(Disclaimer: While I am a law student, I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.)
I see these terms being thrown around in-game and on the forums, and despite my efforts to correct player’s misconceptions on what the TOS and EULA actually do, the misinformation is rampant. Hopefully this will help clear up some of the confusion! The article centers on a question relevant to all League of Legends players:
What exactly are you agreeing to when you play League of Legends?
In this article I will quickly explain how the EULA and TOS are legally enforceable contracts, what the differences between the two are, and finally how they apply to the average player. I cannot stress enough that while I am doing a legal analysis, I cut through a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo and make conclusive statements for the purposes of entertainment. If you need legal advice, please speak with an attorney.
I. Clickwrap Agreements
Just about every time you install a program, download a patch, or purchase from a website, you have to pass through a threshold of “agreements.”
Many of these agreements are called “shrinkwrap,” “clickwrap,” or “adhesive” agreements - where you don’t see/understand what you’ve agreed to until after you’ve already agreed to it. For example, many online games only allow you to see the TOS after you’ve bought the game, but before you can play it online. A better example is a website, where you’ve already “agreed” to their TOS just by being on their site.
Clickwrap agreements tend to have certain characteristics:
- Clickwrap contracts are usually offered on a “take it or leave it” basis. In many contractual agreements, parties can negotiate over the terms of the contract, but in clickwrap contracts, the user has no bargaining power –they can either agree to all the terms or none.
- As discussed above, click wrap agreements often apply post-transaction. For example, some companies (such as AutoDesk) typically don’t allow people to resell their software – but a customer might not know that until after they’ve purchased AutoCAD, and are going through the installation.
If your knee-jerk reaction is similar to what mine was, you might be thinking, “is that really a legal contract?” Because let’s be honest, if you’re like most people, you simply don’t have the time to read every agreement you accept online. Even if you read most, there will often be terms that won’t make sense until you start using the service/software (e.g., how many people could understand what “riot points” are prior to installing League of Legends?) This part of why EULA/TOS are often considered to be adhesive contracts – most of us have no idea what it is we’re agreeing to.
So are these even legal? The short answer is: Usually. There are, however, some limited exceptions:
- Explicit Agreement: The rule of thumb is that a user must explicitly agree to an agreement before it becomes enforceable. If you don’t make an explicit act showing you are both aware of the terms and you agree to them, they are unlikely to be enforceable as a contract. While this isn’t exactly a problem for Riot (you have to click “I Agree” every time a new patch comes out), it is a notable exception to many software agreements.
- Outrageous Terms. If there’s something absolutely ridiculous and unexpected hidden in the fine print (for example, the “immortal souls clause” that granted a British game company 7500 “soul-licenses”), that term or the whole agreement may be rendered invalid.
- Application to minors. In most situations, if you’re under the age of 18, you lack capacity to enter legally binding agreements. This may provide an exception to click-wrap agreements in some situations, as the contract may be voidable.
II. “EULA” vs. “TOS”
So since we already have no idea what we’re clicking, why are there so many boxes? Why not just throw it all into one box and get it over with? Although many portions of the EULA and TOS overlap, there is a fundamental distinction between each type of agreement:
EULA: EULAs govern the use of the software itself. This is useful to stop unauthorized use of the game, as well as to disclaim liability for what it does to your system.
- Example: Hosting your own “League of Legends” world championship, with dedicated servers to boot, would likely be a violation of the EULA if you used Riot’s software (and probably some intellectual property violations as well).
- Example: Riot’s EULA would probably prevent them from being liable if League of Legends overheats your cardboard toaster. Which is really the best outcome for everyone.
EULAs are often extremely broad in what they cover. Interestingly, Apple’s EULA for iTunes explicitly disallows use of their software for the development of weapons of mass destruction:
TOS/TOU: The Terms of Service governs the use of a particular service offered. In Riot’s case, some of the services offered are the ability to create an account and a means to use that account via access to their servers. While you are using their service, you are expected to follow their rules – otherwise, they may terminate your access to the service, as per the agreement. Most players will only be concerned with the TOS.
- Example: Going idle or AFK in-game often enough can result in temporary or permanent suspension of your ability to access Riot’s servers, because you’ve agreed to allow LeaverBuster to monitor in-game activity.
The main difference between the TOS and the EULA for players is in the types of violations, and what Riot is able to do in terms of punishing players who breach these agreements. For the most part, the TOS will impact a user’s access to the service. The EULA, on the other hand, will impact a user’s access to the software.
Say you’re having a bad game, and decide to spam “**** you all, **** ***-skilled *******s!!!” a few dozen times in all-chat. Assuming this violates the TOS, Riot’s punishments all involve your account’s use of the service (remember, the service is access to their servers) even to the extent of permanent bans. This is where I see a lot of confusion, especially when players argue for methods (such as uninstallation) to combat toxic behavior – they confuse the accounts for the players, and the service for the software.
Players are only able to access the service through an account, and thus, can only violate the TOS through the use of an account (the notable exception to this is browsing their website, but that is beyond the scope of this article). The way Riot has their TOS set up, the account acts as a real-life shield for players – both for good and for evil. The account provides a layer of privacy protection and facilitates a pseudo-anonymous experience, a great benefit for online interactions. On the downside, it makes it very difficult to penetrate the account and punish players directly – especially when it’s difficult to prove that it was that player breaking the TOS (e.g., you’re in the middle of a match when you have to answer to door (it’s your turn to pay for the pizza), and when you get back to your computer, you find that your roommates have been soliciting some of the female characters in a manner rather inconsistent with that of a gentleman).
Under the TOS agreement, it is unlikely that Riot could force removal/uninstallation of the software. And the way Riot’s current TOS is set up, it would also be difficult to enforce an IP ban (should Riot wish to implement such a penalty, it may be possible, but the TOS would likely need to be reworded).
