pursue legal action in the case that StarLordLucian rejected the claim or made it public.
Let’s establish the legal framework first. Faker has a streaming contract with Azubu. This means that Azubu have acquired the rights to have Faker perform his work exclusively on their platform. Faker’s stream is derivative content, i.e it uses the original (Riot’s game assets) to create something new (his own unique gameplay). That gameplay still belongs to Riot, as does any League player’s gameplay.
If we assume that Azubu owns the ‘Faker’ brand, they could techcnically file for trademark infringement. This would entail that StarLordLucian’s stream was causing confusion between the two services for consumers (viewers). However, SpectateFaker showed a different perspective of Faker’s matches and on a different platform, so there’s no room to apply a Lahman Act claim. Besides, Azubu sent a DMCA claim, which doesn’t concern itself with trademarks.
If Faker’s work was transformative, i.e it used the original as a reference to inform like a review, critique, opinion, etc. would, and StarLordLucian was streaming that, then and only then could he or Azubu claim legal ownership.
In fact, the only content Azubu can argue they own is the version of Faker’s matches that’s shown on their streams, with his webcamera footage, his mouse clicks, etc. When you consider that even that ownership is highly debatable and that SpectateFaker didn’t infringe on it, there really aren’t any grounds left for Azubu to claim copyrights.
Twitch, in this case, is protected by the safe harbor provision which shields service providers from the actions of users that lead to copyright infringement. The law, when applied to this case, states that if Twitch didn’t know about SpectateFaker, they weren’t responsible for any subsequent consequences. Upon finding out, Twitch is legally obligated to remove such streams but since Azubu’s claim was unfounded there was no pressure on Twitch to take action.
To sum up, Azubu had no legal grounds to file for either copyright abuse or trademark infringement. Twitch also had no responsibility to take down SpectateFaker so the only party that could legally act was Riot. The legality of the case should had been the main priority for Merrill to explain in his official response. As it stands, we’ve no evidence that Azubu will ever be held liable by Riot.
Video games have been a massive industry for years now, but the laws protecting people’s creative work with them didn’t get with the times. Content creators on Youtube struggle with DMCA claims: they can have their videos taken down because a portion of the audio matches licensed music, even though that audio runs as background to their original content. Twitch ran into this a year ago when they decided to mute VODs for fear of copyright claims on tracks used. Companies can file for copyright abuse almost unimpeded and they rarely face repercussions; they can issue takedowns, have them rejected and lose nothing in the process. A content creator, however, gets a strike and after three strikes it’s lights out.
In extreme cases, publishers can issue DMCA claims against criticism, trampling over First Amendment Rights with frightening ease. Even big names like TotalBiscuit are not safe from the abuse of copyright law.
The line in the sand with regards to DMCA claims is already moving with fast pace towards an ocean. If Riot continue to ignore what KeSPA and Azubu did wrong, then they are empowering the scum of tomorrow to do what they did. And it’s content creators and their fans that will reap the consequences of Riot’s inaction.
Why is it important that we don’t let Azubu and KeSPA get away with law abuse? From a legal standpoint, the DMCA establishes civil liability for knowingly making a false claim. But there’s a greater looming concern here. If Azubu’s ‘punishment’ for copyright law abuse was a slap on the wrist, what’s stopping other sponsors or companies from repeating their strategy? Azubu and KeSPA acted unlawfully, got what they wanted and Riot’s response to it was they ‘gave them feedback’. Not only that, but the co-founder of Riot ran to their defense, demonized a community member in the process and managed to excuse himself from ever apologizing. The decision to make an example out of StarLordLucian and let the real crooks flee the scene is, to put it purely and simply, disgusting, and it should weigh on both Merrill and Riot.
I’ve laid a groundwork of evidence and arguments here for a case that I believe still needs settling. But my words shouldn’t be the sole voice of your opinion. I encourage you to critique me where you find it necessary and get as many sources on the case as you can. I only hope is that this article will spark a conversation between players and Riot and we get right people to own up and take responsibility for their actions.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dawngate, a project by Waystone Games that now lies abandoned, was a breeding pool of incredible ideas. A few days ago the studio shut down all servers and its corporate overlords at EA resumed counting money and punching babies. Though the game will never see release, I think Riot and future MOBA devs can all benefit from learning about Dawngate’s approach. Now that Waystone’s creation is no more, let’s step back and appreciate what it did right:
Dawngate’s advertising mostly revolved around the slogan ‘Break the Meta’. Particularly, League’s meta. On their regular stream, the devs often mentioned they were big fans of LoL and felt their game could follow in its legacy, while remedying what they thought were issues. Their core goal was having more than one team comp be viable.
And, from my experience, they succeeded. During Champion Select (Shaper Select) in Dawngate, you could choose between 4 roles. Gladiator would give you a stacking gold bonus for last hitting minions. Predator would give you bonus gold for every kill and assist. Tactician would give you gold every time you hit an enemy Shaper (think the Frost Queen line of support items) or a minion near you died. Hunter would increase your damage against jungle monsters and heal you for a percentage of the damage dealt to them.
These four roles meant your playstyle was defined by your personal choice, not the champion you picked.
