Red Post Collection: 5.1 Delayed, 2015 Ranked Season Starting Soon, 5.2 Live Gameplay Patch Forecast, and MUCH more!

Posted on at 3:50 AM by Moobeat
[Update: Patch 5.1 has been rescheduled for January 15th!]

This morning's red post collection includes a notice that the 5.1 patch has been slightly delayed due to bugs, an announcement that the 2015 ranked season will be starting on January 21st, the 5.2 Live gameplay patch forecast which details the intended removal of Deathfire Grasp from Summoner's Rift, Grumpy Monkey with a speed sculpt of the Tristana visual update,  and much, much more!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Patch 5.1 Delayed at least 24 hours

[UPDATE: Patch 5.1 has been rescheduled for Jan 15th!]

While originally slated to drop today, Patch 5.1 has been delayed at least 24 hours due to bugs.

Riot Triggs broke the news on twitter, saying:
"Due to an unforeseen delay we're delaying the deploy of 5.1 for at least 24 hours. Updates will be on ."
Riot Feithen, a release manager at Riot, also added:
"Due to a last minute bug we're delaying 5.1, at least 24hrs. Sorry folks! Always better to find these things *before* we release, though."
Once the maintenance is re-announced, I'll be sure to let you know by updating THIS POST.

Get Ready for the 2015 Ranked Season

The new year is here and we are prepped to kick off the 2015 ranked season!! Check out this announcement from Riot Mirross regarding the start o the season, changes to placement matches, and more!
"It’s time to slim back down to fighting weight and pull those tryhard pants on, because on January 21 we’re opening up the 2015 ranked season! If you’ve spent the holidays hiding under a large rock, then you’ve only got a few days to catch up on the latest updates and get prepared for the 2015 season! However, all’s not lost - here’s a super short list of the biggest recent changes along with a couple of pointers for the coming season:

As usual, you'll have ten placement games to fight through before settling in to your tier and division, ready for the climb. But this time, they work a little differently: in previous seasons, placement games were way more impactful than regular season games. Challenger players could lose all ten games and end up in Silver during the 2014 placements, while Bronze players could go on lucky winning sprees and end up in Plat before getting their butts kicked repeatedly until they fell a few tiers. Neither of these are good experiences, so while this year’s placements are still important, they won’t cause established players to swing as far up or down because of good or bad luck. Your placement will still be heavily influenced by where you ended up last season. If you’ve never played ranked, then your form in your placements will be all that matters! 
Finally, with the pretty substantial changes that preseason brought, we figured that everyone should have a fresh opportunity to rise to the top. Because of that, we’re again running a soft reset to player position with the start of the ranked season, meaning you’ll likely place lower than where you ended the previous season.

Summoner’s Rift 
We gave Summoner’s Rift a Sion-sized update back in November! We could tell you about the new map, or you could just click here and explore it at your own pace. You should totally do that.

We also brought in some huge preseason changes at the end of last year! Aside from looking different, Dragon and Baron now give different rewards to the team that kills them, and the jungle’s teeming with new camps that actually do things. Like kill you! Seriously - the raptors hurt SO MUCH NOW. 
Preseason also brought in a heap of new items and tweaks to existing gear. Check out the full detailshere.

Finally, we introduced a new champion to League over the break. Rek’Sai’s a subterranean nightmare who stalks her prey with her unique tremor sense before digging tunnels to claim kills when the time’s right. Check out her spotlight here.

We’ll have more information as the season progresses, but there will definitely be a victorious skin, and you’ll unlock unique wards as you play ranked 5s! 
That’s it for now! We’ll have more updates as the season develops, but for now, get practicing, because ranked is coming up FAST!"
Riot Socrates also chimed in on reddit regarding placements, saying:
"TL;DR losses and wins in placements won't swing you as far up or down, but you should expect to be seeded lower than where you ended the preseason because of the soft reset."

[5.2] Live Gameplay Patch Forecast - DFG to be removed from SR

We also have Riot Jag with a live gameplay patch forecast for patch 5.2, which includes the intended removal of Deathfire Grasp from Summoner's Rift!
"Hey guys, Jag here from the Live Balance team. It's a new year, a new(ish) season, and we're back with the Patch 5.2 Forecast!

The biggest change we're making in 5.2 is that we're removing Deathfire Grasp from Summoner's Rift. There are two major reasons we felt we had to do this, so I'll run through both:

First, DFG tends to make burst patterns even more bursty. The item effectively adds another nuke spell on top of kits that are already designed to have strong up-front damage and aggravates the "whoa, I got one shot out of nowhere" frustration of playing against certain champions. A good example is LeBlanc; DFG adds reliability to her assassination patterns and ends up removing counterplay (she gets to rely on her Q, E, and DFG spells for damage, and can use dashes to reposition or escape instead of making more risky plays).

