6 November 2017 - 18:17

Get ready to relearn League of Legends—the preseason update arrives this week

This is the largest preseason update since the new Summoner's Rift was added in 2014.
Image via Riot Games

After almost six months of speculation, an onslaught of PBE changes, and hint upon hint doled out by Riot's design team every few weeks, the preseason update is finally here. The year's largest patch is arriving this week.

When the end of the season finally knocks on the door, it may seem easy to drown in all of the content coming your way. After all, there are more huge changes being introduced in this preseason patch since the new Summoner's Rift was added to the game in 2014, including the entirely new runes system, over 100 champion changes, and more.

We've put together a list of the most important changes, so you don't have to lose your head trying to keep tabs on all of them.

1) Runes Reforged

Out of all the things you may be surprised to hear about this preseason, Runes Reforged probably isn't one of them. Runes Reforged is the name of the project that will dump out all of the current masteries and runes in their entirety and replace them all with a new rune system.

Riot has been keeping League of Legends players up to date with almost every single new rune and every change to each prospective rune for months through PBE updates and announcements. And now it's all going live.

There are five categories that runes will be sorted into—Precision, Domination, Sorcery, Resolve, and Inspiration. Among those rune paths, there will be 60 total runes to choose from.

Rune pages will now consist of two rune paths that you can choose—a primary and secondary rune path. The primary rune path allows you to pick a heavy-hitting keystone rune, which is always the most important rune of any build—similar to keystone masteries in the current mastery system— followed by one greater rune and two more accent runes. The secondary rune path provides you with some sort of stat boost along with your choice of two more accent runes. This is what an example rune page will look like after being fully filled out.

Not only will you be able to fill out a new rune page and make alterations to existing ones in champ select, but all runes will also be completely free—two notable improvements on the current rune system.

The new runes will be much more impactful than any rune in the game right now, and that will undoubtedly have huge, rippling, tidal wave effects on how each of us plays the game. New playstyles will emerge, old ones will change or fade away entirely, and the meta will be a shell of its former self. This is by far the biggest change of the patch.

2) 140 champion changes

The current rune system is completely built by stat buffs. For AP champions, you run an AP rune page. For an AD champion, you run lethality, AD, and a number of other stats. This holds true for every single type of champion and their most effective stats, and it's not exactly a fun way to play the game. The new runes system allows each decision, every single rune choice, to feel heavier and meaningful, a far cry from locking in a rune that boosts your armor by three.

Unfortunately, champions now rely on those small stat boosts provided by rune pages. Those stat buffs are what allow certain champions to survive when clearing camps in the jungle or when farming in lane. Suddenly removing the old runes also removes these stats, which, in turn, lowers the effectiveness of almost every champion in each of their possible roles.

To make up for that loss, Riot is buffing nearly every single champion in the game. Some champions may receive a flat buff of a few AD, others may receive lower cooldowns or higher attack speed. It all depends on what stats each champions relied on to perform in their roles. It will be hard to notice a difference, as these changes are meant to fill a void left behind by runes being removed. But it's still important to mention, since it's the longest list of champion changes to ever be pushed in a single patch.

3) No more level cap

Players can only level up to level 30, and that's when ranked play unlocks. That level cap has been around since the beginning of League nearly eight years ago, and that's why it's a very big deal to see it go away. It isn't just being increased to a higher level cap, either, it's being removed entirely.

Players will now be able to level up infinitely, and they will earn rewards upon leveling up. After reaching a new level, you'll receive an unlocked chest that will contain champ shards, blue essence, gemstones, and even emotes. When you hit level milestones, like level 50 or 100, you'll receive rarer loot.

4) IP is being turned into Blue Essence

To truly take advantage of the new leveling and loot systems, IP is being converted into Blue Essence across the board. Champions will now cost only Blue Essence, so when you earn this special currency from leveling up, it will all work towards nabbing a new champion or unlocking a shard you may have received from another level.

Everything in the store that costs IP right now will cost the exact same amount in Blue Essence. For example, a newer champion will now cost 6,300 BE rather than 6,300 IP. Remember all of the runes you've purchased throughout the years that are now suddenly useless thanks to the new rune system? Well, don't worry, you'll be compensated. All of your runes will be converted into Blue Essence for use in the new loot system.

5) Catch-up Experience

Catch-up experience, both in the jungle and for everyone else, is being reduced by a fair amount. When it was released last year, the goal of the catch-up experience system was to avoid leads snowballing too harshly, but it resulted in a lead being too difficult to hold onto for teams that earn it.

For junglers, the biggest hit comes in the form of jungle camp catch-up exp. Now, only large monsters will grant catch-up exp (50 exp per level behind), rather than the 30 exp per level behind you currently receive from every single jungle monster, large and small. This shouldn't knock scaling junglers, like tanks, out of the meta completely, but it will hurt them considerably. This will open the door back up for early game powerhouses like Lee Sin and Graves, as long as they're played well.

As for the rest of the roles, earning a kill or assist while below your team's average level will no longer grant any bonus experience. This means that it will be harder for an entire team to snowball off of one or two people doing really well. For example, in the game right now, if your Katarina and Kha'Zix snowball to 20 kills before the 20 minute mark, they'll be significantly higher level than the rest of your team. This raises your team's average level, and gives them all a boost in exp as long as they're behind Katarina in Kha'Zix.

Now, if someone wants to carry their entire team through a solo queue game, they'll have to try just a bit harder.

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