Author: MMOsite Writer Alexander Hinkley
Dominion was once a game mode bustling with activity. There were thousands of active players who played nothing but Dominion. Players had no trouble finding games even at the highest Match Making Ratings (MMRs). The Dominion forums were one of the most active boards on the official website outside of General Discussion and of course the Summoner’s Rift board. There were even weekly Dominate Dominion tournaments and highly competitive Azubu Crystal Cup tournaments with RP and cash prizes. But over time, neglect from Riot Games caused this fast-paced alternative game mode to slowly dilapidate. Champions were simply not balanced for Dominion and as new champions got released, the mode became more and more broken. It’s not unusual to see the same handful of champions every single game. The Soul Anchor revive trinket, while seemingly a good idea, caused more problems than it solved and seems to reward players for playing poorly and dying a lot while punishing those who are able to actually escape deaths. This frustrated the more serious players and caused them to move onto greener pastures.
The current state of Dominion is abhorrent to say the least. The mode is a shell of its former self with a mere fraction of the active players it used to have. Plus most of those players are just casuals looking for a vacation from the monotony of last hitting minions on Summoner’s Rift. Finding games can take anywhere from a tolerable five minutes at lower MMRs to literally over an hour for those with a high MMR forcing high ranked players to create smurf accounts if they even want to keep playing. The concept of champion balance in Dominion has pretty much become a running joke among those who still do battle on The Crystal Scar – the newly released Ekko perhaps being one of the worst all-time offenders. It’s not unusual to see an Ekko in every single Dominion game nowadays and that really gets old after awhile. Most people thought Riot completely abandoned the mode but the latest 5.11 patch released last week shows that is not entirely true. Dominion still has some hope after all.
A big part of the 5.11 patch was that the graphical enhancements that Summoner’s Rift players have been enjoying for a long time have finally been applied to both The Crystal Scar and Twisted Treeline. These visual upgrades include an enhanced loading screen, animations for the game ending banners, new minion sprites, and overall smoother textures. One of the more immediately noticeable visual differences is the color of friendly capture points which has been changed from a weird green to a light blue. This actually makes more sense.
In addition to the visuals, several non-Summoner’s Rift items also got tweaked. Wicked Hatchet, for example, now deals its bleed damage as magic damage instead of physical. A small change but an important distinction nonetheless. The bland and underutilized Overlord's Bloodmail got a new health regeneration boost and perhaps most important of all is Lord Van Damm’s Pillager now no longer gives +250% critical damage. Instead, a critical strike will simply bleed an enemy for an additional 150% of your AD over the course of three seconds.
Clearly Van Damm’s Pillager is not as powerful as it used to be and this change is pretty much an indirect nerf to Yasuo, who has historically been one of the strongest champions on Dominion. Due to Dominion’s fast-paced gameplay, it is relatively common for champions to reach their final builds every game. High damage critical strikes were playing too much for a role in blowing up champions. Marksmen champions, for example, are almost unplayable in this mode because they are simply too squishy. This seems like at least the first step in making squishy champs who aren’t simply assassins a little more viable.
Also worth noting is that the AP scaling and spell cast charge stacks on Luden’s Echo also got nerfed though this isn’t Dominion-specific and was also applied to the Summoner’s Rift Luden’s Echo. According to lolking statistics, Luden’s Echo is right up there with Wooglet’s Witchcap in item popularity. If you’re playing a champion that uses ability power, Luden’s is more or less a required item. Apparently it got to be a little too necessary and had to be knocked down a peg. The nerfs to both Luden’s and Van Damm’s Pillager are actually good for the mode.
While it may not seem like much, this is actually really big news for the few diehard Dominion players that still frequent the mode because it goes to show that Riot Games has not yet completely forsaken it. Someone at Riot is still thinking of Dominion and these charges undoubtedly took time to properly apply. This patch gives Dominion players a glimmer of hope that one day Riot will take the mode seriously and work on a series of Dominion-specific nerfs to broken champions in order to better balance them for The Crystal Scar. Once the integrity of the mode is restored, competitive players might return and breathe new life into Dominion once again. Maybe one day there will even be a ranked Dominion playlist.
Twisted Treeline players have even more to be happy about as that mode got new turret, inhibitor, and nexus visuals as well as a slew of much-needed gameplay tweaks such as changes to the ways the altars work, numerous changes to the jungle, a buff to Vilemaw which makes him much more frightening, and turret rebalancing. A new Hextech Sweeper Trinket was also added to the mode while Madred’s Razors, Grez's Spectral Lantern, The Lightbringer, and Hextech Sweeper were all removed. It looks like vision will be a lot harder to come by now and ganking will become even more prevalent.
It is important for Riot to realize that not everybody likes Summoner’s Rift. Alternative game modes like Dominion and Twisted Treeline aren’t just for changes of pace. There are many players who play League of Legends exclusively for these modes. They should not be forgotten.