The second reason is strongly tied to the first; removing this item gives us room to buff champion kits that would otherwise be overpowered if they could use DFG. The most obvious example is Ahri; more 'magey' elements of the character, like her sustained damage or kiting, end up getting washed out because she has so much power to blow up charmed targets with a DFG burst. This ends up forcing us to balance Ahri around her assassin playstyle because there's always the "I can buy DFG" route to consider; removing the item means we can buff her in more interesting ways while still keeping some of her burst because she can't just pick up a DFG and double down on a single playstyle.

As far as champions that purchase DFG are concerned, some will get some love now that DFG is gone (I mentioned Ahri; expect Veigar to get attention either this patch or next); some are strong enough that losing DFG is a healthy nerf; some rely on alternate item builds sufficiently that they won't be affected too much. When 5.2 goes live, if we feel there is an itemization gap for mages, then we'll address that further.

One of the other character classes we're looking at in 5.2 in Assassins. Some assassins have top tier burst potential that is loaded onto high reliability spells (think Akali or Fizz here) and don't have enough real weaknesses to compensate. Others may simply be too strong along a variety of dimensions; Zed being one of the best 1v1 champions in the game and an extremely efficient tower diver helps make him a super split pusher. However, him having such strong tower killing statistics (e.g. AS, bonus AD from W passive) on top of that makes for an overwhelming combination.

Last point regarding jungle; we have seen the jungle receive a huge amount of changes since the start of the preseason, and Patch 5.1 was no exception with the addition of the Smite charging system. We want to keep a close eye on what happens when 5.1 hits live servers and we will continue to make changes to jungle as appropriate."

Scarizard also chimed in, on DFG's removal and subsequent compensation buffs, explaining:
"While i do use the language 'compensate' when referring to changes a number of mage champions will be receiving in 5.2, i want to clarify by saying they are /not/ intended to be 1-for-1 in /all/ cases with DFG's removal. That is to say 'Champions lost an active that gave them X% damage amp - therefore, let's give them all X% more damage!' is not wholly accurate. 
We're not interested in leaving DFG's top customers unilaterally weaker (as people in this thread have mentioned Ahri/Veigar are on the list, but not the only ones!), but giving champions more flexibility rather than damage are options on the table for some of these characters. 
I apologize for being vague on a tactical level (Y U NO SHOW BUFFS?), but i'd rather leave a lot of the context/discussions on the Who and How's of 5.2's Mage changes to the individual developers working on them."
As for when we might expect to see details on these, he noted:
"You should see the first batch of changes soon in an upcoming PBE push!

When asked if these "compensation" type changes will include reverts to recent champion changes for people like Ahri or LeBlanc, Pwyff noted:
"Not reverts most likely but examinations on ways to buff them along different paths (probably not more burst). Some might not get buffs for now because either they have access to other itemization paths or they actually need a nudge down and DFG's removal does that."
When asked why have assassin's when extreme burst is always deemed problematic, Pwyff replied:
"There are healthy types of assassins. I think there's a very narrow concept of "insta-burst = assassin" whereas the definition can be broadened to something like an opportunistic champion who waits for the right moment to strike while having a lot of tools available to capitalize on that moment. Damage is obviously the cornerstone of those tools, but there are more ways that can manifest itself other than INSTANT. 
Giving utility is one way, especially for champions not designed as core assassins but 'gain access' to it via DFG [Hello Lissandra]. We're looking into it right now!"
Pwyff also commented on why DFG needed to be death with rather than individual champion changes:
"I can talk more in-depth on this. You raise a good point that some have... decent counterplay even with DFG, but when DFG enters the scene, it almost always reduces counterplay on a kit that has good weaknesses 
If we were to leave DFG in, we basically leave a "buy me to reduce your counterplay" item and have to balance around the assumption that many will buy it. Looking at individual champions and balancing around the item is what leads us to things like TF / Fizz / Kayle getting nerfed when Lich Bane is strong. 
What this does is sets us up to balance champions around more unique axis without having to worry that some of them might just pick up the super nuke item."