A forced uninstallation (i.e., an injunction) could only occur through a EULA violation (although this doesn’t stop vigilante players from wishing it to upon less-than-desirable teammates). The terms of the EULA are much less relevant to most players. However, they do clarify an interesting point: violations of the EULA would probably end up in court (or “mandatory arbitration”). This is where Riot would claim you’ve somehow overstepped the “fair use” of their product, perhaps by selling downloads to unsuspecting users, or attempting to “reverse engineer” their game to create your own, etc. They’d be suing you for damages, injunctions, and possibly attorney’s fees, depending on the nature and extent of the violation.
To date, I have yet to see any pending complaints by Riot against any of their players. Suing your customers is not the custom and practice of most business entities, and on top of that, Riot tends to be more forgiving to its player-base than most companies in the industry. If they have had issues with EULA violations, it’s likely they have been taken care of using cease & desist letters – very common in the realm of IP violations.
TL; DR: The Terms of Service and EULA are legally enforceable contracts. If a player violates the Terms of Service, their access to the service may be suspended but not necessarily their access to the software – that would require a violation of the EULA.
Like the article? Have any comments or suggestions? Post below and follow me on Twitter @VCDragoon
Special thanks to Chefo for working on images and formatting!
- Mana cost increased from 50 to 70
- Damage decreased from 80/135/190/245/300 to 60/120/170/240/300
- Range lowered from 900 to 850
- Mana restore changed from 4% of Kassadin’s maximum mana to 6% of his missing mana
- Cooldown increased from 9/8/7/6/5 to 10/9/8/7/6 seconds
- Cost for subsequent Rift Walks increased from 100 at all ranks to 100/150/200
- Damage changed from 50/80/110/140/170 to 70/90/110/130/150
- Ratio increased from 0.4 to 0.8 (returned to live value)
- Movement speed decreased from 50% to 40%
- Now grants 80% movement speed while in stealth, increased from 40%
- Damage reduction decreased from 60% to 50% (same as live)
- Damage decreased from 60/90/120/150/180 to 20/40/60/80/100
- AD ratio changed from 80% of bonus AD to 80% of total AD (previous PBE update was 5/20/25/30/35% of total AD)
- Fury damage changed from 90/135/180/225/270 (+120% bonus AD) to 30/60/90/120/150 (105/112.5/120/127.5/135% total AD) (previous PBE update was 2.5/30/37.5/45/52.5% total AD)
- Damage returned to live value, still applies slow instead of armor shred (check here for previous value)
- Movement speed reduced from 20/24/28/32/36% to 16/20/24/28/32 %
- Mana cost increased from 40/45/50/55/60 to 50/55/60/65/70
- Minimum damage changed from 50/80/110/140/170 ( +0.7 bonus AD ) to 50/75/100/125/150 ( +0.8 bonus AD )
- Maximum damage changed from 100/160/220/280/340 ( +1.4 bonus AD ) to 100/150/200/250/300 (+1.6 bonus AD )
- Cooldown increased from 130/105/80 to 140/110/80 seconds
- Every third basic attack now restores 5% of Xerath’s maximum mana
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Lunar Revel Splash Arts
Introduce yourselves for those who may not be familiar with you.
Coast: Darshan “ZionSpartan” Upadhyaya – Top, Danny “Shiphtur” Le – Mid, Josh “NintendudeX” Atkins – Jungle, Miles “Daydreamin” Hoard – Support, and Apollo “WizFujiiN” Price – AD.
Before we get into spring promotion, I want to talk about your recent run in the Challenger scene. You performed extremely well there, and finished with a 3-1 victory over Complexity in the NACL. What is it like playing at the challenger level?
Coast: The team enjoys playing in the LCS. We would prefer to never play another game at the Challenger level. That said, the process of playing competitively almost every day of the off-season will help us be more prepared for the next Split than the teams who took this time off.
What do you think the level of play in the challenger scene is, relative to the current LCS. Who do you think is the best current challenger team?
Coast: The NA Challenger teams we played in the off season are not close to level of play in the LCS. There did not seem to be a great deal of difference between the better Challenger teams.
What do you think are the biggest differences between the Pro and Challenger scene?
Coast: There are some good individual players at the Challenger level, but the teams do not play in the same coordinated fashion as LCS teams. Pro players also have a deeper understanding of the game, and much better overall mechanics.
What changes or improvements do you think, if any, should be made to the challenger circuit?
Coast: As the money that players can earn in the Challenger Circuit (and the LCS) increases, the quality of the teams will improve proportionally.
Jumping into promotion, what was your preparation like leading up to the matches against TWZ? Were you confident in your ability to come out on top?
Coast: We worked very hard to get ready for the Promotion match. There was no doubt in our mind we would win over any of the Challenger teams. While the match seemed close, it really wasn’t.
Did TWZ surprise you at all? What do you think was the biggest factor in them not making it?
Coast: The two hour delay after Game 1 surprised us, giving TWZ time to re-group and get their wits about them. The biggest factor for TWZ not making the LCS was having to play us.
Had TWZ played Curse or EG, do you think they would have been able to make it in?
Coast: Both Curse and EG would likely have beaten TWZ.
Now that you are back in the LCS, what are your goals for 2014? Where do you see yourself finishing? Who are your biggest threats?
Coast: We want to play one game at a time, and play our best. We are very confident in the way our team stacks up against the other teams in the league. Because of the way the team is playing right now, we like our chances against any team we will face.
Can you give us a personal power ranking of the current LCS teams, or where you see them finishing?
