How Will the Preseason Change League of Legends?
The specific changes coming in the season four League of Legends preseason are outlined rather clearly in the video Riot has released. They do not give specific information on most of the items that will be changing or new to the game, but they explain what the purpose of those items will be and the intended effect. Some of their changes will almost certainly work, but what won't?
The changes to the jungle are most likely going to be some of the more subtle changes coming, but just as likely will have as major an effect as any of the others. Ironically, the most obvious change will also be the most subtle in how it affects gameplay for non-junglers.
The addition of a new jungle camp will go largely unnoticed by non-junglers but for one major difference: it will keep the jungler on the blue side of their jungle more often. This will make it slightly more dangerous to try and steal blue buff, for one thing, and in lower-ranking play will have a significantly more noticeable effect. Specifically, many of the ganks in lower-ranking play happen based upon where in the jungle the jungler just happens to be when they decide to gank, and they will be more likely to be on their blue side when such happens.
Perhaps the biggest change will be the increased amount of gold junglers will have access to. This will simultaneously make many junglers significantly more dangerous late-game while making farm-dependent champions viable in the jungle again. Champions like Master Yi and Tryndamere might very well be plausible again while champions like Nocturne will become more useful even after the laning phase is over.
Let's all face it, sometimes it really sucks playing support. It is one of my most-played roles in ranked from season three, and as much fun as it can be it tends to be horribly unfun when you get paired with an appropriately terrible marksman. Many of the changes to season four are focused on improving the general quality of life for supports, and most of them might actually work.
For starters, increasing the gold supports get while applying a maximum possible number of active wards for each champion will drastically increase the likelihood of a support getting a decent item build.
Riot placing more focus on the utility of support champions also helps to more clearly define the role. Increasing slows and such as they get built rather than damage allows the role to function as more than an off-tank aura-monger.
The increased gold for supports will also make certain champions much more viable in the role than they were in season three the same way it will for the jungle. There are a lot of champions with support potential who just need more gold later on than they can get in the role. Amumu, Nautilus, or even champions like Jarvan IV could all potentially become viable in the support role with greater itemization potential.
Wards and Trinkets
This is the most hit and miss change coming. On the positive side of things, trinkets add a new mechanic to map vision and a new way to counter certain champions' traps. Being able to bring a free ward to lane regardless of build could also enable supports to start out in new ways while also making it more difficult for junglers to gank lanes at early levels. It also gives those junglers a possible tool to clear those free wards without having to buy an oracles, making it a two-way street in which many of those free wards essentially become a one-time warning.
On the other hand, removing oracles and limiting the number of wards a given player can control also means it becomes impossible for one player to keep his or her team map-aware without help. This has the potential to make games with players who simply do not understand the concept of map awareness or warding even more frustrating than they were before. At least even in those games they will not be able to blame the support for the lack of wards.
The change in gold given by objectives will mostly make it more difficult for games to steamroll out of control. This makes it harder for single players to carry their entire team, but the gold division also makes it easier for those single players to get a huge lead on the enemy team. Champions who can truly carry will become harder to stop without giving the rest of their team as big of a boost. The changes to dragon are most likely to help prevent steamrolling by giving teams a better chance to even the odds if they are behind.
Overall the changes to League of Legends look to be mostly positive in the season four preseason, with the new trinkets and vision changes likely to have the most noticeable impact on the game itself. We'll look at specific item changes once they go live with the preseason.