Red Post Collection: 2016 Preseason Spotlight, Ranked Season Ending Soon, Preseason Dev Blogs, BRAUMIX, and more!

Posted on at 11:36 AM by Moobeat
Today's red post collection is HUGE and incluides the 2016 preseason spotlight, a reminder on that the 2015 ranked season is ending soon, a look into the origins of DR.MUNDO info on upcoming patch 5.22 changes for Kindred, Meddler's thoughts on Sona, the BRAUMIX, several dev blogs and discussion on the upcoming preseason changes for Marksman, Vision, Itemization and the new Rift Herald, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

2016 Preseason Spotlight

First up we have the 2016 Preseason spotlight, highlighting all the changes coming out way in 5.22!

"Join us as we scratch the surface of some of the gameplay changes coming to League this preseason!
Head over here for the full story:"

2015 Ranked Season is ending!

Here's Riot Socrates with a reminder that the 2015 Ranked Season is coming to a close on 11/11!
"Only days remain until the end of the 2015 season. There’s still time to reach your ranked goals. If you can push your way to Gold or higher, you’ll earn the exclusive Victorious Sivir champion skin. 
When the clock strikes midnight, turning November 10 to November 11, ranked queues will come down for about twelve hours and we'll start doling out rewards. 
Find out more about the 2015 season rewards here!"
Interested previews of the 2015 ranked season rewards? Check 'em out in our 5.22 PBE coverage:

The Making of the Madman 

Next up we have Mhija and ADillonMostDirty with a brief history on the origins of ... *SLURP* DR. MUNDO!
"He’s big, he’s purple, and he has some disturbing origins... 
We talked to Andy “fantasyworld” Ho (Lead Analyst), Colt “Ezreal” Hallam (Lead Game Designer), and Edmundo “odnumde” Sanchez (Art Lead) to shed some light on the man, the monster, the Mundo. 
Mundo never start in mail room. 

What prompted the creation of Dr. Mundo? 
Edmundo: Mundo was conceived and created back in the day when there were only like 30 folks at Riot. He was born from an original character description by Steven “Guinsoo” Feak, which he paired with a drawing I did of a surgeon, and gave him the placeholder name “Dr. Mabuse.” (which actually came from a 1922 German silent horror film of the same name...don’t ask). Obviously that name wasn’t going to fly, so we did some brainstorming to come up with something better. Brandon Beck happened to walk by while I was working on him and said, “Let’s just call him Dr. Mundo.” I wasn’t going to complain haha. 
Andy: I had come into Riot as an intern and noticed that there were a bunch of work-in-progress champion designs that had some assets, but hadn’t yet been finalised. Dr. Mundo was one of those, and I kind of just felt compelled to try and finish him. I pulled out all my limited tech skills and somehow managed to hack together a bunch of if/then lines of code that became Mundo’s early kit. 
Colt: Andy took the reins on Mundo. This was back when we were pumping out champions at a pretty insane pace, so the turnaround for Mundo was about a month--very short compared to the time and attention to detail we pour into champions these days. For animation references, we’d just record people acting like we thought a hulked-out chemical madman would. Somewhere in the archives there’s a video of one of the designers stomping around with his tongue out like Mundo so we could figure out what the heck he should be doing in game. 
Fan art by denstarsk8 

May the best Mundo… Mundo. 

How did Mundo’s character develop?
The horror that was beta-era Mundo
Edmundo: The original design was an absolute monstrosity. I’m not kidding, he was literally some sewn-together hodgepodge of body parts from different creatures. There were lizard feet, a bunch of random limbs--a real freak show. We were going for some kind of collector vibe, a doctor who enhanced himself by Frankensteining himself together with various pieces, but it (obviously) didn’t make any sense. We talked a bunch about how to shift his concept, and we ultimately landed on the idea of him being a Hulk-like scientist that was just...perma-Hulk. 
Colt: The initial Mundo concept was vetoed pretty quickly. We just couldn’t make it make sense. Did he cut off dinosaur feet? Were there giant lizard men out there? It just wasn’t going to work. Edmundo came up with the second iteration, where Mundo was a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type character--only we decided he was permanently stuck as Mr. Hyde. The tech wasn’t there yet™ for a transforming character. We weren’t able to mess around with that until Nidalee. 
Andy: We’d changed the concept, though he was still a doctor for some reason. At first he had scissors, but we didn’t have the tech yet to make those function properly either. So we ended up giving him this giant bone-saw, and that looked really weird. The act of throwing it at people felt really good gameplay-wise, but the huge sword-saw thing he had was very awkward visually. In true hacky fashion, we ended up just taking the giant model and scaling it down a bunch until it was more like a cleaver, and that stuck. 
While we were starting to lock down the visuals, we hadn’t really honed in on his personality yet. Even when we started bringing in voice actors, we pretty much planned to let them run with it. Fortunately, the first guy who auditioned positively nailed it with this hulking, maniacal, brutish persona, which also had a strong helping of derp to him. His rendition of Mundo really excited us, and we molded a lot of his final design around that.
Fan art by yubigd 
Mundo smash like a boss! 
What went into creating Mundo’s kit? 
Colt: There were some core gameplay elements we became attached to early on--mainly all the health regen. We loved the idea of a guy who could really quickly regain his health bar if you didn’t finish him off. That “fire hose of health regen” feeling was super satisfying. Initially we toyed with reverse damage, where he’d turn on his ult and gain as much damage as he’d been dealt. But that basically made no one want to attack Mundo, so it ended up both screwing over your teammates and not letting the player enjoy the tank fantasy they’d signed on for. Tanks want to be attacked. We needed to incentivise players to come after you, to create that feeling of wanting to do it even though you know it’s bad for you, like chasing Singed or hunting down Teemo. Beating up Mundo creates that Raid Boss DPS moment when you have to burst him down at the last second or he’s coming back to get you. 
Having a health cost for abilities was another core hook we wanted, which ended up working really well with his passive and ult. We wanted him to land in this area where it felt good for him to be taking damage. 
Andy: We played around with a few things for Mundo’s attacks. We really loved the way throwing cleavers felt, so we became kind of obsessed with them. For a time, the more cleavers you threw, the faster you could throw them. Eventually his cleaver cooldown would drop to zero, so he was machine-gunning cleavers everywhere. At one point we even integrated the cleavers into his ult! Mundo would just plant down and throw cleavers infinitely, like a Vel’koz ult, but with these blades. That was a little too crazy though, even for Mundo haha. 
Fan art by kachima 
Mundo do hostile takeover. 
Why do you think Mundo--especially Corporate Mundo--has become such a community fixture? 
Edmundo: I think people love Mundo just because he’s a fun character to play and watch run around doing Mundo things. He’s almost a cartoon, and has become pretty iconic at this point. Corporate Mundo is definitely one of my favourites, and it’s no surprise the community loves it, since the idea came from them. 
Andy: Corporate Mundo was a weird phenomenon. There was a lot of community fan art that started cropping up with the concept. Teams here at Riot got behind it because it was just hilariously derpy. 
Mundo will go where he pleases! 
What do you think is Mundo’s future? 
Colt: I don’t know that he’ll ever drastically change, taking his history into consideration. He gets moderate-sized tweaks every now and then to bring his mechanics up to date or tune his power, but the core of his kit has stayed remarkably consistent over the years. It may be because he just fills a cool niche. He performs well as a poke-tank, takes damage in a unique way, and--obviously--he goes where he pleases. 
Andy: The only thing I’d really want to change would be the godawful Burning Agony particles. It was originally an old unused particle we had in the vault, and we ended up using it for Mundo just because it fit the name in a hilariously literal sort of way. But fireballs spinning around him makes no real sense thematically, so I’d love for us to give it another go at some point. 
Edmundo: If we were to update Mundo in the future, there are things about his background we could explore more now that we have a better understanding of the world. He lacks a bit of depth right now, and we could give him some more believability. On the visual side I’d love to just generally update and polish some of his more out-of-date game assets, but I don’t think we’d change anything core. You can be damn sure he’d keep that colourful skin and good ol’ Mundo charm."

5.22 Kindred Changes

Over on the boards, Meddler has confirmed a few Kindred changes that will be coming in the next live patch , including their passive being properly capped against monsters:
"We're with you on Kindred being too strong, we've got a couple of other things we want to hit in 5.22 before considering whether further nerfs are needed though. The first of those is Kindred's base HP regen, which is really high. We'd overestimated how much regen they'd need to function as a short range, often jungling, marksmen, so we're cutting that down a bunch (10 -> 7). The other change is a bug fix to Kindred's passive since its damage to neutral monsters isn't being capped as intended. That leads to some really fast dragon/baron kills, which in some games at least is likely adding a pretty significant amount of power. 
On top of those Kindred specific changes there are also some pretty significant general changes to the game in general in 5.22 that'll impact Kindred (masteries and marksmen items especially). Getting a read on those before assessing things like Kindred's passive damage or ult details is also going to be pretty valuable."
He continued, specifying:
"Glad to hear you're enjoying Kindred. Ability to take neutral objectives pretty quickly is a strength we want to see on Kindred, at present though they're not just quick but incredibly quick hence the need for a cap. Current plan is for a cap that increases slightly with number of passive stacks Kindred has (75 base + 10 per stack), so that they're still getting some increased objective control over time, without going too nuts."

As for how Kindred's passive will interact with Rift Herald and Baron in 5.22, Meddler noted:
"Wolf won't go after Rift Herald. From 5.22 onwards though he will start hunting Baron after 20 minutes if Kindred are at 6 stacks or more."

When asked about Kindred's presence as in lane vs in the jungle, Meddler noted:
"Overall we're seeing Kindred perform quite a bit stronger in the jungle than in lane. W healing would be a good thing to consider if we need to take some power off laning Kindred, not yet convinced that's necessary though, especially with the cut to their health regen coming up."

[DEV BLOG] Starting Items in the 2016 Season 

To start off our series of dev blogs on the preseason changes, we have Xypherous with a discussion on the changes and additions to starting items!
"Posting for Xypherous
Our original intent with starting items before this season was to give players the ability to reflexively counter their opponents with generalist options running alongside more pronounced counter-items for specific circumstances (Flask, Doran’s Shield). 
However, after a couple of seasons of attempting to balance this world, we’ve grown unhappy with how confining this approach is and the general problems that resulted from this approach. We’re decided to take a different tactic and adopt a pattern closer to the support line of items: Starter items that clearly express some kind of goal or intent in lane alongside a more generalist item for each of the positions in the game. 
Magic - Doran’s Ring vs. The Dark Seal 
Doran’s Ring is a powerful farming generalist item while The Dark Seal signifies an intent to roam and pick up champion kills along the the way. 
While this doesn’t support the full spectrum of mages in mid, it does represent two of the largest factions - push mages vs. assassin roamers. 
Attack - Cull vs. Doran’s Blade 
Cull is an early skirmish option designed to be focused primarily around farming and light aggression. 
Doran’s Blade on the other hand, is a generalist option that scales much better into mid-game and is better in skirmish situations. 
Jungle - Hunter’s Talisman vs. Hunter’s Machete 
Machete has long favored a certain class of attack speed centric characters and this represents a quandary of how to actually support mage or tank style junglers from the get-go. 
Machete now doubles down on its auto-attack centric nature while Talisman focuses on area burn and mana regeneration. Talisman is primarily designed for spell focused junglers - especially those that have repeated area of effect attacks on moderate cooldowns (like Brand or Zyra). 
Both of these initial items are required to upgrade into the Tier 2 Jungle item, so your choice of initial item will eventually become moot. However, this flexibility of starting options combined with the patience system should open up stronger opening jungle patterns to a wider variety of junglers. 
Lane Sustain - Health Potion vs. Refillable Potion 
One of the major issues with Crystalline Flask right now is that we are unable to push its power to the point where it feels non-abusive in lane. This is due to the fact that it stacks with potions and thus any power add-on in Crystalline Flask gets doubled down on because you stack potions with it. 
Hence, the new inventory rule: you can only ever have one type of potion in your inventory at any time. 
Refillable Potions are 3 times more expensive than a potion but benefit from the fact that they will recharge once you return to the fountain. Normal Healing Potions represent more healing up-front for less gold but is obviously temporary in nature. 
Refillable Upgrades - Jungle vs. Lane 
This, by itself, would probably still be on the weak side. However, Refillable Potions can upgrade into two versions: Hunter’s Potion and Corrupting Potion. 
Hunter’s Potion is a roam-centric potion that can regain charges out in the field while you are killing large jungle monsters. It’s designed primarily to support a Jungle playstyle that focuses on maximal uptime or bolstering characters with low innate sustain. 
Corrupting Potion is similar to Crystalline Flask on live - with the added benefit of combat power. During its effect, damaging enemy champions will burn them for magic damage over time. Corrupting Potion represents an intent to harass your lane opponent until they give up. 
Mana Potions - Removed 
Mana Potions have been removed from the game. We’ve generally found that the decision to opt into Mana Potions was one that was either forced upon some champions (aka “I need this mana to function”) or one that was generally only available to a handful of circumstances. 
The best use cases of Mana Potions were typically to circumvent Mana restrictions for boom/bust play patterns (ie: save up to X amount of mana before dumping it all in a large burst of damage, repeat) vs. attrition-based approaches that are more in favor of straight mana regeneration. A champion being able to access their big “all-in” combo more frequently also makes it challenging for us to balance appropriately, and we’ve seen some more frustrating champions have their power reduced as a result. 
With the removal of mana potions, we can also retune some champion mana values back to a middle ground. We’ve looked at the data for champions that frequently bought 2 or more mana potions in the game and we’ve either increased their maximum mana or the mana regeneration values based on their class. 
For the start of the season, we’ve focused on granting at least two options to a particular need in the starting item space to support a wider variety of playstyles and intents from the start of the game."