Coast: We believe our team will have a very good Spring Split. The final standings will depend upon who plays consistently well throughout the season. Although it is hard to predict the way the Split will end, we believe we are in the top tier of teams. There are many pundits who don’t like our chances of finishing well this Split. However, if you were to ask the other LCS teams about the strength of Coast, you would get a very different story.
How has the team adapted to the preseason changes?
Coast: We like the preseason changes, and feel it plays into our strengths.
You recently acquired WizFuJiiN as your AD carry. What led to this decision, and how has he fit into the team so far in terms of synergy?
Coast: WizFujiiN is an extremely strong AD Carry both mechanically and as a contributor to team play. The chemistry in our Bot Lane between Wiz and Daydreamin was on display during the Promotion Match. Wiz has a great attitude, and has brought a positive influence to the team.
Was Chaox ever a tryout for Coast? If so, why wasn’t he picked up?
Coast: Chaox did try out for Coast, and played with the team quite a bit. Chaox is a great guy…we have nothing but good things to say about him both as a player and as a friend of the team. At the end of the day, we felt WizFujiiN was the best overall choice for the team.
What is it like in a typical game for Coast? Is there a primary shot-caller?
Coast: One of the changes during the offseason has been improved team communication. Everyone on the team is more involved in shot-calling and making sure their teammates are aware of what is happening in the game.
What is your attitude when playing from behind, and how do you keep your head in the game?
Coast: Because we have experience coming from behind many times, we always try to believe we can win. Communication and a positive attitude help to keep everyone moving in the right direction.
How does the team spend time together outside of the game? Do you play other games besides League?
Coast: Being gamers, we pretty much play any game that involves someone winning and losing.
Something unknown about yourselves that you’re willing to share?
Coast: We secretly want to win the LoL World Championship.
Coast: We’d like to thank our sponsors CyberPowerPC, LoL-Class, Corsair, and ClickPoint Software for supporting the team.
We’ve all known that “mobilitycreep” is a problem in League of Legends, but I believe in this preseason the problem is at an all time high. Mobile champions completely dominate the meta and multiple culprits can be found in every lane. It isn’t even gap-closers being too abundant either; speed steroids, lock-on mechanics, and teleports are becoming increasingly common, and some champions even have multiple abilities that do this. Too much mobility is bogging down the game and dramatically limiting the number of champions that can be considered competitively viable.
The champions below are the main problem in this “mobility” meta. Please note that some champions can function in multiple lanes such as top/jungle, top/mid, or even top/mid/jungle (*cough* Riven *cough*), and their placement on the list does not mean they are exclusive to that lane only; I just didn’t want to list some Champs 2 or 3 times. Remember that the main criteria to meet this list are:
1). High popularity in the current meta
2.) At least 1 mobility skill
(There are a few exceptions on this list which I will take time to discuss below)
To reiterate, every one of these champions, except Annie, Olaf, and Orianna (who I will explain later) has some kind of ability that doubles as a mobility tool; as I mentioned above, some even have 2 mobility spells (Shyvana, Riven, Elise, Evelynn, Vi, Lee Sin, Lucian, Vayne). All of this mobility on the Rift makes chasing, peeling, or killing these champions an extremely difficult task. The ease of access to Talisman of Ascension is also adding to this problem.
Mobility does have a counter; however, you might feel sick when you realize how many of the mobile champions also possess the counter.
Seems simple enough right? Until you realize that most of the mobile champions above ALSO have a crowd control! Riven, Rengar, Renekton, Dr. Mundo, Elise, Vi, Evelyn, Lee Sin, Gragas, Kassadin, Kha’Zix, Ziggs, Jinx, Caitlyn, Vayne, Leona, Thresh, and Karma all have some kind of mobility ability AND crowd control in the same kit (Annie is excluded from the list because she has no mobility, but her crowd control is definitely one of the reasons she has increased in popularity). Now, I am including soft cc in that list, like slows and displacements, but even if you take out all those champs the list still looks like this: Riven, Rengar, Renekton, Elise, Vi, Jinx, Caitlyn, Vayne, Leona, Thresh, Karma. 11 mobile champions with a hard cc (stun/root/suppression).
Now that we have established that the problem with the current meta is rooted in high mobility + crowd control let’s take a look at our 3 outlier champions: Olaf, Orianna, Annie.
- Olaf: Olaf makes the list because he is immune to crowd control while his ultimate is active. This makes him a great pick in a meta with increasing amounts of hard cc.
- Orianna: At first glance Orianna may not strike you as a “mobile” champion but her ability to cast all her spells via the ball and use other champions as a delivery system give her a niche type of mobility that still functions well in the current meta. She is still a very strong champion but I think she is definitely getting edged out by some of the other high mobility options.
- Annie: As I mentioned above, Annie is experiencing a high point in the meta because of her *instant* crowd control. The fact that her W and R have zero travel time put her over the edge in terms of viability over other support champions because her cc can not be reacted to and is therefore guaranteed to land. Even true support champions with AoE CC like Sona can’t compete any longer because mobility is such an issue; a spell like Crescendo, which has a travel time and therefore a window to react to it, are no longer good enough because they have a chance to miss.
The main thing that troubles me about this trend is that it is strangling the meta-game in terms of viability and champion diversification, more-so than other power trends have in the past. Also, because these are the apex traits of power (mobility and hard-cc) it means we have reached a point of no return. The meta has finally become so stagnant that it can only support champions with high mobility and crowd control (with very minimal exceptions, lower than any previous metas in the past). In some cases, like Riven mentioned above, champions can be played in multiple lanes, which might seem like a cool trend but actually lends itself to my argument that specific champions are limiting the current pool of viability.