Above, Dawngate’s roles – Gladiator, Predator, Tactician and Hunter.
It was quite possible and viable to jungle with unorthodox picks; you just needed to pick the ‘Hunter’ role. Second carries in lane could serve as supports by choosing ‘Tactician’. Melee carries, instead of jungling or farming, could choose a ‘Predator’ role and focus on roaming. Of course, champion design often leaned toward a particular role, but you could still experiment within that role. ‘Tactician’ and ‘Predator’, for example, balanced each other out really well between a defensive playstyle and an offensive one – supports with high kill potential could focus on being aggressive or sit back and protect their carries, depending on what role they chose. Defensive supports could still pick ‘Predator’ and lane with stronger early carries.
LoL’s meta can be seen as stale or evolving; it depends on whose perception you’re looking for. A professional player would see more variety than a casual one, because their definition of a meta is more expansive. They’d include factors like timed tower pushes, objectives, comps that are meant to split-push, comps that need to force fights, rotations depending on champions picked and so on. But these differences are marginal; worse, they tend to just cycle with patches, rather than create entirely new strategies. A few champions dominate before being nerfed, then the forgotten ones surface out; rinse and repeat.
Dawngate’s meta was less about cycling champions and more about cycling playstyles. Double jungle-comps used to be quite popular, so did double carry + support lanes. Your options in lane weren’t split between an AP or an AD champion, but between how many players would be on that lane, what they’d do in the lane and where they’d go afterwards.
You wouldn’t see a roaming Alistar going with a ‘Predator’ style, with a Caitlyn soloing bot lane from safe range with ‘Tactician’. In Dawngate, you could play that way and it wouldn’t feel like a gimmick.
In League, Summoner Spells are not a choice, they’re a part of your cooldowns. Flash is auto-locked and the rest depends on your role. Dawngate did have a Flash and some of its spells mirrored those found in LoL, but they were, again, balanced for individual roles. So you could really take a Zhonya-like spell over a Flash and you wouldn’t be gimping your team. Flash was more often-than-not a must-have on carries, but other roles were not forced into picking it.
Most of Dawngate’s spell diversity comes from a balance of strength and cooldown. A weak, AoE shield had a much shorter cooldown than a stronger, self-target one. This meant there was room for both spells, depending on the circumstance. Ignite was also split; you could opt for a low-damage spell that also slowed your target or a heal-over-time that also applied a DoT to target enemy. For every Summoner Spell option in League, there were two in Dawngate.
You could also change spells at the starting platform by purchasing new ones and replacing your old ones. So you could skip Flash in the early game and still get it in time for late-game teamfights by selling another spell which has lost relevance.
‘Cleanse’ was actually viable
LoL’s Cleanse is a well-designed spell – it’s reactive, it’s not overpowered on its own and it’s heavily situational. And, because it’s just balanced and not mandatory, it’s never picked. Dawngate had Cleanse; in fact, it has both League’s Cleanse and DotA’s Black King Bar, which makes a character immune to disables. These spells both aim for similar effect but in different ways – Blitz is obviously stronger on initiators, because it lasts longer but doesn’t break existing CC. Dispel is more reactive and, thus, better-suited on carries.
But the cooldowns are proper, their effects reward good use and so they can actually compete for a slot, even with Flash. We’ll never see Blitz in League, but Dispel can be a good example of how Cleanse should be buffed.
Some readers might recall I talked about Dawngate’s Karma system about a year ago. In plain terms, Karma is what you reward both allies and enemies with once the game is over. At the end of each match, you vote which player you think should receive Karma. You can split the Karma you’d give between multiple players if you feel they’re all deserving.
After the score screen closes, all players receive a chest full of loot. The rarity of that chest depends on several factors, but Karma has the biggest influence. The chest itself gives in-game currency by default, but it can also reward you with a new ‘rune’ (which I’ll get to later) or even a new character.
Opening chests in Dawngate was a marvel – from the animation of the lid flying off to the rewards being written on flip-cards. It made each win a special occasion. More importantly, the Karma system made defeats less of a bummer - if you did your best but still lost, chances were a fellow teammate or an enemy would reward your efforts with Karma, pushing your score up towards a rarer chest and better rewards.
On the opposite end, if your match was ruined by a negative player or a troll, etc., you could personally punish them by not giving them Karma. That way, even if that toxic player won, he’d still get less rewards.
The reward meter at the end of each match is filled by various conditions. In green is the Karma gained through player voting.
The contents of a chest depend on its rarity and chance, of course.
I could go on, but I’ll stop here and summarize: the Karma system empowers players to both honor and punish others in a meaningful way. Honoring a player in League often feels like a meaningless gesture; similarly, reporting lacks any feedback and, over-time, becomes a chore. In Dawngate, you were given the physical means to encourage good behavior.
I hope Riot will consider giving power to players in the way Dawngate’s Karma system does. I’ve previously discussed adding a pause to League or voting for most valuable player and the response to these topics has been identical: these options would be abused. I think that, at a certain point, being conservative with a huge community does more harm than good. Adding a Karma-like system would be a huge experiment for Riot, but that’s why the PBE realm exists. Although the Dawngate has closed, it remains a proper realization of that experiment.