As for SyndraAnnieVeigar, and LeBlancMeddler explained:
"No changes planned for Syndra to compensate for the DFG change (she's got other options she does fine with and at least right now certainly isn't weak). 
Annie we're trying some changes relating to how Tibbers deals damage after being summoned, see if there's a way to make that more interesting (feedback on the exact execution we've been trying's been mixed though). 
Not sure on Veigar/Le Blanc. From memory the balance team's still talking about direction for them. Le Blanc's usually not building DFG in competitive play at least at the moment though, and still performing well in the right comp, so possible that'll be a wait and see case."
Jag also commented on a few of these, saying:
"Our opinion is that Leblanc and Syndra are not hurt too hard by DFG's removal (or at least not so badly that they'd need compensation). 
Annie is another story. We're working through some changes that can make her still feel good about bursting people without so heavily relying on "drop Tibbers, cast spells, enemy explodes" pattern."
As for Mordekaiser, Jag noted:
"Mordekaiser is a guy we're still looking at. He's an interesting problem because admittedly it seems like DFG is core to his late game team fight objectives, but on the other hand it's really hard to play up some of his basic play patterns (especially in lane) without aggravating the "this guy is miserable to play against" experience."
When asked about compensation buffs for Ahri specifically, Meddler noted:
"We are testing some changes to Ahri that support the kite mage pattern she used to use sometimes. Those changes (not guaranteed, but being experimented with at the moment) include things like removing the damage amp on charm, buffing her other damage sources and giving her a speed boost while her Q's in the air to allow more reposition plays and kiting while casting."
He continued, commenting on a scrapped idea to place her ult on an ammo system:
"We did actually test Ahri during her initial development with an ammo system on her ult, with separate use/recharge, rather than the current 3 casts in X seconds approach. Conclusion we came to's the same point you've made - high mobility, within a limited period of time, results in both healthier and more interesting gameplay. Ammo system Ahri always had a dash charge up to escape with, so was much harder for opponents to deal with and was disincentivized from trying to make cool multi dash plays."

Adding on to the DFG removal discussion FeralPony also commented on the potential addition of new activate items:
"So I can comment on this a bit. We're looking at some longer term changes to the itemization system this will probably result in some additional active items though I wouldn't expect anything in 5.2. A lot of the work on the Active Item UI (making active items more prominently displayed on your cast bar) had the goal of allowing us the ability to make more active items. Any additional actives we add would most likely be targeted at classes or roles that currently have a lack of activated items (ie- probably not supports as they can often be overloaded with actives though we had some ideas there as well) 
There are also a few active items we had experimented with during Preseason that we liked (like ZzRot Portal) but were delayed due to scope which we might be able to get ship ready sooner."
Scarizard also added:
"Our intent is to have a 3rd NLR item post-dfg."

Tristana Getting a New Splash

When asked if Tristana will be getting a new splash art for her champion update despite her receiving one rather recently, IronStylus noted:
"The current idea is to update the splash because the proportions and face are a little more in line."
In a different thread, he reiterated:
"Splash will be updated on top of the new splash to reflect the costume changes and some anatomy tweaks. Glad you like her!"
As for why received a new splash so recently even thought it was going to quickly be out dated, Ququroon noted:
"On Tristana's splash... We wanted to get the old one out of the game as soon as possible, especially given her high visibility during Worlds. This isn't a completely new splash, as it will have modifications of the current one on live. However, the changes will be sizable specifically on her character."

Tristana Update Speed Sculpt

Speaking of Tristana's champion update, Grumpy Monkey also shared a speed sculpt of him creating her new model!

Champion Update Priority and Commentary

In a thread asking how Riot prioritizes which champion updates to do, Meddler explained:
"Some of the key questions we ask when deciding which champions to do updates on: 
How badly does this champion need a visual/audio update? 
The more out of place (or out of date) they currently look/sound the more reason we have to rework them. A champion that gets played a lot and really needs a visual upgrade is particularly significant - since they're in games a lot they'll be seen a lot and therefore contribute substantially to the overall average visual quality of the game. Tristana's a good example of this - she's a popular character, who's also really easy to acquire (Facebook or 1350IP), with quite a few visual/audio upgrade needs. 
How problematic is this champion's gameplay? 
Champions with a lack of counterplay, that result in degenerate lane picks, that suppress interesting play etc can be rework priorities because they make the game worse overall. Xerath and Soraka are good examples of this category. 
How much untapped potential does this champion have? 
These are characters with cool themes that aren't properly executed on, unsatisfying kits etc. Stuff that could be really cool, but isn't, usually for a number of reasons (gameplay+aesthetics+personality for example). There's a good seed of a champion in there, but it's not done right. Sion's the best example of this."