It’s even more troubling than trends of the past that were nerfed because this is a champion-centric problem and not an item or balance problem (like Black Cleaver stacking). To fix this problem a TON of champions need to be nerfed (which is happening on the PBE thank god) or changed, because if not then they will ALWAYS out shadow the other choices. There are a lot of really cool champions out there, and future champions, that will continue to see zero competitive play at this rate due to this increasing trend. Ask yourself, “If I want the best chance of winning, why would I pick a champion without high-mobility or a hard-cc, or both?” The answer is “Never.” Even a lot of the niche champion picks, from the games I will be looking at below, exhibit mobility/cc characteristics (LeBlanc, Kayle, Zed, Alistar, Nami, Nunu, Zyra, Jax).
To further illustrate this point I want to look at the champion picks that happened this week, on the current live patch 3.15, during Korea’s OGN Champion’s Winter semi-finals. The games I will be looking at will be both matches between “SKT T1 K vs KT Rolster Bullets” and “Najin White Shield vs Samsung Ozone.” I am only going to be looking at the champions picked or banned throughout the 7 games.
- 7 games were played
- 32 different champions were picked, the list above is 26 champions (Rengar was global banned due to bugs)
- 85% of the champions listed above were picked (22/26) and there was an average of 8 “list champions” per game (even after bans).
- 7 Champions had 100% pick/ban rates: Thresh, Kassadin, Leona, Annie, Shyvanna, Elise, and Gragas (all on the above list).
- Kassadin was 100% banned
- Elise was 100% picked
- Annie was 86% banned (6/7)
- Thresh/Leona were 71% banned (5/7)
- Gragas was 100% picked in 1 series and 100% banned in another series.
- Vi, Evelynn, Jinx, and Karma were 0% picked/banned.
- Talisman of Ascension was made/being made 79% of the time.
Overall Pick Numbers
- 10 different champions were picked/banned for the Mid and Support roles (Kassadin, Gragas, Nidalee, Kha’Zix, Ziggs, Orianna, Riven, Kayle, Zed, and LeBlanc / Annie, Thresh, Leona, Lulu, Nami, Sona, Alistar, Blitzcrank, Zyra, and Lee Sin).
- 5 different champions were picked/banned for the Top and ADC roles (Shyvanna, Dr. Mundo, Renekton, Lee Sin, and Jax/ Sivir, Lucian, Caitlyn, Vayne, Ezreal).
- 5 different champions were picked/banned for the Jungle role (Elise, Olaf, Kha’Zix, Lee Sin, and Nunu).
Now I really want to focus on the last 3 bullet points where you can see the “depth” of champion pools. All the lanes are getting strangled by the “overpowered” picks in some way or another. Mid is controlled by Kassadin and Gragas and then viability fluctuates around those 2 (20% of the champ pool controls the other 80%). Top is dominated by Shyvana and then picks fluctuate around her (20% also). The ADC position is a little more flexible and the pick usually depends on player preference and team comp but Sivir and Lucian still dominate priority, appearing in 6 of the 7 games (40%). The jungle picks are just ravaged by Elise and Olaf who appeared in the same game 4 times, but of course the big figure is Elise’s 100% pick rate (20%-30% limitation based on 2 champs).
The Support role is surprisingly one of the most contested positions in terms of picks and bans but the statistics show that it is completely dominated by Annie, Thresh, and Leona because of their mobility and hard-cc. The fluctuation of the Support champions following the availability of those 3 is usually dictated by team composition. It is worth noting though that Annie was first picked 100% of the time she was unbanned, and Thresh and Leona were picked up in the 1st rotation on red side 100% of the time, and the 2nd rotation on blue side 100% of the time (30% of the pool controls the remaining 70%). Also Talisman of Ascension was made, or being made, 11/14 times being the most dominant of the new Support items (I wonder why…).
The silver lining is that while the meta is stagnant right now it still has room to grow, unfortunately it will only grow around mobility and hard cc. There are still a handful of old champions that are mobile and provide cc and it is just going to take some time for the meta to readopt them into the fold and push other less-favorable champions out. Some of the “sleeper” champions I think will see a rise in popularity again are:
These are the first that come to mind, there might be more. I have listed them in order of how likely I think they are to step back onto the scene. Obviously the jungle role is wide open for competition which is why there are a lot of junglers on the list. I think if top lane can break away from Shyvanna/Mundo/Renekton that Rumble and Malphite could make a comeback as well. Wukong seems like a prime pick for midlane right now. Kennen and Zac are on my list just to cover my ass, but I think their resurgence is more unlikely than the rest.
I hope this gave you all something to think about. The game is always in a state of flux and anytime something problematic like this comes up Riot usually responds in a rational way to try and keep the game in balance. They already have some nerfs to Riven and Shyvanna coming to the PBE which tells me they are aware of the problem. In the mean time try and use the knowledge and statistics I have provided to gain some rating before they fix it and the next form of the meta takes shape!
EDIT: I totally forgot about Yasuo so I added him to the list of “sleepers.” I think he will be a force to be reckoned with once people get better at playing him. His mobility is reliant on enemy units being present but he comes with some good cc and damage and scales incredibly well due to his passive. I would keep an eye out for him.
A whole new year is ahead of us, Summoners! What will change in League? What do you want changed? Here are my wishes / anticipations:
I’d say this should be the most urgent update on Riot’s list for this year. The PVP client affects each and every player: bugs, massive memory usage, slow load times, and so on, hurt everyone’s experience. We’re all aware of the issues that plague LoL’s client, but I’d like to list some of them so there’s better visibility on what needs fixing:
Heavy on the memory and CPU load, slow load times
League of Legends was released in 2009, back when Riot Games was a really small team. When you have limited funds and limited number of people working on the same field (programming, design, bug testing, etc.) you need to manage your resources properly. The company then packaged the client code using Adobe AIR, which was more suited for making smaller, cross-platform apps. Adobe AIR did not support GPU mode until 2011 when Stage3D was introduced, which allowed faster rendering. It’s a solution to the problem of making a cheap, multi-language client. I assume the initial creators did not anticipate the community taking such a massive interest in the game so they chose the option that best suited their financial status at the time. League of Legends grew (and is still growing) at an enormous pace, so once the company was committed to the tech, they couldn’t change everything in one day, or even implement massive changes to the existing client, because of the consequences it would have on the playerbase.