Dawngate’s ‘runes’ were split in two categories - Sparks and Spiritstones. Sparks were standard LoL runes, each giving you a small stat increase. Spiritstones could give you either a more sizable stat boost or an additional passive. These catered to both the four main roles and to specific champions. You could make an optimal loadout for a specific champion filling a specific role, but between flat stat boosts, % boosts and entirely new passives, you had plenty of options to make every niche pick work.
There was the minigame of fitting Spiritstones within the ‘rune page’, like ‘Tetris’ blocks. It was good fun trying to maximize the space on your page with different Spiritstones and slotting Sparks into the empty sockets.
Runes could also be won via the Karma system. I would often get Sparks from wins, meaning the only real expense for me were Spiritstones. This let me spend most of my currency on new characters, which allowed me to buy more skins. What worked for me also worked for the developers. And it gets better.
Left side – Spiritstones, right side – Sparks. Sparks fit into Spiritstones which then fit on your loadout page.
If you’re a new player in League going up against smurfs or higher-level players, you are statistically weaker. You have an empty rune page compared to their full page, made specifically for the champion they’re playing. That match is stacked against you, which sucks and has sucked since release. Runes can be fun and give you more ways to start off a game after you have them; before that, they’re a chore you just have to deal with. So why not get the first batch free and spare new players the grind?
In Dawngate, you were given three loadout pages and two Spiritstones with their respective Sparks for free. Since there were no tiers in Dawngate’s system, it meant you were competitive from the get-go. You could easily play with a pre-made loudout for hundreds of games, opting to instead use your in-game currency on unlocking new characters.
An example of a Spiritstone, granting the player a unique new passive.
Runes can be an engaging part of League. They can make for better champion diversity, open new roles for already-viable champions and encourage players to experiment. Dawngate’s system was by no means perfect, but it made an otherwise-tedious grind interactive and forgiving for newcomers.
All this talk of how runes can make the game fun aside, they remain mostly a business decision. No one in League’s history has said “I can’t wait to spend the IP I saved for a month on stats”. Runes exist so players don’t get to spend too much IP on new champions and instead buy them with real money. This concept is neither fun nor exploitative – it’s just acceptable and works as part of a business model.
But runes can be more than an annoyance. Dawngate, in my opinion, managed to make the system more diverse and easy on new players. I hope we one day see ‘pre-made rune pages’ in League; if not completely free, then at least at some discount.
League’s current death recap is, to put it bluntly, a waste of space. Most often the damage shown adds up to a third of the damage you were dealt. Death Recap picks up damage from irrelevant sources like Sunfire Cape or Liandry’s Torment while skipping what actually killed you. Icons and spell names are often missing or bugged, leaving you with a blank square and a number next to it. Terms like “mixed damage” are also meaningless; you don’t learn what to itemize for, so what’s the point of that number?
It’s a broken mess. It is, however, a good place to find out that Flash deals damage.
Dawngate had a functioning death recap since alpha. It swaps the column style of League’s recap for two pie charts that split damage by type and source. The first chart would show you what percentages of magical, physical or true damage you took; the second would detail what spells killed you, how much damage they dealt and who used them. This lets a player know what damage to itemize for and who his/her team should focus in fights.
One of my favourite characters in Dawngate was Mina, a tiny doll-like support. Mina could transform into a giant key and plug herself into allies; she would share damage taken with them, but she could also cast all of her spells from within her allies. Her ultimate would make puppet illusions of enemies that would hover above them in torment. Add to it Mina’s unbridled rudeness and the hilarity of a doll shouting orders at others and you have a character that’s a joy to play and learn about.
Most of Dawngate’s characters had unique mechanics that took months to develop. An example of this would be Kensu, whose ultimate allows allies to pass over terrain. Other mechanics were much simpler, but fit the character’s theme so well. Nissa, a ranged carry who used a wooden boomerang, had a pet squirrel that would jump off her shoulder and act as a ward.
We have plenty of diverse characters in League that explore new mechanics and playstyles. Dawngate had its share of stars on the roster and its champion (shaper) list can be a well of ideas for future characters in League.
Lore, in any game, creates a coherent universe and grounds the characters in it. The quality of League’s storytelling can be very impressive at times. Kalista’s pledge ritual, for example, does a unique character justice – a ghostly warrior who is summoned by others to enact vengeance in exchange for their souls. It shows in great detail the link she has with spirits and her outer-world powers.
Most times, however, LoL’s lore borders on fanfiction. The motivations of champions to fight are so poorly conceived that immersion is broken. This was made worse by the removal of the Institute of War last year.
I think the main problem with LoL’s storytelling is it’s too clean. We’re rarely challenged by a unique narrative; most of the time we’re scrolling through standard tropes (a good example would be Trundle’s old vs new lore). Dawngate’s lore was often quirky, daring – one character, Freia, runs a bloodied axe through the tale of Red Riding Hood and shares a rivalry with Fenmore, the wolf in that story. Kindra, a seductive noblewoman, has a fittingly erotic lore. And so on.
