LEC pros can’t wait for Chemtech Drake chaos to blow over
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Chemtech Drake —  two simple words added to the pantheon of newly introduced features for League of Legends that evoke mixed feelings from players. Riot Games’ trend of adding new mechanics to freshen up its multi-billion dollar baby is no stranger to courting controversy, but the Chemtech Drake? Just hop on Reddit to see how popular it is at the moment.

A list of reddit threads about players' problems with Chemtech Drakes
Reddit is full of threads complaining about League of Legends’ Chemtech Drake. | Created by E.G. Kant. Provided by Reddit

It’s currently so controversial that Riot announced it has “observed high levels of frustration around the Chemtech Soul” and if it “continues to frustrate players, we’re very open to higher scope changes, including reworks” according to the latest Quick Gameplay Thoughts article.

The LEC broadcast certainly had a field day with it recently. During the SK Gaming vs MAD Lions match, Daniel “Drakos” Drakos and Marc Robert “Caedrel” Lamont even joked about how much the subject came up on broadcast.

“I think we talk more about Chemtech than anything else [on LEC],” Drakos said. “Hextech? Who cares? We’ll get there when we get there.”

He also humorously added later, referencing MAD’s jungler Javier “Elyoya” Prades Batalla’s 3/0/0 kill/death/assist ratio while prowling around the Rift

“This is literally the John Cena rift,” Drakos said. “Elyoya on Diana is John Cena as far as I’m concerned.”

[Author’s note: Unlike John Cena, you can actually see this article. I hope.]

Chemtech Rift: Now you see me…

Caedrel, meanwhile, had already explained his issues with the new mechanic before its release. He focused on the Chemtech Fog, which engulfs parts of Summoner’s Rift and uses overly punishing camouflage that forces players to use unhealthy counter strategies to cope with it. And for the record, even Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng took a break from retirement to voice his displeasure, calling this particular map the “worst experience to play, by far.”

Much like Doublelift, SK Gaming’s support Erik “Treatz”  Wessén wasted no effort to sugarcoat his feelings about the new mechanic.

“I don’t like the Chemtech Rift or Soul to be honest,” Treatz said “The map is just dark since it’s obviously a fog, and it’s hard to get the vision you want. I think they’re both very boring and poorly designed, and they should get reworked.”

Astralis’ bot laner Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup also agreed with this sentiment.

“From solo-queue, I really dislike the map. It’s just a whole different game right?” Kobbe said. “There’s these areas in the jungle where you’re camouflaged and suddenly you cannot use the same wards. You need to think differently about the game. I mean, you can say it becomes a bit more random and it just becomes very different.”

The Chemtech Drake's rift, which fill the jungle with Chemfog
The Chemtech Drake’s rift creates an unbalanced advantage for the team ahead. | Provided by Riot Games

Despite the seemingly widespread distaste, there are pros on the other side of the argument. Team Vitality’s jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek actually enjoys the Chemtech Rift in solo-queue, though he did admit that as a concept, it is detrimental for pro play.

“My specialty is assassins, so it’s my favorite drake. But I think it’s super toxic for competitive LoL,” he said. “LoL is a game based around vision. You always fight for vision, you protect it and start fights around it. But this drake removes this element completely.”

He explained how if a team is winning, Chemtech Fog makes it much harder for the losing team to get back into the game because they cannot really know what’s waiting for them in their own jungle.

Rogue’s mid-laner Emil “Larssen” Larsson mentioned he hasn’t had too much experience with the Chemtech Drake overall, but based on what he’s seen, he may be in the minority of people who like the mechanic.

“I’ve seen people complaining but I think it’s fun, it’s new and it changes the game quite a bit,” Larssen said. “Change is often good, and I think it’s fun to play at least. Some people can be tilted but when there comes new changes, people won’t like it.”

Chemtech Soul: Zombies. Zombies everywhere

Those thoughts don’t even account for the other half of the new mechanic, which gives players free revives. And who doesn’t like that? It’s no problem if you make a mistake and die. Hell, just get a Guardian Angel, draft Zilean and you’ll never die.