When asked about the fate of more assassin oriented junglers with the starting jungle item changes, Xypherous noted:
Not sure if this is covered here, but are you concerned at all for assassin junglers (kha'zix, rengar , etc.) who really needed the 3 starting health pots and rangers trailblazer (now removed)? Will the new jungle items keep them from dying to the wolf camp?
(You can still start with 3.) 
We turn over the jungle pool every year pretty consistently - so the ability for an individual jungler to have the same clear speed as before isn't as important. AD Casters will specifically generally have a harder time of it in this year than previous years.
It's definitely something we'll have to keep tuning as we get better data on how players are adapting."
As for how risky the new Cull and Dark Seal items are,  Xypherous replied:
Honestly, it feels like Cull and Dark Seal are trap items. They are basically 'I will lose lane and hope to make up for it later' as items, and that's really not all that healthy.
Agree that these two items have a higher risk potential than the standard starting items. Dark Seal and Cull don't necessarily have to be purchased as your first buy - if you want to take a safer route and see how the lane goals.

Doran's Ring into Dark Seal instead of a second Doran's Ring after you've gauaged the lane can be an effective way at mitigating that risk. Similarly with Doran's Blade into first back Cull.

The other idea that we're stressing here is that, in the absence of greedy items - there's no real way to punish a safe lane that's doubled down on being as not dead as possible. Cull / Dark Seal both support the notion that - if you try that approach - then I can respond by getting more out of the laning phase than you will via farm or more powerful rewards for roam."
Xypherous  Permalink
You've gone and added a ton of new items for every other class, seriously buffed Doran's blade, and all the meanwhile Dshield gets the same cost increase and nothing extra out of it while you're simultaneously nerfing the maximum sustain starts that many characters needed to do to survive in lane against early harass.So let me just ask this. What about the fucking tank items?
:Based on usage - the maximum sustain starts were most frequently used by characters that thrived on early harass. Pantheon, Kassadin and the like were the most effective users of maximal sustain starts - and they frequently used that high sustain to capitalize on early bullying pressure. 
While I agree with you that there's a dearth of solo lane tank starts - most of the solo tank starting item patterns that seem to make senseat first glance - we've found that when those options are strong - they tend to be better on pretty much anyone but solo tanks - like bot lane support/adc pairs.

If we're not talking about starting items - this item pass has mostly focused on AD Marksmen and some light AD work - rather than 'every other class.'
The other facet of this is that in the Juggernaut update - there have been a ton of items - while their primary users aren't tanks - have added to the tank pool of items (DMP and Sterak's.)"

Xypherous Permalink
To be frank, the question was mostly about tank starts and especially about tank starts against magic damage, (i.e. maximum health sustain starts; I couldn't give a wet fart about Panth losing endless mana pots for Q harass.) but why exactly are you buffing Doran's Blade (and we all know it's a buff) in the middle of all of this?

Crystalline Flask + extra Health potion is the most common maximal sustain type starts.

Free lifesteal in the ferocity tree makes the relative advantage of picking up a Doran's Blade weaker in the early item selection phase - as it means it now has to compete with some of the older component based starts (Long Sword + 3) at a much large disadvantage. 
Long Sword + 3 is especially problematic if it becomes the default option again - as that's more early in-lane sustain, hence why we try to keep DBlade competitive with it.

Again - agreed that solo tanks have an issue in this department. 
However, when you make this item - it tends to be better on everyone but the tanks in question - as most of the other lanes use early defenses far better (or it's more important for them to not fall behind early.) I'm not saying that tanks shouldn't have early starting items - just that some fairly large issues with what they're supposed to enable you to do in the first place - as being tankier doesn't actually solve the problem without creating some larger messier problems."

Xypherous  Permalink
So the new pots aren't supposed to go at all into late-game, but cost a considerable amount of early-game cash? Sounds like a catch-22.
You can claim this about most non-upgradeable starting items. 
However, the catch-22 part comes in only if you assume that games cannot be won before slots start to become a problem or that the item's power curve doesn't translate well into the mid-game at all. 
Sellback values mitigate some of the initial cost for the mid and late game - and the trade-off between a more powerful early start vs. a guaranteed late game is always whether or not you got enough interim value out of the item to make up the deficit in this regard in terms of either uptime or personal performance."
Xypherous  Permalink
You've buffed one start for a certain type of character, so you're buffing another possible start for that same type of character to keep them competitive against each other.
Tell me, does the phrase "power creep" mean anything to you?
In order to run this argument - you need to run through this by several means:
  1. The mastery AD tree gives you as much power in terms of raw offense as before / The beneficiaries of Doran's Blade have more total raw power than before in pre-game.
  2. Similar argument to #1 - but from a relative perspective - AKA - everyone lost more than they gained.
  3. That this power advantage hasn't been taken into account elsewhere - like their most powerful first item buy.
  4. That other starting item paths haven't been buffed as well or heavily adjusted.
While I'm not convinced any of these are true or false as there's a lot of mechanics going on - I know that a lot of the AD efficiency, early potential spike in AD power, the conversion from total pen to bonus pen in the AD system and the decoupling of flat pen from % pen in the mastery system make the AD curve less steep than it previously was. 
While I can't go out to say that 'No, power creep isn't happening' - What I can say is that I can see other factors that work in the opposite direction of power creep - so adjustment based off initial reads is likely the best solution. 
You can strongly make the claim 'I think a Solo tanks early game is weaker than it was' - which is probably true. I'm less certain about the statement that 'Solo tanks are weaker' as a whole - as most of the efficiency passes, especially in terms of MR - are more favorable to them. 
All that said, I totally get why you feel the way that you do. It's not your job to read every change and put them all together and evaluate whether or not it comes out in one way or another."

Xypherous  Permalink
There seems to be a little schizophrenia here about item identity. For example:
Doran’s Ring is a powerful farming generalist item while The Dark Seal signifies an intent to roam and pick up champion kills along the the way. 
Meanwhile, akali and katarina are just kind of left out of this equation despite being iconic roamers. In fact, they have so many losing lane matchups that they almost always rely on roaming kills to get fed at all, while other champs roam for bonus kills (zed, ahri, leblanc)
Dark Seal is slightly problematic to me. It seems tailor-made for fizz and leblanc who need hp sustain in lane and have early mana trouble. But on ahri, annie, and heimerdinger this will virtually eliminate their already-minor mana problems and give them too much hp sustain in lane. 
But akali and katarina need the sustain until level 6, and the early AP would slightly mitigate notoriously godawful laning. The problem is the wasted 100 mana that should really be another stat. Kat, Akali, and Vlad all lack a proper starting item, and the overall sustain on Dark Seal will end up being problematic on Annie, Ahri, and probably Veigar. 
This, by itself, would probably still be on the weak side. However, Refillable Potions can upgrade into two versions: Hunter’s Potion and Corrupting Potion. 
So we have upgraded potions for junglers and mana-users, and everyone else gets something "on the weak side." 
The best use cases of Mana Potions were typically to circumvent Mana restrictions for boom/bust play patterns (ie: save up to X amount of mana before dumping it all in a large burst of damage, repeat) vs. attrition-based approaches that are more in favor of straight mana regeneration. 
You removed mana potions for the afore-stated reasons and decided to restore mana on Corrupting Potion. You see why that's confusing, yes? 
So again with katarina specifically. Spellvamp and lifesteal are garbage (p.s. fix this), her hp5 is gutted, and she requires lots of potions in lane and throughout game. But she's not a jungler or a mana-user, so she's left with an admittedly inferior refillable potion or taxed heavily by increased potion costs. The refillable potion is not strong enough, and 250g to stock up on pots is unfairly punitive. 
Corrupting Potion represents an intent to harass your lane opponent until they give up. 
With a clear advantage to champs with single-target abilities, most of whom are fighters, not mages. There are only a handful of mages that even have abilities that get value from the dot, and many get the garbage dot on every single ability regardless of how many enemies they hit. 
For the start of the season, we’ve focused on granting at least two options to a particular need in the starting item space to support a wider variety of playstyles and intents from the start of the game. 
Except for the champs who still have zero starting items, most/all of whom are AP with no mana bar. Yeah, we can start boots or Amp Tome, but that doesn't solve the problem of efficiency. Starting items are hyper-efficient. 
Even without the stacking AP, Dark Seal has a stat value of 526g + 12.5 per potion for only 400 gold. Manaless champs have nothing even remotely comparable. 
And while most mid laners are getting pretty substantial sustain buffs (mana pool, regen, and hp regen on Dark Seal), Katarina gets no efficient starting item and gets one less starting potion from live (two less with the refillable pot). This is a loss of 150hp with consumables and 400hp with refillable. 
By comparison, a Fizz can pick up Dark Seal and 2 hp pots. Kat picks up boots and 3 hp pots. Katarina only nets 75 more hp from 3 pots (or 1/2 a pot). Fizz's Dark + 2 (without AP passive) has a total value of 651g right off the bat, and Katarina's items only have a total value of 475g. An effective 175g value difference is enormous at level 1. 
TL;DR: This is a direct nerf to Katarina at her worst point in the game and an indirect nerf to her via buffs to most other mid-laners' early sustain. 
I would appreciate your thoughts about this because it seems like Kat in particular is getting the major shaft in this rework, along with Akali, Vlad, and Kennen to a lesser degree.
Resourceless champions cannot be catered to by the item system. Their primary strength is their intrinsic non-interaction with the system entirely - therefore they will always exist outside the bounds of items to be balanced. Essentially, this is the cost they pay for being effectively resourceless - items benefit them less. The degree of which this is a benefit will always change based on the game. 
If you do target an item at them that fits their particular niche best without raising the power level of most other AP champions - it's likely that it just leads to nerfs on that champion. This weakens their ability to purchase any other item - and thus targetted items for very niche sets of criterion tends to hurt the champions in question more than it helps. 
You can actually see this in practice throughout the game's history. Vlad's healing over time has been reduced time and time again - as Hextech revolver exists and pretty much no one else can use that item well at all. Most assassins that used DFG for free had their burst damage nerfed repeatedly. 
If you introduce a starting item tailor made for these characters - you can bet that some intrinsic aspect of their early game is going to be nerfed to compensate - which further hinders their ability to buy items. 
So you have a choice - you can either have items with 'no waster stats' for you - but your cost is going to be you innately have weaker stats. Because the item doesn't actually increase the power of the class of characters you're competing with, just you - so in order to be balanced, you are going to have to take the hit. 
The item system, unfortunately, cannot help out champions that have opted out of it - because the only real balance tuning point you have is on the champion itself. Making targetted items almost guarantees a nerf on champions in whatever was being targetted. :/
You removed mana potions for the afore-stated reasons and decided to restore mana on Corrupting Potion. You see why that's confusing, yes?
On first glance -I can see how this would be confusing. 
On second glance, putting down 500 GP for 450 health and 150 mana in lane sounds suspiciously like buying a sapphire crystal and a ruby crystal. 
A refillable potion has more in common with permanent items than it does with mana potions - they get replenished in similar ways (being at the fountain) - and derive much of their value from the fact that they are actually permanent. 
Mana Potions have to be ridiculously efficient in the short term to make up for their one-shot nature."

Xypherous   Permalink
...So what about Yasuo, Tryn, and crit?
From the point of view of the crit items - they don't look any different than any of the other champions that use crit. This is generally due to the fact that critical strike, in most cases, can be triggered without expending significant amounts of Mana. AP, on the other hand, generally can't be used at all without expending mana. 
Neither of these are 100% - but they're true enough that items made under these assumptions increase the power of enough champions that they float up an entire class - rather than a specific individual. 
There's another tangential but interesting here is that, since crit is balanced around the ranged autoattack, Yasuo / Tryndamere's crit augments actually serve to make them able to use another class's items without degrading that item system. They are changing themselves to suit the item system - rather than the item system catering to them."

As for the jungle items tuning,  Xypherous  noted:
I've been playing on the PBE quite a bit over the last few days. Overall, I like the new starting items. However, it seems like the first jungle clear is a lot harder. Characters I used to be able to take through 6+ camps before backing last 2 camps -- maybe 3 if I get a really good leash. I know that the AD on jungle monsters has been reduced, but I think the initial jungle items and jungle related masteries have been reduced in effectiveness. Once I have the hunter's potion and tier 2 jungle item, it's fine. But that's a lot more gold spent on jungle items without combat stats than the way they are on the live server. Could you look into making the first jungle clears more viable for more characters? Perhaps add more life regeneration when fighting monsters?
I will definitely need to tune the Jungle and the Jungle Starting Items over the next couple of patches.
But that's a lot more gold spent on jungle items without combat stats than the way they are on the live server.
Hunter's Potion - at the very least, gives you free access to a lot of indirect combat stats. Ganking at less than 50% health, for example - or not having the Mana to do a full spell combo - is pretty significant. 
Agreed that there's more of a gap without combat statistics though - although, everything across the board is generally more expensive (and or less efficient for their gold value) in the new season - so hopefully those effects cancel each other out a bit."

As for concern over the lack of mana potion for many supports,  Xypherous  commented:
"We buffed the blue support item's mana regeneration by quite a bit - we've also increased the base mana regeneration on many of the supports who relied on mana pots for their regeneration as well. You should be able to do the same buys - but now you can either buy more potions or buy an HP potion and a pink ward instead. 
As far as support itemization goes - we're reasonably happy with their current starting itemization set (as they generally have 2 options for most characters)."

