League’s proposed mid lane changes head in the wrong direction

Riot seems to avoid talking about the main issue: sustain.

Image via Riot Games

Mid lane roams have plagued both League of Legends’ solo queue and professional play for the past couple of months. Roams allow mid laners to often swing the outcome of a side lane and gain advantages themselves, even while remaining absent from their lane for extended periods of time. This heavily impacts a game, and while Riot Games has attempted to address the issue with champion nerfs and other balance fixes, the root of the problem lies embedded in the game’s fundamental designs. 

The recently announced mid lane changes that were originally slated for Patch 10.13 seemingly fail to address the problem. Mid lane’s impact on the game has resulted from the removal of resource limitations over the years, allowing champions easy access to sustain through the new runes, items, and jungle plants. Instead of addressing these three areas of concern, the changes recently proposed by Riot aim to cut down the economy of mid laners for the first 15 minutes and make it easier to base and return to lane by slowing down the speed of mid lane minions.

Riot pushed these changes back to the patch following the League World Championship, but the direction of the proposed changes still raises doubts about the developer’s ability to address the powerful presence of mid laners. 

Runes Reforged: A blast from the past

LoL runes
Image via Riot Games

In preseason seven, runes underwent a complete rehaul alongside masteries and were combined into one tree. New runes that would warp the meta and break traditional rules appeared in the Inspiration tree. 

Biscuit Delivery and Time Warp Tonic removed the traditional resource limitations of the mid lane. Mana management as a skill was no longer needed with the introduction of these runes. Players could easily avoid mana issues by picking these two runes and starting with the Corrupting Potion. 

The potion alone gives you a lot of sustain needed to clear waves and then roam with half a mana bar. When you add biscuits and Time Warp Tonic, you get access to easy roams while having the ability to push waves without expending too much mana.

On top of these boosts, other runes like Conqueror and Ravenous Hunter helped keep laners healthy, removing the need to base just to top off a low health bar. Conqueror can be fully stacked to grant you healing based on your damage done. Ravenous Hunter grants you healing based on ability damage done. Both runes are problematic in a game of attrition where you need to force your opponent to back to build some advantage in the laning phase. 

Multiple mid laners, both ability power and attack damage-based champions, took advantage of  these runes, especially those who can use abilities in quick succession to get Conqueror fully activated. When these runes are combined with opposing champions’ built-in sustain from their kits, it becomes quite difficult to zone them out or punish them for bad plays during the laning phase.

Jungle plants

Rift Scuttler changes
Image via Riot Games

In addition to the above runes, this season changed how dragons spawn and introduced multiple jungle plants. One of them, the Honeyfruit, occasionally spawns in rivers and restores health and mana for anyone who collects the plant’s fruit. This plant is perfectly positioned towards the side lanes, allowing mid laners to stop and grab a bit of health or mana before heading into a roam. 

If the Honeyfruits were to be moved inside the jungle instead of the river, it could reduce the power of mid laners to use all their mana to shove the wave, then get easy restore and roam towards a side lane. This would make it more difficult for mid laners to collect the fruit since they’ll have to retreat into the jungle. They risk the possibility of running into the enemy jungler and will spend more time away from the lane and could miss out on crucial experience without a side-lane kill to make up for lost time.

Sustain is over the roof

Most modern kits include a form of health or mana regeneration alongside a healing effect. Sett, Senna, and Aphelios, the latest three released champions, all have some sort of sustain in their kit. While Senna and Aphelios have plagued the bottom lane and had no presence in mid, Sett has been one of the most-contested picks for mid due to how strong his kit is.

While in the past, Riot avoided giving too much sustain to champions to allow for counterplay, the innovative designs have ignored this aspect and introduced multiple types of sustain for the latest released champions. Senna has an AoE healing ability on her Q, Aphelios’ scythe grants him huge amounts of lifesteal, and Sett’s passive grants him health regeneration based on his missing health.

With these types of designs, newer champions don’t have to worry about their resources or mana sustain as much as older characters during the laning phase.

Possible solutions to fix the mid lane roaming problem

Riot’s proposed changes to the mid lane waves could even indirectly make it easier to roam since there’ll be less cannon minions to tank the tower and allow your opponent to push it easier. Instead, changes should be targeted at sustain in kits and runes such as Time Warp Tonic, Biscuit Delivery, Ravenous Hunter, and Conqueror. 

Additionally, if Honeyfruit spawns are changed, then summoners would run out of mana and be forced to clear waves and back instead of clearing waves endlessly and roaming with little to no consequence.