When we look back at season 8 a few years from now, it’s very likely that we’ll remember it as a season of changes that didn’t go as planned. For every big change Riot makes, the next five or so patches are all centered around trying to correct the mistakes that were made. This is due in no small part to one of Riot’s more daring experiments: the big patch small patch cycle.
At the beginning of 2018, Riot explained that it would be pushing forward on League by giving players a cycle of one big patch, that would redefine a certain aspect of the game, and one small patch that would attempt fixes for those big changes. The problem was that the big changes were often too big to be fixed with one small patch and instead of getting handled on the patch after, another big change was barreling toward the game thanks to long development time on those kind of game-altering patches. Rather than the rapid response that fans had come to expect from Riot, it could take months for smaller issues to be resolved, and some of the more problematic big systems themselves have sat for months without being touched. This led to a season that has felt a lot like Riot didn’t quite hear its fans.
While the example freshest in most players minds are the marksmen changes and Riot’s slow response to them, it’s not the only one. It appears that the latest example of this is a planned fix for certain mages that should be coming in patch 8.14, a full five patches after the initial mage changes back in 8.9. These changes are going to focus champions like Syndra, Annie, Vel’Koz, Ahri, Viktor and Orianna, who have essentially been left behind in the new, more prohibitive, meta that this season’s mage changes created.
While it has often felt like complaints were falling on deaf ears this season, it’s clear that Riot has heard these cries, or maybe noticed the issue on their own. In his Quick Gameplay Thoughts post for June 22, lead gameplay designer Andrei “Meddler” van Roon announced that Riot is putting an end to the big patch small patch cycle.
“As mentioned recently we’re looking to reduce the amount of change over the rest of the year though, focusing on follow up to midseason, polish and balance instead,” van Roon said in the post.
While it is still likely to take some time for all of this season’s strangeness to get worked out and for all of the smaller issues to be corrected, Riot is finally back on a patch that will allow them more flexibility in their adjustments to the game, as well as more leeway to react to the community. Van Roon doesn’t mention whether or not Riot will ever go back to the big patch small patch cycle, but for now, let’s hope it’s gone for good.