How to Improve During the 2020 Preseason
The dust from Season 9’s finale has finally settled. Some of you reading this were able to achieve your goals while some of you fell short (but that’s okay!).
Whether you’re part of the former or latter, we know you’re serious about improving since your here while others have switched to other games like TFT or relaxing with some ARAMs and norms.
In this article, we’ll help you make the most of the Preseason so you can build momentum and dominate Season 10!
Since this article is more about directing you to what you should be focusing on during the preseason, we’ll be going each concept briefly to quickly bring you up to speed.
We strongly recommend checking out our preseason patch breakdown to learn more about these changes in detail.
Did you know ranked matches during Preseason matter?
If you ever hear someone say that ranked matches in preaseason don’t matter, it simply isn’t true. Sure, you won’t get any rewards like skins or profile icons, but you can positively influence where you’ll start after your Season 10 placement matches. Here’s a quote directly from Riot:
So even if you weren’t able to reach your final goal before November 19th, it’s still impactful to keep trying to reach that rank. However, if you’re burned out from climbing definitely take a break and reset. Sometimes it’s good to take time off and come back later when you’re refreshed.
Even if you’re not playing ranked during the Preseason you can still improve as an overall player with some of the suggestions we include in this article. If you have any other additional tips than the ones we provide here, let us know and we’ll add it to the list!
1. Learn the map mechanics and objectives
As a League of Legends player, Summoner’s Rift should feel like your second home. You should be comfortable with every bush, wall, and curve of the map so you can use them to your advantage and play optimally.
This preseason is quite unique because the standard form of Summoner’s Rift is transforming and gameplay elements from the Elemental Drakes can cause the Rift to change even more during the game.
By default, the top and bot lanes will have U-shaped “alcoves” that can be used offensively (new angles for junglers/Teleports) or defensively (mobile champions have additional room to outmaneuver danger).
Play around in these alcoves and understand their ins and outs so when Season 10 starts, you’ll have an edge over the players who didn’t spend time doing so.
The other major physical transformation of Summoner’s Rift occurs when the third elemental dragon spawns. When this happens, the map transforms into an Elemental Rift according to that element. For example, if the Ocean drake is the third dragon, a downpour of rain will occur and Summoner’s Rift will spawn additional bushes and even some Honeyfruit around the map.
When this occurs, you’ll naturally need to adjust your play. The bushes will make vision control trickier and give assassins more blind spots to play in. You’ll have to be even more careful navigating the map as there will be more risk in facechecking certain routes.
If you’re a squishy support, be sure to have a buddy nearby when you’re looking to ward. If you’re a tank player, be ready to facecheck fog of war to help your teammates establish vision control.
The transformations for Cloud, Inferno, and Mountain also provide advantages and disadvantages for different champions and team comps so be sure to learn and adjust to those throughout the Preaseason.
Objectives and Buffs
Along with the physical changes to the map, there are also changes to how the major objectives function.
To start off, individual elemental dragon buffs have been nerfed across the board. However, if you’re able to get four total dragons, you’ll receive the Dragon Soul buff.
Due to the difficulty of this feat, Dragon Soul buffs are incredibly powerful, such as the Inferno buff which causes your AoE splash damage around your target or the Mountain buff which grants an out of combat shield every 5 seconds (similar to Malphite).
This will cause the tempo of the game to change depending on how many dragons have been taken by each team. If your team or the enemy team are getting closer to that fourth dragon, you better be prepared to rotate and be there on time.
Once a dragon soul is taken, the Elder Drake will spawn next. This buff has also been reworked so that it has an insane 20% execute. Either team can get this, it doesn’t have to be the team that has the Dragon Soul, making it a potent game finisher or comeback mechanic.
The last major objective change you need to know is that you can now get two Rift Heralds, which will make top side more appealing for junglers. Note that the Herald will be slightly weaker so that it will probably only take one turret in most cases, but that’s still potent in the early to mid game.
Minions and Jungle Experience
Lastly, there are changes coming to how experience is distributed for both minions and jungle camps. Now, solo laners will get slightly more experience while bot laners (as well as when the jungler is camping a solo laner) will get slightly less.
Jungle camps will also be standardized so a jungler is guaranteed to hit level 3 by taking any three camps in their first clear. Experience from camps has also been changed to make farming and invading more attractive options. As a result, ganking will become slightly more risky since a failed gank will mean falling behind.
All of these changes will influence the flow of the game since the dynamics of the map and will alter when and where the action will happen. As you’re playing throughout the Preaseason, take note of the tempo of your matches and what different players are prioritizing and use it to your advantage as Season 10 grows near.
