Hail, Champions! We've been so busy with the new expansion that we almost missed some important clues that something big is happening next week! Do you recall when during the Season 2021 Opening Day presentation, Riot Umbrage presented a Roadmap for the first half of 2021 that included a few things for the month of May? Namely:
- New Expansion, Guardians of the Ancient
- New ranked season start
- New deck bundle
- New Themed Event
- Event cosmetic items
- "Social Lab / Legends Lab"
- Champion Skins
Patch 2.7.0 deployed last week (May 5th) and brought with the Guardians of the Ancient expansion, the ranked season start, and the associated deck bundle. Everything from those other 3 bullet points is still outstanding, though.
Remember that Riot tries to keep a schedule of big patch / small patch; big patches include new card releases and balance changes whereas small patches usually limited to bug fixes and cosmetic items. Assuming the normal 2-week patch cadence, Patch 2.8.0 should arrive on May 19th and would normally be a "small" patch. Patch 2.9.0 won't occur until June, though, so 2.8.0 might be the last chance to deploy all those outstanding features. That would be an unusually large amount of content for a "small" patch. Combined with the fact that 2.7.0 was relatively simple for a "big" patch -- besides the new cards and cosmetics, it only had a couple of small balance changes and a few bug fixes -- along with a few other hints sprinkled within the features themselves, this makes us suspect that next week's patch is going to be something very special!
Let's go over those May Roadmap bullet points one by one, and you can see if you agree with our conclusions.
New Themed Event
We've seen two events so far:
- Spirit Blossom, which was released late July 2020 in Patch 1.6
- K/DA All Out, which was released late October in Patch 1.13
Note that we're not counting March's Empires of the Ascended event as it was specifically described as an "expansion event" and not a "themed event". Both these themed events coincided with events in League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics so we suspect all future Legends of Runeterra themed events will be similarly part of larger cross-game celebrations as well. We have a few theories on what the theme of this month's event could be:
- At least one event has been all but confirmed to be Shadow Isles' Ruination/Black Mist
- Riot's metal band Pentakill is poised to release a new album this year
While a Ruination-themed event is all but inevitable -- Umbrage even teased it in his Season 2021 presentation -- there is uncertainty about when. We had expected it to be released alongside the upcoming "Ruined King" single-player RPG game, which still has not revealed a firm release date. A Pentakill-themed event in LoL to promote their album release (comparable to the K/DA All Out event) is similarly foreordained; the only questions are whether LoR would jointly participate and whether it would occur this month. Both are very strong possibilities for this month's event.
Other theme possibilities include PROJECT, which Riot just began teasing upcoming LoL skins for PROJECT on Twitter this week, and Crime City Nightmare, which won Riot's player's choice poll for upcoming LoL thematic. We think both these themes are significantly less likely, however.
This has been a highly requested feature, so it is a little odd that Riot has been so closed-lipped about it given that we're already almost halfway through May. Honestly, we had expected these to be released in Patch 2.7 alongside the expansion release -- similar to how Champion Mastery was released alongside Empires of the Ascended in Patch 2.3. The fact that they didn't makes us suspect Riot intentionally delayed because they are planning on incorporating Champion Skins into the aforementioned event -- "Here's your Ruination-themed event, and here are your new Ruination-themed skins for Shyvana, Draven, etc."
One small snag for Pentakill here is that none of its primary band members -- Karthus, Kayle, Mordekaiser, Olaf, Sona, and Yorick -- are released in LoR yet.
We posted our original theories about how Champion Skins might work back in January, and nothing since has really changed. One important takeaway: if you were thinking about spending any Prismatic Essence in the very near future, we'd advise you to hold off until we learn whether or not they will be used for purchasing LoR skins. The same could be said for Coins as well, as they will certainly be a possible currency for purchasing skins.
Finally, we have the labs. The way this bullet was phrased in the Roadmap, "Social Lab / Legends Lab", is a little interesting. It is identical to the Roadmap bullet from April, which foretold the PvE Lab of Legends "upgrade" that introduced Azir and Taliyah, rerolls, and difficulty settings alongside the new PvP Ultra Rapid Draw lab. Those both arrived in Patch 2.5, which was technically March 31st but Riot counted it as April. In other words: the forward slash signified two separate labs, not the addition of social features to the Lab of Legends. This leads us to believe May will have a similar Lab of Legends "upgrade" alongside the introduction of another totally new PvP lab.
As immensely popular as Lab of Legends has been, players are fervently requesting improvements ranging from quality of life to varying gameplay. Some of our favorites include:
- Affording players better starting power options (e.g., only offering Rare or higher, or allowing them to pick from a larger/full pool)
- Ability to trade/cull bad cards from your deck ("goodbye, Amateur Aeronaut!")
- Changing and/or randomizing the opponents
- Providing an in-game time elapsed for speed-runners
- Providing additional rewards (e.g., an icon for clearing a particular difficulty setting with each champion, card back for legendary, etc.)
Regarding the PvP lab: we could only guess what a new PvP lab might look like, but we have been very impressed with some of the recent offerings such as Welcome to the Jungle, Recursive Heroes (a prototype "Commander"), and of course the 2-headed United Front and United Front PvP. We're sure whatever Riot has planned will be fun.
But the most significant detail here is that we didn't get any Lab changes in 2.7.0 -- this marks the first time since their introduction that we had an expansion release without any coinciding Lab changes! While it is possible that the devs simply didn't make it into patch build on time, we suspect it is more likely that the deployment was intentionally held back because they tie in with the aforementioned themed event. Similar to how the Star Power lab was used to celebrate the K/DA All Out event, we suspect this new PvP lab will be themed around the event and is scheduled to come out at the same time.
This brings us to our conclusion: that the new themed event, Champion Skins, and new PvP Lab are all interlaced together and all coming out next week in Patch 2.8.0 with a big bang! Do you agree with our conclusion? Share with us below!