Author: MMOsite Writer Alexander Hinkley
Dominion is my favorite game mode in League of Legends. In fact, that’s exclusively all I play. Therefore it pains me to admit that Dominion is a dead game mode. It once had a large and vibrant community of hardcore players. There were competitive Dominate Dominion tournaments every week and more recently Azubu Crystal Cup tournaments. Literally thousands of dollars worth of prizes have been given out in these tournament’s lifetimes.
But now the mode is deader than Tim Tebow’s NFL career. Matchmaking queue times have grown longer and longer as veteran players have quit the mode and “retired” from League of Legends altogether. Nowadays you will regularly see the same handful of players in every game signifying there isn’t a very large community sticking around anymore.
The reason for this is because Riot Games has refused to give the support to this mode that it so rightfully deserves. Here are five reasons why the mode is dead and how they could quickly restore it.
Bots have infected low MMR matchmaking.
I actually haven’t had any personal experience with this one because I am in high MMR matchmaking but if you were to go on the old Dominion forums you would see numerous threads complaining about this issue. Because Dominion games are generally much quicker than Summoner’s Rift games, people have started using bots to farm IP. Bot names are generally pretty recognizable with a nonsense sounding name with one or two numbers after it. For example TinyVital76, EagleGrote70, and DemonLucky88 are some names of reported bots.
The bots are stupid. We’re talking worse than the A.I. bots you can play against stupid. So you are basically handicapped with an AFKer who actively feeds your opponents. This ruins your game for obvious reasons and discourages new players from playing Dominion.
According to some forum posters, bots have even infected the co-op vs. A.I. playlist to the point that sometimes you don’t even earn any IP for your game because there are “too few human players.” This would indicate that Riot is actually detecting the bots but they are just not doing anything about them. So the first step of reviving Dominion as a competitive game mode would be for Riot to take this botting problem seriously and initiate steps to keep them out of matchmaking.
Revive trinket rewards players for playing poorly.
The revive trinket, called Soul Anchor, is a major reason for the death of Dominion. The Soul Anchor was added to the game in the 4.7 patch about six months ago and the mode has been in a downward spiral ever since. That’s no coincidence.
In the past, people had to sacrifice one of their summoner spells if they wanted to take revive. After they added the freely given Soul Anchor, this freed up everybody to have two summoner spells as well as the ability to revive. So basically everybody has flash, exhaust (or ignite), and revive. That’s clearly overpowered.
Not only that, but the Soul Anchor is far more powerful than the revive summoner spell ever was. Depending on when you first die and decide to revive, you could typically get a maximum two revives out of the summoner spell because of its lengthy cooldown. The revive trinket gives you THREE revives because you start with one revive charge then gain a second at level nine and miraculously a third at level 14. The trinket can only hold two charges at once so this gives you incentive to die before level 14 so you don’t lose that potential revive.
The reason Soul Anchor is such a problem is that it rewards you for being bad. Dying is not supposed to be a good thing. It should be discouraged! Because everybody gets revive without having to give up a precious summoner spell, there is pretty much no downside to suiciding when you have a revive charge up.
For example, imagine your team wins the fight for Windmill (top) at the beginning of the game after a hard fought battle. Your teammates are pretty injured but you won the fight and capped the point. Unfortunately, the other team is simply going to revive, race back top, kill you, and capture the point for themselves. Since you are probably very hurt, you won’t be able to put up much of a battle now and you won’t be able to hurt them as badly as you got hurt during the first fight so even if your team now uses your revives, it won’t have the same effect. You’d be racing up to an enemy controlled point being guarded by four full health champions. There is no point in attacking that anymore. In other words, your team got PUNISHED for winning the first Windmill fight. How is that fair?
The solution here is obvious. Remove the Soul Anchor revive trinket and, if you must, put revive back in as a summoner spell.
The “rubberband effect” punishes teams for playing well.
Another thing that isn’t fair is the so-called “rubberband effect.” If a team is losing by 50 or more Nexus health, their respawn timers are significantly lower than normal. This makes it easier for a team to come back and prevents snowballing but doesn’t make sense in a competitive sense. Why should their team be rewarded for doing badly? Why should your team be punished for owning them?
Imagine if a football team was behind by two touchdowns they got five downs and your team only got three downs instead of four. That would be absurd.
