Red Post Collection: Vesh on Tristana's future update, Sona PBE nerf context, Zz'Rot portal discussion, and more!

Posted on at 5:15 AM by Moobeat
This morning's red post collection includes Vesh briefly discussing the future Tristana gameplay update, Reinboom with a few comments on the upcoming Zz'Rot Portal item, Riot Jag with context on the PBE Sona nerfs, Phreak chatting about champion diversity in competitive LoL, and more!
Continue reading for more information!


Vesh on Tristana's Update

In the reddit discussing the 1/6 PBE update and the new Tristana ability icons that slipped in, Vesh stopped by to comment a few specifics on what is going to be done for her kit in the update:
"This is correct! The E is a new spell although it has similarities to the feeling of the previous one (it's still a targeted spell, still has the passive AoE on minion kill).

The rest of her kit is basically just numbers tuning, and the W will have an interaction with the new E."
When asked if the gameplay update will keep AP Tristana viable, Vesh noted:
"Yes. I have adjusted the AP ratios to be a bit healthier (less free burst for just clicking R) but her overall burst power will still be the same if you use the new E correctly. There will be more emphasis on her jumping in to do her combo instead of just click E click R though."
As you may recall, a Champion Update dev blog from last year mentioned Tristana was in line to receive a visual and gameplay update sometime in the future.

Zz'Rot Portal and Void Targets

Speaking of the 1/6 PBE Update, Reinboom also jumped on reddit to discuss the upcoming Zz'Rot Portal item!
When asked what the item's tool time means when it says it ignores champions and "void targets", Reinboom noted:
"Void Gates (created by Zz'Rot Portal)

Voidspawn (created by Void Gates)

Voidling (created by Malzahar)

There's a bunch more void things in the game, but the Voidspawn ignore them for other reasons already such as various champions (Rek'Sai, Kha'zix) or Baron."
When asked why, she explained:
"These creatures (Voidspawn at least) has no reason or natural behavior to attacking other void things.

This may be a normal void behavior - at least for the more "basic" void creatures - but there's been no other real cases where we've gotten to see what the unchained whims of a void creature has been. The Voidlings you see in game are mostly under the control of Malzahar and thus could be directed against what is natural for them.

Voidspawn, unlike voidlings, aren't "directed". They have a sense of team apparently, but beyond that you have no way of really directing them. Their behaviors are very simple. This is probably due to opening a portal for them to come through is suitably different than calling for their service. It might also explain their volatility.

Of course the real reason for them ignoring void targets is that, gameplay wise, it was kind of boring to cancel a void gate with another void gate since it just meant inaction for both sides. Making them ignore all void targets was a "clean" way of solving that issue and allowed for a cute "also ignores voidlings" secret behavior."
In response to a suggestion that the Void Gate give players a speed or regen bonus when they stand around it, Reinboom commented:
"Point Runner gives you a speed boost near allied void gates

I would be too concerned with putting too many other mechanisms on the item. It's already a rather complicated item with a lot of moving parts."

Context on Sona PBE Nerfs

When asked about the Sona nerfs that are currently testing on the PBE (including base movement speed reduction and a nerf to her Q's power chord damage), Riot Jag commented:
"Hey Metaworldpeace10. You were great in the '10 NBA finals. Big fan.

Anyway, let's talk about Sona for a bit. I can definitely appreciate the perspective that she isn't really crowding out support selection diversity. That said, we want to stay on top of the successes and shortcomings of all of our champion reworks, and we feel that some of Sona's gameplay patterns are not the most healthy experience for bot lane. Fighting Sona has a lot of strategic depth that you talk about (pick hard engage or burst characters like Leona to fight her), but we want counterplay to extend past champion select and still be relevant tactically (in lane). The MS change is intended to give enemies without extremely strong engagement capabilities a fair shot at fighting Sona, without exaggerating her weaknesses to hard engage that something like a base HP/armor adjustment would do.

Understandably, Sona isn't perceived as particularly strong, given that she isn't being picked every game (especially in competitive play), and does not seem like she is taking over games that she is in. That said, we have a lot of tools and data we use for examining the game, and in addition to some of the play pattern issues I mentioned, we do feel that she is on the strong side for supports for a wide range of ELOs. Keep in mind, this is intended to be a pretty small nerf overall.

Now let's talk about a few of the other issues you mentioned.

1) Jungle diversity is an issue we agree we can help improve. Next patch you'll see some movement towards what you're talking about (for instance, Hecarim and Skarner are getting a little love).

2) There are some counterplay issues with a few assassins in our game. These problems are pretty complex ones to solve, and some of the champions you mention definitely need some changes to stay healthy (I think Zed is probably at the top of that list right now).

