Riot Games has officially set the final day of Season 3 for November 11, 2013. While this is significant to many people as the day on which ratings will be frozen and end of season rewards will be finalized, it is also important as the beginning of a new year for League of Legends. Players who were around during Season 2 will remember the drastic changes to the game in the Preseason last year. Jungle creeps were changed to put more emphasis on the largest camps, and an entire new set of jungle items was added in an effort to give junglers a larger impact. A new item called Sightstone was added to give support players an infinite number of free wards in an attempt to increase gold flow for the less wealthy duo laners. There were additional changes to masteries and items, and all of these things have come together to make Season 3 what it is, but with Season 4 drawing ever closer, Riot has been giving some hints as to what players can expect in the coming days for League of Legends.
Thus far, Riot Games has focused primarily on the League of Legends subreddit and the official website to reveal upcoming changes for Season 4. The recurring theme seems to be that, despite their best efforts, Riot is still not pleased with the way jungle and support players earn gold and progress through the game. According to a post on the official website, “a new jungle is inbound” which will give better gold flow and allow carry-style junglers to hold a more viable place in the meta. There will be many changes to wards and vision, and “support gold is going to be heavily adjusted to put more money in the pockets of duo-lane supports.” These seem to be the largest changes, but there will also be additional attention paid to a reduction in team snowballing and changes to Masteries and Runes. For more on all of the focuses, you can browse the official post.
Since announcing many of the proposed changes on their official website, Riot Games employee Xelnath has taken to reddit to go a bit more in depth on some of the proposed changes to wards and supports. As Season 3 progressed, it became apparent that vision was simply too strong. It became much more difficult for junglers to gank, and with changes to oracle’s elixir, support players had to buy more and more vision wards (pink wards) to keep vision control in their team’s favor. Xelnath referred to this by saying that “what should be an interesting strategic decision became a flat arms race.” The proposed change is that pink wards are no longer invisible, meaning that players will have to be much more careful with their placement of pink wards, lest enemies simply walk up and destroy them for free. However, even though they are always visible, the pink wards will be permanent unless destroyed and cost more money. Another change to warding will be player ward limits. Essentially, each member of the team will only be able to place a maximum of three green wards and one pink ward. This will put the emphasis of warding less on one player and make it more of a team effort. Finally, Riot is adding a trinket slot to the inventory, and adding three new trinkets to the game that players can choose to buy. The sweeper trinket reveals and disables invisible units for a short time, allowing players to deny vision momentarily; the totem trinket places an invisible ward that lasts for 1 or 2 minutes, allowing players a brief free ward on occasion; the lens trinket reveals a nearby area of the map, much like the current summoner spell, Clairvoyance. The idea behind these trinkets is to give each player a more specific role in controlling vision, and allowing the players multiple options when it comes to how they wish to engage in the vision war. For a full rundown of all that Xelnath had to say about the vision changes, you can check out the reddit post.
Shortly after detailing the plans for vision, Xelnath made another post about proposed changes to support. He briefly discussed the current problems with support players, including how counter-productive the role is to itself, owing to the paradox of requiring gold to control vision, but playing a role that does not receive gold. What Riot intends to do is add benefits from items, masteries, and mechanics, that give additional benefits to champions that don’t get to do things, such as last hitting. Proposed changes include “Masteries that grant bonus gold to players in a shared lane, increased assist rewards for players who get significantly more assists than kills,” and a few other things. The idea is that assist streaks will allow support players who consistently refrain from taking kills will still get a gold benefit for participating in a fight. Additionally, Xelnath mentioned a few items that Riot hopes will help the support players, including a new addition to the Philosopher’s Stone item, and two new items called Executioner’s Emblem and Spellthief’s Blade. The Philosopher’s Stone item will now give players bonus gold when nearby allies kill a minion, giving support players a portion of the last-hit gold. Spellthief’s Blade will function much like the current Mastery, Pickpocket, granting players gold for landing spells and basic attacks against enemy champions, whereas Executioner’s Emblem will help support players push lanes easier in the late game, allowing them to execute minions below 200 health and granting gold to the support player and a nearby ally. Again, you can find a detailed listing of all of the proposed changes by visiting the reddit post.
While these are only a few of the proposed changes to League of Legends in Season 4 (there has still been no in-depth post about changes to the jungle or masteries), it already seems as though there will be huge changes to the way League of Legends is played. By encouraging other members of the team to take a more active role in vision control, it will not only lead to more satisfying support gameplay, but likely to more exciting plays at the professional level. With more counterplay options for vision control, coordinated teams will be able to mount an offense or trap enemies and make more impressive comebacks with proper map presence. Check back often for more information, as we’ll be posting all of the upcoming Season 4 changes as they’re revealed.