Riot Games is introducing a new game mode in League of Legends next week in a bid to get players forming teams and taking part in Clash tournaments.
Esports News UK takes an in-depth look at the new Clash mode, asks Riot Games and the UK competitive League of Legends scene for their thoughts, and finds out what the rewards are.
How does the Clash game mode work?
The new mode functions in the League of Legends game client, and allows players to form a team and enter casual tournaments to earn various in-game rewards.
Clash tournaments take place every two weeks and run across three days - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Players need to have Honor Level 2 and to have done their ranked placement matches to participate.
It's for all skill levels, so for example four Bronze players could have one Platinum player on their team, but it means they will likely face tougher opposition in their Clash matches (probably Silver+ on average), so it evens out.
All Champions are unlocked in Clash, and players have five days to put their team together and discuss strategies. Before a tournament starts, your team has 30 minutes to lock in.
You can see your opponents' stats and top picks, but they can see yours too, so expect your one-trick Vi to get banned.
You need a virtual ticket to enter Clash, which will give you basic rewards. Or, you can enter with five tickets, which counts as a premium entry and upgrades your prizes.
You can earn tickets from missions, from teammates or purchase them from blue essence or RP.
You get victory points from matches, and they add up after two full tournaments to unlock rewards like new trophies, logos and banners (see the 'rewards' section below for more info). If you lose during a Clash tournament, your team still earns some rewards as consolation.
Depending on your ability and past successes, you will be placed into a tier when entering a Clash tournament, and you stay in that tier throughout the tournament, for example it could be Tier 3, Tier 4 etc.
In a trailer, Riot said Clash will allow players to become 'the SKT of Bronze'.
How Riot is clamping down on smurfing
Riot says it has a few ways to prevent players smurfing in the Clash tournament mode. Smurfing is the act of playing on a lower-ranked account than the player's skill level, for example a Diamond player playing in Silver. It obviously creates an unfair advantage, and as a low-elo player myself I can confirm it saps the fun out of a match.
Riot said, as reported by Surrender at 20: "We take smurfing seriously and it's not allowed in Clash. To prevent smurfs, all players need to link their account to a valid mobile phone number."
Players can complete their SMS verification in the Settings menu or in the Clash tab. Their mobile number will be linked to their account for six months (VOIP/landline numbers aren't valid) and they will then be verified to play in Clash tournaments.
When does Clash launch in League of Legends?
The first Clash tournament begins next week on Friday May 25th and team creation opens on Monday May 21st.
Why Riot built Clash
Leanne Loombe, senior producer at Riot Games on the Clash team, explains the reasons behind adding the new Clash tournament mode.
"Essentially, League of Legends is a team sport and its best when you play with friends, with a team that you care about, like you do with other sports.
"Right now in League, there isn't really a reason to play with your team, and there's not really anything encouraging you to bring your friends together and play. We're currently lacking that motivation to really team up, get coordinated and play with your friends. So we wanted to provide that experience and that's where we saw the opportunity space.
"That's why we built Clash. It's all about bringing those other four people together and competing in a really high intensity experience. And it really elevates the game and gives purpose to that game.
"We're not saying ranked isn't important anymore, but League is a team game and that's where we want Clash to be the focus."
"This is for all skill levels. It isn't just for the highly skilled, highly competitive player. It is for every single League of Legends player to experience the tournament flow and the recognition that comes with it.
"We're not saying ranked isn't important anymore, but League is a team game and that's where we want Clash to be the focus.
"Our number one goal is to bring players together and to care about who they're playing with as well. An important part of any tournament experience is really that intensity and that feeling of the thrill and drive as you're going through that competition."
'Casual & fun' - UK LoL scene reacts to Clash
Esports News UK asked higher-tier players and those in the competitive UK League of Legends scene for their comments on the new Clash game mode.
It's a casual way to play competitively with your mates. Thats how I'd put it
— Foxdrop 🦊 (@Foxdroplol) May 15, 2018
Definitely for the casual audience, like old ranked 5v5 wasn't taken seriously and I doubt this will change especially when at least 5v5 had some promise for CSQ back in the day where as this is just fun prizes
— Dan (@AuxLoL) May 15, 2018
It's definitely a thing just for fun. There's no way it could be used for scrims, especially on top level teams.
