Competitive league was considered to be in an ideal spot: games made for an enjoyable viewing experience for fans, the balance of the meta allowed for a number of diverse strategies and even the LCS pros were enjoying the state of the game. Naturally, Riot decided to overhaul everything.
It is customary for Riot to release a major patch in the build up to the League of Legends World Championship, a tradition that has long since been a source of conflict between the publisher and the teams competing within the LCS.
Players and coaches alike consider the patch to be the equivalent of shifting the goalposts. Pros will establish the competitive meta and adjust accordingly for the majority of the Summer Split, only to be thrown into chaos as Riot drop a new patch with just a handful of fixtures remaining before the end of the season.
Patch 7.14 has thrown the entire complexity of the game into disarray. For Team SoloMid, a team whose grasp on the diversity of the meta has proven to be superior to many of their western rivals, the latest changes are a slap in the face.
Speaking with Travis Gafford, TSM AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng wasn’t holding back as he described the effect the new patch would have on the state of the NA LCS:
“It’s like they didn’t even play test this patch. Honestly, this new patch is just so insanely… like why? Just why?
“If they did play test this patch, then I want to talk to each individual play tester and just ask them ‘what are your thoughts on this?’ because, everyone’s just dying in two seconds and it’s just so stupid.
“The game is so stupid now, I just want to watch LCS on this [patch] because it’s going to be a fiesta every game.”
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng
Doublelift was by no means the only figure within the professional scene to express his dismay at the new patch. The majority of concerns revolved around the changes made to the item Duskblade of Draktharr.
The item was almost completely reworked, with a reduction in cost and a more reliable source of damage. As a result, almost every AD champion in the game has been rushing Duskblade as a first item: assassins, marksmen, even some AD tanks.
It feels like half of the players in every game are rushing Duskblade first and one-shotting people. Lovely patch Rito!!!
— Søren Bjerg (@Bjergsen) July 15, 2017
Can your champ build duskblade?
Welcome to the top of the tier list, buddy.
— scarra (@scarra) July 14, 2017
Is this now the League of Duskblade ???
— Aidan 'Zirene' Moon (@LoLZirene) July 12, 2017
Aware of their obvious error, Riot released an emergency fix for the item in an attempt to stunt its power in the early game. Arguably, this hotfix will not eliminate the issue however, as the item will still prove incredibly strong during the mid game.
“I think after LCS – when there’s like 50 kill games every game, or just hard snowball, shit on the enemy team if you get one lead – then Riot’s going to watch those games and realise they messed up.
“In solo queue, there’s some very clear OP champions… I think it’s probably one of the most dumbed-down versions of the game I’ve seen in a while.
“Pros are going to be able to take these changes to lethality items to the extreme.”
NA LCS pros are preparing for a bloodbath in the forthcoming set of fixtures. Whilst games with high kill counts may provide entertaining viewing for fans, it is also likely to throw the state of the league into chaos until a resolution is found.