Xypherous  also commented on importing these changes to Twisted Treeline and why Ranger's Trailblazer was removed:
One question I think we didn't know the answers yet is how the new item will be put in other map. 
For exemple, do the removal of ranger will be effective in 3v3 as the new ward item will probably be diseable there? 
Any particular item path/balance for those map for item with the same nameAlso, as a smite user, can we expect a starting jungle page (like 5v5) for this map when we take the spell. 
Last but not least, why remove Ranger's Trailblazer at all in the first place when it's a core item for jungler with low clear efficiency like rammus?
Interesting. TT is something we'll have to get a better eye on after the changes settle. We don't tend to immediately change TT with every item change we make - though it is definitely a followup point we'll have to do. 
As far as Ranger's Trailblazer is concerned - the decision to remove it was mostly driven by the fact that it doesn't have a ton of mid or late game potential - and seemed like more of a crutch for the jungle items not supporting a wider range of jungle needs. Talisman and the Hunter's Potion are attempting to address that concern in a way that doesn't run into some of the problems of sell / swapping patterns that we saw due to the inability of Ranger's Trailblazer to be more than an early game farm spike."

As for the power level of the new talisman jungle item, Xypherous noted:
Completely away from my original point but this actually does nothing on the PBE. The item is so weak that if you're playing any jungler who is not Fiddlesticks it's better to run AS reds and take a machete. 

I love the idea of the item, as a Sej player I'd love an item that helps me survive better in the jungle, but 4HP/S isn't enough damage to be worth buying it. I can just buy machete, get decent AS from runes and 12-15 HP/S against the big monster (which is the only one that matters since the little ones just die to AOE anyway) and even if the sustain's worse I end up with more HP because I killed the camp faster.
Yeah - I'm going to need to do a further polish pass on it for 5.23 at the very least. I already have some changes in mind that I'll need to do initially - as some of the minion pathing rules changed that I didn't account for well for the people I'm trying to support with Talisman. 
You, do however, need to use both parts of the item fully in order to benefit from the item significantly. One of its primary advantages is that it allows you to do red side starts as a Jungler who need a decent amount of Mana which kind of snowballs out as the intrinsic power of the red buff's burn + HP regeneration is a fairly powerful to have while clearing the jungle. 
Unfortunately, there were some late AI changes I forgot to account for when some of the tuning passes were done - it definitely needs another tuning pass though."

When asked about the old cloth + health potion start,  Xypherous  commented:
What happens to the common cloth + 5 hp pots start? Some of the recommendation pages of champions still haven't reflected the updated hp pots prices.
We should've done a pass over all the recommended items by now - by the tmie it hits live, we should have updated everyone's rec items. 
In the jungle, Cloth + Potions is no longer going to be a supported start. I'd like more starting items if possible - but the nature of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 jungle items makes that really really difficult. :/"

When asked why there is no item similar to Doran's Shield that reduced damage form spells, Xypherous  explained:
Why is there no vs counterpart for Doran's shield? Perhaps an item that has increases defenses again range out attacks or maggic damage spells.
I tried to make aggressive variants of all the standard starting items and these are the ones that made it through testing that people were reasonably confident on. 
The problem I keep running into with making Doran's Shield variants is that whenever they're good - they tend to dominate most of the choices - it's been meta way too often whenever it's been strong."

Last up,  Xypherous  commented on an experimental prototype for Ohmwrecker:
I know this has nothing to do with starting items, but it is kind of bothering me. 
Do you guys have any plans for Ohmwrecker? It is barely ever picked up because it has no real good uses. You can just buy other tank items and tank turrets way more effectively than to disable turrets. Also, other tank items help with team fights as it also has better stats.
We're just going to aggressively remake it until we like something about it. 
Current prototype iteration allows you to channel lasers of destruction versus towers and epic monsters. This replaces your normal basic attack versus them. Still in prototype though. 
Pew pew."

[While I've picked out most of the more revealing answers, check out the thread for more discussion from Xypherous!]

[DEV BLOG] Vision in the 2016 Season 

Next up we have Xypherous with a dev blog on the vision changes in the 2016 season! 
"Posting for Xypherous
We’ve generally been happy with some of the new vision mechanics in the game with the advent of Season 5. However, as the vision system has grown organically over time, the map has become increasingly brighter and brighter since Season 4.
Additionally, the amount of unused trinkets and profusion of various vision types made it hard to consider expansions onto an already bloated system so this Season will mostly focus around concentrating the vision game to fewer discrete points.

First off, we’ve removed Green Wards. This is a pretty big sledgehammer to vision overall and the map is significantly darker because of it. We heard a lot of feedback on this and I wanted to give more context: 
When vision is in a “consumable” state, it does a few things to the game that we want to change. First, because map knowledge is so powerful, the ideal state of vision for two teams is basically “as much as you can.” That means that teams will be perpetually funneling their excess gold (or in the case of supports and some junglers, their core gold income) into as much vision upkeep as possible. The compelling decision of when to ward and where to ward gets flattened. 
For supports, engaging so heavily with the vision system means they’ll often need to give up late-game purchases and slot efficiency to ensure the map is well lit. For others, it becomes a gold dump to push an advantage. By taking all ‘safe’ vision (invisible wards) out of the gold stream and placing them on meaningfully gated cooldowns, teams will have to think a lot more about where they want to set up on the map, rather than it being a given luxury for who can do it. 
In addition to the removal of Green Wards, we’re also doing the following changes:

Pink Wards will still remain buyable and represent an investment into permanent vision control over an area. They’re also slightly cheaper and fall into Sight Ward’s original cost range. 
  • Trinkets 
The Trinket System has been streamlined down to 2 basic options, plus 2 “alterations” that become available at Level 9. Trinkets also now continuously improve with level rather than at discrete levels in the game.

Warding Totem will now behave like the upgraded Warding Totem on live which slowly charges up to store additional wards. The duration and charges have been tweaked to increase continuously with character level. 
We like the flexibility and general gameplay of the upgraded trinket as it allows you to maintain vision over a small area for a long time or tactically cover a wide area by yourself if you’ve built up charges over time - giving it a much wider range of potential uses.

Sweeping Lens has taken a hit in power now that there aren’t potentially green wards everywhere. 
To compensate, red gains the ability to warn against things that you can’t see in the area letting you know the shape or silhouette of things in fog of war without revealing them directly. This includes things like jungler monsters (check if that camp is up!) and Pink Wards, in addition to providing the silhouette of stealthed threats like champions in brush, fog of war or stealth. 
Sweeping Lens’ core functionality becomes alerting you as to whether or not anything in the swept area can detect you and allowing you to disable them. 
  • “Alterations” 
Instead of upgrades, which are strictly better than the original trinket that you have, we’ve instead chosen to move in the direction of side-grading and altering existing functionality of trinkets. 
These swap the functionality of your existing trinket by improving the power of some aspects and decreasing the power in other aspects.

Yellow Trinket’s alteration - the Farsight Totem is unlocked at level 9 and functions similarly to the Farsight Orb on live with some improvements. You gain vastly increased range and a shorter cooldown… at the expense of having visible wards and losing the ability to build charges.
In a departure from live, these “blue” wards now last forever and don’t count towards your ward count. Since these wards are easily destructible by opponents, we don’t foresee this as contributing significantly to the overall vision of the map unless a team decides to use multiple blue trinkets in parallel to light up disparate regions of the map over time.
So you can light up the map as long as you do it as part of an ongoing campaign to hold territory for extended periods of time.

The Sweeping Lens’ alteration - the Oracle Lens (also unlocked at 9) - is more tame in comparison and very similar to the Oracle upgrade on live. In lieu of gaining true sight, the red trinket simply has a much wider sweep range and follows you around for 10 seconds. 
However, combined with the fact that red trinket can warn you against enemy units that you can’t see - this means it will also provide a proximity check so you don’t walk headlong into an enemy ward or brush. 
  • Closing 
Vision remains an important key strategic strength in League of Legends. The current vision system has a ton of small moving parts, as well as a few mechanics that just make the system kind of obtuse to interact with. 
We want to streamline the existing vision items to a smaller core set of vision items while also allowing that core to branch out in interesting directions and overlapping functions. Overall, the power in vision should be more condensed in the options that remain. 
We’re taking advantage of the overall reduction in small vision buys to offer more interesting total item build options in the form of the Sightstone upgrades or the Jungle enchantments. Our goal was not to make the overall vision experience more complicated, but allow vision options to form the basis for more interesting total builds. From the support who forgoes his actives in favor of a powerful AP build, to the support who doubles down on active items, to the Jungler who forgoes combat in favor of map wide vision and utility."

As for the general action of warding, Xypherous  commenting
And still no one will ward because, I don't know, they hate winning.
It's likely that warding just isn't viewed as an activity that makes a ton of sense from an abstract perspective. Put down sticks that grant vision? What? 
Eventually, we'll want to revisit the concept of static wards to begin with and see if there's a better analogy that still plays a part in the vision game. This is super speculative - but imagine if, instead of a pink ward - you placed a tiny speed shrine that also provided vision. 
I suspect that eventually, we'll have to shift the analogy to like 'mini-buildings' or 'mini-structures' rather than 'sticks that see' in the long long run."
As for perusing a better tutorial to teach players how to ward better,Xypherous commented:
Considering more wards are placed the higher tier you are according to that research, maybe it would help if there were tutorials you had to go through before you were allowed to start ranked. Teach about vision, lanes, etc. (Basic stuff you really do need to learn for ranked) Considering the only real tutorial is to build thornmail on ashe.... 
Tutorials and teaching players are definitely worth pursuing - However, with warding and such, it feels very much like a state of like 'Well, we could teach them how to do Assembly... but.. maybe we should look at what we want them to do and confirm that's actually a deep and engaging activity first.' 
The other portion of this is that I believe Tutorials that teach you how to ward are going to have a major gap in that you cannot learn from your current enemy if the enemy has found some new clever way to use them. Hence - any tutorials are going to have a continual lag time - so whatever you're teaching should also have some kind of learnable component from observing your enemy and allies in game."

When asked about the automatic upgrading for trinkets, Xypherous  noted:
now, no one has to remind people to upgrade?
It scales on a per level basis - so not for most roles. The goal is that people should only feel compelled to exchange their trinket when they want fundamentally different functionality - rather than just a more powerful version of their existing one."
Xypherous  continued, discussing the difference between Sweeper and Oracle:
There isn't that much difference between Sweeper and Oracle now - why is this an alteration and not a natural level 9 upgrade?
A couple of reasons:

Vision that follows you around is pretty powerful early game - and so we give you range. So naturally upgrading into losing range is a little odd.

Red Trinket gains increased cast range based on your character level continuously - and because it can detect if any object that you scan - you can use it to check it camps are up and down - like a base blue trinket in a pinch."
Xypherous  continued:
There isn't that much difference between Sweeper and Oracle now - why is this an alteration and not a natural level 9 upgrade?
A couple of reasons:

Vision that follows you around is pretty powerful early game - and so we give you range. So naturally upgrading into losing range is a little odd.

Red Trinket gains increased cast range based on your character level continuously - and because it can detect if any object that you scan - you can use it to check it camps are up and down - like a base blue trinket in a pinch."
As for why these upgrades are still gated by a level requirement,  Xypherous  commented:
If upgrades are supposed to be side-grades, why are they still level-gated? Shouldn't all trinkets be available at all times, or all trinkets be upgradeable?
Excellent question. They're level-gated because they're meant to serve mid-game or late-game vision functions that would be overpowered in early game. 
Because players don't move around a lot in lane - things that can affect others at a long range or a wider area are significantly more powerful - hence the level-gate. 
If you want to be really specific - the best trigger would probably be something like 'Buyable after laning phase' - unfortunately, there's no real way to tell when it ends that organically in an understandable way - hence the level restriction."

 Xypherous also commented on how the oracle trinket changes will play out for stealth champions:
With the removal of true sight from Oracles, isn't that yet another huge indirect buff to stealth champions? 
I mean, unless you're going to allow us to place two pink wards at a time you're probably going to end up having to nerf them again.
Kind of? Other systematic changes such as Marksmen getting better kite / soak options / the removal of Brutalizer / the removal of Trailblazer and the like would probably be indirect nerfs to those characters. 
The only stealth champions that haven't been indirect nerf/buffed in a lot of ways is Akali / Evelyn / Twitch at this point. Eve has never been affected by the true sight from Oracles as her stealth shuts itself off and Akali's stealth is rather situational. 
Twitch, I agree might be a problem - but I'm not sure he was ever at a range to be detected by Oracles when he was murdering you in Stealth. Still - he's probably the biggest beneficiary of the changes."
Xypherous continued:
Uh, Vayne is all but impossible to fight without oracles.
True - but so much of her itemization has changed that it's hard to tell whether she's better or worse from a total power perspective. 
BoRK is noticeably worse early now, for example - so her assassination playstyle kind of takes a hit."

When asked about Sightstone needing to rechage at the base, Xypherous  explained:
Something I really need to ask: Why are Sightstone and its upgrades still not able to get any form of in-field ward recharging? 
Why should supports be forced to return to base just because they're out of wards compared to others?
There's are a couple of reasons why you want players returning to base on a regular cadence - doubly so for a class that doesn't have much other reason to return as their item upgrades are relatively less important. 
More practically, this favors the team that is pushed in rather than the team that is pushing in most respects - as the winning team is the one best suited to 'waiting out in the field.' We'd never really be able to put a recharge timer on it that seemed useful without causing some really weird side effects in this case."
Xypherous  continued:
So you made Sightstone even crappier, as it still doesn't recharge in the field and now has less duration. 
I'm now even more inclined to simply ignore Sightstone as a support and use that slot for something more useful.
That'd be a perfectly reasonable response if the item isn't worth the slot. If that was the right call to make, I'd expect most of our players to do the same and then we'd simply adjust. 
Not entirely convinced the item is weaker given that it's one of the few sources of invisible wards - so the relative strength should be incredibly high - but if that's actually the case - yeah, you'd be wise to avoid buying the item entirely."

