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Pro patches and Riven balance
Evaluating Riven, exploring Runeterra’s languages, and talking pro League.
Let’s talk pro play, Riven, and Runeterra’s languages.
We’ve seen a lot of questions answered about Yasuo, but what about Riven? Does the balance team feel like she’s overpowered?
We don’t think Riven is overpowered, though she has a lot of features that can make her feel hard to deal with.
Riven is a champion with high execution requirements. She has a steep mastery curve (in the top 15% of champions), but is heavily one-tricked, which leads to both inflated win rate numbers and distorts the winrate curve pretty heavily (when a Riven player has to play something else because of bans or an opponent picking their champion, they are more likely to lose than the average player, which depresses their MMR).
Additionally, her kit, at a structural level, has a lot of tools that help her succeed — in particular having a lot of mobility to both pick fights and escape. This, coupled with defensive capabilities that scale with offense (her E and lifesteal through Death’s Dance), leads to her high snowball potential and ability to capitalize on the scrappy nature of Solo Queue.
All this stuff combined can lead to Riven feeling “unstoppable” when she’s succeeding. However, players aren’t necessarily translating the tools she has to succeed in tactical engagements into actual game wins at an unusual rate.
How do you create the different languages of Runeterra?
This actually came up really recently on ‘The Path to Hearth-Home’ folk song teaser for new champ Ornn. The lyrics were originally in English (as they usually would be for a Riot-produced song track) but we get a lot of feedback from players around the world that this feels like it favors NA over all other regions… so we decided to try something different, and have them sung in ancient Freljordian instead!
If we assume the people of the Freljord now speak some modern Runeterran language, this had to feel like a much older root of it, probably one that’s not been widely spoken for centuries or longer (like Latin, Old English or Old Aramaic in the real world).
Writer Matt Dunn and composer Kole Hicks worked on getting the tone of the song just right, with lots of imagery that ties into Ornn’s lore. We then sat down and discussed what kind of sound we wanted from the language — like when we name champions too, I guess? The word Freljord roughly translates as “frozen ground” in some Nordic dialects, so that was an obvious starting point. We worked in speech patterns and vowel sounds from Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, even a bit of German. It’s turned out nothing really like any of those, and yet all of them at the same time.
Language and lore are a major part of what gives the champions and Runeterra a unique style and feel. It’s a great shorthand way of tying new lore to things we already recognise, and I’d love to explore this a lot more with the writers in future.
The responses I’ve seen from players so far has been amazing! There are even a few cover versions already, with some very talented singers trying it in their own languages — yes, including English!
Why do pros play on an earlier patch instead of the most current one?
In a single patch, one champion might go from not having seen play in multiple splits to an unstoppable killing machine that is contested every single game (looking at a certain Terror of the Void…). Even changes that are very small could flip the meta upside down. To account for this we use a previous patch in competitive to give pros more time to adapt to meta changes.
The extra week after the patch goes live gives pro teams the opportunity to evaluate the patch and adapt their strategies and playstyles accordingly before they have to compete. The current patch cadence provides teams with about 10 days to practice on a live patch before having to play a professional game on it.
In the situations where something is significantly over-tuned or bugged, waiting a week gives us the chance to hotfix these outliers before they can have a negative impact on the league.
Making pros play on the live patch would mean they would have to invest a significant amount of time into the PBE to prepare for these changes. We want pros to be rewarded for their preparation, and making them practice with some features in the PBE that might not even make it onto live feels bad (man).
Pros have enough to worry about outside of queue practice (scrims, strategy, VOD review, etc.), so giving them some extra time to prepare for the latest patch hopefully makes staying competitive for them a bit more manageable.
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