You may know me as the Mordekaiser bug catcher, as that guy who pops up in every 3v3 thread to advocate for the support meta, or as the person who posts things that make you wish the offseason would end faster, even when we’re not even in the offseason (or you may also most likely just not know me), but today, I’m here to talk about the topic that everyone browses this subreddit for: The Twisted Treeline.
I will ignore the question that a lot of you might be currently asking yourselves (the what? Is that a sort of food?), and will further clarify what this thread is about – the removal of Twisted Treeline, and also to some extent, the removal of Dominion. Just so we’re clear, this will not be a thread to ask Riot to revert their decision of removing 3v3. First, you’ve already seen lots of these, second, Riot won’t go back on their decision, and third, I… don’t mind it being gone all that much. I enjoy playing it, I have a lot of fun doing so, and I’d rather keep being able to play it, but… I won’t be terribly sad about it, and should that ever have been a choice, I’d rather keep Dominion over Twisted Treeline, any day of the week.
Now, before going to my actual points, I will just talk about my experience with 3v3 for a bit (basically, “who is this random and why does he think he can know stuff about the Twisted Treeline”), so you can skip to the next paragraph if you came here to read interesting stuff. Which you probably didn’t, because you clicked on a thread about 3v3.
I’ve played 3v3 casually since season 2, and started grinding for higher ranks as flex came out, in season 7. I got to master that season on EUW,
In the meantime, I’ve been coaching people on the mode every now and then, made a video as a quick guide for it, and wrote
a 50 page essay on the problems of flex 3v3 and ideas to improve it back in February of last year.
As a trivia fact, I am probably the most aggressive 3v3 player, with 51.17% of my jungle farm coming from the enemy jungle, with the average in challenger games being at 16.78%.
Now that the more useless part is dealt with, it’s time to finally get to the point of my post. Let’s go back to the announcement. This is the one part that prompted me to write this:
We debated on whether an ARAM-esque level of support would bring it up to standard, but the lack of growth from the previous efforts we mentioned led us to the conclusion that it just wouldn’t be enough to make Treeline a healthy long-term mode.
This is… ugh. That one really didn’t, and still doesn’t, feel good to read. Riot talks about their previous efforts… which, very frankly, I haven’t seen any of.
There have been things in the past – some champion balance, items added and removed, and even a mini-rework of the map back in 2015, a bit over 4 years ago. Since then, the only actual thing there’s been has been the discussions about jungle items, and whether the funnel penalties should be applied to 3v3.
But… that’s not what the mode needed.
It’s never been.
Say you’re a person who never plays ARAMs. Will you try getting into it if Riot decides to give +5 AD to three champions on that map? Or as an ARAM-only player, will you go back to Summoner’s Rift if Riot is to add a fifth kind of elemental drake? No, that’s just not enough. It keeps players in. It brings worn out players back. But what kind of incentive does it give you to give the game mode a try?
Riot has all the stats there, and all I’m doing is making guesses. But I don’t see how I would be wrong there. So why would those small efforts at balancing Twisted Treeline bring anyone to the mode? And same question asked about Dominion.
People had plenty of reasons to not want to get into these two modes. Twisted Treeline has that reputation of being boring, it’s a sort of odd sibling of Summoner’s Rift where it feels the same in ways but eerie in others, you don’t really know what you should do while you feel like you should know, and you’re also likely to endure pretty tough losses at the hands of people who actually know how to play that game mode, losses in which you’ll get snowballed on quickly, that are likely to not be very enjoyable to be on the receiving end of, and that will leave you thinking “well why do I even bother playing this mode when Summoner’s Rift is the same, but better”. It also has that self-fulfilling property of being irrelevant: First, the top of the ladder is weak compared to how it is in the other queues. SoloQ master+ players have an easy time outperforming 3v3 challengers simply due to how mechanically lacking these are (except for maybe the top 5-10), and it just doesn’t really feel like there’s a competition. Because of that, the achievement of being challenger (or more) in 3v3 has much less meaning than in 5v5. So people aren’t interested in working for it. So no better players end up joining the top of the ladder. Second, a vocal part of the community claims that this mode doesn’t matter. Which obviously deters people from playing it. Which prevents the statement from being invalidated.
Dominion had the reputation of being weird, it played completely differently from what players were used to, no turrets to push, no Nexus to take, it was very easy to have no idea what to do, and no idea why you were losing or what to do to turn the tides. It suffered from long queue times, even more so at night – 3-7 minutes to expect for blind pick, and I managed to hear the draft theme of Dominion, but never to actually make it past champ select and load into a game after having banned champions. And it was said to be a meme, meaning that people would oftentimes just consider it as such when trying it out, instead of seeing it as a mode that they could maybe genuinely enjoy.