As for his thoughts on how the removal of green wards in shop will playout for Teleport, Xypherous  commented:
How do you see these ward changes affecting the use of the Teleport Summoner Spell? The chance for an invisible ward being placed in lane for someone to TP to would seem much decreased and could affect teamfight/gank situations.
Hm... I think it'll be a slight decrease in the usability and prevalence of the tactic - but overall, I think cheaper pink wards and having extra charges on yellow can compensate for this. 
It'll definitely have some negative effect on how easy it is to do - but I think people will just plan around having teleport ganks more rather than not be able to do them - that is, teleporting in will be less of a reactive 'oh man, get down here' and more of a planned move 'I put a ward there, so watch bot lane and be ready to tele in.'"
As for concern on making sightstone  mandatory on some classes,  Xypherous  noted:
I have a strong suspicion that it's soon going to be mandatory for jungle and top lane to get sightstone just like it currently is for the support.
Yeah - if that arises, we'll have to deal with it - either by reducing the ability for Sightstone to be splashed as easily - or by improving yellow trinket."

[While I've picked out most of the more revealing answers, check out the thread for more discussion from Xypherous!]

[DEV BLOG] Marksman Update in the 2016 Season 

Ezreal has also posted a dev blog concerning the upcoming MARKSMAN update, including changes for Caitlyn, Corki, Graves, Kog'Maw, Miss Fortune, and Quinn!
"Champion Update team here! While you’ve probably already seen the big changes due for marksmen (if you haven’t, check it all out here [link] ), we wanted to set aside a moment for a deeper dive. The new marksmen update comes hot on the heels of the juggernauts update ([link] ) and, with so much changing so fast, we think it’s a good idea to pause for a more philosophical reflection.
But first, a quick look back. 
When we set out to tackle the juggernauts, we were working with a whole lot of unknowns. This was a set of champions that didn’t have much in the way of strategic identity. By really highlighting their strengths, we gave them clear ways to succeed (and fail) in an unfamiliar environment. Making something from nothing is a really interesting space to work in and we think we’ve achieved our philosophical goal with many of them. The tricky bit, however, was calibrating the juggernaut’s appropriate weaknesses against their raw power. 
With marksmen, we have a few advantages. First, because the class as a whole already has a clear function and they’re played in pretty much every game of League, we have a much stronger understanding of their capabilities and expectations. Additionally, because the core weakness of every marksman is “blow ‘em up,” they have some pretty clear checks in place when it comes to solo-carrying games. 
Looking forward, our vision remains consistent: We want to give each updated champion a unique reason to be brought to a game, and we want each champion to feel different whether playing against, as, or with. For some, this means sharpening what they already do well, or should do well. For others, it means finding new elements that make them feel special. We want you to have a reason to pick Graves over Lucian, and vice-versa, outside of just dealing more damage. 
Our additional goal is to ensure basic attacks between marksmen are as differentiated as possible. This is a new goal that’s very important for this group in particular, given how reliant they are on basic attacks. 
Let’s take a closer look at some of the changes. We’ll be throwing out a high-level overview of the updates before we go a little deeper on the philosophy behind them, in case you haven’t checked out the site. 
“This calls for the ol’ double-barreled ‘Hello.’” 
Graves’ double-barreled shotgun is one of the most distinctive weapons in the marksman arsenal. However, this weapon was underutilized as a kind of mid-range, burst, poke, cone spell. So we doubled-down on the classic shotgun fantasy. Now Graves’ basic attacks fire four rounds (eight on a crit!) in a cone in front of him, dealing damage and knocking back minions. Graves has tradeoffs for this unique mechanic, as he has to reload after firing two rounds (but can quickly reload via Quickdraw), and his basic attacks can be body-blocked. 
Because we basically pushed Graves’ Q onto his basic attack, we decided to give him a new Q in the form of End of the Line, where he fires out an explosive canister, leaving behind a trail of gunpowder. That canister then explodes after a few seconds (or immediately on colliding with a wall) and detonates the gunpowder for additional damage. 
With the defensive buff from Quickdraw and his incredibly high threat on close-range targets, Graves is the kind of marksman you want to bring when enemies have a lot of backline access (see: diving assassins). The tradeoff here is that Graves loses out on a lot of long-range target selection that other marksmen have, since his basic attacks can’t go over enemies. 
The changes focuses on pushing Graves’ identity as a close-range, brawling marksman, and we’re excited to see how he does once he gets into the fight. 
“Justice takes wing.” 
Despite its innate coolness factor, Quinn's old ultimate still had problems. It forced her into overwhelming danger, often leading to trades at the cost of her life (not a great deal!). We are re-imagining her ultimate to play up its tag-team, high-speed nature: Valor now swoops down to carry Quinn, giving her massive out-of-combat mobility. This sharpens Quinn’s identity as a rapid-response marksman. Quinn can aid skirmishes in the jungle, swap lanes to help ganks, respond to split-pushes (or split-push herself), and make it back in time to help with a team fight. Need eyes on Baron? Send Quinn to scout it out! 
“Bombs away!” 
Corki, the Daring Bombardier, hasn’t been very true to his title. Optimal play for Corki was to play it safe and poke from a distance; he lacked the tools to make big plays. We decided to fix this in an… explosive way. With the addition of Special Delivery - a single-time upgrade to Valkyrie that amps up the damage, range, and disruption of the ability - Corki needs to focus on what sort of decisive action he’ll take to capitalize on the skill. It won’t be easy, but the reward is huge. 
Finally, to further push Corki’s identity as the magic damage marksman, his auto-attacks now deal split magic/physical damage and his gatling gun shreds both resists. This allows teams to build around Corki being the primary magic damage dealer, something rather unique in the strategic space of marksmen. 
Miss Fortune 
“Fortune doesn’t favor fools.” 
Miss Fortune has been synonymous with the famed WOMBO COMBO since she first strutted onto the Rift, though much less so after frequent nerfs to Bullet Time. We wanted the WOMBO back, so we increased her ult’s duration by 50% and increased the number of bullet waves as the game progresses by… a lot. 
As for her new passive, we drew a lot of inspiration from Double Up. In lane, Miss Fortune draws tons of strength from her Q, especially in a 2v2 scenario where she can put a lot of pressure on both targets if they don’t position properly. These changes are our way of doubling… down on that thematic, with more rewards for precise target juggling and positioning (the precision is important as well, as there are champions like Varus or Twitch who excel at dumping out a lot of group AoE damage). 
“Meet the long gun of the law.” 
For Caitlyn, we had to ask ourselves, “How much further can we push the sharpshooter fantasy?” The answer: Like, a lot further. By giving Caitlyn massive range on any enemy she can net or trap, we’re emphasizing her sharpshooting strengths. Giving Yordle Snap Trap an ammo system amplifies Cait’s natural ability to create choke points, while also improving her ability to dominate territory around objectives. The choice between spreading traps for surprise ambushes and setting up lines of defense gives you different ways to capitalize on Cait’s role as League’s #1 sniper elite. 
“Feeding time!” 
Everyone’s favorite Void puppy just got even more adorabler. Kog’Maw already has a familiar identity in his “Protect the Kog” team comp, but we felt we could amplify it while also separating him from other tank busters. Now, Kog’s Bio-Arcane Barrage doubles his attack speed and attack speed cap, up to five attacks per second (!!!). This makes him the quintessential attack speed “proc” champion, a low-mobility machine-gun of death. It does wonders for creating a unique itemization path and, of course, it makes him look way cooler. 
As a quick note for Living Artillery: Changing the damage from raw poke to execution allows Kog to differentiate himself from other long-range pokers. Kog by himself might not make for the perfect poke composition, but if you combine him with enough additional pressure, he can pick off fleeing enemies while also becoming a central damage turret for his team. 
So those are our rough thoughts on the update. We’d love to hear yours as you test the changes in action (soon), but these, in tandem with the marksmen itemization update, should bring some interesting changes to the class as a whole."
Ezreal  continued:
When you spoke of understanding what an adc's role and play pattern is, how did that come into play when messing with Miss Fortune? The typical play pattern for an adc is to hit the safe target over and over, but with this new passive she seems punished for focusing her damage with auto attacks. How much power did this new passive drain from her damage if she's not utilizing it? Is it just a bonus or a must?
One of the problems with ADCs was that they all had the exact same play pattern. Part of our update is focusing on changing it up a bit. For example, Graves reallllly wants to get in close, Kog'Maw needs to plan ahead of time for his damage window, etc. For MF, she can still certainly get off a ton of damage on a single target, it just isn't as free as before. Her bonus attack speed is actually far larger than before, just for a far shorter window of time. So now she chooses between short duels and long form target swapping."

When asked about the new Miss Fortune passive, Ezreal  commented:
I really hate MF's new passive. The old W passive was so much better, I don't know why y'all didn't just make that her passive straight up. I think she'll lose too much dueling potential from it and I've got no clue how much this will hurt her jungle. And yes I have jungled with her before.
I guess if hurricane triggers her passive, that'd be okay, but as is, I don't like it at all.
I can understand that feeling, whenever we refocus a champion's design we will have to take power away from one area in order to place it into another. In MF's case, we certainly took down her dueling potential a notch. Though in doing so, we've given her a much more solidified role in the aoe carry. She has even more incentives to pass damage around to multiple targets."
When asked about MF's lower than usual attack damage, Ezreal noted:
The gutting of MF's base attack damage is going to hurt her so badly. I feel that she's going to struggle during the first few days of the patch. I've seen so many people on the PBE complain about Love Tap. It's an interesting idea though, I'll give you guys that. (Also love the fact that Strut goes up to 100 MS)
Glad to hear that you like it, and rest assured, if we nerfed her base damage by too much then we will likely look at it again in the future."

 As for the Ashe Q changes,Ezreal  commented:
Can you elaborate on why you went with some of the other smaller ADC changes, like the changes to Ashe's Q? I'm happy to see that change, I'm just curious on your thought process.
Would love to. 
Unsure as to which Q change you are talking about, though I'll chat about the main two. We made it only castable at 5 stacks since the ability was didn't propose a good choice. Either you cast it well at 5 stacks and got a fantastic benefit, or you cast it below 5 and went home sad. For the cooldown removal, we really wanted to let players push the limits of the spell. If they were able to keep it up all the time, then they deserved to be rewarded!"
Ezreal continued:
So will her passive apply to her abilities too? Like rewarding her for using them in a way that she's actually pelting multiple targets? Or is it strictly limited to her auto attacks (and maybe Q...)?
And I still am rather curious about how much this new passive drains from her autos vs live.
Her passive works with her Q ability, leads to a great Q --> AA pattern (as long as there is a second target for your Q)."
Ezreal continued:
Speaking of which, why have you removed the ability for her spells to build stacks? By the time Ashe is five autos into a teamfights, the fight has almost certainly already been decided, and that's even assuming she gets to 5 stacks (with her incredibly rapid falloff) in the first place.
It was a way of shifting power. Increase the potential power if you are able to continue auto attacks, but reduce the lower end power (stacking with Volley) to compensate."

As for Tristana's changes, Ezreal commented:
I love all your works (Including ) shhhh xD
Are you really turning tristana into an AD Caster? I'm slightly worried how that may affect her... Will she still be weaker midgame? If this more of a nerf to her?
will she be stronger midgame but weaker later?
She was one of my first love champions so Of course I'm gonna get worried.. she's my main ADC.. xD
We're cleaning up her play pattern, while focusing on improving her visceral feel. The biggest impact comes around making her E both feel and act better, is it now more core to her play pattern. She is very much a character that focuses on choosing her target, and focusing them down."

When asked about Ezreal's W being changed in preseason, Ezreal noted:
Are there any plans to update Ezreal's W? It feels extremely lackluster as an ability, but I feel like replacing it with a stronger ability might leave Ezreal a bit too strong...
Also - is it possible to give his ult the Ziggs treatment (doubling damage to minions)? Because as AD Ezreal you can't clear waves properly at any stage in the game, you always leave them at 1 hit from dead... :(
There are no current plans to update Ezreal's W. I do have to admit, I would love to see us update that ability with something far more interesting, but that is a change for the future."