Storytelling in Dawngate was a constant experiment. New characters were teased with their artwork in black-and-white and a long story detailing a key moment from their past. Though League’s reveals are certainly more eye-catchy and impressive, I think there was charm in Dawngate’s minimalist approach to teasing new entries in its world. The style hearkens back to Quinn’s journal – a teaser that focused on storytelling over visuals and kept players hyped for a long time.
Back in Season 1, Riot had a similar formula of crafting League’s lore with the Journal of Justice – a ‘newspaper’ issue of sorts that covered important events across the world of Runeterra. It served a niche audience that could only support it for a single volume during the first season. Regardless, the tone of the narrative made the journal an immersive read. It led to the Ionia vs Noxus battle, Riot’s first (and last) lore-driven match between pro players.
Dawngate’s lore span dozens of webcomics, which you can find stored here. Some of those stories were dedicated to skins; every new skin had a lore piece to accompany its release. Here’s a section from the story of one of my favourite skins in Dawngate – Deathtalon Viyana:
They were all her inferiors. Imperfect. Study models. Stones laid on the road to her own creation. The best attempts of the minds of their age to attain something akin to her own majesty. Her grandparents, in a sense. Not by birth, but by blood all the same.
Her powers awakened; her eyes cast crimson light across the dust and bone. Yes – old blood remained in the marrow. Quicksilver awareness traced the broken strands and arcs. There, the knotting preferred by Promin. Here, the condensations peculiar to House Artam. Maker’s marks. Faster clotting to heal wounds, denser bone to prevent breakage.
And then there was completely experimental storytelling, like audio logs. Those were brilliant; sadly, Dawngate’s sudden shutdown meant they couldn’t be finished and a lot of them were pushed out at the very end.
Again, I can keep up the lore exhibit, but I’ll end this section on a key point; Dawngate made you connect with beings who experienced human emotion. There was no world-threatening conflict to give meaning to these characters, they just were. And sometimes all you need to flesh out a fictional world is bring its heroes back down to earth.
You can find all of Dawngate’s Chronicles stored here. Many thanks to redditor Trymantha for the link!
Dawngate didn’t have loading screens. To whoever did the programming magic to make it happen – you are amazing. No loading screens meant less time waiting for a match to start, no chance of someone disconnecting while loading and, most importantly, instant reconnects.
[ Note ] I don’t have a better screen to show, but the Champion (Shaper) select above wasn’t the final version.
After the timer up top is over, you’re immediately put in the game, no loading screens.
The new Summoner’s Rift does take some design cues from Dawngate’s map. Textures in both games resemble brush strokes and have vivid, contrasting colors. Both jungles are strewn with critters and intricate details. The inspiration is there, at least in some part, and it goes both ways – Dawngate was initially inspired by League.
The new Baron now has unique AoE attacks, much like Dawngate’s Parasite creature. Though the Parasite evolves as the game progresses, it fights identically to the updated Baron on SR.
Dawngate remains special to me, because it took from League only the foundation and built a new experience. There are only two lanes, not three. Deep in the jungle there are four wells, where tiny minions gather gold for your team; these can be killed and their wells captured. The Nexus is a huge creature with various attacks and health bars. It’s linked to power points which, when destroyed, weaken it so the team can bring it down. Turrets respawn in order after a given time. The list goes on.
Maybe some of what Dawngate tried was too ambitious and untested. But the game was a bold step forward for a genre where ideas tend to be polished, rather than evolved.
Dawngate was a collaboration of creative genius, sold under the logo that won ‘America’s worst’ two years in a row. Still, every tragic story needs its share of hope. Some of Waystone’s developers have banded together to make a new studio. Others are friends with Rioters and may find a new home working on LoL. Wherever they end up, it’s important to acknowledge their brilliant work. It’s passion that built the Dawngate, and it’s greed that killed it. I hope Waystone’s devs find the avenue to build the game they wanted Dawngate to be.
I would also hope that EA goes bankrupt and its employees burn their managers at the stake, but I hope for that every year and it never happens.
[ Note ] For my article I used resources from the Shaper’s Guild, an amazing fan-made website that covered Dawngate all the way to its farewell announcement.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Welcome back to Rift Pulse, a weekly roundup of all things LoL eSports. This week follows the start of the LCS, the announcement of a Mid-Season Invitational, a brand new weekly show by Riot, and more.
Team Liquid announced their foray into the Challenger Scene with Liquid Academy.
Alex Ich will be starting as the Mid Laner for Brawl, in addition to being a substitute for Team 8.
What is it like going from playing in Challenger Series to playing in international LAN tournaments? What is the hardest part to adjust to?
Kikis: As for myself, I have a lot of experience of playing LAN events even before LCS was a thing, for example 2012 regionals at Gamescom, so it’s nothing new to me. But it’s a lot different and more exciting to play in front of huge live audience, when you can feel when they cheer and get hyped, instead of online at your sweet home. It’s definitely something I look forward to and will never get bored of.
What steps do you take to adapt to the newest patch? What is your approach to the current jungle?