2. Adapt your item and rune builds
The next part of our Preseason improvement regiment is to familiarize yourself with the new items and runes to adapt your builds and play accordingly.
If you’re a number cruncher, Phreak does an in-depth breakdown of the item changes in terms of gold efficiency and value. It’s worth checking out if you want to know how the new items compare to their previous iterations and the worth of the stats you’re investing into.
Being able to understand the fundamental reasons behind the items you’re building and the order that they’re built in will help you be more adaptable within your matches. Good players find the best builds and copy them, the best players fully understand how to pilot these builds or create even better ones.
The three major item branches that have been changed are lethality, support items, and energized items.
Throughout Season 9, only a few lethality items were being used consistently. These preseason changes introduce two new items and give slight reworks to previous lethality items to create more diversity and viability.
The first new item is Sanguine Blade, which has already been making waves (at the time of writing this its received hotfix nerfs). It’s the ultimate item for split pushers and duelists since it works best when you’re against a lone enemy.
It was a common complaint in recent times that “it’s not about who has the best player but who has the worst player”. Sanguine is sort of the answer to that since a really strong individual player can create situations where you won’t be able to ignore them and you’ll have to send another ally (or more) to stop them.
Umbral Glaive is the other new item, and it’s more of a supportive item since it’s the new home of Blackout.
We’ll get to support items in a second, but all you need to know is that more AD ranged champions will be viable as supports due to the support line changes.
There were a few other minor changes to lethality so be sure to check out the patch notes breakdown we mentioned earlier if you want more details. Overall, you’ll find more versatility in your lethality builds so be sure to try them all out.
Support items received quite a few tweaks. The TLDR is that you’ll have two major lines instead of three that will be divided into AD or AP.
Do you want to play offensively? Take the Tribute line and go Spellthief (for AP damage) or Black Mist Scythe (for AD damage).
These work similarly to the previous iteration of Spellthief as you’ll need to poke enemies in order to fulfill your quest. However, you won’t deal as much damage. In exchange, you’ll be receiving more gold per hit so you’ll complete your quest faster than before.
Do you want to play defensively? Take the Spoils of War line and go Relic Shield (for AP scaling) or Steel Shoulderguards (for AD scaling).
Similar to the previous Relic Shield, you’ll be able to execute minions and share gold. Unfortunately, this will no longer provide a heal to you and your partner but it will now be easier to execute since it’s based on % health and you can now execute with ranged supports.
Both of the support lines now have free upgrades as a result of their nerfs (Tribute losing damage and Spoils losing heal). However, supports now have more flexibility to build other items earlier since they’ll have more gold to spend.
With more gold to spend and more item flexibility, expect to see a wider diversity of champions being tried as supports. Fpr example, you might see melee’s like Pantheon or other marksmen besides Senna.
Lastly, we should mention that Ancient Coin no longer exists since the Spoils of War line fulfills that defensive niche for enchanters. Shurelya’s has also been changed into an enchanter item so be sure to experiment with that as well.
The last of the major item changes come to the energized/crit line. The TLDR is that these items will be weaker individually but stronger when they’re built together.
Across the board, energized items are being standardized so they have slightly more burst damage but less consistent damage over longer engagements. Unsurprisingly, the most changed item is Stormrazor (how many times has it been reworked now?).
You can see the systematic trends we mentioned earlier since it has decreased AD/AS in exchange for more burst from the energized damage. It also has a much stronger slow effect for a shorter amount of time.
RFC has become more of a niche item that you only build when you really want that extra range, it won’t be as much of a must-buy but it will have its place. Stattik Shiv will provide slightly more utility since it will provide more lightning bounces (that can be used to slow with Stormrazor) but will no longer be able to crit.
All in all, be sure to try out these new items and get a feel for their new damage output and utility capabilities – especially if you were playing champions that ran energized builds.
There weren’t a ton of rune changes, just a few reworks to runes that had been problematic throughout the year.
The first major change is that Kleptomancy has been replaced by Prototype: Omnistone (which had a pretty bad launch so received hotfix buffs).
It has some RNG like Klepto but works more like Spellbook since you have to think on the fly with the options presented to you. The keystones you cycle between are:
- Press the Attack
- Lethal Tempo
- Fleet Footwork
- Summon Aery
- Arcane Comet
- Phase Rush
- Predator (only if you have boots)
- Dark Harvest (souls amplify the effects of all keystones)
- Hail of Blades
- Grasp of the Undying
- Aftershock (only if you can trigger it on a basic ability)
- Glacial Augment
So far, Omnistone has been seen as a meme but maybe one of you out there reading this can find the right champions that can make it work!