3) Top lane is a much bigger issue. There are so many factors involved here (power of Teleport, relevance of Dragon, power of Marksmen vs Fighters, etc.) that this is a larger scope problem that would take multiple patches to work on. But you definitely make a great point, there are some issues in champion diversity top lane and we need to do some work on that."
He continued:
"...The changes we're putting in this PBE cycle for Sona will be going out with the next patch, but hearing opinions from Sona players and seeing this discussion is very valuable for us in the future if we need to reexamine the state she's in. 
The feedback regarding how players feel that so much of her power is weighted in her Q is useful. Also agreed regarding Q Power Chord pushing out other choices (this is part of what the changes are supposed to address, but we may need more work here). 
I also want to thank everyone for contributing your view in this thread (particularly the constructive posts...); improving communication with our players is something I always want to be working on."

Champion Diversity in Competitive LoL

In a forum thread discussing the want for more champion pick diversity in competitive League of Legends, Phreak stepped into share his thoughts on the situation:
"It's definitely an odd space.

On the one hand, you're right: The number of unique champions played in top tier competitive play is dwindling slowly over time. The real question is "Why?"

You could certainly force a wider variety. You could say "Okay, you can only play each champion once per month / once per series / if your opponents haven't played it either." Enforcing a wider variety of champions can be interesting because you'll see more of them played. You could have 20 bans. You'll definitely see different stuff played if you do that.

Another question can be if just "Champion named Ezreal was picked" counts as one unique pick. What about Mid Ezreal vs. ADC Ezreal? What about Support Nautilus vs. Jungle? Kayle Top/Mid/Support? How about different builds? AP Amumu vs. Tank Amumu? You can track the specifics of "Champion named X was picked." Does that tell the whole story? Do you care if they were built differently? AP Mid vs. AD Bot Kog'Maw? I'd argue this counts as a "different" pick, but it's of course not tracked as that. Certainly, an edge case, but it's food for thought.

On that line of reasoning, I think 2014 was a year full of flex picks. We saw Karma, Lulu, and a whole host of other mages go in various lanes. Would a better line of reasoning be, "How many Supports did we see this year? How many Mid Laners did we see this year?" Double-counting Jayce doesn't make for a very interesting comparison, but Annie might count. I think we saw more flex picks in 2014 than any other year. There were probably at least two dozen champions that were played in more than one role this year in professional play.
The game has also become more homogenized. Up until halfway through Season One, many teams weren't running ADC+Support bottom lanes. Now it's considered commonplace. Not everyone knew Kassadin was crazy strong throughout 2013, Cloud9 least of which, but he defined the first half of 2014's Ban phase. Nowadays everyone's watching the Koreans and saying, "Ah, LeBlanc and Corki are contested. We should all learn them." The fact that all the top-tier players have a standard to look to and compel themselves to emulate shrinks our champion pools significantly.

I specifically asked Cloud9's Hai about this at the beginning of 2014. He said they sat down, had a meeting, and told me (paraphrased), "We chose to drop our old playstyle. We should play like SKT. They won the world championship. Let's be like them" Well, SKT couldn't even qualify for Worlds the next year. I'm not certain that emulating a specific team or style of play in a constantly-evolving game is the right way to thrive. Cloud9 had, consecutively, their worst splits ever after making the decision, "Let's copy SKT." Throughout 2013 they made their own rules. Meteos made his own jungle style. Sneaky and LemonNation pulled in their own champion pools and style (Hello, Ashe/Zyra). Certainly, other factors than just "not innovating" led to teams taking more games off C9 than before; I'm just bringing up trends I see.

I think the trend actually feeds on itself. Because everyone's compelled to learn specific champions because "better teams" do so, everyone shares similar champion pools. And because you can easily predict your opponent's champions, and magically you ALSO play those champions, it means you have heavily contested picks. I know they want Corki. Well I know how to play Corki! Let's first pick Corki. This repeats for every role, 2-3 champions deep. Some players branch out and have their own fun touches (Xerath players, Rengar players, Rumble players, Vayne players, etc.) but anything that sees a lot of success falls back into the old pattern of, "Oh this champion's successful, let's all learn it."

In my opinion, almost every single champion in League of Legends can be that champion. The next Rengar is out there. The next Support Annie or Support Morgana is out there. People just arbitrarily started playing them and everyone decided it was a good idea. But people seem to glom onto them really, really hard, so the pools decrease.

What's the way to fix that? Is it OK to "force open" the champion pools? Should we just track "# of Supports played" across seasons and trend that? What should change?"
He continued:
"Quote:
Some of what you are saying is true, but there's a lot more to it than that. For instance, right now the deciding factor much of the time in terms of whether the pros play a champion or not is whether or not that champ is mobile. Immobile champs don't see nearly as much play in LCS, and as far as I can tell you guys don't have any interest in changing that. The reason I say that is because you a) rarely ever buff immobile champs that don't see competitive play and b) continue to release champs that can do everything immobile champs can do while also bouncing around like rabits. So basically you guys have made a decision to cut the champion pool in LCS in half simply by doing nothing to counter the extreme dominance of mobility in the game.
"I absolutely disagree. 
Ryze, Warwick (except ultimate), Orianna, Jinx, Morgana... The list goes on pretty much the entire way. 
Very few champions have no mobility abilities, so it's easy to say, "Well, mobility wins." Except that Looper showed us both Singed and Kayle as completely dominant champions. Talon can only jump to enemies, and crushed people. Jayce likewise, same impact. 
So, I have to reiterate, that saying things like "Cut in half" is very odd when there is I think literally one melee champion without some way of moving faster in Mordekaiser, and then some other fraction only has movement speed buffs... Yet we saw Dr. Mundo played for most of the split. And again, as far as ranged champions go, I think literally every conventional Support doesn't contain tactical mobility skills. Twitch was arguably the defining ADC of the World Championship. Orianna hasn't gone anywhere in literally ever, and neither has Rumble. 
Now you can make the point that champions can be come non-viable, but mobility is an absolute red herring."

