This year’s League of Legends preseason comes with more changes than any in the past few years. This time around Riot is changing parts of Summoner’s Rift itself rather than just tweaking balance and systems.
The biggest modifications this preseason come from the new Elemental Rifts. This feature creates large-scale, map-wide changes based on the third Elemental Drake that spawns. Speaking of drake spawns, those have changed as well. The drakes also got a few balance changes to their buffs.
On top of those changes, there is also a new permanent brush on Summoner’s Rift on the river entrance near each team’s blue buff. There’s also now a small alcove on top and bottom lanes that should give players more room for outplays.
For a look at all the changes coming with the preseason you can check out the full patch notes for League of Legends patch 9.23.
Drakes are very different
Previously, drake spawns were all random. However, in the new season the first three drakes will be random, but after the third drake, every subsequent one will be the same element. The entire map will also take on the element of that drake, changing the layout of the map slightly. These changes always occur at the dragon pit and around the four buffs in the jungle. They include things like making more terrain, or destroying some, creating new brushes for players to stand in, or a speed boost for everyone in a certain area.
If one team kills four drakes, they get a Dragon Soul. This provides a special buff depending on the element you collect and spawns the Elder Dragon. The Elder Dragon isn’t the same as it was before either.
Elder Dragon is much scarier
The Elder Dragon no longer boosts the elemental effects you have. Instead it gives you a new buff called Execute. This buff means that any time you damage an enemy who has under 20 percent health, they’ll be executed. That means if the other team has Elder Dragon, you now have about 20 percent less health. Elder Dragon is much harder to get now, but if a team does get it, they’re probably going to win the game.
Top lane is becoming more relevant
Riot wants top lane to matter more, so its making a few changes to that side of the map as part of the preseason. The main way Riot is attempting to make top lane more relevant is with changes to the Rift Herald (not this website). Rather than only spawning once, the Herald can now spawn a second time with a six minute respawn timer. Since drakes are even more important now, the idea is that this should give teams a useful early game objective in the top lane, so they don’t abandon the lane completely.
New support items will give supports more breathing room
Riot is refreshing the selection of items available to supports so that they can be a little stronger, but won’t be stolen by solo laners. Support items will now automatically upgrade as you complete their quests. That means you won’t have to buy upgrades anymore, which should give supports a lot more gold to work with. The new items include a new AD version of Spellthief’s Edge called Spectral Sickle, and a new AD version of Relic Shield called, Steel Shoulderguards.
To stop solo laners from poaching these items, they’ll now punish you if you kill minions too much. If you take 20 CS per five minutes you’ll now get 50 percent less gold from each minion, so there’s no way you’ll want one of these if you’re alone in a lane.
Junglers will need to focus on farming a little more
It seems that Riot isn’t happy with how fast the jungle has gotten recently. Instead of being able to fit jungle clearing in between ganks, Riot is changing the jungle so junglers will have to prioritize farming a little bit more now. Ganking will be a bit more of a commitment, and clearing the jungle will probably be your first priority if you want to keep ahead of your opponent. As part of this, jungle camps will now spawn faster, but grant slightly less gold. There’s also no longer an XP catch up mechanic on the jungle items so you’ll have to be extra careful not to fall behind.