League of Legends Patch 9.23 breakdown: The preseason patch

League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /
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Elemental Drakes

"The first team to slay four Elemental Drakes gains a Dragon Soul matching the Elemental Rift. Elder Dragon begins spawning after one team gains a Dragon Soul, meaning only one team can have it. Like Elemental Drake buffs, Dragon Souls are permanent and persist through death."

In the past, slaying Elemental Dragons purely meant you would receive stat bonuses for every dragon killed. But now, you’re rewarded even further for killing minor dragons.

After killing four Elemental Dragons, your team receives a permanent buff (Dragon Soul) that could aid in winning the game. This buff is combined with the stat bonuses provided by the dragons killed to create a huge combined stat bonus.

The Dragon Soul your team receives matches the Elemental Rift in that game, which adds an element of RNG, but each bonus is a significant buff so it doesn’t really matter.

Infernal Soul

"Every 3 seconds, your next damaging attack or ability on an enemy unit triggers a small explosion, dealing 90 (+0.25 bonus attack damage) (+0.15 ability power) (+0.03 bonus health) damage to the target and nearby enemies."

It’s impossible to tell how strong each of these souls will be before they hit live servers, but as of right now, the Infernal Soul looks to be the most versatile and most broken of the four.

In drawn-out team fights, Infernal Soul will hit you like a truck. Snatched by a team with a lot of poke, Infernal Soul will hit you like a truck. A carry with no defensive stats, Infernal Soul will hit you like a truck.

Infernal Soul is basically Infernal Dragon but twice as strong. To make things worse, if the team with Infernal Soul has a lot of team fight focused ultimates that thrive in forcing the enemy team into tight spaces, the splash damage from the explosions will be insane and could instantly end the fight.

Mountain Soul

"After not taking damage for 5 seconds, gain a shield for 225 (+0.2 bonus attack damage) (+0.15 ability power) (+0.15 bonus health)"

This Soul is huge for sieging but isn’t quite as effective as its alternatives when it comes to team fights. A fat shield before a fight is great and all, but a small bit of poke before the fight kicks off and the effectiveness of Mountain Soul is basically gone completely.

Ocean Soul

"Dealing damage to enemies heals you for 180 (+0.4 bonus attack damage) (+0.25 ability power) (+0.1 bonus health) and restores 90 (+0.04 maximum mana) mana over 3 seconds. Damage to minions or monsters regenerates with 30% effectiveness."

Life steal, spell vamp, and mana regeneration aplenty. When it comes to drawn-out team fights, Ocean Soul is undoubtedly the best option. Unless the enemy team can burst you down, you can probably just out-regenerate them in a skirmish.

Cloud Soul

"Passively gain 10% increased movement speed. After casting your ultimate, gain an additional 30% movement speed for 3 seconds (30 second cooldown)."

Cloud Soul is possibly the most exciting of the four, as it removes all escape tools from the enemy team and can make landing skill shots impossible. Plus, a 40% movement speed buff, combined with Nimbus Cloak and Celerity, could lead to some crazy moments in a fight.

Elemental Drake Buffs

Infernal Dragon

"Infernal Might: +10/17/24% attack damage and ability power ⇒ +5/10/15/20% attack damage and ability power."

Halving the effectiveness of the first Infernal Dragon, and reducing a fully stacked Infernal by 4% is a strong nerf but necessary to reduce the gap in strength between Infernal and the other three elementals.

Mountain Dragon

"Mountainous Vigor: +16/23/30% bonus true damage to epic monsters and turrets ⇒ +8/16/24/32% armor and magic resist."

The biggest complaint about Elemental Dragons over the last few seasons has been the effectiveness of Mountain Dragon and how it warps the standard game of League of Legends, making it impossible for a losing team to contest a Baron due to the speed at which a triple-Mountain team would take it.

Now, that’s all about to change. Instead of bonus damage to objectives, Mountain will now give a percentage increase of armor and magic resist to the team that takes it down. From 8% to 32%, no matter how many dragons your team has taken, a Mountain is beneficial to have at any stage of the game thanks to the added defensive stats.

Ocean Dragon

"Oceanic Will: 6/9/12% missing health and mana regen per 5 seconds when you haven’t taken champion/turret damage within 8 seconds ⇒ 5/10/15/20% missing health regen per 5 seconds (mana regen removed)"

Energy users were left out from the old Ocean Dragon, so it’s about time they were included. Now, Ocean Dragon will affect every member of the team with missing health regen whether in or out of combat!

Cloud Dragon

"Cloudbringer’s Grace: +3/4.5/6% bonus movement speed (tripled while out of combat) ⇒ 10/20/30/40% ultimate CDR, ignoring the CDR cap."

Ultimate CDR is great, especially when it’s as high as 40%. But due to the RNG surrounding dragons, you’ve got to be wary of picking a champion that doesn’t use their ultimate very often then stacking up on Cloud Drakes, missing out on the buff.

But, it’s fun to imagine how this will combine with Ultimate Hunter, Presence of Mind, and standard CDR to reduce the cooldown of your ultimate to just a few seconds. Lux could start firing Final Sparks every 5 seconds.

Elemental Drake Mechanics

"Drake Spawn Order: Random ⇒ The first three drakes are now always three unique elements. All subsequent drakes will be the same element as the third drake. Drake Spawn Window: 5:00 initial, 5:00 respawn until 35:00 ⇒ 5:00 initial, 5:00 respawn until one team has slain four drakes (see Dragon Soul section above). Health: 3500 (+240 per level, minimum level 6) ⇒ 2650 (+240 per level, minimum level 6) before the Rift transforms; 4350 (+240 per level, minimum level 6) for the third drake onward."

Dragons are now weaker in the early stages of the game, and stronger later on. This increases the priority on early dragons, potentially opening up more opportunities for junglers to sneak a solo dragon take in the first 6-7 minutes.