I am not a programmer so I won’t waste your time with ideas that likely can’t work. I do know there are lots of independent developers making custom clients, which is an opportunity for Riot to hire talented and passionate people for this work. The philosophy for now seems to be making incremental changes to the existing client while slowly phasing out the aging tech. So the “leap” we experience once the client is fully rebuilt may not be as dramatic, but it’ll certainly be a lot safer when millions of players are affected.
Bugsplats, disconnects, freezes, post-game crashes and so on
The most problematic area of League of Legends lies outside the actual game. It is perhaps these issues that drive away the biggest number of players from the experience. This has been a philosophy of Blizzard’s for twenty years now – once the product ships, it needs to be stable. Errors distract and alienate, they put a bad name on companies and are never subjective – it’s something that NEEDS fixing. I would like Riot to put more priority on creating a non-interruptive process from login to game. Think about this – would you rather solve an in-game bug or one that prevents the player from entering the game in the first place?
Occasionally, you can play on EU: West without a hitch… or so they claim. It really is disheartening getting lag spikes in the middle of a match or even being disconnected and unable to log back in. Servers should be a top priority for any company running a major online game and I’m glad Riot has focused on improving infrastructure this year. There’s not much to say here – better servers are on the way, we just have to be patient.
Comparisons are inevitable in these lists, so I’ll make one with Valve’s DotA 2 client. My gripe here is that Valve has had working in-client Replays in DotA 2 since beta and has created a really solid interface around it – you can sort games using a player’s name, get specific details like who won, K/D/A, etc., then either download them into a folder or watch straight from the client. In-client replays are nowhere to be found in League and it should be unacceptable that we have to resort to 3rd party solutions for a feature that so many players have requested for years. I will say that this is currently being tested on the PBE, but it’s been there for so long with seemingly no release date in sight.
Why is this important? Replays are a key element of any strategy game – new players can examine how others handle situations from a bird’s eye view and veteran players can likewise better understand what they did wrong and how to improve. There is no better way to evaluate a team’s performance post-game when so many things are happening at once; replays allow a user or commentator to pause and draw conclusions from a situation. Replays can also greatly benefit Youtubers – unlike streaming, Youtube videos are usually more polished, with scripted commentary, so a solid feature that allowed the content creator to edit parts of his/her gameplay quickly, without the hassle of installing additional software, goes a long way toward more and better League footage.
The achievement tab was scrapped awhile ago and I think Riot really missed out on an opportunity with that decision. Achievements bring a LOT to a game’s longevity. They’ve always been a way to keep players in the game, by dangling shiny rewards on the screen that got progressively harder to obtain. In the case of League, there is no real end-game to strive for, which means you commit because you enjoy the experience and/or to climb Leagues. The hardcore audience has the Ranked system to keep them excited to compete, but more casual players really don’t have many options. I consider Achievements a clever way of keeping everyone involved, while not being a game-changing mechanic or a nuisance. Plus that shiny animation that pops up when you get one – it’s like Christmas on your monitor.
Allow me to put a little backlight on the subject – back when the game was still young, there was a big effort from writers to make the universe of Runeterra feel like a real fantasy world. A total of 31 “chronicles” were released, detailing events that happened in the world of League of Legends. Champions had lore ties with the Journal of Justice and it was a really great way of establishing relationships between individual characters and even factions. If not for the journal, we wouldn’t have had one of the first pro-events in League (the Ionia vs Noxus and Demacia vs Noxus matches) and we wouldn’t have had the Ionian Boots of Lucidity.
The Journal was scrapped at the start of Season 2 and since then we’ve had lore introduced in different ways, with various degrees of success. What I really liked about those chronicle entries was their non-engaging nature – they were a small feature of the client at that time and weren’t anywhere near as bombastic, say, as the Freljord events. I think handling a fictional world’s story should be done in a way that doesn’t break the immersion – the Journal of Justice, however simple, was really how you’d expect historical events to be described – on a tattered piece of paper, usually with very artistic and noble language that writers of old would use. Making a non-integral part of League dramatic and central detracts from this idea. I miss this form of adding roleplay elements to League – Quinn’s “Journey into the Freljord” letters were as close as we got to that original form of releasing lore for the game. Once again, it’s nothing urgent and I doubt too many people are holding their breaths for this feature, but it’s something small that could solidify Runeterra as an engaging fantasy world.