I suppose that by now, you have all noticed that when one’s frustrated about a death, about a loss, or about anything of the kind (this even includes the result of an esports match), they most of the time react by putting its blame on anything that stands out, and directing their anger at said thing. This is easily noticeable after every buff or nerf (“why did they need to buff that champion?” when you would have died anyway, changes or not), it’s always easier to be upset at what stands out than at what would actually be the cause of the events. And now, this becomes very relevant in the case of the people who try out these game modes they wouldn’t regularly invest time in normally. If a game goes wrong, who wouldn’t have as their first thought “Man, this game mode sucks, I just wanna go back to something that’s actually playable”, even when what triggered said thought was a situation that would happen equally as frequently on Summoner’s Rift?
In shorter words – for someone who tries out Twisted Treeline, there is a rather high chance of them giving up on it after at best a handful of games (provided they weren’t doing so with a friend to “guide” them through the mode). And balance changes aren’t going to affect any of the aforementioned reasons. Same thing to be said about Dominion.
Now, let’s have a look at Teamfight Tactics. This mode got a very high initial hype, with numbers of players and simultaneous connections that League hadn’t seen before, as was shown by the state of the servers and by Riot being forced to disable functions and delay games to actually reduce the load on the servers. Since then, the population has remained very high, although the general interest in it has dropped a fair bit (see the Twitch viewership).
But there are two things that TFT has and that neither Dominion, nor 3v3 ever received. First, daily and weekly quests and rewards. Something to make you gain something from playing. An incentive to play the game, beyond the experience of the game itself. Second, Rioters that are passionate about it. That care about it. Plenty of people at Riot love playing this game. But when was the last time you ever ran into a Rioter while playing Twisted Treeline? When was the last time you read a Twitter post from a Rioter telling about their last 3v3 game and sharing how fun it was, how excited it made them? And same question about Dominion.
You have no special incentive to play 3v3, it gives nothing that you wouldn’t obtain by playing Summoner’s Rift. First win of the day? You can get that on 5v5. Mastery points? You can get that in 5v5. Event quests? You can do that on 5v5, and you can oftentimes only do them in 5v5/ARAM. Tokens for mastery 6/7? You can’t even earn those in 3v3.
Riot made some efforts to balance Twisted Treeline and put it in a better state, just as they did with Dominion – for both, emphasis on the “some”, I’ll go back on that in a moment. But they never did anything that had any chance to bring players into these. This situation is like a math professor telling highschool students that he rewrote some of the homeworks in his subject, and wondering why this didn’t prompt more of these highschoolers to choose to study math after graduating. No, it helps making the people who already take his subject have a better time, just as balance changes do. But it doesn’t draw anyone in.
They made efforts to improve these two game modes. But they never made any efforts to make them more attractive.
This is one of the four reasons why this statement feels so disrespectful, so insulting by Riot. That they pretended to have made efforts to make the mode more popular, while they never did that – that’s not what they did.
Second reason – as I underlined, they made some efforts to enhance the quality of the game mode. This is a very generous word. There have been those very old changes, and nothing in the past four years save for that one thing about jungle items – which solely happened because the 3v3 hypercarry strat had been brought to 5v5.
Balance changes? No, ARAM got these, a mode that Riot claims is non-competitive, but 3v3 hasn’t received any. Every patch, at least one champion is above 60% win rate, and 5-10 are above 58%. There are even some patches when a champion manages to reach 70%. One champion has been a pick-or-ban (mostly ban, and mostly red team ban) for years, being simultaneously the best support and the best jungler.
Changes to fix things? Well… this is what truly shows that Riot simply hasn’t cared about that game mode in years, and that no person over there is interested in it. Obvious, blatant bugs, that are left in the game for years. I’ll give three examples.
First, monsters have spawned at 1:05 ever since the “starting game time” has been lowered everywhere. But this also came with a bug. If you would use your smite between 1:05 and 1:15, it would be put on a 15s cooldown. If you would use it after 1:15, it would go on its normal 90s cooldown. In other words, this was a bug that every single team was forced to abuse if they wouldn’t want to set themselves majorly behind in the early game. This bug was fixed with season 9, after a year of being exploited in every game.
Second, Twisted Treeline still has the old support items. This isn’t a bug, something wrong, or anything, this is simply contextualization. So, they still have the support items having Shurelya’s and Twin Shadows’ actives. These two items were reimplemented in 5v5 after their actives were removed from the support items. So, naturally, they were also brought back to 3v3. “They”? No, actually. Twin Shadows was put in 3v3, Shurelya wasn’t. Any reason for that? None, and no remark on this. This also doesn’t look like a conscious decision (while it would have had both items come from the same patch). Simply sounds like they forgot there was another map this item was supposed to be brought back in.
