Game Updates
Arena Returns

What to expect with Arena's return.

Game UpdatesAuthorRiot Maxw3ll
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Back to the Arena

Welcome back to the Arena! In patch 13.23, we’ll be returning to the Rings of Wrath for another bout of 2v2 battles. Today, I’d like to share the team’s thoughts and plans for the Arena game mode and what you’re going to see on PBE in early November before it goes to Live in early December!

Arena is going to PBE on November 8th (a patch earlier than originally planned, but one day after the initial deploy) in order to help us squash some bugs before the Live launch. So, if you’re planning on playing the mode on PBE just know you may run into some bugs and incomplete cameo skins that are still being worked on.

The Future of Arena

Before we get into the exciting stuff, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who played the initial launch of Arena (what we’ve taken to calling v1) on behalf of the entire team. Arena was the first new mode League has released in several years. It was also the very first mode that most of the people on the new Modes team (myself included) have shipped. Hearing all the excitement and seeing all the clips motivated us to get Arena back out to you as fast as possible with some player-requested improvements.

Going into the future, we want Arena to be something that improves over time. We could work on the mode behind the scenes for years trying to squeeze in every feature we want added, but the reality is that the game is very fun right now and a lot of you want to play it. So, for this and future releases of Arena, I want to ask you all to keep providing constructive feedback on what you like and what you don’t. I can’t promise we’ll address all of it (we definitely couldn’t get to everything we wanted to in this release), but I can promise that we’re reading your comments and that we want to make the best game we can for y'all.

Just to be clear, this release of Arena will only be live for a limited run before we need to take it down again. We’re still in the experimental phase, so we want to explore our options before we make a call on it being permanent.

So, with that out of the way, on to what you’ll be able to play shortly!

Addressing Player Feedback from the Arena Launch

From the first run of Arena, we focused on the following points of player feedback as things we wanted to address:

  1. Players wanted to play with more than just one friend
  2. Certain classes and champions felt over or underpowered relative to the rest of the roster
  3. The stage gameplay, including Cameos, were pretty hit-or-miss
    1. The Ranked system didn’t cover a lot of the needs of the player base

So, let’s go through these points and talk about what we’re doing to address them.

2+1 =?

Here comes the design innovation of the century. It turns out that the best way to address people wanting to play with more people is to… let them play with more people. Therefore we’ve increased the number of people who can queue together.

Groups of 2, 3, and 4 people can now queue together and choose who is on what team. We also allow a full group of 8 people to queue together, allowing them their own private match.

Except when queueing as 8 people, you will be placed into matchmaking as normal, meaning you will still gain and lose rating points. We explored having ranked and unranked queues, but in our experience on League and our other games, we’ve seen that splitting the queue often does more harm than good in enabling different ways of playing. Usually one queue gets far fewer players and both queues end up suffering as a result of the reduced population. It’s not something that’s off the table in the future, but for a brand new game mode we didn’t want to take that risk at this time.

Champion Diversity

One of the major player complaints about Arena v1 was that there wasn’t a lot of Champion diversity. Compared to Summoner's Rift there were fewer champs appearing in every lobby (good!), but there were a lot more champs who were almost never picked at all (not good). Therefore, we’ve focused on making Arena more accessible to a wider variety of champions.

First off, we’re making some significant changes to how Augments work in Arena. Players were generally happy with these wacky and chaotic additions, but there were a lot of similarities in the build paths for some classes. Players identified the Augments that were perfect for their champion and would roll for them exclusively. We’ve added 60 new Augments (including my favorite—a new set of three giving you Ability Haste on either your Q, W, or E), which should help make the Augment pool more diverse and interesting.

In the further interests of having diverse Augments show up, we’re introducing a limited number of each Augment. Specifically, rather than there being an unlimited number of each, all Augments are limited to two copies each. As Augments get picked, you’re much less likely to see the same Augment in future pick rounds. Our main goal here is to reward players that use the augments they’re offered which encourages experimentation and creativity as opposed to following a specific guide. Additionally, it should help disincentivize everyone stacking a specific class, as the Augments that are best for those classes will naturally disappear faster as the match goes on.

On the topic of Augment changes, you may notice we’ve modified our icons by adding core and frame visuals. We made this change to help players better understand Augment synergies and the two major benefits each Augment offers at a glance—after all, a picture is worth a thousand words. We also want to greatly expand the Augment pool over time. You may notice we removed only a few of the Augments from v1. As we continue to add more without removing, learning the icons for hundreds of Augments starts to become unreasonable. In order to keep the learning cost reasonable, we decided to go with categorizing them.

But Maxw3ll! How can I adjust my pick based on my opponents!? Excellent question, made up strawman. We’re changing up the structure in Champ Select a bit for this go around. Players will ban champions as normal at the beginning, but will pick champions in two phases. First, one player from each team will blind pick a champion. Then, those champions will be revealed, and the second player will get to blind pick a champion, but cannot pick any Champion that was picked in the first round. This should give each team a chance to make some counter picks while still keeping Champion select significantly quicker than on Summoner’s Rift. Let us know how this new draft phase feels once you get to try it out.

