Season 12: Will LoL Get Even More Casual?

Preseason 2022 Header
League of Legends will become even more casual. | © Riot Games

League of Legends. You've been around for 11 years now, and we're already approaching the 12th year. I think I speak for many when I say that the game has built a true love-hate relationship. Riot posted a thread about the 2022 preseason. Here, I was able to pull the first info on Season 12. One point bothers me enormously – the "bounties". How does Riot Games manage to make my beloved LoL even more casual? It's slowly dying for me!

Some of the changes are really cool and make the game attractive to an even broader audience. It's nothing new that every new season brings changes that make a lasting difference to the game. And of course, I know that Season 12 is no exception. Some time ago, it was the Elemental Rifts, last year the Mythic Items and this year? Even more Mythic Items, probably many more jungle and quality of life changes, like challenges and progression crystals... And bounties... Yes, the bounties. Let's talk about those.

Season 12: Is LoL Getting Even More casual?

If there's one thing I really don't need in the game anymore, it's catch-up mechanics. I feel like there are more of them than there are towers on the map. Call me salty or selfish. We can discuss this on Facebook if you like. But for me, the League of Legends of today is nothing compared to the LoL of Season 3, 4 or 5.

Victorious J4
Victorious J4 - the first ever Victorious Skin for Gold in Season 1. | © Riot Games

At this point, perhaps a small introduction. I'm the proud owner of the Victorious J4 Skin, so I've been playing since Season 1. League quickly became part of my life, and my competitive mindset made me train instead of "just" play. My prime time was actually in the first seasons – not least due to time constraints. In Season 3 and 4 I was Diamond 1 on two accounts with 65 LP+, and had several peaks to Challenger. From Season 5 onwards, I have consistently been in the top 1% of the world. Hence, I would say that I kinda know what I'm talking about.

I don't want this to sound like a "EvERyThInG wAs BeTTeR iN ThE PAsT" in any way. I want to try to explain my thoughts to you because this is a subject that is really close to my heart. Since I don't know exactly how many of you have played Season 3 or 4, here's a quick summary.

  • Back then, jungle already was the strongest position in Solo Queue.
  • You hit level 3 after both buffs
  • One could individualize yourself much more via "rune pages".
  • There was NO catch-up mechanism.

The Puppy License for Veterans

Of course, it's good when a game and its community evolve, and many things have become much, MUCH better compared to the past. But one particular thing has bothered me since its introduction: the catch-up mechanics. LoL back then was a lot simpler and the average player was, of course, much worse. That makes sense, somehow – the game was still young.

But the thing is: Back in the days, every decision you made was really important. If you made a mistake – that is, if you played worse than your opponents, you were punished for it. Sounds plausible and logical, doesn't it? And it is. It was really, really important not to make mistakes and play perfectly. Someone who regularly made macro or micro mistakes didn't get anywhere. Because that implies that he or she was usually worse than his or her opponents.

Now, we have bounties. If a player is better than the others and has a good game, a bounty is put on his head. The next 1 or 2 kills on him then give a good portion of extra gold. In my opinion, such a system feels a bit like puppy license. Someone who makes mistakes should not feel it too hard, or get the feeling that he is worse than his opponent. I mean: Hey, what's the big deal of looking for the fight at level 1 as Sylas with TP, when Irelia has stacked the passive and is just waiting to score the earliest first blood in the history of all first bloods with Q and Ignite (irony off).

I'm not the only one who thinks so, by the way. Coincidentally, Wickd, ex-pro of CLG EU, has commented on the issue on Twitter as I write this column. A heated discussion has since flared up in the thread. I have the most important statements for you here.

Not only do Riot set the skill cap lower, the individual player who is desperate to win has a much harder time than the individual who is trolling and wants to lose.

When even pros, ex-pros and well-known figures like MonteCristo are critical of the current state of LoL, it only reinforces my fears.

Catch-up Mechanics Ruin LoL

So this puppy license... Technically, I understand where they're coming from. But this puppy license never goes away - not even in pro play.

If someone decides, after 8 minutes, to concentrate and take the game seriously, they should have the chance to come back, right? But should the one who has done exactly that the whole time since the first second and didn't stand in base until the first wave arrived have a similar right and be rewarded for it?

Besides the bounties, there are more catch up mechanics. If you are underleveled as a jungler, you simply get more exp up to a certain point. Just like that... so if you've been playing really good, you're level 5 and the enemy Fiddle tried to fight your Xin at the top side scuttle, you'll still become level 6 almost at the same time.

I am really critical of these systems. Often it feels as if the person who has NOT made a mistake is getting punished for it. And now to the crux of Preseason 2022. In Season 12, the system of "bounties" is to be expanded even further. Riot has announced that teams that are behind will not only get bounties on opposing champions, but also "tasks".

These tasks will act as a kind of quest. For example, if you had a bad early game, you will probably get a quest like:

  • "Destroy a tower in the next 4 minutes and get X."
  • "Defeat the next dragon to get X."

These quests are now purely hypothetical. Unfortunately, more details are not yet known, neither about the quest contents, nor about the rewards. But the fact is. They will add ANOTHER catch-up mechanic to the game with Season 12. Balancing for solo queue is one thing, but pro play!? What the hell, Riot? Isn't it enough to balance this huge champion pool and all the new Mythic Items that are supposed to be coming? A new system that can have a big impact on gameplay is just the thing – with a 2-week patch cycle...

Riot wanted faster games that last a maximum of 25-30 minutes. But at the same time, they want to prevent the worse team from noticing the difference in skill too much and having opportunities to delay their loss until the 41st minute. That's a paradox, don't you think?

For me, the League of Legends of today is already pretty casual. And I fear that Riot will kill the game for me with Season 12. I've been hoping for a long time that everything would move in a different direction, but with the first info on the preseason, I fear for the worst. We still have to wait and see how much impact the new quest bounties will have, but the fact that Riot actually wants to implement them makes me think about quitting for good...

With this in mind...

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