Two nights ago Riot patched the League of Legends client to include the eagerly awaited 4.20 patch, which includes pre-season changes for 2015. On December the 6th, Intel Extreme Masters will land at the SAP Arena in San Jose and be the first major event to run with the brand-new patch.
What does it mean?
Good question! Not only are there a lot of balance changes and new features which will change competitive play, but teams also have just a little over two weeks to figure out exactly how to adapt to the 2015 pre-season patch and turn up ready to go out and fight for the title of Intel Extreme Masters San Jose champion.
IEM San Jose will therefore not only showcase the start of a new season’s meta but also test the ability of teams to quickly adapt to drastic changes. Competing in San Jose will be: Alliance and Unicorns of Love from Europe, Team SoloMid and Cloud 9 from North America, and paiN Gaming from Brazil. A sixth and final team will soon join them via the Latin America qualifiers.
What’s the big deal?
Riot said “Our big goal in 2015 is to encourage more strategic diversity”, and the jungle was the area hit with a mass of changes that will be sure to change how teams go about winning games.
The changes are numerous, and there are a couple of key points that we look forward to seeing in San Jose.
The Rift Scuttler
Finally there is life in the river! The Scuttler runs back and forth on both sides of the river until one team is able to kill it off. The team that kills it is granted vision of the area at Dragon or Baron for 75 seconds along with a speed boost when allies walk over it.
The big thing here is the free vision and extra ganking potential it offers. A free unkillable ward in the top and bottom sections of the map offer you incredible control over Dragon in the early game, and the speed boost will give extra potential for taking out an overextended top or bottom lane duo.
Tip for the new jungle, starting blue or red is rarely optimal. Smite Gromp or Krugs and then do your route #preseason
— Josh Leesman (@RiotJatt) November 21, 2014
Hunter’s Machete build paths
The Machete has been the staple starting item in the jungle since its addition to the game at the start of last season. Its build path was fairly limited this year, and Riot saw a need to add extra depth and style to the choices that follow it.
Each upgrade costs 350 gold on top of your Machete and has the same passive, offering extra damage on hit along with health and mana regeneration. So which do you choose?
- Poacher’s Knife: Smite’s cooldown is halved, you gain 20 gold and gain +175% movement speed over two seconds.
This is the perfect item for a speedy farming jungler. Want to get your Rengar or Nocturne to level 6 as fast as possible? Go this route.
- Ranger’s Trailblazer: Smite’s cooldown is reduced by 15 seconds, deals half damage to all monsters and minions near the target and stuns them for 1.5 seconds. You also get 15% of your health and mana back when you cast Smite.
An option for safer jungle clear. The health and mana return opens up the jungle to more mana-intensive champions with lower health pools, and the AOE damage and stun means you take less damage while farming.
- Skirmisher’s Sabre: Your Smite marks enemy champions for 6 seconds. When they’re marked, you deal an extra 18-69 true damage to them on hit, have vision and reduce their damage by 20%.
An aggressive jungler’s dream! The extra duelling potential means that if you have faith in your early game and want to go for an early kill in the jungle,you can. It also means that each time you visit lane, you are going to have more damage to get kills. But the heavy ganker’s choice should be:
- Stalker’s Blade: Your Smite deals 28-164 true damage to champions and reduces their movement speed by 50% for 2 seconds.
It will allow you to almost guarantee a flash on your first gank and maybe a first blood on your return. If you combine the 50% slow with an element of CC, it will increase your chances of picking up kills heavily while you help out teammates.
These items go even deeper and can be enchanted to offer a boost of attack speed, Health, AP or AD along with cooldown reduction.
So many changes!
It would take an age to go through everything that has changed, and no doubt a lot of these changes will also be tweaked in the lead up to the 2015 season: new elixirs, champion changes, item changes – the list goes on
Holy moly that’s a lot of changes… I don’t even know where to start… http://t.co/qq6JBows8L
— Alex Chu (@CurseXpecial) November 20, 2014
The exciting thing about Intel Extreme Masters San Jose is that we don’t really know how the teams will come into the patch form-wise and who the patch will suit. We’re sure there will be innovation and changes tactically by each of our six teams before and even during the event, something we just can’t wait to see!
Not only is the game changing…
If you are a regular Reddit reader, you will have seen the fuss about Alliance already leaving Europe to setup a boot camp in NA prior to the event so that they can get the most out of the two weeks available to them. The question is: who is with them as AD carry?
TSM was the only team outside finalists StarHorn Royal Club to take a single game off world champion Samsung White. They, too, have a question mark hanging above them after Amazing left the team
Cloud 9 are the only team of the big three in San Jose that have gone without changes. Will the new jungle help or hinder Meteos? We will find out on December the 6th
Unicorns of Love are a lesser-known team with certainly a lot less hype around them in the run-up to the event, but they just qualified for the European LCS and have the skills to pull off an upset.
paiN? The Latin America qualifiers? Massive underdogs that will face a tough challenge. However, the patch changes might just work in their favor if they can find the strongest combos and meta to run the big dogs off the stage…
See the 4.20 patch in action for the first time live – grab your tickets for Intel Extreme Masters San Jose here!
Image of Meteos courtesy of lolesports on Flickr.