League of Legends’ 2018 mid-season update will be considerably smaller than its 2017 predecessor, according to Riot Games lead gameplay designer Andrei “Meddler” van Roon’s announcement today.
The 2017 update was packed full, with three large-scale ability updates for some of the game’s vanguard tanks—Sejuani, Maokai, and Zac. There won’t be anything of that caliber this year, and Riot is citing the preseason update in November as the cause. The balance and design teams are still playing catch-up from the enormous new rune system introduced at the end of 2017, and their focus will likely remain there when the mid-season update rolls around.
Unfortunately, the shine and sparkle that this annual update holds just isn’t there this year, and players aren’t likely to notice a difference to begin with. This year, it seems, Riot is simply pushing all of the major updates that would normally come with the mid-season update much earlier. A large bundle of brand new AP items and major AP item changes are shipping with Patch 8.4 tomorrow, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
This early part of the 2018 season has been more saturated by major changes than most years before. These changes are particularly difficult for pro players, whose careers depend on understanding the meta. About a month ago, in Patch 8.2, Sightstones were removed from the game. There are also more support item changes coming in tomorrow’s patch, as well as brand new runes and even a couple of champion reworks. There’s another Keystone rune coming in 8.6, and soon major changes to the jungle item system will be here, too.
If the trend continues, and it probably will, there will be so many new features, items, and runes to learn that by the time spring rolls around, a mid-season update would seem like any other patch this year.
Nonetheless, Riot is still planning to reserve the mid-season update to “open up bot lane champion choice more,” according to Meddler. It’s expected to arrive with Patch 8.9, which would be May 2 as long as it follows the normal patch release schedule.