A Closer Look at Who's Behind League of Legends' Patches and Gameplay Changes

by Matt Best

Camille 0
(Photo: League of Legends)

Riot Games, the folks behind League of Legends, don't mess around when it comes to patch notes or gameplay improvement for that matter. The raw patch notes are usually 20+ pages of statistics, information, and a ton of other stuff. Trust us, it's a lot to process.

A lot of hard work goes into making the game better for players. In fact, there are eight different teams that work on balance-impacting certain changes go through depending on what the change influences. There are also a couple sub groups that take a look at designing things as well as acting as leaders. Let's take a closer look at those teams as per Riot Games.

Design Craft:

Analytical ability and problem-solving

  • Being able to assess a situation or element, break down what’s created it, propose different approaches that could be taken and their likely effects, etc.

Creativity and thematic ability

  • Understanding what themes resonate with players and fit the LoL IP. Finding new ways to put a spin on broad archetypes. Recognizing the right matches for thematics and particular gameplay mechanics that are intuitive rather than forced

Useability/accessibility and feel

  • Making player interactions with the game (using an ability, navigating the shop, natural

Communication and Leadership:

Vision building

  • Ability to get others bought on and excited about an approach

Mentoring

  • Helping others grow, learn new skills

Written and verbal communication

  • Concise, able to generate excitement, clear, right method for the circumstances and so on
  • Ability to communicate well with other disciplines (this one is particularly important; e.g. forging strong relationships between art and game design).

Management

  • Managing others (performance, etc.) professionally

Other Stuff:

Technical skills

  • Scripting abilities, statistical analysis, writing code, etc.

Organizational skills and reliability

  • Being able to juggle multiple projects, deliver work on time, solve resourcing conflicts, etc.

The other teams are as follows:

Live Gameplay:

  • The team responsible for quick changes to the game. Tends to be focused primarily on game health and balance
  • Values understanding of the current and past states of the game very highly
  • In ranked: Gold through to Diamond, average high Plat/low Diamond

Game Systems:

  • Systems focuses primarily on long-term work, working on the foundational rules that LoL runs by. Stuff like map layout, how runes/masteries work, how XP/gold are generated, etc.
  • Systems works in more conceptual/abstract spaces on average than the other teams. Design principles and theoretical analysis are especially important here
  • Bronze up to Gold

Playtest:

  • A team whose primarily responsibility is to test upcoming changes throughout the day and offer feedback and analysis on them
  • This is where ability to play at a really high level is particularly important in order to validate in-game how things will play out in really high level play.
  • Mid-Diamond upwards, with some former Pro players (LCS). Some players who move in and out of Challenger occasionally

Champion:

  • Champion team makes new champions.
  • Thematic understanding, feel/useability tend to be particularly important here, along with game health understanding (strengths/weaknesses of kits in particular).
  • Pretty even spread from Silver up to Diamond

Champ Up:

  • Updates old champions, whether full VGUs, like Warwick recently, or class updates like the assassins
  • Similar set of skills to Champion, though with a heavier focus on game health
  • Silver up to Diamond, clustering in Plat

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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.