Problems With Riot’s Patch Management

When the patch notes for patch 6.17 were released, I started preparing to write about how it would affect competitive play. Then, much to my chagrin, I realized the North American and European Worlds gauntlets were still on patch 6.15! To clarify the absurdity of this situation, patch 6.15 came out TWO MONTHS before these games. There have also been two patches released since. With 6.18 being the last patch before Worlds, there’s little reason to analyze 6.17 and and zero reason to analyze 6.16.

Now this may sound like me complaining, but the people this is really screwing over are the players that will be competing at Worlds, or who are trying to qualify for Worlds. C9, Immortals, and many other teams were being forced to practice on 6.17 and then try to qualify on 6.15. There have been some large changes between the patches and expecting players to deal with it is completely unfair.

The big question is, why is it taking so long for Riot to get these patches onto the LAN environment? Two months is a far cry from the usual week and a half (ish) that it takes for new patches to be on LAN. Whatever the reason, it’s not a good one. As I said earlier, teams shouldn’t be qualifying for Worlds 3 patches before the Worlds patch.

Another issue is the amount of time players are given to prepare on the last patch before Worlds. This was very blatant last year when the Juggernaut updated was released only weeks before the World Championship. Players will get about 3 weeks to practice on 6.18 before the World Championship starts. That doesn’t seem like enough time to practice for the most important tournament of the year, especially when World of Warcraft players get months to practice on a patch. Realistically, players should have a month or more to prepare.

The best way to solve all these issues is to start preparing the Worlds patch around the time playoffs start. That way Riot could easily have a final, well balanced patch ready to go right after most regions have crowned a Summer Split champion. This would allow teams to qualify on either the Worlds patch or one very similar to it. It would also allow teams to have more effective boot camps and give them around a month to practice on the Worlds patch.

Timing between regular season patches should be increased to reduce stress on players as well. Even widening the gap by a week or two would allow teams more time to adapt to the changes. Having large changes mid season can make some of the best teams struggle. Increasing the time between patches would also give Riot more time to get the updates on LAN, reducing the frequency of competitive matches being on previous changes.

With the fiasco between Reginald and Marc Merrill there are obviously many more issues to be discussed other then patch timing, but I feel it’s the simplest one to change that can still have a large impact. Simply increasing the time players spend on a patch would do wonders for the scene. Hopefully Riot is paying attention to all these outcries, and has major preseason plans to change the way professional League of Legends works.