The rubberband effect makes it too easy for teams to stage a comeback without actually needing the skill to do so. All too often your team will be ahead by hundreds of Nexus health and suddenly it seems like you can’t do anything because no matter how many times you kill your opponents they just respawn right away. By the time this effect wears off, when they are back within 50 health of your Nexus, things have usually swung back in their favor and now you’re fighting an UPHILL battle. It’s stupid to be punished for winning.
The solution here would be to remove this silly game mechanic. Teams should not be helped by the game itself just because they are losing. Let the player’s skill decide the outcome of the game, not a one-sided game mechanic. If Riot removed the rubberband effect as well as the Soul Anchor trinket described in the previous section, players would fear death instead of welcome it. This is how the game should be. Dying is something you should want to avoid.
There is no ranked Dominion.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there was a huge community of diehard competitive Dominion players that took part in weekly tournaments all the time. These players have wanted ranked Dominion for a very long time and have even created petitions sent to Riot requesting it be added. These pleas fell on deaf ears. The fact there is no ranked Dominion is another major reason the mode slowly died off.
League of Legends players don’t take Dominion seriously because there is no ranked queue. This hurts the mode in two ways. Firstly, many players see Dominion as a mode to goof off in or experiment/test champions and item builds they never play. This means players who take the mode seriously are often teamed up with teammates who are just messing around and don’t actually know anything about Dominion tactics. It can be frustrating when you are trying to take something seriously that your teammates don’t care about and considering Dominion is all about team fights and coordination, your teammates can lose you the game no matter how well you personally perform.
This is a big reason why wins aren’t actually earned in regular Dominion games but are randomly determined by matchmaking. It all comes down to who you get on your team versus who you get as your opponents. I previously wrote an article about this topic titled “Dominion is a Slot Machine” that showed why wins and losses aren’t earned. In short, it’s because half the time you are teamed with people who have no idea what they are doing. Even players considered to be among the best only have a win rate around 50% and it’s not uncommon to lose games despite the fact you went 16/0 and led the game in captures. Adding a ranked queue might help to mitigate this problem because you would be able to get into games with other players who take the mode seriously.
Secondly, lots of players don’t even care to play Dominion at all because it’s seen as a joke. The community was therefore a lot smaller than other game modes. Adding a ranked queue would help solve this problem because it would give a reason for players to get involved in Dominion. Aiming for that Diamond or Challenger ranking is a strong incentive!
Champions simply aren’t balanced for Dominion.
There are a lot of champions that are clearly overpowered in Dominion and should have Dominion-specific balancing. There are already a few champs that have slight balancing for Dominion. For example, Kassasin’s Rift Walk has a higher cooldown and lower range specifically on the Crystal Scar. Although it’s good to see Rift Walk being nerfed, there are lots of other champions that cause problems on Dominion that should get similar nerfs as well.
Leblanc, Fizz, and Lee Sin for example are in almost every Dominion game you play. There’s a reason for that. I previously wrote an article showing the same five champions appeared at least once in every single Dominion game which you can read here.
Some other champions such as Kha’Zix, Jayce, Braum, Pantheon, and Leona can become pretty much unstoppable with little to no effort because they simply weren’t made with Dominion in mind and their built-in weaknesses don’t come into play in this mode.
Some champions should probably just be banned from Dominion altogether. Shaco immediately comes to mind because he can go invisible at will. There’s no vision wards on Dominion so he can be incredibly annoying “back-capping” your points and then disappearing and fleeing when you get too close. That’s not really skill and Shaco probably doesn’t belong on the Crystal Scar.
Heimerdinger is another champion a lot of people hate due to his turrets. Although he rarely saw any competitive play, but more casual Dominion players often find it impossible to crack his wall of turrets when he is defending a friendly control point. If Heimerdinger isn’t removed, he should at least be changed so that he can’t plant his turrets directly on a control point.
If Riot were to ever implement ranked Dominion, they would have to dedicate at least one or two people to constantly keeping champions balanced specifically in Dominion. Every single champion should have Crystal Scar balancing. This is exactly why Riot didn’t want to support the mode. It would take too much time, effort, and money. They just didn’t think the mode was worth the investment of resources. Unless they change their mind, and implement the five changes listed in this article, Dominion will never return to its former glory.