OK, that’s an extreme example — but players haven’t been happy about the Chemtech Soul granting what is essentially a Sion passive to the whole team. While Riot nerfed it once more in the recent 12.2 patch, it is not clear whether that will help community sentiment simmer down.

The concept itself for professional play has already sparked much discussion, with the recent SK Gaming vs MAD Lions game in Week 1 painting a messy portrait of all that might be possible when a team secures the Chemtech Soul.

For MAD Lions top laner İrfan Berk “Armut” Tükek, who played that game himself, it proved to be a frustrating experience.

“They just have two lives. Especially with our composition, with Yasuo, Diana and Gwen, when we engage, it’s really hard,” he said. “Against this soul it was really hard because after you kill someone you have to back off, so you don’t have to deal with the zombie. So now we have to practically 5v10.

“I never faced this soul in my life before. I just played against it, so I hate it right now. It looks so strong.”

Kobbe agreed, adding that the concept of the Chemtech Soul is too big a departure from what the other five souls offer.

“What makes the game interesting to see is when you’re in a 5v5 fight and you one-shot the enemy carry and it’s game changing. But then there’s all these extra factors you have to account for,” Kobbe said. “It feels overdone.”

Selfmade was much, much more direct.

“The soul is bulls**t. It just doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to describe it. If you die, you’re supposed to die, right? It’s just dumb — simple as that,” he said.

Larssen maintained his different viewpoint. He said the concept of Dragon Souls needs to be strong. Otherwise it’s pointless for teams to contest them.

“There are souls that I think are very useless like Ocean and Cloud Soul and if you get four drakes, you should be rewarded because it’s quite an investment,” he said. “I honestly haven’t seen enough to have a great judgement on it, but it doesn’t seem overpowered, though it also seems quite strong. It seems good to me because I think it’s very bad when a soul is useless.”

How would pros change it?

A chemtech soul zombie, which pros would remove form the game if they could
Some pros would prefer if Riot Games removed the Chemtech Soul’s free revive from League of Legends. | Provided by Riot Games

It’s easy to complain, but luckily I’m certified Iron in Ranked, so I can do so as much as I please. No one will take what I think that seriously. The pros, with all the respect that comes with their position, at least have some solutions to fix their issues.

Armut suggested just removing the revive and adding extra base health.

“Hextech’s soul is for poke, so I would make Chemtech give hitpoints — Five hundred HP base stats or something to everyone on the team,” he said.

Treatz’s idea for the Rift was based on a suggestion he saw elsewhere.

“I saw a good suggestion where you change it from a camouflage to it functioning like Senna’s Curse of the Black Mist (E), where you can still see outlines of people walking about instead of being completely hidden,” he said.

As for the soul, he said Riot could go any direction they want as long as it took away the revives.

Selfmade is also not fully against the concept of the Chemtech Rift’s camouflage, but instead suggested moving it to the Dragon Soul itself.

“The soul could give you an active on boots that makes you invisible or camouflaged for a few seconds. I think that could be kind of cool,” Selfmade said. “Let’s not kid ourselves, though, this is most likely very strong since it would allow everyone to just group together for surprise engages. But it makes much more sense than the revive.”

Meanwhile, Kobbe went right past the notion of fixing Chemtech Drakes and took aim at the entire elemental drake system itself. He said it’s awkward that teams have to draft their team compositions without knowing what the game’s elemental rift will be.

“It’s been drake focused for such a long time that you can’t ignore it, and a lot of games eventually just turn into teamfights around it,” Kobbe said. “This makes the game a lot more boring in my opinion, because it removes elements of split-pushing or other creative strategies.”

Whether the recent nerfs to both the Chemtech Rift and Soul in 12.2 will be enough for both the casual and pro community to accept them remains to be seen. For now, prepare to continue seeing shambling zombies stalking the Rift when the Chemfog billows, haunting pros and casuals alike.