By Matthew Hughs
As the League of Legends World Championship in 2022 quickly approaches, the patch notes become even more important. Not only do they define the meta in solo queue, but also have a higher chance of being the patch that the professional players at worlds will be playing on.
Breaking down what numbers in 12.16 mean, the 12 stands for season 12 while the 16 stands for the 16th patch of the season. The game has changed a lot since 12.1. There were once 6 types of dragons, now there are only 5. Four new champions have entered Summoner’s Rift: Zeri, Renata Glasc, Bel’Veth, and Nilah. Objectives have become much harder to solo with scaling health and resistances. This kind of evolution during a season is what player have come to expect from Riot Games, and in all fairness, the game has become a lot more balanced over the patches of this year. The state of the game is in a good place for Worlds now.
Historically, Worlds has been played on 15th, 16th or 17th patch of the year. Therefore, patch 12.16 has a good chance of being the Worlds patch. While 12.16 was not a huge patch because only a handful of champions got changed, there are a few key takeaways from it.
The elephant in the room is the Udyr rework. A few older champions a year are reworked and modernized so that they can keep up with the meta and all the new champions that are released. The theme they portray is kept the same, but their abilities and art get a graphics update and their skills change slightly to ultimately become better. This has happened with Volibear, Fiddlesticks, Mordekaiser, and most recently before Udyr, Olaf.
With the changes that have been introduced to Udyr, he will mostly become a staple top and jungle pick in solo queue meta and will also be a highly picked Jungler in Worlds. The main changesto Udyr were on his passive and his E and R abilities. His passive now empowers one of his abilities every 30 seconds and this timer can be reduced by changing between stances. For those who don’t know, his each of his abilities (Q, W, E, R) are a different stance. The empower Q, Tiger stance, gives more attack speed and damage and his W, Turtle stance, gives more healing and shielding. Not too big of changes there.
However, his new E and R empowerments are what makes Udyr good. The E, Bear stance, does effectively the same thing as before, it is a movement speed increase and stun on the first autoattack, but when empowered, Udyr becomes immune to all crowd control (CC) for 2 seconds. This was Udyr’s weakness before this patch, with enough CC against him, he was effectively useless. With this immunity, he has become much more powerful. Finally, his R, Phoenix stance, is now a circular Area of Effect (AOE) around Udyr that does percent health damage and the empowerment makes the AOE follow the closest enemy. With these changes, Udyr has become a lot more powerful while still being a very simple champion to understand and play well on.
Moving on to the more minor changes, some of the more powerful champions in the meta were nerfed, those being Draven, Yuumi, Zeri, and Poppy. Each losing a some of their level scaling with AD and AP. For the champions like Yuumi and Zeri, they will probably be just fine and see the same amount of play in solo queue and pro play, but Draven and Poppy will probably see a drop in play and may not be seen in pro play again for a while.
On the flip side, another handful of champions goes buffed. Zoe, Jayce, and Caitlyn got more damage added to their abilities, so they will become more relevant in the meta and see more play in solo queue and most likely in Worlds pro play. The buffs on Caitlyn and Jayce specifically could be foreshadowing something even bigger though. Right after Worlds ends, the Arcane series on Netflix will have its one-year release anniversary. With Jayce and Caitlyn being two of the main characters in that series, could an update about season 2 of Arcane be in store at Worlds? While this is just a theory, and there is only a very small correlation between the Arcane and League of Legends patch notes, it does seem like an Arcane season 2 trailer would be some Riot Games would do on the Worlds stage with millions of fans watching.