Kikis: Well, the most important thing is to get used to it. And to do that, you just spam solo Queue games.. To get a feel of what’s strong I try a lot of champions that I think might be worth experimenting with. If I don’t see any potential in a champion, I’ll just drop it and move on. If I think something can work I’ll use it in a scrim to see how it works in a more competitive environment. I don’t look too hard though, I don’t put pressure on myself to deliver a new pick to the audience. I won’t put team in situation that we lose purely by trying too hard to make something work.
Who do you expect to give you the hardest time in the jungle?
Kikis: It’s hard to judge skill levels after new jungle patch came out and most of the junglers didn’t play competitive games on it. But if I had to choose, I respect Svenskeren as a player the most and I think he could give me the hardest time in the jungle with his aggressive playstyle. It doesn’t mean I would fall under his grace though, I will fight to the death with everyone I meet on Summoner’s rift.
What do you like or dislike about the current state of the jungle in the preseason and what changes would you like to see heading into Season 5?
Kikis: I like the way changes are going right now. Riot is doing their best to make this role balanced and fun. I actually really enjoy 2 stacks of smite and ability to change jungle items for free before enchanting. It gives better options for farming junglers that start with purple smite, and later on they can change it back to more useful smite in team fights.
What are your thoughts on ranged junglers and do you believe they require an advanced mechanical proficiency? What is their place on a team?
Kikis: I think ranged junglers are pretty strong, but it’s hard to fit them into a team comp. A lot of the times you have mid, ad and support ranged and you need some kind of front line. They require proper knowledge and practice about juggling the minions to not lose health and also don’t let them hard reset, which slows your jungle tremendously. Though with the recent nerfs on soft resets going down to 5 I am not so sure about them anymore. That might’ve killed their viability.
What was your mindset picking TF at IEM, was it intended to be a “cheese” or is it simply something you’ve practiced and had success with? What were your thoughts going into the matchup against TSM?
Kikis: We’ve practiced TF in scrims quite a bit. It worked pretty well. A lot of damage with great CC and map control with ult. I was confident in the champion, team was confident in me and we just went with it. Of course the part that we pick it in higher rotation to make enemies think it’s a mid-laner played a big part and that was intended, but it wasn’t the sole reason to use Twisted Fate. Everyone was super pumped against playing versus TSM and we were really motivated to win that and I’m really glad we actually did.
What did you gain most from playing at IEM? What are your overall thoughts on the event?
Kikis: Most people on the team doesn’t have a lot of LAN experience, especially in front of such a huge and wonderful audience, so it was a good thing for us. We played versus the best teams from NA and we learned a lot from C9 about vision control and team synergy. The event itself was really nice. We’ve met a lot of fans of the team, signed some stuff and took some photos. (which is pretty new to us by the way, it was overwhelming).
How are you preparing for the LCS? What are your goals going into the spring split?
Kikis: Well, mainly playing the game. 7 hours of scrim daily, 1-4 hours of solo Q and some analysis/team talk and watching replays. Every day we are getting better, we know our problems and we address them correctly. Everyone has a lot of trust into each other which is really great. We are not afraid to practice picks that we think are strong and we are motivated to put up a good show in the LCS and hopefully more.
Who are you looking forward to playing against most and who do you feel is your biggest threat in the EU LCS?
Kikis: It might sound lame but I look forward against playing every team. I am curious about overall strength of EU teams and on how we stand against them. The biggest threat will probably be Elements and SK. They look really good on paper, but we have to see if they stand up to their hype.
What players do you look up to? How would you define your playstyle and how do you feel it plays into your teams overall gameplay?
Kikis: The people I most look up to are the ones that give their heart and dedicate a lot of time to league. So from Europe it would mostly be Rekkles and Froggen. Also Faker, because he is a god, and Zefa. I really like Zefa’s playstyle and love watching him play.
What is your favorite lane to gank?
Kikis: I don’t really have a favorite lane to gank. The only thing is that a lot of the times it’s hard to gank bot lane because they have more people percentage wise compared to other lanes and more defensive summoner spells.
Kikis: I would like to thanks to everyone who is cheering for me or my team. The amount of support we are getting lately is huge and we are grateful for that. Also shout outs to our sponsors for helping us out and making living in gaming house possible!
Season 5 is fast approaching and we’ve been given some clues as to what we can expect. I’ve organized the major events in this article; note that while these are all confirmed, there’s no timeframe, so they might not happen in 2015.
Poppy is first on the gameplay update list and likely the high priority for the rework team right now. Morello has personally stated that Poppy is in a dire spot and needs a complete overhaul, one that would keep her theme of a hammer-wielding Yordle.
Poppy is an example of Riot’s old design philosophies; making Champions that fit one purpose on the map and have clearly defined weaknesses. That was the intent. However, Poppy isn’t exactly handing out counterplay tips. Her main cons – an abysmally small mana pool and lack of wave-clear – don’t give enemies an opportunity to abuse; they just keep Poppy toned down so she doesn’t dominate. She’s more of an obstacle to play around rather than a Champion with interactive mechanics.
The main offenders are her passive and ultimate. Blocking chunks of damage innately and constantly is just raw statistical power. The enemy gets hardly any feedback, visual or number-wise, when spells hit Poppy for halved damage. It’s not really a passive you can play around in a teamfight or even in lane, unless you’ve true damage or low-cooldown spells. Worse, still, this passive defines Poppy as a bruiser, meaning her appeal lies in bad design. Not the easiest Champion to rework.
