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The New League of Legends Mastery System is Here... And it Sucks

The New League of Legends Mastery System is Here... And it Sucks

Recently, League of Legends changed the age-old mastery system that began back in 2015; this was part of the player-retention system, ensuring that those who devoted a lot of their time to the game would have something to show for it. The way it worked was rather simple: you would get mastery points depending on your performance and outcome of the game, and from there, you'd earn "mastery". It would take X amount of points to get from 1–5, and then from there, to get six and seven, you needed to get S- or higher to unlock a specific token that would let you level them up (two and three respectively).

The old system was great, though truth be told, it had a fair few flaws as a whole. I pride myself in playing a lot of champions (mostly because I'm a slave of the Howling Abyss), and it was a great way to incentivise playing as other characters and earn their masteries, though the Level 7 cap was a bit of a letdown for those who wanted to show off their devotion to a specific character. As a completionist, I decided I wanted to get all of the champions to Mastery 7, even if it meant playing one too many matches of Yuumi.
Of course, this system was retired in favour of what is now the new and "improved" Mastery, where you can level up endlessly, and it has far more of a reason for you to actually select the characters you once mained (at least, again, in ARAM). Having received 20 levels on Pyke (nothing particularly impressive, though nothing to scoff at, either), it was nice to have a reason to play my old favourites, especially as a person who wanted to finish the game. I was one of the select few who was cautiously optimistic about the new system, given the fact that Riot Games has a bit of a history of dropping the ball; at least I'd get to play Pyke again without feeling like I was wasting my time and mastery points.

This new system solely focuses on the acquisition of mastery, and the new way to level up is through Marks of Mastery. To get these, you'll need to play five games with the champion and get specific gradings — starting from one B and four Cs and then moving to one A, four Cs, and getting harder the longer you go. The system in itself makes sufficient sense to an extent, and it rewards players at a much quicker pace than the previous one did by ensuring you only need to get a B — S- or higher can be elusive for the humble support player. In theory, it fundamentally works, and it gives you the capability to earn Marks of Mastery quicker, while also being slightly more forgiving for the average gamer who can't score exceptional grades consistently.

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This system will reset every Split, meaning that you have about four-ish months to acquire the five games and earn milestones with your champion. You can get at least eight Hextech Chests by playing 40 matches (a bit of a tall order for some game modes), and even further if you get to Milestone 3. It's all great and all until you remember one very, minute detail: I'm an ARAM-only player. And many others are, too.

League of Legends may focus most of its efforts on Summoner's Rift and its esports scene, but statistically, there are a fair few ARAM players... and it's actually quite overwhelming. In the yearin.lol/statistics, you can scroll through a lot of the stats that are kept in mind, and one of these is none other than queues played the most. These are the following numbers for the individual queues:

  • 400,000,000 Ranked Matches
  • 150,000,000 Draft Matches
  • 100,000,000 Blind Matches
  • 100,000,000 Ranked Flex Matches
  • 450,000,000 ARAM Matches

If we count all four of the Summoner's Rift queues against the single ARAM, a total of 37.5% of the matches were in the Howling Abyss. Sure, it may not be as impressive given the fact that ARAM matches are much shorter than Summoner's Rift, but the sole fact that ARAM was the most-played queue is surprising in its own, given League of Legends' focus on Summoner's Rift as a whole.

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It's a staggering number that is closer than it should be, and as an ARAM-only player, I'm ecstatic for it. Much like in SMITE, Arena and Conquest are some of the most-played experiences, even if it has some balancing issues, because they bring back the arena part of MOBAs — you log in, duke it out with five other players, and then can rest knowing you had fun. Yet, for such a significant portion of the community, this newest mastery system is downright abysmal.

I've kept count of all of my last 150 matches and checked which champions I had and how often. The data was all acquired from the last 16 days of playing (as I return for each Event pass) and I predominantly focused on the champions I wanted to increase the mastery of (meaning I picked them as often as I could). I only logged each time I got a champion, as some highly contested characters may appear on the team, but they may never go to the bench (or are untraded).

The only champions I managed to get the first five matches on were Lee Sin, Pyke, Wukong, Samira, and Vayne. The highest number of games was on Lee Sin, Pyke, and Wukong; all had seven total matches played, meaning I had less than enough to complete Milestone I (let alone IV or higher). The problematic part of these calculations as a whole is that acquiring enough Milestones for a Mark of Mastery (let alone two that you need for level 10) depends on you getting a lot of matches AND depends on you getting a specific score — though B is not overly difficult, for some of the less-optimal champions, it might be a pipe dream.

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Marks of Mastery are difficult to get, but even more so is the now-impossible system for ARAM players to partake in — the unique Milestone system for 12 champions cherry-picked for you. To get one of the unique chests that were all the hype, you'll need to get the champions you want enough times to be able to pass the first Milestone (Start), which equates to about 60 matches where you get the champions you need. The problem is that the same champions you have are similar to the ones that others do, too, as my wife and I both have a pretty much one-to-one list, making it likely that those champions will be taken more often.

If you fail to get your chest (which, might I add, is the first milestone of two others, each of which requires 24 and 40, respectively), that entire progress is reset. And if you fail to complete Start or Milestone I throughout the Split, it'll reset. And when it comes to a random chance of getting one champion from 169 and having to fight nine other players for it (because the enemy team might get your champion), with only one to three draws per game unless everyone is donating rerolls, it looks less and less likely as a whole.

And that's without mentioning the fact that now you need to grind much, much more to get Mastery levels, let alone 10, making "completing" League of Legends go from an achievable goal to a laughable pipe dream.

Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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