DEV BLOG: Marksman Itemization 

Speaking of Marksman, Reinboom also jumped on the boards to share a dev blog on the marksman itemization changes!
"Hello all! Riot Reinboom here to bring you a look into the thoughts behind the Marksman itemization changes this preseason. :D 
To jump straight to the point, Marksmen have a number of pain points in the game right now. There’s a distinct lack of individuality between Marksmen. For most, their items are incredibly prescriptive and there’s not a lot of deviation. Generally, as a class, they suffer from high team demands without a lot of self expression to work within those demands. 
The major thread woven between most of these issues is a distinct lack of meaningful choice. 
  • Meaningful Choice 
We’ve mentioned Meaningful Choice before
What’s most important here however is the method to achieving meaningful choice (rather than just choice). For Marksman items, we tackled this with three different strategies: “Autonomy”, “Reaction”, and “Prediction”. 
Autonomy. Autonomy as a choice is represented by the tradeoff of multiple fantasies (whether they be gameplay fantasies, thematics, or anything you can form a personal attachment to). Feeling attached to Statikk Shiv because you personally value wave clear and are willing to sacrifice your other options for it, is an aspect of autonomy shown in item form. 
Reaction. Reaction as a choice is represented by your capability to solve a problem presented to you. There are multiple types of reaction. For these changes, we’ll be focusing on responses to your opponents in the items they build, the champions they pick, and the needs of your team. 
Planning. Planning as a choice is represented by the tactical and strategic goals you create for individual games. This can be seen by decisions on how you or your team should address each fight (and then building to work within that understanding), or the order for which you build your components, such as getting a Pick Axe to prep for your Last Whisper as you wait for your opponent to inevitably build armor. 
  • Supporting Variety 
When it comes to supporting more options for Marksman, we often run into a difficult problem we call “The Marksman Damage Optimization Problem.” Marksmans item choices have classically been guided by a very simple and direct point of output: “How can I do the most damage with the options presented to me?” 
We’re operating under the assumption that this problem is fundamental to Marksman and their role within League. There are a number of reasons for this. 
In games (not just League) single points of optimization, when that point can empower itself, tend to be notably strong. In Marksman’s case, their single point of optimization is damage. This is primarily caused by their damage being reliable via ranged auto-attacks, meaning they can leverage positioning (which is free) as a primary defense. 
However, we feel like this identity is clear for Marksman. This type of distinct identity allows League to work as a team game, where each individual has their contribution. So in order to support keeping what makes a Marksman a Marksman while still offering choice, we’ll be exploring a different route: While picking up the stats that give Marksman their damage, we should offer choices among those items along the way. 
You can see this already in the game with the choice posed by Phantom Dancer and Statikk Shiv. Unfortunately, the nuance of this choice can be hard to appreciate (am I behind, or could be behind in gold?), and even then there’s not a lot of these types of selections. 
  • The Changing Landscape 
To wrap it altogether, choices that end up just being damage optimization tests aren’t great. But that’s the expectation of a Marksman. And they have core needs on top of core needs built out of natural consumption of “a lot of different stats.” 
The direction we went with to introduce meaningful choice to these restrictions is the idea of “horizontal expansion.” Take the model presented by the current system, and diversify within those bounds. Your options for lifesteal need to be greater than a single item. The items that define a Marksman’s play pattern should expand beyond just “awesome auto attacks.” Your options available for who you can target should be greater than “always buy Last Whisper.” 
Who am I? Do I autoattack quite a bit? Okay, Infinity Edge. Maybe I autoattack a lot? Infinity Edge. No, seriously, autoattacks are my jam and I will hear nothing less. Fine, Blade of the Ruined King. 
Not a lot there. 
There’s a few valid ways of addressing this: we could push more differences between the auto attacks (insert roster devblog link here), or we could push some Marksman to be empowered by their abilities. 
Identity items highlight and specialize the choices you made at champion select. Once again, “Who am I?” We don’t feel like in the current landscape the more caster-like Marksman are well served by this idea. Enter: Essence Reaver. 
Essence Reaver is being changed to offer caster marksman access to a stat they’ve desired, but could never really (or rarely) fully utilize: Cooldown Reduction. 
Essence Reaver now has the capability to generate you up to 30% Cooldown Reduction by leveraging the Critical Strike Chance available from other Marksman items. We you to feel comfortable making the same damage offers, choices, and expectations from the rest of the Marksman items while being able to uniquely leverage what your champion pick offered. 
Statikk Shiv or Phantom Dancer. Am I behind or am I ahead? 
There’s a lot of possible room with these items, except that Phantom Dancer is the poster child for TMDOP (“The Marksman Damage Optimization Problem,” remember?). 
So we’re changing that. And we’re widening what it means to be a multiplier item. 
In addition to be the damage curve definers, the pointed tip at the end of your two item spike, multipliers are getting an additional identity: “How should I fight?” This is a choice grounded primarily within autonomy (“What works best for me?”) as well as reaction (“What works best for my team?”). 
We divided this choice into four large branches: 
  • Phantom Dancer: I should skirmish and duel. 
  • Hurricane: I want to team fight and wombo. 
  • Statikk Shiv: I must push. 
  • Rapid Firecannon: I need to siege. 
Situational Offense 
Last Whisper highlights an interesting problem. The usage of total penetration meant that even against champions not buying armor, Last Whisper was actually at least a +10% physical damage amp. This was actually a “generally useful” item masquerading under the guise of a tank killer. 
We want to break the above expectations to make selective offense a little less automatic while, at the same time, making it easier to pick up a response when it’s necessary. 
Selective offensive items are now guided by their components and what you’re giving up, while being significantly more targeted than the current Last Whisper. 
The components: 
  • Last Whisper: I need to get through their bonus armor. 
  • Executioner’s Calling: I need to stuff their life steal or health gain. 
  • Giant Slayer: I need to climb over their mountain of health. 
These items can be combined up, with a final selection of which type of selection are you leaving out: 
  • Lord Dominik’s Regards: A combination of Last Whisper and Giant Slayer 
  • Mortal Reminder: A combination of Last Whisper and Executioner’s Calling 
Do note the change from total to bonus armor penetration, as all of these are still armor pen items at heart. It bears repeating: we do not want these items to be generalist damage purchases. This is also why we split the use case of Mortal Reminder (taking out high sustain targets like enemy marksmen, Swain, Mundo, etc) and Lord Dominik’s Regards (tank busting). If you find you don’t need the situational offense these items bring (or nobody’s building any armor!), maybe you can look into picking up another multiplier, or some... 
Situational Defense 
The key defense favored by Marksman is lifesteal, but there’s not a lot available here so all Marksman default to the same purchase: The Bloodthirster. This stat is so core that it actively pushes aside all other defensive choices until it’s covered. 
We’re running with that idea. For Marksman, lifesteal means defense. The result is all the items in this category provide enough lifesteal before letting you branch into the types of defenses you should otherwise situationally take. 
The Bloodthirster: I need to sustain through everything
Death’s Dance: I need to get burst off me long enough to hit
Mercurial Scimitar: I need to be free (of CC)
  • Going Forward
There’s a lot of new abilities and interactions presented by the changed items, and we don’t believe we have every one of these ironed out.
League of Legends hasn’t been tuned to the idea that some Marksman will get 40% Cooldown Reduction, for example, and it’s impossible to know the full effects of this. 
We’ll be watching diligently to identify what’s problematic and what’s not!"

When asked about the changes to Trinity Forces, Maw of Malmortius, and Black Cleaver,
Riot Axes elaborated:
Any reason why fighter items like maw of malmortius, black cleaver or trinity force were changed to favor Marksmen?
I can explain the changes - tl;dr all of those changes were motivated by their Fighter use cases, NOT Marksmen. 
maw of malmortius is being changed with AD Assassins and light Fighters in mind, as a potential go-to MR item. The addition of flat armor penetration coupled with a pair of unique passives that reward you for taking risks helps Talon or Wukong a lot more than it helps any Marksman. 
I do think there will be some Marksman usage of this item and that's perfectly acceptable, but they aren't intended core users and I don't think they actually like this iteration better than the previous one, except that the previous one was weak. 
black cleaver is being changed with Juggernaut build diversity in mind. I realize that's going to look strange since they'd prefer the previous iteration of the item - because it gave them everything they might want in a single package. On Live, if you're a core Black Cleaver user, you're going to rush it pretty much no matter what - it isn't contextual at all. With the changes, if you really need defenses first, you won't be able to rely on that item to solve it for you - but if you're doing well and want more kill power so you can snowball, it's even better. 
I do anticipate more use by non-Juggernauts - it's a better item for wukong , for example, and that's fine. I will be very surprised if Marksmen adopt it - maybe one (graves?), but certainly not on any widespread basis. There's no reason to build it with essence reaver  and Essence Reaver is simply better for those champions. 
This is the riskiest change of the three, and if it does break The Black Cleaver for Juggernauts, we will certainly be following up. 
trinity force was actually changed in 3 different ways for different reasons: 
(1) Power reduced across the board - it was one of the highest outliers for gold efficiency in the entire game, so our efficiency normalization pass hit it especially hard. Basically we want you purchasing items because the cool things they do fit your champion and goals in a game, not because it just gives more power than the rest. 
(2) Sheen traded AP for CDR. This was a net buff for most (but not quite all) Sheen users - the item no longer forces you to spend gold on a stat you probably don't care about. Even among the characters who do care about AP and bought Sheen, CDR should be approximately neutral in most cases. I'm sure there's a champ or two who end up being sad about it, but they're a small minority. Trinity Force inherits this change, which does make it better for Marksmen - but also better for most Fighters. 
The main reason we're excited about this change, however, is that it gives us a much better ability to make the items that build out of Sheen exciting in targeted ways. The immediate payoff there is the new iceborn gauntlet  - Tanks can have a Sheen upgrade of their own now. 
(3) Critical Strike increased, Attack Speed decreased. This is inherited from the Zeal changes - both values are exactly the same as Zeal. This one's happening because of Marksmen but I wouldn't say that it's for Marksmen - it means that Marksmen can't really use Tri Force as their single Attack Speed item anymore (for the few that did use it that way), but it does mean they can use it for their single crit item much more effectively. 
I agree that this feels bad for Fighters, but we've been over our other options here and short of making Trinity Force a much different item (e.g. increasing its bonus AD by 40 or something) there's not a better alternative available, unfortunately. Options like recurve bow tend to feel just as bad for Fighters (at least Zeal has % move speed!), so they aren't actually improvements."

When asked about more options for the % Armor Penetration stat, Riot Reinboom  commented:
I think we need another option in the %Armon pen category.
Would you be willing to divulge your thoughts on this? :) 
We actually had three in testing at one point (with a slightly different profile). The number of new items and item changes was overwhelming for quite a few people. 
It's much easier to add more when there's a clear trade already established, so it's open design space in the future. Before we decide to explore that space once more I would like to wait some time first for people to get used to all the current item changes."

When asked about ADCs now being able to deal out too much damage based on the new defensive capabilities of some of these items,  Riot Reinboom noted:
With new items giving more defensive abilities, don't you worry that ADC will deal too much damage while receiving reduced damage?
Many worries. 
There is always that tipping point in sight. Marksmen optimize for damage so directly which means creating a desirable enough defensive item is difficult without pushing on this risk. 
We've intentionally starved the high end damage points because of this. Infinity Edge and Phantom Dancer had a ways it could go while still being "high end damage items". Their damage is going down specifically to make room for more interesting abilities.
I don't believe we've hit the balance needed for this perfectly yet. It's difficult to get a degree of imbalance with this many changes (and there will likely be something that slips out obscene, oh preseason). But it can be adjusted once out. 
More importantly, there are actually a notable number of more tools that let us reach those adjustments now. e.g. If a tank becomes unseen due to these changes, raising their base armor per level is much more meaningful now."

As for the re-introduction of Grievous Wounds onto an item, Riot Reinboom commented:
Riot's own developers have repeatedly said that giving an easy (reliable?) way to apply grievous wounds wasn't going to get in the game because it makes a whole class of champions too weak (Swain, Vladimir, Mundo, Olaf, Aatrox, Irelia, some Jax Builds, toplane Rengar, Volibear, Zac and all healing support, I probably missed a bunch though). But here is one that is also extremely easily applied (if I understood it right, all physical damage applies the effect, no matter how it was inflicted) What made you change your mind? Specifically, how do you plan to keep those champions viable when the enemy builds griveous wounds without being overpowered when the enemy lacks one?
We didn't change our mind. Personally, I believe that GW as it exists on live can't be supported systemically and is very oppressive. 
However, with these changes GW was changed to 40% reduction (down from 50%) as well as only blocking self only healing. So as an example, it will stop Soraka's self sustain, but not her support sustain. 40% may very well still be too high, but we'll be able to respond to it if so (lowering it further perhaps). 
Having an response for "there's a LOT of X quality on the enemy team, our team should have answers" is important. 
It's also important to note that this change is global, and it will affect other sources of Grievous Wounds. If this impacts other sources of GW too negatively (like what may happen with morellonomicon) then we can adjust it after we get a better handle of GW through the preseason."
When asked about the % reduction on GW and how to balance the effect, Riot Reinboom commented:
"There is a low point (in testing, I found that to be around 30%) for which GW just doesn't feel attractive anymore, even when it is. 
If it drops too much further, then we will seek out other forms of gating on the items. Duration is a clear hit (from the 3 and 5 now to 2 and 4, or 1.5 and 3). If that still not enough, then we'll seek more complex options."
Xypherous   also added:
I understand that you needed to add some sort of damage to last whisper, so I can get the giant slayer. 
I'm not so sure as to why you felt you needed to create another damage amp towards healing. Last whisper didn't help with healing. 
It honestly feels like you wanted Executioner's Calling in the game and just needed someplace to put it.
I believe Greivous Wounds only affects self-heals now - so really the concept is counter 'drain-tanks' and people who used healing as a primary form of mitigation - rather than a Soraka trying to save your ass. 
Last Whisper, being a total damage boost - helped vs. Life Steal targets and Drain tanks just as a overall DPS increase. This version is trying to substitute that with decreasing the recovery of the target."

