Riot Games isn't messing around in the year 2022.
Imagine the League of Legends development team is a high-rolling gambler who just sat down at a blackjack table. They have plenty of chips to bet with and are sliding half of them towards the dealer for an upcoming hand.
Do they need to bet that much? No. Do they need the money? No. Will they be fine if they lose the hand? Yes.
That's how they're approaching the 2022 preseason after an announcement made by the development team on Thursday afternoon.
In the 11-minute-plus video, typical topics such as champion design, role diversity, and slight item changes were discussed that gave players insight into the minds of the development team but didn't raise any eyebrows.
What did was their biggest change buried over halfway through the video that will, arguably, have the most impact on the game's direction in 2022: drakes.
Currently, there are five different ones players can encounter when the objective spawns, and all of them grant boosts to the team that takes them: Cloud, Infernal, Mountain, Ocean, and Elder. With the addition of Hextech and Chemtech, the two set to arrive in a patch rapidly approaching, the game is going to change completely.
Hextech Drake bonuses in League of Legends
According to the video, once the Hextech Drake is slain, players are granted ability haste and attack speed. Once the team secures hextech soul, they will receive a chain slow, similar to that of Statikk Shiv's, dramatically impacting how team fights play out. When the Hextech Drake is selected to take over the map, Hextech Gates are placed across the rift that players can use to teleport from one area to the next.
Chemtech Drake bonuses in League of Legends
On the other end of the coin is the Chemtech Drake which aims to turn the tides of fights in the blink of an eye. According to the development team, players will deal more damage to the opposition when their HP is low. When the soul is slain, players are reanimated for a brief period of time. While in this "zombie state", players can attack and use abilities as their HP depletes rather quickly (think Sion's passive, kind of). As the Chemtech Drake takes over the map, camouflage zones are created in fixed areas of the map, adding an additional element of cover for teams and junglers.
The development team readily admits that these drakes are more impactful than the existing bunch and that's by design as they want the mid-to late-game to feel more dynamic and fluid.
While it's possible that one of the most popular games in the world could use a fresh coat of paint as the new year rolls around, perhaps players will be turned off at the idea of too much change (especially if some perceive it as too strong).
Simply put, it's a calculated gamble on Riot's end where the reward is moderate and the risk is moderate. They can always pull this change if feedback over time is largely negative but as the old adage goes "You can't win if you don't play."
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.