Why League of Legends Needs Runes and Masteries

by Matt Best

Project Katarina
(Photo: League of Legends)

In an effort to connect with the community more, Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street created a tumblr account called "The Cave of 10,000 Crabs". Ghostcrawler is the design director for League of Legends and has been fielding questions from fans about the game. The latest edition has turned a few heads. 

Why does League need a pre-game system (ie runes, masteries)?

"Because it creates interesting decisions that are (in an ideal sense) engaging for players."

"Adapting to what is going on in the game is a really important skill and we don’t want to diminish that. You make choices about what item to buy, what lane to gank, what objectives to take based on information you’re gathering from the game state and filtered through your experience and intuition and maybe a little bit of luck."

"But not every interesting decision needs to be about adaptation or responding in the moment. The pregame system is more about what kind of character you want to make. It’s about experimentation and thought experiments. If you ignore the current implementation of runes and masteries (which we agree aren’t meeting the goal), then you can imagine how it is fun for players to sit around on their drive home or in a boring meeting thinking about a different way to play a particular champion."

But couldn't it be said that items do the same thing? You can build items with cooldown reduction. If you want to tinker around and see how much CDR you can get, build items like Morellonomicon, Abyssal Scepter, or the Black Cleaver. If you want increased armor, build armor focused items. It goes on with other aspects of the game. 

However, Ghostcrawler brings up an excellent point and talks about how masteries/runes, as well as items, go hand-in-hand. 

"Think about a racing game. Whether to try and overtake the opponent is the equivalent of League’s item choices, and in-game strategy and tactics. What kind of wheels you want to put on the car is a different kind of strategy that you ponder before the race even begins."

It makes sense. You put on the wheels before the race. You have a strategy as to how you want to use them. It's the same with League. You prime yourself before the game but if things change, you need to be able to adapt and that's exactly what the item shop is for.

What do you think? Does League of Legends need items and masteries? Let us know over at @WWG_Esports!

By Matt Best

Matt Best is the Lead On Air Host and Producer for WWG. He has spent his professional career submerged in both the traditional sports world as well as esports. As one of the only Canadians at WWG, if you want to tilt Matt, just bring up awful Canadian stereotypes.