Riot Reinboom also commented on ADCs and the new item options to combat tanks:
Why do adcs only need to dedicate a single item slot to killing tanks? 
Right now, adcs can go three standard damage items to murder squishies, one tank-busting item in the form of giantslayer, boots and a defensive item. Why are they allowed to nearly burst squishies like assassins, and melt tanks like no other in lategame? Shouldn't they have to decide who they are good at damaging? 
Or am I overestimating the damage three offensive items will deal to a squishy champion? Or the effectiveness of Giant slayer? (historically, tanks have never been allowed to really be tanky towards adcs for long.) Or is Riot ok with adcs having such a lategame fantasy that it nullifies any tanks' lategame fantasy?
Marksman are the damage class that's in charge with killing tanks (eventually).
We don't want that to be increased (or increased to a notable degree) above what's on live however. 
One of the more difficult balancing points for a carry class is these expectations. If, as a class, we need Marksman to deal less damage to squishier targets, that's difficult to do because it will break their expectations on needing to kill tankier targets. If we need Marksman to deal more damage to tankier targets, that's difficult to do because that will make them delete squishier targets. 
Lord Dominik's Regards compared to old Last Whisper is this redirected in a vacuum. Moving from total penetration to bonus penetration is actually a rather significant nerf in damage against all targets, squishy and tanky. Everyone has base armor and there's a lot of it. Depending on who the target is, just that conversion is a loss from anywhere around 10% to upwards of around 20% damage. 
Giant Slayer is doing two things in that Regards. 
1: It's covering up the damage nerf on the item to some of the classes. If it's still too high, it can be individually adjusted without much pain either.
2: It retains and confirms Marksman's weakness of not favoring health (so things like Trinity Force and The Black Cleaver are less favorable if you're also getting this) 
(note: The damage it gives is based on the difference between the Marksman's health and its target, so it gets weaker the more health the Marksman has)"
Riot Reinboom continued, commenting on Giant Slayer tuning:
Considering that: 
Giant Slayer has 1% per 50 HP more, up to 10%. Meaning, maxing out at 500 HP. 
LDR has 1.5% per 50 HP more, up to 15%. Meaning, maxing out at 500 HP. 
500 HP more is easily achievable with Rod of Ages or Rylais on mages, especially on melee ones with higher base HPs. So, if there is a problem with ADCs being able to damage "squishy" mages too easily, how would you go about changing that? Maybe decreasing LDR's percentage to 1% per 50 HP, but still capping out at 15%?
Along those lines. Planned initial reaction if that showcases itself is to push it out to maxing at 800 health difference."
Riot Reinboom group questions 1:
3 Questions :

  1. How do you plan on nerfing ES if it becomes problematic? I feel like the wording would make it awkward to reduce the CDR it gives (gives up to 10% based on other items, but no item gives less than 10%). Also, do you feel like ES is on the strong, weak or median side of things right now?
  2. Any comment on the state of Thresh vs Last Whisper?
  3. Don't you feel like keeping The Bloodthirster's shield kinda conflicts with Death's Dance intended ability of preventing burst? Sinec you usually have a low amount of health as an ADC, I feel like a flat renewable shield is often much better than simply delaying the damage.
  1. We're not beholden to how ER is currently worded. One of the responses we've considered is dropping its bonus CDR from crit to cap when you have 30% crit from other items instead of just 20%. I feel like ER is strong but in the same way that IE is strong. If those two balance comparatively, then nerfing (or buffing) it will most likely entail changing both.
  2. Sure, it potentially hurts him more than most other champions. There tends to be those types of hits with any type of systemic change. We can adjust after (such as tweaking Thresh) if it's a problem.
  3. Yes, they do compete. They're also a bit antisynergistic in that way. Prevented damage (such as from shields) isn't "caught" by Death's Dance. Death's Dance exists to favor fighters and caster marksmen over others (where natural lifesteal is less favorable)."
Riot Axes  group questions 1:
There's a huge post sitting on the frontpage of Boards currently that points out issues with the whole itemization. Are you guys going to address it or shall I rephrase my questions here? 
Well, I'm gonna sum it up anyway:
  1. Why is every single "multiplier" item a Zeal+Dagger upgrade? Couldn't you guys devise an alternative component building at least into PD (which loses the persistent % MS from Zeal anyway)
  2. Why are the item recipes for Shiv and Firecannon identical? Couldn't Firecannon build out of something different than Zeal (Cloak + Dagger, anything)?
  3. Why does Executioner's Calling proc without any prerequisition like the one Morellonomicon has?
  4. Why is BT's combine cost so atrociously high (1500g)?
  5. Do you really think BT will be able to compete with Mercurial Scimitar, which has a better build path, costs the same, provides the same AD and has the invaluable QSS active?
  6. Why do both of the LW upgrades provide the same stats? Couldn't one of them have some AS or crit, to make the decision more than one-dimensional?
  7. Why did you guys hit Black Cleaver so hard, taking off 100 health and making it cost 500 g more?
  1. We could, but adding more components carries its own costs and the value just isn't there. By having them share so much of their build path, we allow you to choose which one you really need later, which means more adaptation to the game state. For this particular set of items, we value that pretty highly.
  2. This reinforces the shared properties of those two items. It's not ideal, but I wouldn't consider it a big problem either.
  3. We think this model is correct for Executioner's Calling, particularly given the changes to Grievous Wounds (e.g. it no longer applies to healing from allies, so soraka's W isn't reduced). It's possible that we need to re-evaluate Morellonomicon, though I'm much less sure about that one.
  4. I'm gonna fix this one.
  5. Yes, I do. You're glossing over the value of 10% lifesteal and effectively 300+ health later in the game - that's a huge amount of power. That said, I do think we're going to see a lot of double lifesteal builds, so I suspect it's more a question of "Pick 2 of Death's Dance, Mercurial Scimitar, Bloodthirster, Blade of the Ruined King, or Maw of Malmortius" rather than a direct comparison between these two items, and I think Bloodthirster fits in as one of those 2 in many situations.
  6. When we do that, it's because we want to force a spotlight onto the one real point of difference - do you want to deal with tanky champs better or do you need grievous wounds? Stat differences tend to force you to optimize around your champion's stat usage - you get a situation where Jinx always buys X, Lucian always buys Y, which means that neither gets much of a choice and Jinx just ends up with the property "Does more damage to health stackers" and Lucian just ends up with the property "Puts Grievous Wounds on targets". There are situations where that's a good thing, but that's not what we're going for here.
  7. I answered this in more detail elsewhere in the thread, but Tl;dr: shifting power from defense to offense is intended to help Juggernaut build diversity a little bit by making it an even better choice in some situations but a wrong choice in others. As for its efficiency going down specifically, it was one of our outlier overly efficient items."

[DEV BLOG] Rift Herald in the 2016 Season 

Next up we have Riot Jag with a dev blog on the new preseason neutral objective Rift Herald!
"Posting for Riot Jag while he's in preseason patch rundown shoots! 
Rift Herald
By Riot Jag 
Hey summoners, Jag here to tell you all about the newest resident to Summoner's Rift. 
The Problem Space 
For a long time, the asymmetry of the map for Summoner's Rift gave structure to how teams would arrange their lane configurations, and deepened the range of early game strategic options. At this point in time, however, League’s probably the most objective-focused it’s been in a long time, with Dragon buffs skewing the map to be bottom-heavy. A symptom of this, of course, is that almost all top laners (and now some mid laners) are taking the summoner spell Teleport so they can meaningfully interact with the ‘objective game’ before the 20 minute mark. If a top laner doesn’t do so, they usually feel like they’ve made the wrong choice. To combat this lack of strategic diversity, the most obvious options would be to either a) nerf Teleport, or b) make Dragon irrelevant. 
Oddly enough, the answer was a bit of both. 
During our preseason development time, we first played with ways to make Ignite or Exhaust more compelling summoner alternatives to Teleport. In doing so, however, we found that dominating map movement in an objective-based game is just too broadly applicable in its use that trying to “match” its strength with other combat spells becomes a terrifying proposition. We could also make small adjustments to the power level of Teleport itself - which we are definitely going to do - but wanted a better long-term solve. 
On the other side of the coin, the most organic solution we could provide without just crushing Teleport was to give you a reason to not want to teleport away from the top side of the map. One method of doing that would be to remove Dragon’s relevance in the early game, but for many reasons we feel like having the Dragon objective anchor action was valuable for controlling tempo and game flow. We still want top laners to feel like they have a reason to win their lane beyond arriving at the Dragon fight at the perfect time. 
So in light of that... 
Enter the Herald 
… We put a competing objective in the top side of the map - the Rift Herald. 
The Rift Herald is a neutral monster that will hold down the Void Pit for Baron Nashor before 20 minutes (before being permanently replaced thereafter). The Herald is a void-mutated scuttler and has armor that can shrug off ranged attacks particularly effectively (so if you do swap your lanes for it, there are some inherent penalties). That said, Herald’s got a pretty significant soft spot at the back, so make sure you bring a friend to help before taking it on. If you're successful in defeating Herald, your team will be rewarded with 50 gold each and the killer will be given a pushing buff that also enhances their minions. Don’t worry, the minions won’t get extra defenses, so you won’t have to deal with last hitting DR’d up minions in lane, but they will get a lot of offensive power, so teams will have to find a way to deal with the push or risk losing turrets. 
Long Term Goals 
With Rift Herald in the game, players will have a more interesting range of choices to make. Should your jungler focus your top laner and their half of the map to get them snowballing early? Should the top laner opt for Ignite or Exhaust over Teleport to double down on that strategy? Are you a team that's opting into the 5 dragon win condition, or are you looking to push turrets down by 10 minutes? Our hope is that there is no clear answer until your team has figured out what they've picked and how they want to win the game. 
A closing note: while this is a neutral objective that is easily accessible by mid lane (and therefore is heavily subject to the influence of the jungler and mid laner), we really wanted to give top laners a reason to feel good about winning the "1v1 me bro" island and being able to show their team why it was worth making sure they succeed. Consequently, there are several mechanics on the Rift Herald that may result in that split pushing top lane fighter (talking to the Rivens and Tryndameres here) getting some big leads early on in the game. We don't want that to get out of control but, to be clear, we know what we're signing up for. We're giving some room back to the dudes who are brave enough to fight top lane without bringing a Teleport to fall back on. 
So beware, cowards."
When asked about the Rift Herald's damage reduction from ranked attacks, Jag Riot Jag noted:
In your attempt to prevent lane-swapping, you reduced the damage the Herald takes from ranged attacks. 
You remember you have ranged top laners, right?
I did! But I think ranged top laners still have lots of value to bring (for example, a lot of them are actually better at winning top lane by bullying their lane opponent and therefore putting their team in a better position to secure Rift Herald control)."
When asked about the impact of Rift Herald's buff on early game,Riot Jag  replied:
Maybe im wrong on this but to me it looks like the buff will be more impactful than an early dragon in the early game. You guys afraid this will lead to an early game where the jungler is top all the time? Or that top laners will require early powerful wave clear to counter a herald buff ?
I do think it will be more impactful than dragon in the early game, but I think that's only a requirement for the jungler to be top all the game if the team is particularly early-game centric (honestly I think the decision making will mirror the way a jungler would approach a top lane matchup that is early game focused vs late game). There is a worry here that RH may be too high in value compared to Dragon, even when accounting for the stacking aspect of the Dragon buff, and if that becomes a problem on Live, we'll adjust their values relative to each other. 
These types of changes may favor wave clear top laners to counter RH, but it also may just demand different strategic adaptations from your team (e.g. maybe you'll have to send your Viktor top for a few minutes to deal with the push).
As for thoughts on Shaco's advantages to solo Rift Herald with his passive and R,  Riot Jag commented:
I can see shaco being problematic because he uses his ult to tank and then goes around to the other side and grabs the sweet spot. At the same time, he'd have to drain his ult, and I'm fine with shaco having more fallback patterns.
Shaco is one of the few exceptions right now, and I think that's fine. Good for you, Shaco, you do you man."

As for the strength of Rift Herald's buff, Riot Jag commented:
How do you plan on balancing Rift Herald's buffs if it became too powerful in competitive play?
Probably lean towards making RH's value relative to Dragon lower (possibly with respawn times or reorienting Dragon stacks).

Riot Jag  continued, commenting on teleport, early game strength and snowballing with Rift Herald:
Have you guys given any thought to the weak laners top (Nasus et al) that took teleport for the ability to survive in lane as opposed to putting on map pressure? 
What levers are you putting in to stop early-game champs like Riven and Renekton from just dominating lanes, picking up Herald and snowballing games from there? 
And by the by, how many stacks is Herald going to give Devourer junglers?
Teleport is still plenty viable for those guys, but it should be a clear choice you take, with tradeoffs (i.e. I took TP to survive in lane and affect the map, not to pressure my opponent) as opposed to the requirement of top lane (i.e. I took TP because it was better at everything, including early lane because of Jungle->level 2 starts, etc.). 
Early-game dominance champions should have their own set of tradeoffs, which I think historically we've seen pretty clearly (e.g. Renekton falls off as the game goes on). 
Particularly with the Marksmen itemization changes we're putting in, I think champions that are all-ining on winning the early game should be rewarded for doing it successfully, because there are real costs to them failing."
As for having Baron EAT Rift Herald when he spawns and Rift Herald stops spawning for the game,
 Riot Jag  teased:
Can we have Baron eat the Herald if he stays alive up until the 20th minute?
SoonTM? No promises. :P

