Ah, 2018. You won’t be missed, at least not by League of Legends players, that is.
This year was, by far, the most controversial year in the game’s history when it came to balance changes and patches. Whether it was during the three-part mid-season update (updates?) or Riot just dropping one out of the blue, it was difficult to keep up for players at all skill levels. These changes brought about gold funneling, the bruiser bot lane meta, the death of enchanter supports, and other craziness.
Luckily, Riot really toned things down after most of the fires from the mid-season patches were put out, apparently realizing its mistake after several publications and noteworthy personalities, including ourselves and Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, took aim at Riot to explain why it was so frustrating. So now that things have slowed down for a couple months, it doesn’t sting as much to go back over the mayhem from the year and break it all down.
Here are the five biggest changes pushed to League of Legends in 2018. And yes, all of this happened this year, although it may seem like it was an eternity.
5) Mage items/mana changes
One of the first major changes to League in 2018 was the AP item overhaul, as well as the many changes to mage champion mana pools. The changes were designed to alter each mage’s strengths, with the overall goal being to make them easier to balance. The end result, however, was total havoc in the meta for a few weeks afterward.
This is when mana was added to items like Luden’s Echo, taken off those like Morellonomicon, and more massive redesigns of items. In tandem, these were supposed to set clear identities for each mage. You’d build Luden’s for poking, Spellbinder for constant fighting, etc. The thing is, though, the meta just latched onto one item at a time and everyone ended up building that, despite Riot’s best intentions. For the most part, that item ended up being Luden’s, as Tear items were weak for a while, and very few champions build the GLP nowadays, which was intended to be a more common option for mana, too. Eventually, things evened out.
That, or the mid-season hit and everyone forgot about it.
4) New bounty system
The bounty system was changed in 2018 to heavily favor the team that was behind, rewarding massive amounts of gold to whomever could shut down fed champions. This became a significant problem, and remained a point of contention for the community throughout the rest of the season. The main criticism was that it basically punished you for being ahead, and that it made games that should otherwise end take ages to actually close out.
Now, there’s another new bounty system that changes depending on more factors, like your CS score. And that has also made Reddit headlines a few times since it was introduced a couple of weeks ago, with players flaming it. It is the pre-season, though, so that’s not entirely unexpected.
3) Minion value overhaul
One of the wildest changes of the year was the one to minion values. This is the change that jacked up the gold value of cannon minions to be worth more than jungle camps by mid-game. It’s also what caused caster minions to only award a paltry sum.
The goal here was to reward champions less for just nuking a wave with one ability and roaming to other lanes, since the easier ones to kill didn’t reward much and you would have to hang around to clear your cannons. That didn’t work quite as intended, though, since roaming remained the tried-and-true way to win for the rest of the year, and still is.
2) Jungle experience and Scuttle changes
The jungle experience changes defined the jungle meta for the rest of the year, too. Now that you can’t hit level three on three camps, junglers were forced to get creative to outsmart the enemy jungler. And, as you’d imagine, any champion that struggles in early- and mid-game duels was immediately knocked right out of the meta because they can’t keep up.
This led to a rather frustrating jungle meta, especially for laners, and with the incomparable value of the Scuttle, which now rewarded incredibly high gold along with the cannon minions, champions that can clear those the fastest have an edge, too. This, combined with the RNG spawning of the Scuttle, led to a very strange situation in the jungle that has carried on into the pre-season, although people are more used to it now.
1) Crit item overhaul and marksman stat changes
Changes to marksman base stats and crit items were, without a single doubt, the largest dumpster fire of the 2018 League meta. These changes are what led to non-marksmen in the bot lane, but instead of those champs being enabled by cool mechanics or something else interesting, they were simply enabled because marksmen sucked really, really bad.
It took weeks and multiple patches to get marksmen back on track, and this was responsible for the benching of several star bot laners in pro leagues, like Fnatic’s Martin “Rekkles” Larsson. Some mages still remain prominent bot lane choices, like Heimerdinger and, more recently, Karthus, due to these changes. In fact, one of the most-requested changes by fans is to completely revert all of the crit item redesigns and stat changes of the mid-season. We doubt Riot would do that, however, so buckle up.