By request, Meddler also shared his thoughts on a few champions, including Yorick, Urgot, and more!
"Yorick/Urgot - Both Sion levels of rework in terms of amount of work. We talked a lot about which champion was the best fit for that level of update next and conclusion we came to was Poppy was the best overall choice. Lot of good points in favor of Yorick, and especially Urgot, but Poppy felt like the best choice for the next slot. 
Lee Sin - We feel his problem's that he's a generalist who crowds out other picks if you've got a player able to take proper advantage of him. That means the work he needs is a combination of accentuating (or creating) weaknesses (and potentially strengths) and possibly a bit more counterplay. Some of that work at least's going to be an issue of balance, as much or more than rework. 
Eve/Olaf - Could do with some work, agreed. I don't personally feel Olaf's too far off being playable, amount he leaves some champions without options when he's strong though's pretty problematic. 
Xerath - I'll have to disagree with you on Xerath, I feel his rework overall left him in a pretty good spot. Would be nice to improve the visual satisfaction on his ult at some point though, the current visual effect was designed for a somewhat different style of ult so doesn't sync up well with the feel of the current gameplay."
In a separate thread, Meddler also commented on Akali and Diana:
"My current thoughts/couple of general comments: 
Akali - Lot of fun and a good alignment between her kit and theme, Lacks sufficient counterplay, resulting in frustrating playing against experience especially when she's ahead. Removal of the mitigation stats from her W's reduced her dueling power against tankier champs which is a positive, squishy targets still struggle with a lack of options sometimes however. The live balance team's currently experimenting with her ult range to see if reducing that's an appropriate lever to put her into a better spot (her having high reliability's less of an issue if it's more practical to stay out of her zone of threat or at least force her to use another ult charge before getting to you). 
Diana - Would benefit from being more clearly an assassin or a fighter, rather than a generalized mixture of the two (a good fit for her personality that unfortunately results in her being hard to give sufficiently clear strengths and weaknesses when strong enough to be picked). In an ok state, would probably require that work be done to get her to what you'd call a really good state/be a character we felt was good for the game if a really common pick. Not currently being worked on. 
Both of them - Bit much overlap between the two, both utilizing a similar combat approach through their ults, Q's and cleaves. Ensuring the two of them end up with a few more points of distinction would do both some good (which personally suggests Diana should be pushed towards being more of a fighter, though I can see the argument for assassin as well)."

Champion Update: Alistar

YOU CAN'T MILK THOSE! The upcoming 5.1 patch is set to include a champion update for Alistar!
"The champion update guys had a closer look at Alistar and decided it was time for a brush up! We’ve just finished shampooing and shearing, clipping and steering him through the champ-up workshop, and he’s finally ready to stampede with style.
As with a few other recent updates, Alistar didn’t actually require a massive gameplay or thematic overhaul, meaning we could focus on the Minotaur’s visuals. His update’s packed with new models and textures for all of his skins, and while we had him in the shop, we also tweaked a couple of the big guy’s animations. Now Alistar will cycle through different run types as he speeds up and slows down, and you’ll actually see him trampling enemies with his passive! You still can’t milk those, though.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!"

Interested in a closer look at Alistar's updated skins? Check out our dedicated Alistar Champion Update post!

Alistar Champion Update Discussion

Meddler also commented on the lack of significant gameplay changes to Alistar in his 5.1 champion update:
"Alistar's a champ we'd like to do some light gameplay work on at some point. He's in a reasonably good spot overall though and there are a lot of other champions we felt needed gameplay reworks more. That left us in a spot where we had the option of shipping some visual improvements, and doing some further work at an undetermined date, or delaying the visual changes until everything else could be worked on (probably quite a long time). Getting those model/texture changes out felt like a clear win, so that's what we decided to go for, given we had a spot in our schedule where we had enough free artist time for a job of this size and type."
He continued:
I hate that Riot pushes out more and more of the VU/TU stuff... compared to proper reworks they always end up looking cheap and low effort
These lower scope visual updates are almost always in addition to the other, larger upgrades, not instead of them. If we're limited by how many champs we make can new character animations and spell effects for at one time, but have the capability to do some more texture/model work, doing those smaller upgrades seems like a good way to help out an extra set of champions that would otherwise not be getting visual upgrades at all at the moment."

Looking to the future, Meddler noted:
"Fair question and no offense taken at all. 
I'm quite confident we'll do some work on Alistar at some point. To be quite open I'm not sure that that'll be this year necessarily though (talking about skill functionality changes specifically, I would expect some balance changes sometime this year of course as needed). Alistar's overall very impactful, fun to play, and reasonably well differentiated from other champs. Sure, his passive's a bit uninspiring, as is his E in some circumstances (powerful though it be). When he's significantly too strong he's also basically must pick/ban (see last year's World Champs). Overall though he's in a pretty good spot, and other champs need gameplay work done a lot more than he does."

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