12 Games of Christmas: League of Legends

Looking back over 2012, 2013 will hold great things for LoL.


League of Legends has come a long way in just a year. Riot's little bundle has shot up in popularity especially during the boost Penny Arcade gave them back in 2011, and cruising the wave has done well for them. And I don't just mean becoming the biggest online game in the world – they've gotten their champion kits tighter. Each update has gone over better they've listened to player complaints and their server issues (like the horrible week-long outage from days far gone) have almost vanished. Memory lane, let me walk along you.

Remakes and reworks were the word of 2012 – Sivir was just settling into her new AD carry friendly kit, and as of January, Jax got his rework with the removal of Dodge. Soon after, Shen (who had fallen very far behind) was reworked too, and has sat at the ban list ever since. In July, after almost a year of uselessness, Twitch and Evelynn finally got the reworks that had been so sorely needed. Eve became a nightmare almost a month later after the combination of Deathfire and her ultimate made her the scariest roamer in the game. And Xin Zhao's remake came with it, fudging all of his abilities so he could actually do his job of being an odd assassin/bursty/sustaining melee champ.

Garen and Katarina came next, giving Garen the ability to do the job he was originally made to do (ie, tanky lane bully), and Katarina more options in combat that weren't “use ult, receive penta.” With the overhaul came a visual rework for the Noxian assassin, removing her awkward arm models and the odd spikes sticking out everywhere.

Ashe and Twisted Fate were visually upgraded as well, giving Ashe better animations and textures, and giving Twisted Fate the newest Korean dance sensation. And, of course, let's not forget that he has a special interaction with his old buddy Malcom.


You can't mention visual reworks in 2012 without mentioning Summoner's Rift. With the addition of more foliage, higher textured trees, the new shopkeeper, better water, and just more things to look at, the Rift never looked better. And, with it, came the upgraded jungle monsters, with new animations like roars and attacks. But possibly best of all is that it wasn't only an upgrade – it allowed the game to run smoother on lower-power computers.

High demand for item rebalances brought us a rework and an upgraded version of a forgotten item – the Hexdrinker. Aimed at making an AD item to fight casters, it gave them an answer. Now an assassin or bruiser going mid lane versus a burst caster has a much stronger fighting chance, and better yet, it even had an upgrade. The Maw allowed counter building, and synced up well with high-HP builds.

Twisted Treeline, the 3v3 mode even Riot has said it was not happy with, returned at last with a complete overhaul. It's still in beta, but Riot has tried to curve everything about the mode into an actual 3v3 mode they could be proud of, with curving secondary objectives like the jungle into captured points that increase gold gain and passive stats. Gone are the days of two lanes, a giant dragon, and a neutral buff two sides get to play tug-of-war over, because it wasn't balanced. And, additionally included, was the new Shadow Isles bundle of lore that still is keeping players guessing and theorizing.

Spectator Mode finally landed as well, and while I'm still resting fist-in-chin, expectantly wondering where the heck replays are, spectating was a great addition to the game. No longer do I have to just wait for a friend to come back from a lunch break between games to avoid entering a game I'm going to be stuck in for around half an hour, now I can just spectate one of my other friends. And it's not just spectating as a time waster. Now I can spectate people a higher elo than I, observe their strategies, build order, how they play, what calls they make. Through observation, I can learn more about the game, and Riot has put up games to always be spectated in case you see someone you recognize, like pro players.

League of Legends has a reputation for its notoriously awful player base. Riot has been in the push for fixing this for some time, but they didn't approach it just from the angle of “ban everyone who's a jerk.” Instead, they tried to give incentive to not act like that. And thus, the Honor Initiative was born. If you liked someone or thought they were nice despite how badly you lost, how a player disconnected, or the like, you have a button that can do just that. And it worked – reports dropped immensely.

And, of course, I can't speak about Season 2's end without mentioning the new Season 3 patch, which has dug out most of the game and tried to reassemble it in a more useful, more fun way. More items are viable – over strong or useless items have been removed. Items that were sorely needed have been added. There was a solid two weeks where Black Cleaver was the strongest weapon in the game, and it caused massive amounts of abuse. And, amid all this imbalance and rockiness, there is a lot of potential for being a tighter, polished, more even game than we've had yet.

And things can only get better from here. Season 3 balance is getting more polished. Several teams are coming out of the ranked queue woodwork into the championship series, and the tournaments like IEM Cologne and IPL 5 have been fantastic. 2013 will bring League players great things.

11 Laden Hulks

10 Lords a Leaping (over a tall building in a single bound)

9 EQ2 Expansions

8 Maids a Milking

7 AD Carries

6 Emo Sha

5 Gold Rings (and one to rule them all...)

4 Character Paths

3 Warring Factions

2 Angry Charr

And UO in a Pear Tree


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