The next season of competitive play is fast approaching. With a start date of January 23rd, Season 9 of League of Legends expected to be as popular as Season 8. However, population isn’t the only metric to weigh the success of a competitive season. Whether you ranked at your all time high or your all time low elo, I think we all can agree that something was different about last season. From the reinvention of the adc role to the unconventional yet successful picks in every lane, this season was unique, innovative, and foreign. But with all these changes begs the question: was this season good for the game?
Let’s look at the negatives. In order to understand what negative impacts the changes of this season created, one does not need to look further than the adc role. While seeing new champions played in roles that don’t often go together is an interesting concept, it is not without its faults. Although you were able to play most champions in the adc role (due to item changes) the same can’t be said about most ADCs in other roles. ADC was once the main carry of a team. The most popular strategy used to be put all your eggs/resources into one player and let them carry. More times than not, the adc was that one player. In Season 8, counting on your ADC to be able to carry is more risky than putting all your money on red on a table in Las Vegas. An ADC player will feel the effects of one early gank or other setbacks for at least the next 20 minutes. Although they may be able to get back into the game in the late stages of a match, average match times this season seem to be far less than in seasons past. Making it take longer to reach a point of being able to carry the game with your game’s average match time decreasing isn’t good for the role. What this will mean for ADCs in the future is uncertain. But what can be discerned is that the adc role is far from being finished and will most likely see many reworks this upcoming competitive season.
Now for the positives. As a viewer, the e-sports competitive scene is booming in terms of its diversity of picks. Remember when your friends used to say you were trolling because you picked a champion that was never played in the competitive scene? Well, now more likely than not, that champion you want to play has been played this competitive seaso. It’s refreshing to see new team comps, lane matchups, and plays on unfamiliar champions and makes a game that has been broadcasting its matches for 8 years now still seem “fresh out of the box”. As a player, the same principle applies. You have so many champions you can choose from now that champion pools are only increasing. If you were to travel back in time and play some of the most popular unconventional picks this season (Urgot, Heimerdinger) in a previous season, you’d most likely be flamed and reported for griefing. Yet this season, unpopular champions being played wasn’t the exception, it was the new norm of play.
As to how Season 9 will play out, that’s anyone’s guess. What I hope to see is the meta of the game continue to promote new team compositions and strategies but with less chaotic creativity. By this, I mean that while seeing so many champions played in many different roles adds a new spin to the meta, it makes balancing the game far more difficult to do and this is why we saw the adc role in such a precarious position throughout Season 8. While many streamers and professionals have weighed in on this competitive season, what really matters is what Riot saw as the successes and the failures of the season. So while we are unsure of what Season 9 will look like, it will most certainly be the result of the crucible we call Season 8.