We launched Dominion more than four years ago as an alternative game mode designed to challenge players with fast-paced skirmishes, capture-and-hold gameplay, and different skills to master. Back then, we truly believed the mode would introduce new players to League of Legends and provide current players with an experience as captivating as Summoner’s Rift. As League continues to evolve, our vision for the core game becomes more and more refined, and, after years of learning, it’s clear today that alternative game modes work better in short cycles rather than as standalone queues.
We want to support game modes delivering consistently engaging and competitive experiences. Fewer than 0.5% of players actively play Dominion and we’re aware some number of even that small population is still bots. We haven’t been supporting Dominion, and we’ve trapped ourselves in a vicious cycle where the queue isn’t large enough to warrant major attention, but falls prey to bugs and periods of imbalance from the introduction of new champs and items (which then drives down the size of the queue, and so on).
In the absence of our attention, matchmaking and game quality in Dominion varies wildly based on daily engagement. Because of how matchmaking works, the longer someone looking to play Dominion waits in queue, the wider the pool of potential foes the matchmaker can pull from -- with such a small population, Dominion games can match up widely divergent skill levels after long enough queue times. Unhealthy queues that force players to endure long waits with fluctuating match quality ultimately creates an overall poor experience -- one we take responsibility for.
We might have been able to break out of that downward spiral with more dedicated resources, but we chose Summoner’s Rift as the core League of Legends experience with its depth of gameplay, match pacing, and path to mastery. When it comes to the resources required to keep Dominion permanent and solve the inherent design problems and give it ongoing live balance support, we’ve consistently devoted them to Summoner’s Rift and related features because we felt they’d improve the overall League experience more.
For players who’ve made the Crystal Scar their home over the last four years, we’ll be taking a snapshot of the queue today just before this post goes live. Then we’ll give out an exclusive, never-to-be-reproduced Summoner Icon to anyone with over 100 wins in matchmade Dominion games (not including Co-op vs AI). You can expect the icon to land in your account within two weeks of this announcement! We know this doesn’t ease the sting of losing the mode you’ve spent thousands of hours in. But if you want to stick around and join us on the Rift, we feel you deserve a way to show off your domination.
We’ve learned a lot from Dominion and the costs associated with maintaining a fully separate game mode with balance changes, bugfixes, and item updates. We’re considering other ways to use the Dominion map (as a featured game mode, for example) but nothing is set in stone. We’re retiring Dominion to focus on our vision for League moving forward: we’ll concentrate on the core League game while supporting alternative experiences which deliver consistent, competitive gameplay with healthy queues and appropriate matchmaking (ARAM and featured game modes are good examples of this). We’re permanently disabling Dominion and removing the Crystal Scar from custom games on Tuesday, February 22.