Let’s talk about plants.
If you were around Reddit or Twitter yesterday as a League of Legends fan, you were probably exposed to some of the backlash against Riot Games’ initial plans for the jungle in 2017. You can read the details here, but the tl;dr is that Riot is thinking of introducing plants into the jungle. These plants will spawn in semi-random locations with semi-random types, with abilities ranging from vision granting to healing. Riot has felt inclined to introduce this feature as they feel jungling has been broken down into those who have it figured it out and those who haven’t, while also having misconceptions about what the best jungle pathing is.
Riot’s argument is effectively that it wants to not have the game be so “solved” and to shift the focus from basic memorization to adaptability. I think that approach is fine, but I also think that we already exist in that kind of a system. Part of what goes into a jungler’s pathing is considering their lanes, the enemy jungler, and then deduce the most effective pathing in order to ensure their teams success. For example, if a jungler knows his mid and top laner are going to have early pushing advantages, and the enemy jungler is a weak duelist, they can plan to invade off of the pressure. Imagine that jungler knows exactly how much health the enemy jungler is going to have, and then calculates their odds of winning a duel based on that information, and decided to invade. That’s a sign of mastering the jungle.
While I can concede to notions that when and how to use Smite is “figured it out,” to me that is no different than knowing how to trade in lane. Either you figure it out and get good, or you don’t.
One thing I also want to point out is how poorly Riot has sold this plant RNG system. With the initial post, it truly does seem random and lucky, but going through it you some reasonable factors involved. Like everyone will get a notification where and what type of plant is going to spawn 30 seconds before it does so, and specific types of plants will only spawn in certain areas. With a heads up like that, it does play into a reactionary style that forces one to adapt. Whether that is good or bad depends on how what you ask for your competitive experience.
This brings me to the point I want to make: when I watch esports, I want to watch players fight players, not players reacting to bullshit RNG. That is not competitive. It is the exact opposite of competitive. I want to see individuals play a game they have practiced and mastered in order to see the highest possible capabilities within the game engine. I want the victor to be determined by who played better, not who got lucky. This opinion of mine applies to all the RNG in LoL, from crit to Elemental Dragons.
Imagine watching basketball where the floor is broken into segments, and at random intervals, the heights of the platforms shift. A player moves to make a drive only for the floor to rise exactly where the ball bounces and he loses control of it. That’s shit nobody wants to see. We want to see athletes compete under the most fair ruleset and conditions that promote the highest level of competition. Leave the extraneous factors to real life and give me a clean game.
Perhaps I will change my mind on this plants issue depending on the execution, but as a principle, a game being shaped by random factors is not healthy.