Season 8 is rapidly coming to a close. With that, the end of what many people consider Riot's worse year yet is wrapping up. I do not want to spend a great deal of time discussing this because in reality, there's no way an objective conversation is going to be had about it. And quite honestly, it's pointless - most people have their minds made up one way or another at this point. However, regardless of where exactly this season ranks, I think it is safe to say most people will agree the game didn't feel good this season. In fact, I wasn't even active for the majority of this season and even I am telling you the game has felt completely unfun for me more times than not. One of the biggest reasons why it is unfun for me is that I feel like you've lost sight of your goal to maintain "strategic diversity." In fact, strategic play barely exists, even from the top down. And a lot of people have hated that.
One of the biggest issues I've taken up with this game over the last two years (keep in mind I took roughly a year off, but I'm counting season 7 as well) is that you have conditioned your player base into not understanding macro-level play. You've put such an emphasis on micro play with your champions and in the first 10-15 minutes of lane phase (micro play), that people barely understand how to open a map up now. I realize my current rank is plat 5 and I've consistently been in diamond 5-3 in the past, but even then, this rank of players still knew how to at least conceptually approach breaking the map open, even if they could not execute it. Here are things you've done that have hurt that:
-Nerfed TP constantly
-Buffed combat summoners that adhere to lane phase (ignite)
-Increased complexity in what champions can do, many of these things violate marco approaches because there's no need to macro when a champion like Zoe can pop you under tower and retreat and do this in a cycle.
-You've increased damage to such unbearable levels that even if people wanted to properly teamfight, it wouldn't matter because one combo kills just about anything not fully invested into full defense.
-You've even made random damage application to defensive spells that end up being abused in favor of offense, something you still to this day have not truly addressed (Grasp of the undying, Aftershock [fiddle], etc).
-You've encouraged extreme snowballing and reduced the ability to adequately defend your base with towers being laughable in terms of their ability to stand and damage champions; you've made objectives incredibly easy to do (practically anyone can solo dragon at level 4 and baron dies so easily; rift herald is literally a free tower, two if you play it correctly).
-You've completely neutered defense across the board in favor of true damage, %hp true damage and %penetration while decreasing the effectiveness of defensive values both by sheer numbers and passive nerfs/removals.
-CC chain locking is laughably easy. Everything has CC now. EVERYTHING.
-Dragon types are probably okay for the game but it is still RNG and they give too much broad power. Maybe they aren't good. This is obviously debatable.
All of this has contributed to a game that, in a single word, feels: cheesy. Seriously, at this point, the goal of this game is to cheese the first 2-3 kills and then snowball from there. It isn't hard. In fact, it happens so often now, people don't even know what to do. As I stated above, people literally do not understand how to play the map anymore. People have become conditioned to zerging and cheesing at every opportunity (largely because it works way more than it should) they get because you've penalized styles of play that promote strategy and the "long game" in favor of pizzazz and dazzle because of your love affair with LCS and optics. Most people have stressed they actually hate this about the game now; players like Scarra, Doublelift, Super Top and many more have more or less all agreed on these points (see: Doublelift's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhI-QLG_DJU; Scarra's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_SRmCrgnQk&t=1597s and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiOBO4sKBBQ; Hashinshin's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig4W9L5wdII [take this with a grain of salt, he mostly rants about trivial things but through this and many of his other scrambled thoughts, he tends to more or less say what DL and Scarra said above, even if he says he doesn't think so).
Even if you manage to return the strategic play and remove snowballing and brainless zombie zerging down mid as an actual optimal strategy in everything masters and below, you're still going to have a few problems. People are going to need to relearn strategy to the extents we once had and enjoyed in seasons 2, 3, 4 and even 5. There's a good chance there will be a great deal of backlash from that (maybe no on boards, but possibly on reddit and general consensus from your players in-game). They'll feel like they have to learn "a new game," much the same way many of us who preferred a slower approach feel.
No matter how much good will you build up, too, you'll have to expect that you'll have lost players that you simply will never have back. I am loyal to a fault, largely because I simply do not have the time to do anything else. I love this game, but I am an incredibly busy man with a full-time job, full-time university, and family. I do not have time to learn other games. I do not have the patience to keep up with trendy games. I would argue that as newer games have progressed in their design and complexity, I may not even have the physical and mental ability to optimally play these games at my age given my current schedule. But I will always play league more or less because I've learned the basics at a high level and those will always translate to any meta. Most players are not me. They are young, devoid of responsibility and an incredibly flexible schedule. They grew up in a word of instant-gratification because everything they want is always at their fingertips, they will have no patience for trying something they do not like and going back to it. Games come out in the thousands now, when I was young they didn't because online gaming was still a novel concept. You have all this working against you in addition to the way you've poorly conditioned your player base, I am not sure what the answers are. But what I will say is just continue to be transparent and actually stay involved with the community and stop shoving the LCS down people's throats (seriously, this region is never going to care unless NA actually has a chance at worlds) and who knows. I'm rooting for the game to be successful, but I'm not so sure others are.