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Riot's plan to ensure relegated LCS teams "don't just disappear from the business"

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Riot's plan to ensure relegated LCS teams "don't just disappear from the business"

This year’s North American LCS playoffs have been tumultuous and surprising. Teams like Curse and CLG had built strong new rosters for the 2014 season, and made commendable efforts to recapture old glories. But that wasn’t enough to keep some of the scene’s favourite personalities from dropping out of the Championship early.

Their relegations have made an old question more pertinent than ever. Deep prize pools may make the headlines in eSports - but how do Riot plan to support the also-rans?

“We want to build an ecosystem where teams who make it into LCS are ready," said Riot head of EU eSports Jason Yeh. “And when teams get relegated out of LCS they don’t just disappear from the business."

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Riot on bringing back Featured Gameplay Modes: "No mode is off the table"

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Riot on bringing back Featured Gameplay Modes: "No mode is off the table"

Riot spend most of their time chiseling away at a five-year-old sculpture. Featured Gameplay Modes are their chance to just hack at a piece of rock and see what emerges. First implemented last year, the system has seen extreme and absurd variations on League of Legends introduced to the game for short stretches.

It’s worked rather well: in fact, Riot might yet succumb to players clamouring for the return of their favourites.

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Drink of champions: League of Legends spotted on Coca-Cola bottles

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Drink of champions: League of Legends spotted on Coca-Cola bottles

Coke bottles in the UK are currently emblazoned with a random name picked from a hat, on the off-chance that somebody in your party might be named Wesley. But in Korea they’re more colourful.

Riot Games president Marc Merrill this weekend revealed a range of Coke bottles plastered with some of League of Legends’ champions ahead of this year’s World Championships.

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League of Legends' Gnar is always angry in its Champion Spotlight

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League of Legends' Gnar is always angry in its Champion Spotlight

League of Legends’ Gnar may be a smaller little critter, but don’t let appearances fool you. Once he’s angry enough he’ll hulk up into a monstrous creature, with hobbies that include smashing his opponents with his mega-sized fists and throwing boulders (sometimes houses) into his enemies face.

Riot’s champion spotlight have given us the scoop on what Gnar exactly does and how best to play him. If you’re at all curious how this deceivingly cute champion can cause death and destruction to your foes, it’s worth a watch.

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League of Legends patch 4.13 will improve match loading speeds by 10-30%

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League of Legends patch 4.13 will improve match loading speeds by 10-30%

While Valve take a moment to roll about in the success of the 2014 Dota 2 International, Riot Games are feverishly chopping and changing ahead of the League of Legends World Championships. Patch 4.13 cuts wide, not deep: its remit is absolutely everything.

“We’re ramping up our efforts to promote more diversity in competitive play," write the developers. “Boy are you going to hear this a lot." 

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Yordle-ay-ee-oooo: meet League of Legends' pointy-eared new arrival, Gnar

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Yordle-ay-ee-oooo: meet League of Legends' pointy-eared new arrival, Gnar

The sheer size of League of Legends’ roster means Riot Games can make champions for all types. Gnar is a player character for fans of the noise you make when liquid inexplicably travels the ‘wrong way’ down your throat, despite a lifetime of practice.

From what we can tell, he sports big claws, tusks, red eyes, and a vague resemblance to Hollywood’s Gremlins.

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Chat restrictions increase win rates for a "large number" of League of Legends players

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Chat restrictions increase win rates for a "large number" of League of Legends players

Riot Games have loud ways of dealing with the very worst players in one of the best free PC games around, League of Legends - like the tribunal, and the head-on-a-spike reports that follow their rulings.

But one of the quieter tools in their arsenal is the temporary chat ban. Not only does it dissuade players from bad behaviour, say Riot, but it actually tends to improve their performance in the lanes.

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League of Legends patch 4.12 sees Riot prep for Championships with tweaks to Ahri and Alistar

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League of Legends patch 4.12 sees Riot prep for Championships with tweaks to Ahri and Alistar

The last few patches before the League of Legends World Championships are like the final steps before the high jump. Riot Games need to plant their feet just right, or risk bringing the game’s careful balance crashing down.

Patch 4.12 sees the developers shift their weight just slightly to finish off “almost there" champions like Alistar and Ahri, while making more dramatic moves to fix characters who are “skewing champion select in one way or another".

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Riot Games plan to increase number of teams in 2015 League of Legends Championship Series

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Riot Games plan to increase number of teams in 2015 League of Legends Championship Series

Expect ten, not eight, teams in the North American and European LCS playoffs next year. While Riot “can’t promise it’ll happen", they’ve outlined a number of reasons why they’d prefer that setup. They want abolished Super Weeks, a consistent schedule, shortened splits, longer, more exciting playoffs - and more diversity in the players and teams we see filter through to LoL’s top competitive layer.