The only other keystones that were changed were Conqueror and Aftershock. The TLDR for those is that Conqueror lost its true damage but has become more attractive for ranged champions while Aftershock has become less of a universal choice and more for tanks only.
For minor runes, Presence of Mind now increases your mana OR energy pool instead of refunding ult CD. Try it out on Akali or Ryze/Kassadin. Nimbus Cloak is also receiving an interesting change so that it activates off of Summoner Spells based on their CD, meaning that a Flash will grant more movement speed than a Smite.
3. Expand your champion pool
Whenever the meta is in flux, it’s a good idea to bolster your champion pool to make your climb less meta dependent. For example, if you’re a top laner that only plays tanks, you may struggle when the top lane meta revolves around carries or ranged champions.The Preseason is an ideal time to build proficiency on champions of other archetypes so you can be ready for eventual meta shifts. Click To Tweet
It’s also a good time to evaluate your current pool. See which champions were your best performers in terms of play rate and win rate as well as the ones that were your worst.
For the ones that were your best, you may want to take a break from them and revisit them closer to Season 10 to shake off the rust. It shouldn’t be too difficult for you to jump back in with them since you’re already pretty good at playing them.
For the champions that didn’t do so hot during Season 9, you may not want to abandon them immediately. Were you hovering close to 50%? You might just need more time to develop them to play them at a ranked level. If you refer to our champion pages, we give every champion difficulty ratings, ranging from Easy to Severe.
Champions that lean toward Hard and Severe difficulties will require more time investment to play a comfortable level. If this was the case and you were close to 50% with something like Lucian or LeBlanc, keep trying them out in Preaseason and see if you can get it above 50% and hold that consistently.
If they were leaning closer to 47% or below, your time is probably better spent on other champions and you should just cut the fat. Every player has a particular playstyle and it’s totally normal for some champions not to click for every player.
Even if you come into Season 10 with just one or two new champions in your pool above 50%, you’ll have more options when the inevitable meta shifts happen.
If you try out new champions and they don’t make the cut, you’ll still have additional knowledge that will help in future matchups when you play against that champion. So don’t worry too much if you commit time to learning a champion and they don’t make it into your ranked pool.
4. Practice other roles
Although mechanical execution is certainly important, League of Legends is mostly a decisionmaking game. Should you group for a fight or continue to farm? Is now a good time to gank or should you try to sneak that solo dragon?
You’re constantly weighing different options and it can be hard to really pinpoint which is the right call. By playing other roles during the preaseason, you can make these decisions easier since you’ll understand the needs and priorities of your teammates.
For example, a common issue for support players at lower ELOs is understanding the right time to engage or trade.
Some supports will engage when there’s a big wave and cause their ADC to miss out on a lot of farm. Others may be too passive and will miss out on a crucial follow up when their ADC wants to fight.
By playing ADC themselves, support players can better understand the perspective of their laning partner and thus, be able to do a better job.
Tops and mids can learn a lot by playing jungle since they’ll understand jungle pathing and when a jungler should or shouldn’t gank. If you’re a jungler, you can get value from playing all the lanes.
So unleash your inner G2, and get some reps in for another role in norms, flex, or playing ranked on a back up account.
5. See how other players adapt
While the meta is in flux, you should not only be trying to adapt your own play, but also learn from how other players are adapting as well.
Talk to your friends and learn the changes together. Theorycraft and test builds with the new items and runes and talk about how different Elemental Rifts will affect the flow of the match or how they’re using the new alcoves.
If you’re more of a researcher, watch videos or dig through discussions in communities like Reddit or Discord. If you go to /r/ChampionMains/ you can find a directory that leads to specific champion subreddits (note that Senna hasn’t been added yet).
The quality of the discussion will depend on the size and culture of each subreddit, but for the most part, you can find posts about new builds and how matchups are effected.
Lastly, hop onto a stream or take a look at what the pros are building and how they’re practicing during the preseason. Below, you can see TSM’s Biofrost testing the limits of Bard’s Magical Journey tunnels on the new Summoner’s Rift.
By learning from all these different sources, you can optimize and find what works best for you before the Season 10 ranked ladder comes online. Note that since the Preseason is when Riot does a ton of experimentation and balancing, that a lot of things are subject to change. But for the most part, you should have a good grasp on what the Season 10 meta will eventually be.
The preseason is your opportunity to work on your weaknesses for Season 9 and build new strengths for Season 10. Whether you’re adding new champions to your pool, learning from other roles, or just getting comfortable with the new Summoner’s Rift, the steps you invest now will inevitably pay off. You’ll have the edge on all the players who come back later and have to adjust at the beginning of Season 10.