Third… any 3v3 player knows about the drums. Anyone who has their client sound on, I should say. The 3v3 draft pick music has some drums in it. And for some reason that I do not wish to know, these drums don’t stop once champ select is over. This means that unless your client sound is low or off, you’ll want to restart your client as soon as you’re done playing 3v3 – otherwise, that thing gets really annoying. This also means that unless you close the client while you’re ingame, you’ll be hearing that sound your whole game, too. Pleasant experience.
Just things that really make you think that they did not make any efforts regarding Twisted Treeline. Oh and, same about Dominion. I can speak for the majority when I say that one of the major, major plus sides of Dominion was
. Hell, for me, that was even one of my main reasons to play it. Imagine… your Nexus hitpoints have fallen to 1, your opponents’ still at 350. As you’re about to lose, your bot laner neutralizes the outer bot control point. Your health stops going down, as each team is now in possession of two points. The bot lane altar turns to green – 3 to 2 for you, and the enemy’s life total starts going down. Four minutes of intense, stressful struggle, where if the opponents get hold of three points for one single second, you lose the game. This entire time, you’ve had
accompanying your struggle, your fight to stay in this game. As the score of the top reaches 1 to 70, the track changes, into this far more epic tune. This is it. You’ve spent five minutes on the brink of defeat, hanging on by a literal thread, carried by no more than the resolve to keep playing, and without a glimpse of hope. But not anymore. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, the end is in sight now, and not an end painted in the red of defeat. And end where you hung on, where you came out on top, and where you triumphed! This is what the music tells.
What actually ended up happening was that this majestic track would play twice, the second time just about one second behind the first one, like a canon.
This track is not meant to be a canon.
It sounded awful, and would just want to make you turn off the music instead of enjoying this beautiful experience.
This bug had been in the game since the start of 2015 (at the latest), in nearly every game, and was never fixed, until Dominion was taken out at the start of 2016.
Many of you probably never played Dominion and might not have understood half of the phrases I’ve used, or might think that I got a little carried away (perhaps you wouldn’t be wrong there, though), so here’s a video to illustrate this entire paragraph. An organization that used to run plenty of tournaments for Dominion back in the day organized a last one just before the mode was retired. This is the first game of the finals, a game that illustrated so well what Dominion was, what Dominion was meant to be, and what every player wished for when queuing up for that game. Now jump to this timestamp, and listen to the music behind the cast. Keep listening for 10, 20 seconds, anything you need to distinguish it clearly enough through the commentary. And you’ll hear exactly what I was talking about.
Alright, so that was the second reason. Third one now: I think I can claim that over the past couple of years, I have spent more time working on trying to improve the Twisted Treeline than Riot has.
As I said, Riot really has not done much at all in order to do anything for this game mode, at least not since 2016. That’d be an entire four years of not trying to salvage it. This was due to two things mainly – lack of interest, and lack of knowledge. Lack of interest, because I don’t think any Rioter (let alone any Rioter working in a field that would be relevant to this topic) would be able to look me in the eye and tell me that they’re passionate about Twisted Treeline, not when I can show what passion can truly make one do. Lack of knowledge, because not playing the queue severely limits how much insight you have on it, and building said insight would take a lot of games to grind on a map that they wouldn’t be so profusely fond of.
Neither of these can really be solved. Well, aside from hiring people based on these criteria. However, the latter can be helped. There were and there are people out there who have the knowledge of how this map works (granted, I’m not saying that this means that these people know how to fix its problems, but it’s a great start), who want it to be improved, and who even have been reaching out to make suggestions, or to ask Riot to get in touch to discuss the topic. There were people that Riot could speak with in order to work together to find ideas to make this queue better. Just like they’re reaching out during the development of a champion or of a rework.
Now, there is one certain problem with that, and a very obvious one at that. The high elo community of the Twisted Treeline is… well, I’m not sure which words I should pick. “Quite toxic” would be one way to put it. “Very childish and that one would not want to discuss or interact with” would be another one. There’s a reason why I refuse to queue up alone for 3v3s – a great majority of the 3v3 challengers (or you can also include in that the people who stay in master/grandmaster for long enough to have their names be recognized alongside the challengers) is rather unlikable, to put it mildly. It’s bad in EUW, it’s worse in NA – having played for long enough in both regions and with the community being small as it is, I’ve seen enough to say that objectively. And this doesn’t only apply ingame – the people who represent the community, who put a voice on it, do it in a way that is certainly not going to make Riot want to discuss anything with them (for the most part). Because yeah, surprisingly, telling Riot that you can help them while making sure that each line contains an insult towards them isn’t exactly what’s gonna make them reach out to you. In other words, the people who have been doing that have been doing more harm than good to this game mode.