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Away with the clouds: League of Legends to ditch Adobe Air for its new pre-game client

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Away with the clouds: League of Legends to ditch Adobe Air for its new pre-game client

At any one time, nearly every part of League of Legends is being sized up for a revamp. Urgot is just the latest of many champions to get a new lick of paint, and the Summoner’s Rift is headed for the biggest update in its existence. But as everything changes around it, the game’s client has aged noticeably - creaking under the weight of every new character.

No longer. Riot are busy laying the foundations for a new client, built on brand new tech.

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Riot talk their next major League of Legends champion rework: Urgot, the Headsman's Pride

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Riot talk their next major League of Legends champion rework: Urgot, the Headsman's Pride

Undead executioner Urgot seems like he’s already feeling the effects of one rework too many. A rolling mass of patchworked grey skin and steel grafts, he looks every bit the zombie nazi commander on his third trip back from the other side.

But Riot have plans to tweak the Headsman’s Pride one more time, to address some “substantial game health issues" and make Urgot one of the more accessible League of Legends champions for beginners.

To quote LoL lore: “We can rebuild him. We have the techmaturgy."

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Riot are testing a new tutorial mode for League of Legends: "We think we can do a better job"

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Riot are testing a new tutorial mode for League of Legends: "We think we can do a better job"

League of Legends is one of the 100 best free PC games - but that hardly matters to the significant minority who don’t have the time or crampons to climb its steep learning curve. Riot Games say a “non-trivial" proportion of new players actually lose the game’s de facto tutorial mode, Battle Training.

“We’ve observed some of those same players go on to become Gold-tier ranked players," say the developers. “So this isn’t a problem with the players - it’s a problem with how we teach them."

Hence, Intro Bots - a brand new tutorial mode designed to scale to your level of MOBA experience.

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League of Legends patch 4.11 aims to bring equality to the jungle

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League of Legends patch 4.11 aims to bring equality to the jungle

Everybody knows that you can never truly balance the jungle, because it’s full of cheetahs. But puns aren’t going to stop Riot Games from trying.

In League of Legends’ 2014 season, they’ve noticed that popular damage-dealers like Lee Sin, Pantheon and Kha’Zix have knocked more supportive, tanky junglers “right out of the park". And they mean to bring an end to that.

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Riot temporarily shut down public chat rooms for League of Legends; "They just don't work"

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Riot temporarily shut down public chat rooms for League of Legends; "They just don't work"

Riot Games have decided to close their official public chat rooms. They say the space now belongs to the worst element of the League of Legends community: RP sellers, scammers, and Elo-boost spammers.

In its place, they’re planning a redesigned ‘hangout’ system for specialised in-game communities: mentoring groups, champion theory-crafting channels, casual ARAM collectives and the like.

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10 Ways We'd Fix the League of Legends Client

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10 Ways We'd Fix the League of Legends Client

We've been playing League of Legends for almost 5 years now. Champions have been completely reworked and expanded upon. Items have been overhauled and ressurected. New game modes swarm us every few months now.

But one thing that hasn't really changed much is the client. That clunky ol' chunk of UI that keeps us entertained before we launch into a match. Many third-party developers have tried building addons and supplements to get more out of the screen real estate, and it's got us thinking about what we want to see added or changed in the League of Legends client.

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Here are the many changes Riot have planned for League of Legends' Summoner's Rift

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Here are the many changes Riot have planned for League of Legends' Summoner's Rift

The Summoner’s Rift sees most of what goes on in the lanes in League of Legends. So how does one go about updating such a crucial map? Subtly, but decisively, it turns out.

“We want Summoner’s Rift to be the place we play together for years to come," say Riot. “For this update, we’ve chosen a handcrafted art style that we think will grow and evolve over time, just like the rest of the game."

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League of Legends' Primetime Draven wants to axe you a question

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League of Legends' Primetime Draven wants to axe you a question

Draven is fast becoming League of Legends’ Deadpool: a charmingly self-centered champion less likely to uphold the fourth wall than tip it on its side and use it as a coffee table. About a month ago, the LoL community went wild for voiceover lines leaked from a new commentator-ribbing Draven skin. This weekend, Primetime Draven went live.

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There will never be a League of Legends 2; "I want my great grandchildren playing LoL"

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There will never be a League of Legends 2; "I want my great grandchildren playing LoL"

League of Legends was released in 2009 - the year of Mirror’s Edge and Braid on the PC.

But its genre-defining style doesn’t date, and Riot Games have refused to let it age, applying rolling updates to its graphics and 100+ roster of champions.

The developers consider that a process with no end - they’ll continue to update LoL forever rather than build a sequel.

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