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How will in-game Summoner Spell switching affect gameplay? Here's what pro analysts have to say

By Sharon Coone
Aug 30, 2017
Thoughts from MarkZ, Locodoco, and analysts from Immortals and Phoenix1

Before next season, League of Legends will be getting a complete Runes and Masteries overhaul. The two networks are being combined into one streamlined customization system, featuring a new set of Keystone Runes that will grant players unique abilities.

One of the recently revealed Keystones, Summoner Specialist, will let players change their Summoner Spells in-game. It's a huge shakeup in Riot's design sphere, so we asked analysts, what big effects could in-game Summoner Spell changing have on gameplay?

"Theres not a doubt in my mind that some rune or combination of runes after the rework are going to be overpowered, broken, or skew play. I'm just not convinced that Summoner Specialist is it, especially when we haven't seen all the runes it is competing against.

People have theorized a lot of cheese strategies with it, but outside of Targons and Quadra-Targons, the proliferation of these cheese strategies rarely happens. That's not too say that this Rune can't be over-powered, it could easily crowd out all the Runes a Top Lane could take with the ability swap between Ignite & TP. I just don't think there is a reason to be concerned about a 5 Smite strat this early"

"The standard test for a lot of what's considered good enough for pro play is whether something is good enough in lane, and this can compensate for early weakness by having an extra combat summoner like Exhaust or Ignite. Late game it seems great -- having an ADC with Cleanse is better than Heal, and getting Teleports when needed later on opens up the door for different compositions. But again, I need to see more of the other keystones to compare power level.

It's entirely possible that it's quite bad and some of the new keystones will simply outclass it, but I would need some testing time on that.

I think if you have a couple people with the mastery, the potential for extra objective security is pretty powerful. Having 2 or 3 Smites makes Barons and Dragons way safer. There's also the small possibility of having a roaming support who starts the game with Smite, but I'm not sure of the viability yet."

"Everything is in very early stages, but I love the concept.

We can’t at the moment call it OP; other keystones may be more broken, or maybe every other option is insane, and Summoner Specialist is the tame one. Instead, we should talk about the design space and how healthy this could be for the game.

One thing I always felt about League is that Riot’s design sphere has been very conservative lately. They’ve made some unique additions, but usually within a certain boundary. This new runes and mastery system seems to have distinct gives and takes for each setting, rather than one agreed upon ideal. If Riot can make these options equally viable, the result will be crazy fun.

Some spells, like Ignite, are extremely useless late-game. Others, like Cleanse, can save you a QSS slot down the line, but at the cost of early game defensive summoners.

Champions that are useful throughout the game can gain a lot of flexibility from this. Take junglers like Lee Sin or Elise, who have natural gap closers and don’t need Flash for an early gank. They can pick up Smite and Ignite or Exhaust for level 3 ganking, then switch out to Flash for midgame Insec plays. In Elise’s case, maybe your support takes Smite afterwards and you get to run Ignite and Flash. Early game junglers and split-push top laners don’t necessarily need Teleport early on, but can switch onto it for valuable map presence later on. Once the public gets a hold of this, I’m sure they’ll think up tons of crazy stuff.

I genuinely trust Riot’s game designers. The majority of updates — the tank and support updates, item updates — make the game healthier. The team there has a wealth of experience across multiple games, like Magic, WoW, and elsewhere. Let’s see how it plays out, rather than stress."

"The design behind the new Keystone is very interesting. Immediately the biggest impact I can see for this keystone is for mid lane champions similar to Corki or Kassadin, who struggle in early lanes and might rely on defensive summoners like Heal, Barrier, or Exhaust, but would benefit greatly from the use of Teleport later in the game when they have pressure in side-lanes.

The same could be true for dominant laners who want to take Ignite for early kill pressure and want to split-push with Teleport, like Talon, Zed, Fizz etc. Of course, this depends on how much the champions rely on their traditional keystone / mastery tree to stay competitive in their roles throughout the game, so it will be important to see how Riot introduces this keystone and what tree it will fall under to help determine its viability in the competitive scene.

That being said, I'm certainly excited to tinker with it on solo queue and talk about it with other analysts and coaches once it's released."

"The mechanic looks pretty toxic as explained, but we still need to understand the power other keystones will have.

You can start with Ignite and Smite as a strong early jungler and invade the opponent, having a big kill potential. Even if they live, you can use your second charge of Smite taking one of their camps and immediately swap your Ignite for a Flash that would come up two minutes sooner than the enemy jungler's. This would give you plenty of opportunities to abuse the enemy again when your flash comes back up, with no counterplay whatsoever."

"The first thing that comes to mind is how the support will utilize it. Starting the game with Ignite to go for an early kill, and switching to Exhaust when Ignite starts to fall off. Or maybe the support switches for a Ghost/Flash combination and is able to pull off an insane roam on a flashless enemy midlaner.

Stomping lane particularly hard? The support can take Smite for easy objective control and the option to steal away camps as their team starts to control the map and starve the enemy jungler.

The most common use I imagine would be the jungler changing out Smite for a combat summoner in the late late game when neither Baron or Elder are on the map, either taking Ghost to help initiate or Exhaust to mitigate some of the damage from the enemy hypercarry."

Sharon Coone profile
Sharon Coone
Sharon spent three years as a video game encyclopedia (Editor in Chief) at Twinfinite. Now she just brags about the time she got to Gold in League of Legends using a trackpad.
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