— Crane (@CraneLoL) May 15, 2018
Completely casual but great fun and will bring people together again to play League! Also fun for a meme stream dream team or two 😋
— Mattheos (@MattheosTV) May 15, 2018
— Billy (@NutriLoL) May 15, 2018
Play for prizes thats all
— Demo (@eademov2) May 15, 2018
Not a higher tier, but when I used to play ranked 5v5 with a consistent group LoL felt like a totally different game.
I think it'll be a stepping stone into engaging with organised play for a lot of people, and I can only see that as a good thing.
— Peter Hartnell (@CounterfeitCast) May 15, 2018
for sure casual but it could open the door to more 'official' scrim platforms directly within the client as long as they were private. The main thing with scrims is that what happens in the match USUALLY is between those 2 teams and no-one else.
— Simon Best (@TheHiddenGFX) May 15, 2018
Top-laner Kirito said Clash would be 'free money', as he once said the UK Masters would be.
— 🎖🎖General Kirito - dZ 🇦🇹 (@dZKirito_) May 15, 2018
What are the rewards?
Participants can earn trophies, logos and banners for winning or taking part in Clash tournaments.
Winners will see their trophy at their Nexus in Summoner's Rift games for two weeks after a tournament. You can see the different trophies above: four-team bracket (blue), eight-team bracket (pink) and 16-team bracket (gold).
You can also learn capsules that have in-game goodies (below right), and can earn victory points to unlock standards (see below left).
There are also banner frames to unlock.
What is the Clash format and structure?
Clash is set over three days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Day one is a four-team bracket (win two matches to progress), day two is an eight-team bracket and day three is the final 16-team bracket, where teams complete for the championship trophy. Only teams that compete from day one can reach the 16-team bracket.
As a player you can play for one day, two days or three days, and your first day in Clash tournament can be any of those days. That first day will always be a four-team bracket.
If you win, you progress, and if you lose, you can buy back in on another day.
Riot says it has done this to add flexibility to Clash tournaments, and because it didn't want players to feel excluded if they can't play all three days.
Will Clash be used at higher-tier levels of play?
Esports News UK asked Riot who they think this mode will be popular with. Could it be popular with competitive Diamond+ players, or is it more for lower-tier casual players?
Riot Games senior producer Leanne Loombe replied: "I think for Clash, one of our core goals is that it's for all skill levels. So I definitely see this being for both casual and higher tier players.
"The cool thing about Clash is that for me personally I think it's really good for lower skill players as well, like Bronzies. Because now finally Bronzies have a way to win some pretty amazing rewards and show their accomplishments in a different way in comparison to solo, for example.
"As a Bronze player I can go into Clash and win a four-team bracket and come out with a trophy. So that for me is pretty cool."
Leanne added: "I think higher tier players will use Clash, I think it will be for slightly different reasons. I see the higher of Clash being very very competitive. And although the Bronze tier will be competitive as well, I think it will be more accessible to those players."
On Clash possibly being used for leagues and teams to scout players, Leanne commented: "It's not been one of our goals for Clash, however I do think it might happen naturally and it'll be super interesting to see if that happens. It's a competitive game mode so it might be a natural output."
'A welcome addition and something League has needed for a while now'
ENUK editor Dom Sacco shares his opinion on Clash
During the research process when putting together this article, I have to say I became more and more interested in Clash.
It's made me want to pick up the game again since I quit ranked League of Legends last year (mainly due to time constraints).
I think it's a great addition to the game and a welcome addition following Ranked 5s.
I'm sure it will bring lapsed players like myself back to the game. For me, League of Legends has needed a mode like this for some time now.
Ranked solo queue is like a rollercoaster. You can have one amazing evening with a three-win streak, then have a string of matches that are no fun, with AFK players, inters and flamers.
"Looks like it's time to get out of retirement, get punching with Vi again and get the Sacco Superstars team together"
What Clash does is encourages players to team up with their friends, have fun, forget about elo for a bit and feel like you've accomplished something over a day or two.
I would like to see more interesting rewards in Clash introduced in the future, perhaps rare skins or emotes that demonstrate your achievements in a particular Clash tournament or with a particular champion or position.
But for now this is definitely a welcome addition and I look forward to seeing what the community does with this new mode.
Looks like it's time to get out of retirement, get punching with Vi again and get the Sacco Superstars team together.