We also have a sizable balance update going out with this release. We can’t fit the whole list here (but there will be a complete list with the patch notes on release). We’re looking at making changes to a few classes to bring up their power via item system changes, and a slew of champion specific changes to bring up the under performers. Just a reminder that this run of Arena will be taking place while we’re out for the holidays, so we won't be able to make as many balance adjustments as we did the first with Arena’s initial launch.

Finally, Hexgates are making their debut in the Arena. These gates are intended to help the squishier classes that need to get and maintain distance like mages and enchanters. In order to help buy space, these gates go on a global cooldown when used, allowing for a quick escape. They are distributed on the stages in random locations, so you’ll have to be able to adjust your plans on the fly.

Stage Gameplay

Moving champion combat to an enclosed space had a lot of challenges that we really weren’t able to resolve in Arena v1. While I believe that we still have a fair bit to go, for this release we dug into some improvements and tweaks that should deepen the gameplay of the mode.

One of the roughest parts of Arena is being stuck in a 1v2 situation after your ally has gone down. In order to help combat this, we’re introducing what we’re calling the Downed State. Each player, when killed, will begin spawning a circular area where they died. After a set amount of time, their ally can stand in this area to revive them. Each team only gets one revive per round. This mechanic should result in fewer hopeless situations in the event a teammate gets immediately 100 to 0’d. We don’t expect revives to happen every round, but they should give teams a way to play around being at a deficit and lower the power of burst damage in the game.

Now for a more straightforward change. The center point of the ring of fire on each stage will be randomized between a few predetermined points each round. This should prevent turret based and control mage champions from setting up shop in the known end point of the round early, forcing them to adjust on the fly. It should also vary up players’ approaches in a game and favor those who can improvise when the ring starts coming in. In other random position news, we’ve also introduced a few random starting positions for each stage to further mix up how fights will play out. Let us know what you think of these changes as we’re happy to adjust for future releases.


Finally, let’s talk about Cameos. The first set of Soul Fighter champs had some standouts, but also several that quickly got old or were simply just not well received (looking at you Evelynn. I mean, not looking at you… well, you get it). Overall, we believe that having a random Cameo champion drop in adds much needed variety into Arena. That said, we are keeping a close eye on Cameos when it comes to how they’re involved in Arena long-term. In order to have Arena come back out sooner rather than later, we decided to keep the Cameo system and modify its contents rather than outright replace it with something else. To that end, we’ve added two new Cameo champs from the Winterblessed skinline, and kept the three most enjoyed Cameos from the first release. Here are the champions you can expect to see drop into your Arena games this release:

  • Sett
  • Pyke
  • Gwen
  • Sylas
  • Thresh

Sylas will start the round by giving each combatant a random ultimate, Ult Spellbook style, that will override your non-flash summoner (which you then get back after casting the spell). Meanwhile, Thresh will walk around the battlefield and periodically throw his lantern, providing a shield and an escape.

We don’t think this structure will always be a part of Arena, but we do want to hear your thoughts. Is something like this appealing? What characteristics do you appreciate/dislike about the system?

Around Game

The experience of Arena around the game is something we know could be a lot better. However, in this quick turnaround release, there were several things we wanted to address but couldn’t get to. We do have some updates here, so we’ll cover those first, but then we’ll segue into talking about potential futures.

Rating Changes

Arena will have its ratings reset, so your climb will begin again from Wood Tier. MMR will be partially reset. We’ve also adjusted the thresholds for Gold and Gladiator, as the climb was a little too fast in the initial release.

For this round of Arena we’ll be re-releasing the icons from our initial launch. If you were Wood last launch but manage to find your stride this time and get a higher rank you’ll be able to earn all of the new tiers you’ve hit.


We’ve also added in a few new Challenges that track some Arena-specific stats. All of these challenges exist for Summoner’s Rift, but their Arena versions are in their very own category under the Legacy Challenges tab. You can get to Platinum in this category to earn a title unique to the Arena 12.23 release! A quick heads up: because of the way players can early exit from the game, progress towards these challenges won’t appear until the game fully ends, even if you’re eliminated.


One Queue Conundrum

We debuted Arena with its own ranked system. It was one that was intentionally lower-stakes, but still reflected a player’s growth over the course of the run. In general, we like having a rating system of some kind here, but we acknowledge that there can be some disagreement between players who want a ‘for-fun’ mode, and those who want to grind their way up a ladder. At the end of the day, allowing the two to mix in the same queue has risks, but because ultimately the rating does not have the same stakes as something like SR does, we want to continue exploring having one queue.

We’re interested in what a longer-term future could look like for Arena progression systems. What are the things y’all would like to see? What is currently working/not working for you? We want to hear it all.

The whole team is excited for all of you to hop back into Arena with Patch 12.23 for its second release. We can’t wait to learn more about how all of you feel about the new changes we’ve been working on over the past few months and we really appreciate all of the constructive feedback. See you in the Rings of Wrath!


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