Master of clickbait titles here.
Even since Riot released the map of Runeterra, one question has been bothering me. What kind of map projection did Riot use?
You see, a rectangular map doesn't look the same on a sphere. Thats because you can't wrap a ractangle around a sphere without leaving extra space on the ractangle. Luckily for us, this problem has been solved a long time ago by cartographers: projections.
Now lets assume that Runeterra is also a sphere (oblate spheroid) just like Earth. That would mean that projections would also work with it.
One of the most common types of rectangular projections used is called Gall-Peters projection and it looks something like this:
Its main upside is the fact that it preserves relative sizes. Greenland and Africa here have a ratio of about 1:14 which is their actual ratio. But as you can see this projection does a poor job of preserving shape. As you go further North and South, things become squished, while stuff near the Equator is elongated.
Now, if the map of Runeterra is a Gall-Peters projection then that would mean that Freljord, Northern Ionia and the Northen Continent are squished as well. That would also mean that Shurima is narrower than we think it is.
But that wouldn't make much sence, since most of the coastline and mountain ranges seem to be undistorted. Gall-Peters only preserves the shape of the planet between 30-60 latitudes.
Here's where it gets really juicy. There's another popular projection type called Mercator projection and it looks as follows:
As you can see, Mercator doesn't care much about relative sizes but preserves relative shapes instead. Nothing is distorted and all the straight lines on this map would be straight lines on a sphere.
Now, I want you to take a look at the gigantic southern continent right there? Pretty huge, right?
Take a look at this:
That giant thing is actually only the 5th largest continent on Earth.
This looks familiar. Only the Mercator would show you something this enormous in the North or in the South. That leads me to believe that Riot is indeed using the Mercator projection.
But I'm not done here. Sure, I can determine the type of projection Riot is using, but can I demonstrate what it would look like on a sphere? (yes)
The first thing I need to do is to un-Mercator the projection. Sounds easy enough.
In a video Riot released along with the map just for a moment they showed us climate zones and ocean currents, as we-e-ell as most needed latitude lines. I marked only the ones I needed (Equator, 30 and 60 degrees).
Now, the Mercator projection usually has a longer distance between Equator and 30 than between 30 and 60, but since Riot didn't really had that difference I decided not to add it as well (consequenses!!!). But the length of 60-90 must be squished in order to un-Mercator the projection, like this.
Before we smack this bad boy on a sphere consider the fact that Riot mentioned the map shows approximately only the 6th of the surface, so I scaled it accordingly. The moment we've all being waiting for:
View from the top:
AND this is how it would look like if I didn't un-Mercator the map:
Hopefully, you enjoyed the post as much as I enjoyed my suffering and pain while trying to squish and resize the map and then try to fit it on a sphere.
TL:DR: Map not right shape, me make shape right, make shape on another shape make map look like world.