[DEV BLOG] Keystone Masteries in the 2016 Season 

Next up we have gypsylord with a dev blog on the upcoming Keystone masteries and all the various mastery changes in preseason!
"Posting for gypsylord while he's out of the office today 
Keystone Masteries
By gypsylord 
When Squad5, Stashu, and I set out to work on the new mastery system we had one goal in mind: how do we get a 3-hit passive on every champion in the game? After months of ideation, we came up with Thunderlord’s Decree, made it super strong, and BOOM, now even Warwick can have perfect gameplay. 
In all seriousness though, I’m excited to be talking about the new masteries because we’re finally able to take the first steps on a project we’ve been wanting to do for some time: make masteries matter! Our specific goal with this year’s mastery revamp is to make the mastery tree a more impactful part of how you play. Do you like being a wall for your allies? Bursting out a squishy? Making a quick escape? Hopefully the mastery system can finally begin to serve one of its original purposes: providing players with interesting ways to optimize their characters that speaks to their playstyle. 
We’re not going too crazy here, mind you, we still feel that overall champions and items are the best way to offer meaningful character differentiation. But we do believe that the improvements we’ve made to the system will result in a lot more players asking the question, “What do I want in my Talon mastery page?” instead of “what do I want in my offensive AD character X page?” 
You’ve all probably seen the website but I’m going to highlight some things:
  • Ferocity is meant to favor marksmen, melee carries, and sustained damage mages. Resolve is meant to favor tanks, divers, and juggernauts. The old Utility tree has been done away with in favor of “Cunning,” a new tree that offers some interesting stuff for a number of supports, assassins, and burst mages.
  • Points in each row are exclusive so if you find the flat pen in tier 3 Cunning particularly attractive, you’re going to have to give up the cooldown reduction that’s right next to it.
  • The power per mastery point has been redistributed to heavily favor the tier 3 masteries found deep in the trees. This results in a new allocation layout, while it used to be standard to spend variations of 21-9-0 in the old trees you’ll now be looking to spend 18-12-0 or 18-6-6
  • We’ve also thrown in a number of awesome usability improvements that should make the entire act of setting up a page far less painless (THANKS ENGINEERS!). Clicking on a 5 point mastery will automatically dump all 5 points into it if you have that many to spend. That’s great for those crucial 10 seconds after you find out that the Blitzcrank on your team had no plans of ever going support!
  • You no longer have to take points out of a tree to reallocate points invested earlier, simply click on the new option you want and it’ll be swapped with whatever you’d already spent point on in that row.
  • An icon representing which tier 3 keystone each player took can be found on the loading screen and scoreboard, next to summoner spells. Going to be a lot harder for that all offense AD Soraka to cheese you out when you have a better idea of what she invested in.
Before moving on, I’d just like to highlight how freeing the new exclusivity changes are, design wise. Under the old system, if we put a bunch of powerful stuff deep in the offense tree, you would just take it all. Because of this, power on any individual mastery had to be tuned low and 21 pointers had to be pretty generalized - we were basically balancing for Kayle. No longer! With the addition of exclusivity between masteries in the same tier, we can finally make things speak to specific classes of a champion, instead of “has a pulse and a basic attack.” 
So then after taking a look at the tree some of you may be thinking, “WTF MAN I PLAY AP JINX AND CLEARLY THE ONLY THING WORTH TAKING FOR ME HERE IS MASTERY X. MASTERIES DON’T MATTER! WHERE ARE MY MEANINGFUL CHOICES!?” Well... to be honest, that’s not the primary goal here. What we want is for every champion to feel like there’s a mastery path for them. More specifically, we’re hoping to draw out and amplify some of the cool things your champion’s kit does, instead of just loading on general power. 
As an example, while Janna may appreciate +10% AP, she’s going to feel much more excited about a +10% amp to shields and heals. One of these stats is for almost everyone, but the other speaks to a number of specific supports. Choice in the system is a secondary goal that, while nice to have, is not as important. There’s 126 champions out there and limited space in the tree, so we’d prefer a world where Soraka and Brand both have 1 path that speaks to them, instead of Brand getting 2 and Soraka crying in the corner. That said, giving players meaningful choices is still an important goal, so we’re trying to add it into the trees where we can. We just may not be able to do it for EVERY champion. Also looking at it in other places this preseason, like the item system. 
Lastly, a final awesome thing about this new system is that it’s expandable! Remember how the old trees could have up to 4 points per row? Yeah, well we didn’t get rid of that functionality. Things look sparse now but that’s been done intentionally so we can add to the system should the need or want arise further into new season. This is where your feedback comes in. Think there’s no tier 2 keystones for tanky guys who want a little offense on the side? Let us know, we could add that! Think it would be hella sick if Fiddlesticks had a tier 3 keystone that made his AoE wombo even stupider? Please no, but if you have something that could do that in healthy and exciting way then maybe we could find a place to add it! In the words of Syndra, “[the space to add new stuff to masteries] blah blah blah potential is limitless!” Throw your ideas and wants and feels at us and if there truly is something missing or something that ”ASDF WE NEED THIS” then we might end up adding it in!"

When asked about their thoughts on these masteries and the powershifts they will present for specific champions, Meddler noted:
It seems like a lot of these masteries will make certain champions extremely overbearing. Yasuo with the new heal on crit mastery comes to mind, as well as perhaps brand with deathfire, if his passive procs it, and so on and so forth. Is there any plans to nerf champions who have been seen to be too strong on the PBE before pushing these changes to live? Or are you going to push out balance changes in a different patch?
"We're planning on being reactive, rather than preemptive, with balance changes around masteries. First step will be to get the masteries themselves into the appropriate balance spot if some of them are out of line. Second step will then be to adjust individual characters as needed once masteries are a stable point to work around."
When asked about the effects of Warlord's Bloodlust on champions with access to early crit, Riot Stashu  noted:
Is there a concern that warlord's bloodlust gives a lot of sustain to crit based champions much earlier in the game then usual? Most champions that use crit you could jump on or poke out before they got to that 3rd item life steal, or force them to make a choice to delay an item for that earlier lifesteal. Now it feels like before they finish their first item, as long as they have a crit component, it becomes much harder to push them out of lane and they come to team fights always topped off. Do you guys see this as a potential problem to be visited, because warlord's bloodlust feels so much stronger then the other two, especially on a few select champions (cough Yasuo cough)
Policing for Pwyff here -- this is a bit opinion-phrased-as-question-ish. 
Okay got that out of the way, so, yes! This is something on our radar. Fortunately, that ability has some meaningful levers. If sustain is too high, we can maintain approximately neutral power for non-abusers by shifting some power from the sustain and into the attack speed. If it is generally overpowered, we can increase the cooldown, decrease the duration, etc. 
As another note, certain champions will receive disproportional benefits from these mastery changes. This happens with large, sweeping changes, and is something we're prepared to react to on a case-by-case basis."

When asked about Fervor of Battle's application and Ez Q,  Riot Stashu noted:
Does Fervor of Battle work strictly on auto attacks? Or are there any spells like Ezreal Q that also applies the damage bonus/a stack?
Anything that applies on-hit effects, like Ezreal's Q, will apply Fervor of Battle."

As for the cunning tree and it's interactions with built in CDR and raising CDR cap, Riot Stashu commented:
I'm concerned about the Cunning Tree. 
Namely, the fact that the mastery that gives champions Base CDR (and also that neato higher CDR cap) is far enough into it that any champion that wants to grab it has to go 18 points deep. 
As a Nasus main, this has me very very worried. Getting early CDR is very key on a lot of champs, but it is absolutely crucial on Nasus, and the fact that you're locking it away in a tree he (and many others) are never going to invest 18 points in is a matter of concern.
Hey! Yeah, Nasus really wants to get those Q's rolling early on, and that CDR was really helping him out. He can still access it, but he'll have to make some significant tradeoffs to do so. Does he want the possibility to Q more often, or the safety to actually use the Qs he has innately? This is the type of player choice we wanted to introduce in the new season. Are you the more safe and reliable player who takes a bunch of defense stats and steadily scales up, or are you more risk-inclined, opting out of the extra tankiness in favor of a potentially faster ramp-up? 
For full context, we made the decision to remove CDR from masteries because of how trivially early one could attain maximum CDR with runes and masteries. This made designing kits around CDR-scaling difficult, as champions could hit their peak with a single big CDR item, on top of their runes and masteries. Accordingly, we wanted to make the build towards 40% CDR a more meaningful commitment. 
We added in the flat CDR to this particular mastery in virtue of how difficult it is to access. With this mastery so deep in the tree, one must pay a significant opportunity cost (giving up flat pen, or whatever is appealing from other trees' tier 5s) to gain that 5% CDR, thus making it a very meaningful decision. 
But to directly answer your concern, this may mean that certain champions who relied on the early CDR are disproportionately weaker in patch 5.23. This is not intended, but an understood risk, and, if it happens, is something we plan to be quick to follow up on in subsequent patches!"

Riot Stashu  also noted they are working to tighten up the mastery tooltips:
In my case it was the fact that there's a massive tooltip and somewhere in there it says "per level". I thought TLD actually dealt 10 base damage at all levels until someone explicitely stated otherwise.
Yeah the tooltips are all pretty gross. We'll be doing a clean-up pass next patch."

Riot Stashu group questions 1:
Questions to devs:
  1. How are you going to push through the message that Cunning is the way to go for assassins and bursty mages? Do you expect the playerbase to adapt by looking at the streamers and build databases, or will you release a "champion spotlight" video for Masteries?
  2. Both Bounty Hunter and Oppressor are pretty conditional - they give nothing unless you fullfill pretty specific requirements. Have you considered adding there something less powerful, but more reliable?
  3. Deathfire Touch seems a little bit overused right now by every type of champion who used to go deep into Offense, junglers included. Is my observation in accord with your data, and if so is that a sign to buff Fervor of Battle, or nerf Deathfire Touch?
  4. Can any champions of classes of champions expect compansation buffs to make up for loss of favourable mastery builds? (ie. Shyvana's loss of hybrid % penetration).
  5. Why does Natural Talent feel so underwhelming? Somehow I can't really see the appeal of miniscule flat AD/AP per level compared to lifesteal/spellvamp which seem to scale much better into the lategame.
  6. Have you considerd being more firm in differentiating between early power and lategame power masteries, for example by removing the scaling component from Natural Talent and Precision?
  7. Why can't we choose more than one 5-point mastery?
Hey Pyro! Thanks so much for your work on that calculator! 
As for your questions, 
1) We expect that by reading the abilities and through the sort of trickle-down you describe, players should get a pretty good handle on it. 
2) Fair critique, but our thinking that that oppressor was pretty universally accessible. Very few champions lack at least a slow, and those who do often build them (Mordekaiser + Rylais) or depend on their allies cc'ing their target to be effective (Katarina types). 
3) I think that most players read DFT and think 'this clearly contributes more damage than any other Mastery.' We did a lot of number crunching to make sure that this is not actually the case, even if it appears to be. I believe that because it has the highest AD/AP ratios, player's naturally assume it's the strongest, even when Fervor of Battle adds 80 damage to each basic attack at lvl 18. Of course, it's possible that our evaluations were off, but I think it's more of an appeal/preference thing than a pure power thing. Oh, unless your Brand, in which case DFT is insane. 
4) Champions, and masteries for that matter, will be buffed and nerfed as always -- when there are outliers, we will address them. We are certainly aware that the new mastery system may cause some outliers, and so we'll be on the look out for this sort of thing :D 
5) Our thinking here is that some champions just really care about crossing certain damage thresholds, and so the AD/AP will really appeal to them. That said, I agree that we ultimately failed to create a compelling decision here - those low amounts of scaling AD/AP just don't seem as powerful as the flat vamp, even though we estimate them to be. 
6) Yeah this is an axis of choice that we didn't really deeply explore. It's something we're interested in doing as we build out the system. 
7) Because of the way stats are distributed in the tree (the deeper in, the higher the value), this would likely cause optimal builds to be 28/2/0. This leads to less expression/diversity/personalization than we hoped to create."
Riot Stashu group questions 2:
Keystone questions:
  • Bond of Stone:
A) Does it stack? Meaning, if two people with BoS are close to, lets say, the ADC, do both of them transfer damage from the ADC to themselves? Or is it a unique effect, like an item passive, of which you can have only one per champion?
B) Along those lines: Would it stack between these two people?
C) Is there a visual indicator for the effect?
D) How would you nerf it if the stacking case becomes too strong?
  • Grasp of the Undying:
A) What damage type does it do to the target champion? Physical, magic, true?
  • Warlord's Bloodlust:
A) Are both the AS and the heal tied to the cooldown? Or does the AS buff refresh on any crit, with only the heal being on a CD?
  • Fervor of Battle:
A) Who is this mastery aimed for?
B) Does Lifesteal work with the bonus damage? 
Other masteries 
  • Perseverance:
Is it 50%/200% increase in base regen, like 1/4 ? Or does it affect all regen (oh boy)? 
EDIT: Additional masteries - potential ideas: 
  • Tier 2 Resolve keystone (1-point mastery):
A) Reduction in Crit damage (old Reinforced Armor)
B) Adaptative Armor
  • No idea for placing:
A) Reduced CD on active items?
B) An offensive support mastery a la Expose Weakness? Working only on allied damage?
Bond of Stone
  • Currently, yes! Both will transfer damage from the ADC.
  • There is a visual indicator. It flashes every so often that your protected ally is taking damage.
  • Not sure, to be honest! Things that come to mind: The protected ally only takes 8% DR, and the damage is distributed to all relevant bond of stoners equally. Idea 2: Additional stacks of bond of stone only reduce 4% damage (from 8%).
  • Magic, sorry! Will be updating tooltip asap.
  • Both are tied to the cooldown, though the duration of the AS buff is twice the duration of the cooldown.
  • Base, work's like rejuv bead. Will be updating tooltip asap."
Riot Stashu  Group Questions #3
Hello there! Firstly just wanted to say the new masteries are my favourite part of all the new changes coming in season 6. Really excited in trying them out when they reach live.
  1. Quite interesting to see the loss of early game flat AD/AP bonuses, was this a conscious decision? If I was to hazard a guess I presume if these masteries existed in the new set then they would become too 'must pick' masteries. I've noticed that all the new masteries feel more like 'nice but not essiential'. I really like this btw, feel like as a result there is a lot more flexibility.
  2. Was curious why Grasp on the undying is halved for ranged champions? Did this prove to be problematic in testing? I guessed since it scales with max health, it wouldn't be overbearing. That said it's still something I want try to pick up marksmen and see how effective it is.
  3. Gotta say I will miss blade weaving/spell weaving. Dunno why, but I really liked those two masteries, definitely something I would like to see make a comeback.
1) Yeah, nice but not essential is more or less what we were going for. However, this was actually a very particular problem. We wanted to provide a choice between general damage (ad/ap) and general sustain (lifesteal / vamp) in that slot, as we felt this was interesting. We didn't want it to favor physical or magical damage champions, so we hybridized the stats -- and it was this hybridization that stopped us from adding flat bonuses. If Lulu/Lissandra/every other ranged mage wanted to opt into damage over sustain, they would get a unintended and significant power boost to their ranged basic attack through the incidental flat AD they'd pick up, which clouded the decision point and would make this difficult to balance. Hope that makes sense! 
2) With its current design, Grasp is not particularly challenging to keep charged in lane, as you're always in combat with something. So, if you imagine that you get a Grasp proc charged and ready to go on cooldown, and you can trivially proc it with a long-ranged basic attack, then the mastery may as well read 'heal for 3% of your max health every 4 seconds.' Even ignoring the damage, we found this to be quite strong. So, since ranged champions get to ignore the 'be in melee range' gate, we concluded that they should receive proportionately less benefit from the mastery. 
3) Yeah those stuck out to us as something we wanted to preserve, and Fervor of Battle was meant to be a nod to that, but I don't think it fills the void. We're looking to build out the masteries a bit more as we go forward, adding some new ones or replacing some old ones, and I think some sort of weaving mechanic could be a good fit."