But… as I said, this is about most of vocal the high elo playerbase. Not about all of them – not about all of us. Some of the players in EUW and NA are among the best at that map, have constructed enough thoughts to be able to come up with good ideas, are willing to help getting the mode in a better state, and are normal enough individuals to know how to hold civilized discussions, all at the same time. I’d consider myself to have at least three of the four; as for the “good ideas”, I’ll let you judge of that for yourselves. In EUW, actually, most of the historically best players of flex 3v3 possess these four qualities. These people could have helped. But that help was never asked for. I could have helped.
I tried to.
As I said earlier, I wrote
an essay about what problems I thought flex 3v3 had, and about suggestions on how to make things better, explaining 9 major issues (or clusters of issues) that the mode faced, as well as suggesting 22 possible steps to take to address parts of them. A total of 52 pages on Word. Add to that the comments that in turn also came up with even more interesting and valid suggestions.
I don’t have any kind of accurate count, and this happened over a year and a half ago, but that took about a week of work, with a bunch of hours per day, to give you an idea. A rate of about one hour for a page is fairly common, though I think I was under that by a bit. This isn’t a complaint by any means – I’ve never regretted having done that, didn’t have the highest hopes of this yielding any change, and I was doing it for myself in the first place. It’s simply to put things in perspective. The fact that there are people who can dedicate that amount of work in an attempt to help making the Twisted Treeline a better place, while on their side, Riot is doing nothing in return.
Think about it. 52 Word pages, that can fill a ~160-180 pages paperback book. I’ve printed books that size and I’ve printed books for equally stupid reasons – after all, here’s a reminder that
I’ve made this exist.
Once again – think about it. On one hand, you can have an actual book of problems and suggested solutions for 3v3. On the other hand, there’s Riot, of whom most of the work on 3v3 these past four years has been discussions on when and how to remove the game mode.
This statement feels disrespectful because the community has made plenty of efforts to improve the Twisted Treeline, while Riot did not.
Fourth… Riot is letting – no, making – the same thing happen for the second time, as if nothing was learned from it.
Dominion died that way, in February of 2016. Or well, it was buried that month. But it had already spent the last years of its existence combating a mortal illness that it stopped receiving any support for. The mode lost of its popularity, and Riot ignored it and already started giving up on it instead of seeing it as a sign that they should look for ways to either make it better, or to give incentives to playing it – or both. Just to make the mode go back to be self-sustaining, from losing its players over time, as the queue had fallen into that vicious circle of “The mode is losing its playerbase because it has issues” and “The mode has a low playerbase so we won’t fix its issues”. Riot themselves acknowledged this vicious circle, acknowledged it as such, and recognized their responsibility in the matter. Eventually, when the most serious issues cropped up, Riot had already fully abandoned that map.
The Crystal Scar was terminated, saying alongside that they’d try to bring it back as a rotating game mode. They did twice (or thrice, I’m not entirely sure). That was the last time we heard of it – three years ago.
Announcement where you can find the source of all the things I said there.
And now… what is happening to 3v3? Abandoned by Riot for years, unattractive and thus underplayed, underplayed and thus left alone by Riot, left alone by Riot and thus unattractive. That one same vicious circle that Riot acknowledge, but refused to do anything against, for the second time.
Another mode whose death was Riot’s conscious decision, and Riot’s sole responsibility.
To conclude this post – once again, I’m not saying that Riot should go back on their decision, nor am I asking them to. I’m mostly indifferent to this, and would much rather get Dominion back than to keep the Twisted Treeline if I had that choice (though that is my personal taste and many 3v3 players would – thankfully – feel otherwise).
But I do think that at this point, they have to be called out on this. On their decision to make two game modes die, and to eventually remove them as a result of it.
Upon announcing their decision to get rid of the Twisted Treeline, they justified it through this statement: “the lack of growth from the previous efforts we mentioned led us to the conclusion that it just wouldn’t be enough to make Treeline a healthy long-term mode”, which means something that is opposite to what actually happened.
This statement tells “We did our best, but the community was not interested, so because of them, the mode needs to go”. Which is a lie. A statement that would reflect the truth would be akin to what they said about Dominion. “We chose not to give any attention to the game mode, we ignored each of its problems and we refused to provide it with any support for the past four years. People aren’t interested in playing on this map as a result of that, and so we’ll conclude this by retiring it”.
What they said is disingenuous, disrespectful and insulting, and is the reason why I am for once taking that tone. If you think about it, this is solo queue mindset. Shifting the blame on the others (the community) instead of admitting one’s own failures.
It still wouldn’t be too late to change directions. It still wouldn’t be too late to save the Twisted Treeline and bring it to a good and healthy state.
But Riot doesn’t want it, and so it won’t be. As has happened, happens, and will keep happening each time there is a subject that not a single relevant Rioter is interested in.
Dominion and the Twisted Treeline didn’t die because of the community. They died because of Riot, and Riot is now trying to claim the opposite.
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