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League of Legends’ preseason patch adds Pokémon-like pals

Plus, the most controversial dragon returns

League of Legends - Promotional art of the Chemtech Drake and Hextech Drake facing off in battle over the Summoner’s Rift Image: Riot Games
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

League of Legends’ preseason patch will hit Riot’s test realm starting Tuesday, and it brings some big changes to the map and jungle. The controversial chemtech drake is returning to the dragon rotation, and junglers will be joined on their route by an elemental pal with added stats.

Riot traditionally uses preseason as a time for radical changes and big experiments, as it comes after the annual Worlds esports tournament. Some of these changes are reverted or further iterated on. Others, like utility fruit around the map, become mainstays on Summoner’s Rift.

The chemtech drake was one of those experiments, and in its original form, it would grant champions a second chance at life after they died in combat. The new drake gives champions more damage when they’re at low health, which could help them turn around a close engagement with the enemy. The dragon dying will also change the map to look more like Zaun, with chemically enhanced fruits growing around the Rift.

Chemtech Drake will now grant a small amount of Tenacity and Heal/Shield strength when slain

Chemtech Soul will grant bonus damage when below a certain amount of health

Alongside the Chemtech Drake, the Rift will take on a new Chemtech-inspired appearance featuring Zaunite chemicals and mutated jungle plants with upgraded effects.

Blast Cones will now blast those in range twice as far as before

Honey Fruits will upgrade into Stim Fruits, no longer slowing champions that consume them and granting a small bonus shield in addition to the usual heal

Scryer’s Bloom will upgrade into Stalker’s Bloom. When hit these plants will now reveal a small circular area around the plant and a cone opposite of the direction it was hit, granting movement speed towards revealed enemy champions and reducing wards revealed to 1 health.

League of Legends - Test realm images of the Noxian Embercat, Ixtali Ixamander, and Ionian Cloudleaper. These creatures are a sleek black cat infused with fire who grows and has a longer mane, a fat green lizard that turns into a mythical serpent, and a bearded dragon lizard that turns into a more elaborate beast with a mane and bulbous tail. Image: Riot Games

League of Legends is also taking a page from Pokemon’s books with new jungle pets. Players in the jungle role can purchase an egg containing the Noxian Embercat, Ixtali Ixamander, or Ionian Cloudleaper. As the player kills monsters in the jungle, the pet grows into a stronger version of itself that grants a powerful buff.

Noxian Embercat*: This will be the pet of choice for junglers looking to play more aggressively. It will provide slows and bonus damage.

Ixtali Ixamander*: This jungle pet is perfect for junglers looking to frontline and tank for their teams. It will provide a shield based on your health that provides bonus slow resist and Tenacity when broken.

Ionian Cloudleaper*: This jungle pet will be great for junglers looking to rotate and move around the map more quickly. It will provide bonus movement speed.

Jungling should also be a little easier in the preseason; it is the least accessible role in the game, since it requires players to go off the beaten path. The preseason patch will add range indicators and recommended paths based on data pulled from high ranking junglers, which removes a lot of the guesswork from the role.

The preseason will also test changes to communicating with your team, like an updated ping wheel with more options, and the ability to call a vote over whether to risk an objective. There will also be an upgraded champion loadout UI, buffs to make the top lane role scale faster, and twelve new or reworked Mythic items.

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