Meddler with thoughts on Sona

In a thread discussing Sona and the possibility of upcoming changes, Meddler stepped in to comment:
"Some thoughts on the current state of Sona:
  1. There are a number of Sona players who find Sona unsatisfying and feel she needs to be buffed, including some players posting on Boards who've felt that way at least since her rework last year.
  2. Sona's performance in game, outside of organized professional play, is in a pretty reasonable spot, even in high Elo solo queue. She's also got a bit of the Amumu/Yi effectiveness by Elo curve going on, where she'll be pretty dominant in average games if she's a strong pick in high tier play. That matches up with her play rate, which is quite a bit higher (2-3 times on average, depending on the region) in average Elo ranges versus high Elo. That puts Sona at a pretty average play rate at most tiers of play, though does mean she's underrepresented in high tier play..
  3. Sona's got a kit design that makes it really hard for her power to be satisfying. Her power's split between spell casts that affect multiple targets, auras that can affect multiple allies and power chord effects. That means each individual effect has to be pretty weak and therefore hard to feel, let alone feel good about.
  4. Sona's got a really high reliability kit. Provided you've got at least a moderate handle on how her kit works you're going to see fairly consistent output from her. Because her lows aren't very low that also contrains our ability to give her high highs.
  5. Sona's auras are powerful ally buffing effects with a high uptime. That means if solo lane Sona's ever in a spot where she's a solid, satisfying pick duo lane Sona's almost certainly pretty overpowered (since she's able to access her full effectiveness by contrast). That issue could potentially be addressed by adding a mechanic to Sona that's only useful if she's solo laning, though that runs the risk of feeling really forced and post laning adds yet another mechanic to a kit that's already splitting its power into a lot of pieces as above.
  6. In terms of where that leaves us we could introduce some less reliable abilities and concentrate power (e.g. by removing auras, power chord or multi hit spells and in exchange buffing the remaining elements) to address points 3 and 4 above. That would lead to a drastically different Sona however. There might also be room for some small QoL or buffs, and I expect Sona will be discussed again internally after preseason follow up's on a good track (though I'm personally doubtful we've got much power to work with and simply buffing Sona until she feels good's going to set her up for a nerf)."

Upgrading the Intentional Feeder Detection System

Moving right along, Lyte has put up a boards thread on the recent intentional feeder detection upgrades that are now live on some servers and working their way to others!
"Hey all, 
(Neurocat’s out for a week, so I’m dropping in to give an Instant Feedback update) 
A few weeks back we launched intentional feeding detection, a long-desired addition toInstant Feedback that hands out 14-day or permanent bans to intentional feeders. Initially, we tuned the detection to be very conservative because we wanted to be absolutely sure Instant Feedback could distinguish bad games from genuine intentional feeding. Now that the system’s crunched through a few million games of data, we feel confident turning intentional feeding detection up a notch. 
Like with all adjustments to Instant Feedback, the team will hand review the first few thousand cases to make sure everything’s working the way it’s meant to. This upgrade’s already live in NA, and will roll out worldwide before the end of the year. In fact, the system’s already made its first ban. The /allchat log reads: 
[All] (Hecarim): uh... i dont care
[All] (Hecarim): and riot will not care
[All] (Hecarim): who wants kill?
Oh Hecarim. We care a lot. We’ll update this post when the feature’s gone global. 
EDIT ::: We are now rolling the system out in EUW."

Lyte on Player Motivations & Extrinsic Rewards 

Lyte also popped on reddit to reply to a player's post on the ranked rewards in LoL , explaining his thoughts on player motivations & extrinsic rewards quantifiable individual skill  as it pertains to ranked play and the upcoming dynamic queue system:
"Trying to take a bit of a break today since it's been an exhausting week, but wanted to add a quick (and potentially unpopular response) to at least give players some visibility. 
Re: Player Motivations and Extrinsic Rewards 
You make some good points, but the problem is quite a bit more complicated. One of the big problems with Solo/Duo Queue today is the fact we've introduced a suite of Victorious Skin / Borders / Icon rewards that are known asextrinsic rewards. They are material things that players highly value and desire, so because these rewards exist, many players will get to Level 30 and immediately set their sights on getting Gold. 
When players try something due to an extrinsic motivation, they tend to stop and disengage as soon as they achieve it. So, many players will hit Gold (even if it's right after placements!) and never engage with Solo/Duo Queue again other than 1 game every few weeks to avoid decay. This is bad design and creates queue health problems on many servers when players don't actually want to play the queue for any meaningful length of time. 
We also know that Solo/Duo Queue is the most negative experience in the game, and we'd like to try to make it a better one--for more players, and for all players. Right now, players are so intrigued by the special Solo/Duo rewards they'll jump into the queue, experience the negativity and quit the game permanently. This is a bad experience and bad for the long-term health of League. 
One of the best ways to design an experience to be engaging long-term is to leverage intrinsic motivations. Basically, create an experience that is innately rewarding and a great experience, that isn't reliant on something material. Playing a high-stakes, competitive game with friends is a great intrinsic motivator because it's a fun experience. In fact, in research, you'll often see friends enjoy playing the game even when they lose--which is pretty crazy, since I love winning and winning is fun :P But, for most players, playing with friends and winning is the highest high in League, and playing with friends and losing is still an OK experience. Playing alone and losing is a miserable experience today and a big "trigger" to taking extended breaks from the game and eventually quitting for good. 
Re: Quantifiable Individual Skill 
When players make statements like "Skill Ranking" will mean nothing, it might not actually reflect reality. I don't usually like digging into the math weeds, but if players want to make this argument, they have to actually understand the math. 
What does it mean for "Skill Ranking" to mean something? Technically, it means things like if I have Player A (1200 MMR) against Player B (1200 MMR) they will reliably win 50% of their matches against each other over 100s of games. It means things like if I have Player A (1240 MMR) against Player B (1200 MMR), Player A will win their matches 54% of the time if you're using the basic Elo equation from Chess. Of course, this is a simplified model because most PvP games are team-based so there's additional variables... but you get the point. 
I don't think players can concretely say that in CS:GO, the Dynamic Queue system is so bad that a significant number of matchups are erroneous and therefore Skill Rating means nothing. On average, a higher skill player will still beat a lower skill player. The question is, how consistently does this happen? If a higher skill player beats a lower skill player at a predictable % of the time, I think the system is working effectively. If a higher skill player should beat a lower skill player 60% of the time, but only beats them 40% of the time on average, something is broken. 
I may have gotten a bit too into the math weeds here, but unless you can see the data like Valve (or like us), you can't simply conclude that Skill Ratings mean nothing in Dynamic Queues. Could it become less accurate than before? Yes. However, if 30% more players enjoy Ranked, and Skill Rating means 2% less... is that a valuable tradeoff? Maybe. Until we try this out for a bit, we don't know what those numbers will be and what the tradeoffs are, so it's too early to make wild assumptions. 
In the past, games have tried Dynamic Queues and not done well because skill variance on teams was a tough problem to solve. Admittedly, we haven't solved it elegantly in the math either and are just implementing some additional matchmaking features like (1) Tier Restrictions and (2) Variance Matching. Because we force teams in Dynamic Queues to be within 1 Ranked Tier from each other, there actually isn't that much more variance within teams. It's not teams of Bronze being carried by Diamond, it's a bunch of Silver/Gold players. If we have to, we can tune the Tier Restrictions even tighter (say, within X divisions), but this is something we'll re-assess once we have data on how things shake out. For the second feature, because we force the matchmaker to understand variance on a team, there are fewer games where you have wildly different variance across teams in a match. 
Finally, when you look at play patterns of players, it's pretty consistent. If a player plays Premade 5s 10% of the time, solo 50% of the time, and duos 40% of the time... it's generally pretty consistent across time. If we know these trends for every player across time, it might be possible to ensure that they have a stable, representative and accurate "true" MMR. Players generally do not (they do sometimes, but not generally) play 500 Premade 5 games, then suddenly play 500 pure Solo games and get crushed because they are "out of their league." This is especially unlikely in a Dynamic Queue context. If they do, it's probably an Elo Booster and they'll be banned :) 
These are all part of the reasons we want to try making Dynamic Queue a great experience for the vast majority of players. We get that there are high MMR concerns (and I'm personally concerned about how high MMR scenarios shake out), and we get that it's possible that individual skill ratings lose a bit of accuracy. But, it's also possible we greatly increase the # of players that love playing competitive League and bring a lot more players into League in general. It's also possible Dynamic Queue becomes a great experience for most players, and an average experience for the rest. Anyone who says they can predict exactly what will happen is making a leap of faith. To keep pushing League and keep growing League, sometimes we have to take risks, and sometimes they are going to fail and we're going to fall flat on our face. If this happens for Dynamic Queues, we'll pivot--even if it's mid-season. 
But to condemn it before even 1 game has been played and 1 piece of data has been collected is not too reasonable. We have to try something, collect data, learn from it, and iterate. That's game design."

Snowdown will have Non-RP Summoner icons

In a recent reddit thread discussing the lack of summoner icons available without spending RP for this year's Harrowing, Hippalus stopped in to note this year's Snowdown will have icons available that do not require RP:
"Cosmetics for RP allow us to fund all the parts of the game that you never pay for, including fun experiences and rewards, which we're going to keep delivering. 
That said, we recently had multiple earnable icons for Worlds and Bilgewater, and there WILL be icons for Snowdown that do not require any RP." 

Mirross on Start of 2016 Season & Borders

When asked if we can expect the 2016 ranked season to start in January, Mirross commented:
 "It will be in January like normal. NA and TR will be testing new Champ Select and Dynamic Queues before the season starts." 
When asked to clarify if the new ranked loading screen borders will replace the current ones, Miross noted:
"Right now the new borders replace the old ones. 
That said, I really want you to be able to choose your border from previous years. It's a shame that the work and effort you put in now vanishes into the ether."
As for this season - REMEMBER: "The 2015 season wraps up at the end of day (in your territory) on November 10—technically this means 12:01AM on November 11."

Update on Rewards & being kicked from Ranked Team then Rejoining

Following the extremely helpful "WILL I GET RANKED REWARDS" thread, dArtagnan has updated the post to clarify a change to the rules for getting ranked rewards if you have been kicked from a ranked team then rejoined it:
"UPDATE 11/5:

The rules for being kicked from a Ranked Team and then re-joining has changed. This is the updated section:
  • If you were kicked from (or left) a team for whatever reason, and then rejoin, your past wins WILL remain. You do NOT need to start over in terms of number of wins
    • For example, if you won 8 games, and then were kicked from (or left) the team (then re-invited), you would only need to win 2 more games, because your prior 8 wins are remembered.
    • If you are never re-invited to the team, you will not earn rewards. You NEEDto be on that team on November 11th, 00:01 PST in order to earn rewards
    • If you join a new different team, you will still need to earn 10 wins on that team"

Mirross on Upcoming Crafting System

As you've likely heard about, the recent 2016 season update post announced an upcoming CRAFTING system involving players being able to earn keys and chests to unlock for free items, rentals, and more!

When asked what players can earn from the upcoming hextech crafting system, Mirross replied:
What about ward skins, summoner icons, runes?
Yes, yes, no"
and when asked about Chromas as part of the crafting rewards, he noted:
"No chromas at launch."

As for which game modes will award these new mastery chests, Mirross noted:
:We're building this first implementation on Champion Mastery, so expect to be able to earn chests wherever you play games with Champ Mastery.:
When asked about using the new hextech crafting system to exchange items you have for something else, Mirross commented:
"We've built a pretty flexible system, but at launch we won't be changing things that are already part of your inventory."

Zombie Slayer stickers are here... FOR YOUR BRAINS!!!! 

To go along with the Zombie and Slayer skin releases, a new set of 12 new stickers are now available for use on the LoL boards! Here's Popstar Urf with more:
"Uuuuunnnngg! We're so hungry and there's nothing good to eat anywhere.
Awww! Poor weird zombie monster thing. Here take this delicious weirdly-shaped cake I just baked!
Yeah, enjoy that totally not explosive “cake.”

Wow! This looks great. Thanks insane pink hair lady and chainsaw guy!
You know that’s just a stick of dynamite covered in frosting, right? Do not eat tha….


Nice, ya brain-dead dummy.
Jinx! You lied to us! How could you be so cruel?
Oops! My bad. Here have another cake as an apology!
Oh yum!!!
Check out the widget below (the one with Jinx's face) and start raising the dead with the Zombie Slayer sticker pack now!"
When asked if the FB LoL stickers will also be coming to the official boards, hi geoffrey noted:

"The Facebook stickers are exclusive to Facebook so they will not be coming here, but if you guys really enjoy these stickers we can certainly look into making more in the future."
Check out [THIS IMGUR ALBUM] for larger versions of each of the new stickers!


Last up we have a cool new community glad track - introducing the BRAUMIX

"Domics and Jomm took Braum's voice and remixed it. Mother always said, "Stand behind Braum!" 

**Created in collaboration with Riot Games**"

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