Diplomatic Immunity reminds me a bit of Magic The Gathering’s Black Lotus, in that almost every Champion can replace their ultimate with Poppy’s. It’s the best carry spell by miles, because it eliminates the threats that prevent a carry from carrying. In a game that’s focused around teamplay and Champion interactions, Poppy’s ultimate is deliberately made for zero interaction. And it’s another defining strength of Poppy’s; Diplomatic Immunity has existed for so long only because Poppy isn’t popular enough for it to be a considerable problem.
At her core, Poppy is a fearless front-liner who smashes targets with a big hammer. That’s a cool concept, but it can definitely use less ridiculous mechanics to function. I’ll aim to cover her in a future Rework Forge article with ideas that might preserve her theme.
2014 passed without an ultimate skin and I think it was a good decision. Why? Two things were clear; one, DJ Sona was meant to be the year’s ultimate skin and two, the community’s feedback on the concept was mostly negative. Riot could had gone forward and made the skin in 2014 and it would likely had sold very well, but they listened to what players thought.
With DJ Sona possibly being remade into a legendary skin, we don’t yet know who will get the ultimate skin. Rioters have teased info before, like that the chosen Champion has few skins and some have narrowed down choices to Lux or Xerath. Regardless, we won’t know for sure until the skin is patched onto the PBE. Maybe we’ll get Dragonmaster Swain after all.
Tristana is one of 16 Champions who were released during League’s Alpha in 2009. Her visuals are as outdated as they can be, so her being on the update list is great news.
Tristana’s kit may be 5-years-old, but it still holds up quite well in the meta, as we saw this year when itemization favored hyper-carries. Still, there are aging mechanics littered throughout. The obvious one is that Explosive Shot [ E ] is not a toggled spell. Since it can’t be disabled, it forces Tristana players to manage their last hits so one kill doesn’t ruin another. It also means a Trist player who has a point in E can’t freeze lanes. It’s certainly unique; no other Champion forces a player to think about last hitting ahead-of-time like that.
But this added difficulty isn’t essential for Tristana’s kit. It’s just there because you can’t have both a toggle and an active bound to a single key. It’s restricting game design, something Riot have gone past in recent years. If Tristana were released today, her E would, for example, make every X shot explode for bonus damage. It would certainly be streamlined to where players aren’t stuck with a passive they might not want.
There are technical issues to Tristana that the gameplay update will likely address. Her Rocket Jump is only visually a jump; it behaves like a dash, meaning it won’t go over Caitlyn’s traps, a Blitzcrank hook, a Bear Stance Udyr or any triggered stun. Speaking of stuns, those only affect Tristana after she’s landed, so if you Bandage Toss her as Amumu, you’ll stop at the point where you’ve landed the stun and not where Tristana will land at. Mechanically, the spell is inconsistent and just confusing for players who assume Rocket Jump interacts in certain ways, but it doesn’t.
Lastly, AP Trist. Although it’s most often a build for pub games, it will likely be gutted with the update. Riot have been adamant about multiple builds and Champions who are played in “unintended” ways usually get the short end of the stick when the patch hits. An AP build makes Tristana’s playstyle completely opposite to that of AD Trist which, in itself, is worth keeping. But, given Riot’s history with alternative builds (Tryndamere, Rengar, Alistar, Lulu, Soraka, Katarina, and, most recently, AP Rek’Sai) they likely won’t be balancing Tristana for both options.
U.R.F was a massive hit with the playerbase in April of 2014. It was the most popular featured mode and the most requested one. Its roots are in DotA’s WTF mode and it’s great fun, but was taken away just a short month after its release.
To say U.R.F was imbalanced would be an understatement. For example, Sona had a 77% winrate on U.R.F. Alistar could play tennis with your mangled corpse, Yorick was a god, most AD bruisers who are otherwise gated by CDs were ridiculous and you could watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy while being chain-snared by Morgana.
Looking back at it, we all agree U.R.F was great, but we can’t deny it was a love-hate relationship. Balance is part of the equation when playing a competitive game for fun and players naturally tunnel on what’ll let them win easier, since winning is fun for most. Featured modes are imbalanced, which is why they’re rotated out. If we want U.R.F to stay, we should view it in long terms; unfair picks would burn us out on an otherwise great addition to League.
When Riot pulled the plug on U.R.F, they did so to fix the issues the mode had. We’ll most likely see it return in 2015, if not as a permanent mode, then at least as a better, more refined version of the old crowd favorite.
It’s been 8 months since the Tribunal was brought down for an overhaul. In that time, we got Chat Restrictions, bans from Ranked, 2-week bans and bans for intentional feeding to handle the toxicity (of our city). Though reports are still handled by real people, the lack of players reviewing cases has slowed down punishment to a crawl. You could be a dick to someone and not learn of said dick behavior until a few weeks later.
The Tribunal will, above all, distribute punishments and rewards faster. It will only take a few days following a closed case for action to be taken. To contrast, punishments at the moment are handed out in “waves”, meaning negative players are clumped together and restricted at the same time. The “pardon period” will also be made a lot shorter – a punished player will only get one warning and two chances before they lose their account.