In response to criticism of  his earlier comments on "same champion different roles", Phreak continued:
"Quote
I know this doesn't belong here, but the "Same champion making different roles" has been against every balance change you have ever made in the game (Except a MF AP buff). If you are taking care of them now, you should start to think about the balance changes too."
That's not quite correct, though I understand where you're coming from. 
We are not, as a game, against a champion being viable in multiple roles. We're fine with Lulu working in 4 roles right now. We're fine with Karma working in the same ones. We're fine with Hecarim as a jungler as well as a Mid Laner (and I'm sure he's fine Top also). 
The changes to champions when they worked in certain lanes came from the gameplay impact of that lane. When Janna walked into lane, Pressed Q in the vague direction of the minions, and then immediately last hit the entire wave, that was an issue. When Lulu clicked "E" and then pressed "Q" twice, causing you to lose 50% of your health without it honestly being a real skill shot, that was the issue. When Annie's low level base damages and stun were so obnoxiously high you immediately lost any possible 2v2 fight bottom lane, that was the issue. 
Notice how literally nothing changed about Karma after we saw Bjergsen get a pentakill on her in the LCS playoffs, despite being played as a support the week before. Lulu hasn't been changed in about 4 months (E duration on enemies being the big change) after her mid lane pattern became significantly less toxic. 
The awkward thing about all of this is that it's not that pro teams were looking for support mids to play. They didn't immediately replace Janna with Morgana, or Karma, or Lulu, or Soraka. They played mid Janna because she was bullshit. They played mid Soraka because she was bullshit. Pros really like to pick champions that are un-counterable. Their opponents are, just like them, extremely skilled League of Legends players. If you can find a champion that CANNOT be outplayed, that's a really strong champion to play in top tier play. So while a lot of people see, "Oh, Janna got played outside of her recommended lane, so Riot nerfed her," what's actually happening is, "Janna mid has no counterplay, let's add some." And then to pros go, "Oh, this champion has counterplay? Time to find something else to abuse."

Azir Q behaviour changes

In response to a popular reddit thread, ZenonTheStoic has posted up a few upcoming behavior changes for Azir's Q!
"Hello friends of Shurima! 
One of the long standing issues that we've had with Azir is that his Q behaved a little unpredictably sometimes. UnknownMartian most recently posted a Youtube video to reddit that lays out the problem clearly:


TLDR: When assigning soldiers positions for Conquering Sands (Q), Azir would historically grab all soldiers on the map in random order (most often this would happen to be in order of creation, but not always). As demonstrated in the video, in the three soldier case this sometimes leads to an unfortunate situation where the nearest soldier is assigned one of the side positions, 240 units off your mouse cursor. 
I took some time tonight to rewrite how Q works and cleaned up some bugs surrounding the 2/4 soldier cases as well (4 soldiers is technically possible, but very, very rare). Here's the breakdown, with pictures!
One soldierPretty straightforward. Goes where you click. Your click position is a 75 radius green circle, the calculated soldier position is a 100 radius red circle. In this case they're identical
Two soldiersThe soldiers align themselves around your target position, equidistant to the left and right of it. The nearest soldier always goes to the left position, viewed from Azir's perspective along the axis of your cast direction.
Three soldiersThis is the situation from Unknown Martian's video. I fixed this so the nearest soldier will always go to the MIDDLE, which is the position that you clicked on. The second closest will go to the left and the farthest will go to the right.
Four soldiersThis is very rare and hard to achieve. Hint: both Q and AA extend soldier lifetime by a fractional amount in certain situations. Not something I expect players will be able to exploit in real games, but just in case. As you can see, the first row of soldiers places itself slightly nearer to you than where you clicked, with the nearest soldier going to the center. This is only a difference of 120 units, and Q overshoots by 50 units, so this difference shouldn't make you miss (we do check forward an additional 100 units at the end of a Q to see if we can find someone to hit anyway, so it's a moot point).

None of this has been QA checked yet so details may change or the rollout of these changes may be delayed. They will also not be in the next patch; at the earliest, they will be in the patch after that.

Questions?"

Blood Moon Elise and Thresh "Soon"

As mentioned in the 4.21 patch notes, the new Blood Moon Thresh and Blood Moon Elise skins  are set to release sometime during 4.21.

In case you are afraid Riot forgot about them, Riot KateyKhaos recently mentioned they will be out soon in a thread asking for an ETA on the release of Blood Moon Thresh:
"We'll be releasing him soon! (Sorry for the long wait, Snowdown and winter break happened!)"

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