So as Worlds has kicks off, it's around this time that we start reflecting back the the season that came before. Also the worlds stage typically highlights which strats/champs really are strong and which have been overhyped as they get exposed (like the ardent meta last season). Therefore I think it's an appropriate time for us to start thinking as a community about what did and did not work and start a discussion now while it's fresh in our minds. I'm offering up my thoughts here on what I objectively think would be good changes, not just for my own style/benefit, but for all. So I'll be taking into account what i've seen in my own games in Gold/Plat, what I've seen at higher levels of solo Q on streams, and from watching a heavy amount of pro play. I'd love some serious thoughts and feed back on this list of quick points with rationale. Here goes:
1. Reduce emphasis on up front/burst damage
Emphasis on burst damage heavily limits comp/strat options as securing a quick kill is anathema to many strats such as general siege comps, full poke comps, and protect the ADC comps. All of those comps are not unplayable, but very risky to run in a meta with high burst damage and mobility.
It also narrows the scope of strategy/positioning. Too much of the fight hinges on the initial engage rather than sustained high level of play or response throughout a team fight. Too one dimensional.
2. Find a way for new champs to be fun besides tons of mobility/damage
Champs need to be fun to play and need to draw in players to the game of course. But just finding "interesting" ways to implement mobility and damage is just a cop out. Champs should not only be fun to play mechanically, but some should be fun because they fulfill a specific role within the team or hard counter a specific strat. For example Braum's kit is one I consider to be top tier in terms of originality/fun/usefulness. This also ties in to another point that mobility is just such a generalist good feature now, it's too prevalent and too strong. Nothing wrong with mobility in general, it just needs to not dominate the game from top to bottom.
3. Penetration rune for tanks
Tanks are in a weird spot right now because their damage and wave clear has been nerfed, but bursty assassins are fighters are stronger than they have been in a while. So that window where tanks shine is very tiny, as it takes too long to get to that point where they can truly wade into a full team of 5, and then the point where a full damage comps outscales comes too quickly. Especially when you consider the fact that assassins don't get outscaled nearly as hard as they used to (with a few exceptions).
In the old rune systems one of the ways you could potentially improve your scaling was to run armor or magic pen runes, which allowed you to scale up well into the late game without building damage items, and also opened up the Rod of Ages or Black Cleaver into full defense builds. This would require some in depth thought in terms of implementation so that damage champs don't abuse it for more early game power.
4. AD Assassins need some love
Feels weird that only AP assassins scale well into late game with the exception of Kha'Zix. Zed and Talon both feel pretty horrendous after 25 mins unless they are snowballing insanely hard, Quiyana is an exception here as well because even though her scaling is not great, her utility is really high for an assassin and her mid game power spike is one of the best. For the sake of diversity, let's see some AD assassins who can compete with Akali, Fizz, and Ekko for scaling and team fight ability.
5. Control mages need some love too
It's weird when only a couple of control mages are viable, and only then because of their best in class wave clear. I believe this is partially tied to the mobility issue mentioned earlier. One idea I had was rather than trying to buff mage damage or nerf fighter/assassin damage, Riot instead tunes down the windup time on mage cast animations. Champe like Fizz and Ekko and Eve have the effect of their invulnerability take place at the front of the animation, almost immediately. While casters typically complete or nearly complete the animation before the damage or effect comes through. If we narrow that response window, you successfully buff mages, curb the impact of oversaturated mobility, and do so without furthering the emphasis on burst damage. As a bonus this is still highly counter-able as players in high plat and above probably have good enough response time to not be overly impacted by that. (Skill expression is a good thing!)
6. Reduce emphasis on skirmishing
Similar to the burst damage issue. Heavily narrows champion pool in jungle and solo lanes. For instance you end up needing to take something like Aatrox for the great ability to secure kills, or you go like Corki/Azir mid and just perma push for lane priority. And in the pro scene we saw specifically in NA how insanely tightly pinched the jungle pool became. It also completely invalidates the strategy of running a low econ top laner like a tank or Lulu, because you have to pick a champ for making gains during lane phase and not for synergy with the rest of the team. Also it would be great to see support/control junglers strong enough to be as high priority picks as damage/engage junglers, just for the sake of interest and dynamic comps if nothing else.
Because skirmishing in it's nature can break out nearly anywhere on the map at almost any time it really shuts out a lot of other strats. Like poke comps become exponentially better the more people you have grouped up tossing out shouts. Skirmishing pulls that apart insanely easy. Same for front to back team fight comps, wombo combo, 4 protect 1 strats.
7. Move some of the gold back onto CS
I don't know how many seasons ago they moved some of the gold off of CS and added more passive gold. At the time it didn't seem horrible, but it's really being abused now that a lot of other champs/changes have come through. Fundamentals need to exist in a wholistic, well rounded fashion. And clean play, not just aggressive play needs to be put back up on the pedestal. While most players probably are both intelligent and mechanically gifted, those who rely more heavily on their brains should not be as gutted as they have been this season. Clean play should be just as highlighted as flashy play.
Teams like G2 are able to just run around the map forcing fights constantly, and they are skipping steps and not always taking care of their side lanes. And they are not being punished for it because yes, they are a S tier team, but also because it's not as important to scoop up those side waves. You guessed it, this also narrows the scope of the game and encourages one dimensional play. Yes absolutely team should be able to win games at the highest level purely off of mechanical prowess. But teams at the highest level should also be able to win games purely off of game knowledge and map positioning/control/macro. TSM vs C9 games used to be super fun to watch during their rivalry years because you'd have Bjergsen on one side hard carry through mechanical outplay, then you'd have a world class shot caller in Hai running you around the map on the other side. And they traded a lot of games back and forth essentially being the 1 and 2 teams in the region with completely different philosophies. THAT is balance and dynamism.
8. Take a little of the bonus gold off of tower first blood, but increase the global gold of towers in general slightly
This would make the game less about who strikes first, and more about who plays consistently well and maintains a cool head throughout the game. Sure teams with lots of veteran players might get a leg up on this one, but probably not big enough to derail most of the younger, more aggressive players.
This works because it doesn't inherently mess up the snowball if a team really is snowballing. If you are running the enemy around the map pressuring towers and snowballing successfully, you won't even notice the difference. If you just made one good play in the early game which resulted in 3 kills plus tower first blood, but then dropped the ball, the other team will get a noticeable window back into the game if they are playing CONSISTENTLY clean.
Encourages intelligent map play as a viable option/alternative to heavy fighting (more options=more interesting across many games a season). Revives the 1-3-1 as a core strategy that a team can run not just as a hail mary or intermittently, but all game long. And if running the other team around the map collecting towers is a viable strat, you might see some team comps prioritize early mountain/cloud drakes, not just Ocean/Infernal.
If you read through this all, thanks for sticking with it. Hope to get some feedback here!