Note: Riot is currently looking for writers: http://www.riotgames.com/careers/writer-0
We had a very intriguing announcement last year – a brand new way of handling Roles that doesn’t rely on pick order. Team Builder seeks to remedy the toxicity in Champion Select and allow everyone to pick the role he / she feels most comfortable playing. Here are the basics:
- Team Builder will allow players to queue up for a specific role with a specific champion
- The “leader” or host can request roles for whatever team composition he/she wishes
- Testing is currently done with minimal flexibility, i.e you cannot change anything during Champion Select except Runes and Masteries, though it’s possible players will be allowed to change Champions within a given role later on
We’ll most likely see Team Builder hit live this year, so what does this mean for us? Let’s examine what’s good and what’s not about this new method of queueing:
- No chat arguments about Team Roles
- Most likely everyone will be playing the Champion they are strongest at, at the position they feel most comfortable taking
- Minimum chance of having an unexpected composition (two people argue and they both lock in ADC) that players will feel feel uncomfortable playing around
- Smarter matchmaking – Team Builder will account for a player’s experience with a certain Champion or Role and will adjust the search algorithm accordingly
- Players can opt out of a composition if they don’t agree with the leader with no penalty for doing so
- Will most likely reinforce the current meta even more
- Sharp lack of players queueing for the most unfun / unrewarding Role at the time, which in turn will increase queue timers
- Potential abuse of the system if players are allowed to change Champions after they’ve arrived at Champion Select
The biggest possible negative of Team Builder is it puts further emphasis on the current meta. I for one believe there are viable alternatives to it, now more than ever in Preseason. Back when LoL was young the game went through several pseudo-metas, most notably the AoE Press R compositions and the HP-stacking bruisers. What we have now is certainly the most balanced comp, i.e it can compete in any scenario, but that’s just it – team composition is effectively a non-factor in the game’s strategy today. It would be amazing to see Melee Carries handle bot lane or ADCs returning to former glory as solo mid picks… maybe a tri-lane on top? ( I can dream.) Team Builder may have provided the tools for creating diverse compositions, but I don’t think it will nurture the mentality needed for it to happen. After all, if you lock Champions to certain Roles, you really don’t have many options, do you?
Team Builder is a brilliant system that faces perils most systems built for a huge online community do. I really hope we see it polished and released this year, even if only for Normal Games. It’s probably Riot’s greatest effort to reduce player toxicity and I hope it succeeds.
I’m always blown away by how creative LoL’s community is and has been for many years. Back when Nika was running the Summoner Showcase we were seeing dozens of fan creations every week. Go to a major gaming event and you’ll see League cosplayers everywhere, showing off costumes that often take weeks and months to make. It’s a shame, then, that we don’t see Riot getting more involved with fans of the game.
One marketing area that could really benefit from passionate fans is physical merchandise. Lots of people out there like making custom T-shirts, pillows, mugs and so on with their favorite League characters, but you can’t really be selling those without permit. Given how crazy creative fans can be with their hobby, why not host contests or entire events where they can show their work? Lots of companies look into community content as a serious way of establishing business relationships.
Another area that’s similar in principle is in-game visual content. Valve has the DotA 2 store maintained almost entirely by community-made gear for Champions. Every day I see so many incredible skin ideas and it’s upsetting that so many of them are forgotten or overlooked. I applaud Riot’s intention to not focus too much on monetization and skin making over fixing other issues, but getting fan ideas into the development cycle can be equally positive while also rewarding for both the community and the company. I really hope we see more interaction with fans from Riot during S4.
I must say, I was repeatedly amazed last year by the amount of detail put into new and old, reworked Champions. 2013 was definitely the best year for older Champions to shine. Archaic models that hadn’t seen updates since beta were reworked to match the fidelity of newer releases and it was a joy seeing the return of old-timers such as Nasus, Sivir, Karma and more. On the graphical side we also got Howling Abyss with all its snowstormy glory, buscuit-eating poros, and collapsing towers. New brush popped up all over Summoner’s Rift to replace the inferior grass of Season 3 and now you have moving grass everywhere and what would you do without that? With all that said, however… our 5v5 battleground is still in dire state visually.
Summoner’s Rift has always been practical and unintrusive with its contrasting color palette and lack of distracting detail. But it’s never been fun to look at the map, not unless it’s snowing there. Even with the texture update we got in 2012 the map still fails to impress. There are two reasons Riot hasn’t taken the initiate here – one is not to strain the resources of players with older hardware and the other is a design choice. By keeping the map visuals clean it’s easier to distinguish Champions and spells, especially in teamfights.
The problem is we already have an example of what Riot can do with map design – the reworked Twisted Treeline. It is an absolutely gorgeous setting and it doesn’t hurt the experience by being this detailed environment. Here’s a short list of graphical options I’d like to see implemented in League down the line:
- Better Anti-Aliasing: AA is the technology that makes jagged edges appear smooth. Riot uses FXAA for LoL, which is the least performance-demanding method of all, but it blurs textures and hurts the fidelity of the visuals. A solid alternative would be SMAA, which is similarly light on demand, but doesn’t affect textures.
- Ambient Occlusion: It’s used to blend objects placed on the ground with the ground itself. AO makes those corners touching the horizontal plane darker so the eye loses that line of contrast between the two. It may sound like a negligible feature, but the difference when using Ambient Occlusion in games is quite astonishing.
- More / Better lighting: Twisted Treeline features some impressive use of lighting on the Recall Platform and Shrines, which tells me there is a way to implement this on Summoner’s Rift as well. There are torches on SR, but the light coming from them isn’t dynamic and so they just blend with the rest of the textures. In-game objects that are perfect candidates for better lighting would be the crystals on Towers, inhibitors, torches, Nexus and Dragon (y u no breathe fire). Immersive lighting also depends on the surface its cast on, so metal textures on the Recall Platform of Summoner’s Rift, glass for the crystals on buildings and so on, would make the effect much more apparent.
- HDR (High-dynamic-range imaging): HDR makes textures appear sharp without changing the actual textures. It’s a complex method, so here’s the short version: HDR adds more dynamic range to an image, which is the difference between light and dark in that image. It’s essentially higher contrast that’s giving the illusion of more detail.
- Bloom: Goes well with the above-mentioned better lighting. Bloom is a trick used for really bright objects (like torches) to make it seem like they’re bleeding out light from the edges. It really is that – you just turn those edges into light sources of their own. If you had shining bright crystals on Towers and inhibitors and added bloom, it would seem like light was radiant, instead of just illuminating like a lightbulb.