The new Tribunal will also be reviewing positive players for rewards in addition to its older features. This change may give players a tangible reason to act decent and that puts a welcome spin on how community behavior is handled. Every year the best Tribunal contributors will receive in-game rewards for their work.
This mix of punishments and rewards will, hopefully, cover all types of players. Those who want skins may, for example, receive an exclusive skin for positive behavior. Respectively, negative players may be denied the Season’s Victorious skin. Players who value in-game status may earn or lose loading screen borders, etc. To sum up, neutral and positive players will have in-game goals to strive for and remain neutral or positive and negative players will have punishments to keep them in line.
Justice Reviews will be easier to manage. These are, in essence, “scoreboards” for Tribunal users to track their contribution to solving cases. They’re a good incentive for the “jury” to remain active, so making them more accessible means more people will stick around to keep the Tribunal functional.
What’s missing from the list of features is, still, pre- and post-game chat logs. I personally think most toxicity takes place in Champion Select and if that area of player communication isn’t monitored, then the Tribunal loses a lot of its evidence for a case. I hope Tribunal users will be given access to these.
The new Tribunal is taking similar time to develop as an average game by EA. And, while relying on slow systems for months-on-end is a tad aggravating, we’ll be getting mostly every feature requested. Let’s hope we can instantly ban people whose chat logs include “X or feed”.
Fiora’s rework was an update teased too early, akin to Yorick’s rework. We know she’ll be getting a complete overhaul, but she isn’t a priority for the moment so shooting for 2015 is perhaps wishful thinking.
It’s evident why Fiora needs changes; a condensed explanation would be that she’s meant to be a Melee DPS, when she’s really a glorified assassin. Outplaying Fiora is rarely an option, since she’s effectively a lump of stats and targeted dashes. Similarly, she can’t outplay enemies herself. Put the two together and you get a one-trick pony whose success depends mostly on the match-up and rarely on mechanics or strategy.
Personally, I don’t think Fiora is a balance issue, but I consider her a failed concept. She’s the Grand Duelist, but only on paper. A duelist would time her attacks and wait for a crack in the enemy’s guard, but Fiora mostly relies on her three steroids to win fights. Her rapier could be Xin Zhao’s spear and little would change.
Game Designer Guinsoo has shared ideas for Fiora in the past and they’re in a similar ballpark – more mobility and opportunity to outplay, at the cost of burst damage. Her role would change from a top laner to a mid laner or a jungler; the latter is interesting, since Melee ADCs have never really been competitive junglers.
The rework team seems to be leaning towards excessive mobility to make Fiora viable. Given the over-abundance of mobility that’s currently in the game, it may be the only solution to make a Melee ADC competitive. But will that mobility take from the Champion’s power budget or will it just be tacked on?
The main problem with Fiora will be the problem of Melee ADs in League. The archetype is usually too risky to warrant picking over Ranged ADs and bruisers. It makes Fiora’s rework that much more important for the game, since it can be an example of how melee carries should be designed in the future.
Warwick’s rework was teased several months ago on Reddit by Champion designer ZenonTheStoic. We already saw a preview of how unfun Warwick can be if left to his own devices in Patch 4.20. He’s a simple character with simple counterplay and that’s good to have for new players, but it’s hard to make the formula competitive and fair. The suggested rework has a lot of skillshots and requires proper positioning, which would make Warwick much easier to balance, since enemies can interact with him beyond buying QSS.
Eternal Thirst [ Passive ]
. AAs deal 2% of their target’s max HP as magic damage and heal Warwick for 5 flat + (0.9-1.8% bonus hp) (scales with champ level) Every time this passive is procced, WW gains a stack of Eternal Thirst (max 10). Each stack of ET increases the self-heal effect by 11%. Stacks fall off after 1.8s (just enough time to keep the buff alive at lowest AS + a fleeing enemy) (if you’re faster than them), they fall off one at a time at 4 stacks/second (sort of hyper-quick Jinx Q style).
Hungering Strikes [ Q ]
Double-attack a nearby enemy target. Deals a total of 80-200 + 0.6 AP magic damage, but does proc on-hits (and your passive) twice. Note: it’s super weird that we have a skill that procs your AAs but ignores your AD. I know. This is a tradeoff the kit needed. Additionally, passive healing from this spell is further increased by 60-100% (so at 10 stacks you’d get 220% base heal from each proc for a total of 440% of the stated value; at level 18 that would be 5 + 1.8% bonus hp–a good value to hit here is about 35 by end game. This works out to about 180 hp healed, before spirit visage.)
This Q is also super spammable (CD 9-5, mana cost 40-60 on a kit with better base mana and better mana regen) (these numbers will definitely change as we move into tuning later in the year)
Howl [ W ]
(all names placeholder, obviously). PBAOE terrify away from the center of the effect (NOT from WW; subtle distinction, but important for the E). 0.75s duration on the terrify and then a follow up slow, the duration of which scales with skill rank. This is how you gank pre-6 and why the enemy cannot ignore you in team fights. CD 12-8, mana cost 50 flat. Damage 70-190 + 0.6 AP.
