League of Legends is about to change in a drastic way, that much is clear. Season 3 is bringing a myriad of changes to the way the game is played even more drastically than from Season 1 to Season 2. With the jungle changes and the item overhaul, Summoner's Rift will finally innovate in a big way. Sure, things will settle in eventually once people are able to decipher what works best in the new season, but more options bring more chances for innovation. Champions will become viable again or fall out of favor, particularly in the jungle and the players who are naturally more talented with the newer champions and can understand how to build dynamically will be the ones who excel.
Oh these times they are changing - What does it mean for Individual Players
Certain players are naturally gifted with certain champions. Froggen plays Anivia extraordinarily well because they just seem to 'click." This happens across the board and is understandable because each player is in their own way different and utilizes a champion in slightly different ways. So even if say HotshotGG was your pick for best Nidalee in the world it wouldn't mean he would have the same success on Jayce even though they are at the core very similar. Players can certainly learn and adapt to the changing landscape by learning to play more champions, but it doesn't necessarily mean they will be good with them no matter how many games they play on them.
Does this mean that they can't learn more than who they are immediately or already good with? Of course not, but what it does mean is that not only do players play a certain way that allows them to excel, they play certain champions as well. With the huge overhaul in Season 3, this will mean some players will rise and others will fall depending on their ability to change along with the game. The game shifts over time.
For example, you saw support jungles with heavy ganks come into vogue throughout the later part of Season 2 and more carry-oriented jungles like Saintvicious not have the same impact consistently as say Snoopeh who didn't play as well when carry jungles were in vogue. There are plenty of examples of players who excelled in Season 1 never to be heard from again in a meaningful way. Sure some of it is practice habits and more but sometimes the game passes people by. Shushei was never the same in Season 2 because the game moved away from the characters he was naturally good at and his style waned as did his interest in the game.
So what exactly does this mean? If jungles aren't able to gank as heavily or effectively early because of the jungle and oracle changes, lane dominant players will have to be contained. A player like Voyboy, who excels in being very aggressive in lane and trying to win in a 1v1 situation could enjoy even more success without having to worry about top lane getting the constant pressure it is getting. Even more so, passive players might have to learn when to ramp up aggression because they won't be able to rely on their jungle to snowball them. It's unclear exactly how the game is going to change, and probably won't be truly evident for awhile in the new season, but when the dust settles don't be surprised to see different faces on top of the world.
Competitive teams and innovation: Bring on the Cheese
The new season is bringing not only new items and a new jungle, but a new gigantic spotlight that Riot wants to shine on as many teams as possible. The emphasis on the 5v5 ladder leading to the salaried league will bring new faces into the forefront from around the world. The game is already starting to shift. Teams have been trying things like Double Bruiser, Double Ranged AD, or even just something as mundane as GP middle and Rumble top to gain any kind of advantage in lane as they can.
Let's get one thing straight, Riot loves the direction the game is going. They love that the Asian scene has accelerated the pace of the game away from some of the farm fests we use to see for 10 or 15 minutes sometimes and into a frantic 'see hero, kill hero, push tower' philosophy. The numbers don't lie, and League of Legends has been achieving gigantic stream viewership in large part because of how exciting the games have become.
That was this season though, with old items and an old jungle that everyone had settled into. Once things kick off in a major way for Season 3, expect teams to try all sorts of crazy things to get ahead because what matters is being one of the teams that qualifies for the Season 3 salaried league. Teams innovating and playing the game differently from the norm not only wins games, but propels them into relevancy quicker than just trying to beat teams the "old-fashioned" way.
Look at Moscow 5 when they first came into the scene. They were all terrific players sure, but they worked as a unit to take the game to their opponents, particularly by controlling the jungle and buffs. They pressured even your smaller objectives as a cohesive unit, and not just a rogue jungler trying to counter you when he could. Azubu Blaze ran over the competition at the MLG Summer Arena because the teams had never seen a team push so hard so fast, and all of a sudden they were down 3 or 4 towers by 15-20 minutes and had no map vision which also gave up control. There are several ways to dominate a game, and the teams that are able to do it consistently and differently from others will enjoy a lot of success in the upcoming season
All this isn't even mentioning item changes. The new items bring about such a smorgasbord of options with interesting aura of effects that players aren't going to be able to copy each other into cookie cutter builds. Supports having the cleanse item, a top AP getting DFG to ramp up his teams burst on a specific target, and a number of different aura items could drastically change team-fighting tactics and strategies. Cookie cutter builds and everyone copying everyone else isn't going to be near as in-vogue as it is now because Riot is finally delivering the diversity needed for a game that is so dynamic in the way it plays out.
So, who will rise and who will fall in the coming season? Players will be benched and new face will grace the scene as champions fall into and out of favor. Stylistically the game is about to change in the biggest way in over a year and only one thing is truly certain. It will be absolutely fascinating to watch. So RoG'ers what do you think of the new changes will mean for the game and who do you think will rise to the top or fall off the map in the weeks and months to come?
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