Graphics are secondary, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be a priority. Here’s hoping we get a better-looking Summoner’s Rift this year. Or maybe even Magma Chamber!… we’re not getting Magma Chamber, are we.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride this year on the Rift, with Champions and items rising to insane popularity before getting swifly cut down by NerfMasterSuckTown. We’ve had our fair share of bugs and exiles hopping around the map with six cleavers deleting teammates and enemies in two seconds, Ryze building Manamune and not getting reported for it, Ezreal having more CC than tanks, Ranged carries buying lifestealing blades that turned them into Sonic / Duke Nukem in teamfights and so on, but those were fixed in a timely manner. It’s fair to say the game’s overall stable at this point, even with the massive changes that Preseason brought. So I want to focus on Riot’s philosophy of handling balance, rather than wishing for individual fixes for this year.
What you have with League of Legends is essentially cycle balancing. Here’s a strange analogy – imagine all the Champions of the League are riding a Ferris Wheel. Eventually, some of them will reach the top, which means they’re the easiest to see. These Champions then become FotM (Flavor of the Month) and become overplayed, banned and commented. Now, it doesn’t have to be an actual balance issue leading to this – maybe a popular streamer showed a Champion stomp or a professional E-sports player won with some unexplored pick or item. It doesn’t matter – the end result is you get a disruption in game flow, where one strategy appears prevalent and so everyone copies it. This makes the game monotone, predictable and, as a result, boring to play and watch. So Riot “fixes” the issue by nerfing that particular issue. But by turning the Ferris Wheel so the top Champions (or items) come down, others go up. Thus you have cycle balancing.
This was used to bring Black Cleaver back into obscurity and deter the double Relic strat at the start of Preseason, among other cases. It’s what we see all the time in patches when Champions become pick/banned consistently. But is this a proper way of handling balance? I’d argue no, because cycle balancing is not fixing the issue, it’s preventing an issue from having a harmful effect on the game for too long. Let me give you an example – Riven is nerfed because of a continuous community outcry. Prior to this she is getting banned all the time, in games where she’s not she snowballs really hard off top or mid, deals insane damage and so on. So it appears she’s simply out of line, right? But there are lots of reasons why Riven’s dominance occurs in the place. Maybe her counters got nerfed too hard or in such a way that it ruined the fun aspect of those Champions and so people no longer wish to play them, even if they know they could beat Riven this way. Maybe Riven’s lack of resource is giving her that game-winning edge over Champions that would normally beat her, but are restrained by mana costs. Or maybe the issue isn’t Riven at all? Maybe Lifesteal is too strong with mechanics that reset the Auto-attack timer? You see how the more we elaborate on the cause, the bigger the issues we’re exploring become. This was just one recent case I used as an example. I’m not being biased in my assessment of Riven as she’s not a Champion I enjoy playing, but she does present cycle balancing in a good way.
I don’t think either Morello or anyone working at Riot would go so far against the established philosophy of cycle balancing, especially given how successful League of Legends has become and that any massive changes are probably too risky for the reward they’d bring. But I do hope the balancing team at least examines the bigger case issues with balancing LoL and not just individual Champions and items. Nerfs are not fun – that we can all agree on. The less of them there are, the better, and if you rework, say, the way minion EXP works or increase Mana Regeneration for Champions who struggle in their matchups, you might solve more than one issue and save players the trouble of nerfing their favourite picks… or you might cause an apocalypse. But at least it will be a fun apocalypse.
So the last section was a bit too serious for this optimistic topic… let’s look at the announcements I think we’re all excited for:
- Visual Update for Baron Nashor
- Awesome skins!
- Visual reworks of Evelynn and Urgot
- Complete reworks of Sion and Xerath
- Dragon Master Swain
- Release (or at least teaser) of Ao Shin
- Release of Zelos, teased to be Irelia’s brother
- Release of Kassadin’s daughter
All of this is confirmed content, though whether or not we’ll it all released in 2014 is uncertain.
What do you wish Riot delivered on in Season 4? Or beyond? Share below!
There’s a lot more to Vayne than Silver Bolts! Find out everything you need to know to hunt the demons of the League!
Artists whose work I’ve used to make this guide:
- jodybom – Deviant Page
- Hannah515 – Deviant Page
- Kirintheunicorn - Deviant Page
- xChapyx – Deviant Page
New to the series? Check out my previous articles:
The Current Situation
Rumors are growing in the world of LoL esports. There’s always been rumors regarding specific player swaps, especially after major events or when tensions seem high, but never anything as major as whole team restructures. However the League of Legends rumor scene has been growing lately. First with the EU SUPER TEAM rumors from the the past couple of months, and more recently with rumors regarding Evil Genuises buying Velocity’s LCS Relegation spot. These rumors show an interesting growth of League of Legends esports. It’s not just about the hype of live events, but fans are going to great lengths to unravel what’s going on behind closed doors. Even if the rumors are false, the discussion of “What If” scenarios helps develop perspective on the intricacies of LoL esports.
The Evil Geniuses to Velocity Rumor
The EU SUPERTEAM rumor faded away as rosters shuffled and players seemingly confirmed that change was going on, but not what was predicted. There was a twist though: what if the EU SUPERTEAM was still going to exist, but across the pond in North America? This is a quick summary of the Evil Geniuses to Velocity Rumor. Note: nothing here is confirmed by this article. The rumors are still rumors.