Blood Scent / Hamstring [ E ]
Passively this is still Blood Scent, with some tweaks (more range early on, shows an Orianna ball indicator under your feet toward the nearest revealed target, only gives MS when you move toward a revealed champ, also reveals big monsters at <50% hp (for the counter janglings), MS doesn’t all kick in at once but becomes stronger as revealed target gets lower.)
Active: Hamstring. This is the “boomerang move”. You’re standing at point A, click B, Warwick dashes A->B->A with no pause in between. He hurts all targets touched en route and puts a strong micro-slow on them (falls off almost immediately). You CAN use W and smite during this ability, but not Q (optimal use case became too micro intensive). The micro-slow BARELY allows you to catch a fleeing enemy, but if you E and they dodge, you’ll lose distance. Mana cost 50 flat, CD 16 flat, damage 140-220 + 0.6 AP total. Does not proc passive, but keeps stacks alive. Slow 95% for 0.25s.
Finite Duress [ R ]
Think Sejuani Q, but stun first enemy target hit for 2.5s while attacking them 6 times. Spell has its own base damage and AP ratio (180/240/300 + 0.9 AP), but also procs your passive 6 times, so it also does 18% of target max hp as magical damage.
There’s no set date for when we’ll see Warwick’s rework and no evidence that the suggested rework is anything but an experiment. He isn’t on the gameplay update list (yet), but he’s being worked on and we’ll likely see him revamped this year.
An interesting observation is that Warwick hasn’t received a texture rebalance. Given that his model and animations are outdated, it suggests a visual update is on its way to complement his gameplay rework. And it may happen way sooner than we expect.
Ao Shin was a hot topic in 2013 when he was teased, but since then there hasn’t been news on the Champion. The gist of the design is an Eastern-themed storm dragon that can both support allies and be a teamfight threat. He’s meant to fill concepts that aren’t already occupied by Shyvana (half-dragon) and Janna (storm sorceress). Being an interpretation of a Chinese dragon, he won’t be breathing fire; his powers will be based around controlling elements.
From the teaser:
“Ao Shin embodies this elemental duality, capable of raining good fortune on his allies and, in the very next breath, bringing stormy, thunderous ruin upon his foes.”
Gameplay-wise, the direction seems to be a hybrid between a support character and an AoE mage. This may mean Ao Shin will have dual-effect spells that change depending on who they target, like Lulu. Also, given that most new Champions don’t use mana, he might have a completely new resource to fuel his hybrid kit.
The teaser mentions that Ao Shin will come when Ionia is faced with its biggest crisis, so his release will likely be tied to a major lore event. Again, we may not see him this year, but if we do, we’ll get plenty of forewarning. For now, we’ve Champion Designer Meddler‘s explanation why we won’t be seeing Ao Shin for a while:
TLDR: Ao Shin someday, won’t be soon.
Slightly longer version: We spent a bunch of time working on Ao Shin but ultimately concluded he wasn’t hitting the mark so put him on hold for a while in order to figure some things out. We still think his concept’s really cool, as is some of the stuff we were trying with him, so do intend to make him someday. Don’t expect to see him anytime soon though, we’d rather be slow, but do a better job of delivering on his potential, than quick.
That’s a process some other champs have also gone through (Lee Sin, Elise and Azir for example), where it took a few different takes to hit on what we felt was the right one (Lee Sin originally as Blind Monk way back pre launch, Elise originally as Priscilla the Spider Queen, Azir originally as Seth the sand mage), ultimately yielding better champs in the long run we feel.
Welcome to the second edition of Rift Pulse, a weekly roundup of all things LoL eSports. This week follows the end of the EU and NA expansion tournaments, the 2015 Challenger Series, the conclusion of IEM and much more.
Shan “Chaox” Huang has officially joined a new Challenger team, Roar. The team has already begun bootcamping in China.
Team Liquid looks to take over Curse as title sponsor.
The first four players of xPeke’s new Challenger team Origen have been announced. http://na.lolesports.com/articles/origen-unveils-lineup – origen
After an extended trial period, Team SoloMid would like to welcome Lucas “Santorin” Larsen as our new starting Jungler. With several weeks of practice together, Santorin said he was “excited to be able to play for TSM and ready to prove [himself] to be the right choice for the team.”
Santorin is no stranger to competition. Having served as Team Coast’s jungler for multiple challenger series victories, his high mechanics and playmaking ability stuck out among the best in the NA Challenger Scene. Ready to play on a professional stage at the upcoming IEM San Jose event, he joins TSM just in time to compete against some of the West’s finest competition, including Alliance and Cloud 9.
Owner Andy “Reginald” Dinh said he was “thankful that we could get Santorin in time for our team to compete.”
Santorin is already living at the TSM house and will be competing at IEM San Jose on December 6th-7th
Current TSM starting roster:
Top – Marcus “Dyrus” Hill
Jungle – Lucas “Santorin” Larsen
Mid – Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg
AD – Jason “WildTurtle” Tran
Support – Jang-sik “Lustboy” Ham
Head Coach – Yoonsup “Locodoco” Choi
Analyst – Dylan (https://twitter.com/lolclashdylan)