EG has supposedly bought a slot in the North American LCS Qualifiers from Velocity. Velocity currently has no team and very few North American prospects are likely to beat the strongest challenger team (expected to be Quantic). EG would transfer three of its players to the newly purchased Velocity slot: Krepo, Yellowpete, and Snoopeh. They would then be joined by two Americans: Pobelter (Mid), and Innox (Top, former Napkins in Diguise player). There are some variations on this rumor. For example it may be the organization Alliance that ends up with the spot, but both Alliance and Evil Genuises have the same owner and aren’t too far apart in terms of organization.
EG’s roster would be Shook, Wickd, Tabzz, Nyph, and Froggen.Velocity’s final roster would be Yellowpete, Krepo, Snoopeh, Innox, and Pobelter.
Is this rumor true?
It hasn’t been confirmed. However there’s quite a bit of theorycrafting going on in r/leagueoflegends and a bulk of the theories can be found in this thread. A question still stands: is this a logical choice for EG? Interestingly enough, yes. This is a viable route for EG as these changes help them maintain a successful European squad, give them a high possibility of adding an American LCS team, and maintain the personalities that made EG so successful.
Successful European Squad
The general opinion of EG last split has been “Good, but could be better.” During the LCS Summer Split season they finished in third place. This would show success, but they were still tied with three other teams and close to the Win/Loss rate of every team except Meet Your Makers. The ties showed that the majority of the European LCS was on equal terms . Worse for EG they placed fourth during the Summer Split playoffs and were unable to qualify for Worlds. While EG could carry on without major change and stay in the LCS, they likely want to jockey for a first place position. If they want to make that move they’re going to have to buff up the EU squad, either through new players or a breakthrough in the team’s structure.
Season 3 EU Summer LCS Standings. Source: Leaguepedia
EG is under a lot of pressure to stay at number one. This makes stalling to see what happens in the spring split difficult. There is also additional pressure coming from their competition as many teams have beefed up their teams with their own sets of roster changes. For exampole Gambit Gaming has Edward back and Fnatic has Rekkles. There are massive roster swaps going on in many EU teams and Evil Genuises are likely to lose even their fourth place position if they can’t show improvement. Unfortunately EG is an older team, and as a result there are less options to bring significant improvement to the team. More structure can always help, but it’s possible that EG with it’s current roster is starting to cap out on how well they’ll perform. Players get older, competition gets better, relationships get strained, and it’s hard to maintain a number one position without looking for fresh blood or major change. So it goes in the world of sports, and so it goes in the world of esports.
The “Snoopeh Stare”
League of Legends has major differences compared to traditional sports when it comes to fandom. Tim Tebow brought a lot of controversy to the fans of the Denver Broncos, but when he left the team there wasn’t a mass exodus of Tebowites following him in his pursuits and watching him stream. However, if CLG released Doublelift or Dignitas released Scarra there would be huge repercussions in the teams’ respective fanbases. A lot of this is due to very few teams being regional, and very few fans having regional pride. Coloradans fans will root for the Broncos since they’re the home team, but TSM fans are worldwide.
Fans tend to be attracted to skill, history, and personality. All of EGs members have these traits and it’s in better interest for both the players and the organization to avoid severing ties. EG knows how to take care of its players with sponsorship and the players bring a lot of good will, more sponsors, and fandom to EG. There are a lot of great LoL players out there, but there aren’t too many that have over 100,000 twitter followers and bring hype to a team just by being on it. EG splitting their team up helps bring a lot of new energy to both the American and European team, while maintaining the personalities that have built up EG in the League of Legends scene.
Can they even make NA LCS?
If the new North American Evil Geniuses Squad was going up against an unstoppable super team, this swap would just throw away a bunch of solid players. Velocity took 8th place in the NA Summer Split Season and as a result they don’t have a choice for their opponent during relegations. Velocity’s expected opponent is Quantic, a team of Korean players that moved to North America. Quantic had a rough start when their first streamed match had them playing on sub-30 accounts, but the team has been improving dramatically over the past few months. It’s hard to judge how well Quantic will perform versus EG since none of their competition has been European and it’s unknown if they win scrims consistently versus LCS teams. Results aren’t the best showing either as they’ve been able to beat Coast in a best of three, but still lost in the group stages of the first LCS Relegations Qualifier. They’re looking incredibly scary though, and most teams feel that they’ve just been getting progressively stronger and are likely to face whoever is in that Velocity slot.
American EG has one major issue: The team is composed of five players that haven’t played together as a team for a huge amount of time. Snoopeh, Yellowpete, and Krepo all have their past, but communication between the solo lanes and jungler has always been crucial. Innox and Pobelter aren’t necessarily the most consistent players either. Pobelter is hard to judge since he hasn’t seen a significant amount of competitive play recently, but Innox had quite a few feast or famine games while playing in the NACL. However, with the backing and structure of a major organization like Evil Genuises or Alliance it’s very possible that Innox and Pobelter could be whipped to gel with their European counterparts quite quickly. There isn’t a clear answer as to which team is stronger, especially with the 3.14 patch completely changing vision, support, and jungling. Will Gunza be able to step up carry from the support position? How will Innox and Pobelter merge with their new foriegn friends? What about viable champions: Nasus is considered powerful, but will teams know what tricks to bust out compared to their counterparts? Answers to these questions will have to wait until game day, but both the theoretical North American Evil Geniuses and Quantic could win the best of five.
Quantic – The Major Threat
No one knows if this rumor will go through. Even if it was true when posted, it’s very possible that words and money behind the scenes cancelled the deal. Hell, this rumor surfacing could be the nail in the coffin for the EUROPEAN AMERICAN SUPER SQUAD. It’s not like EG hasn’t had a new LoL team leaked in the past, and the they may not stand for it again. Regardless, until Velocity fields their team for the LCS Relegations nothing is known. Read a rumor, toss out some theory, and always remember that until a rumor actually happens: it’s unconfirmed.