A Guide to Dragons in League of Legends in 2020
Wed 22nd Jul 2020 - 7:15pm
The dragons on the rift have been a staple of League of Legends. We have seen insane steals and the gradual stacking of dragon power ups throughout the history of the game. However, Riot wanted to make things different in Season 10, so they revamped the dragons to make them have more of an impact on the game and, boy, do they have an impact now. Because of that, it is very important to understand what the Dragons now offer, especially when it comes to that ever-important Dragon Soul. To explain this, each Dragon will be explained with how they changed and what that Elemental Soul does to help give your team a huge edge on the Rift.
Let’s start of by explaining the changes. Back before the new season started, Infernal Dragons and Mountain Dragons were grossly valuable and had a much bigger impact to the game then the other two dragons, Cloud and Ocean. This was because back then, Infernal Dragons offer up to a 24% increase in attack damage and ability power and the Mountain Dragon gave whoever slays it a buff that deals extra damage to monsters and even turrets, which helped take down neutral objectives much faster, which can make slaying a neutral objective like the Baron Nashor for example, look like a walk in the park. Compared to the other dragons, Cloud which offered bonus movement speed and Ocean which offered extra health regen when out of combat. Because of that, it was clear where players set their priorities on dragon wise.
Last season, Riot decided to end that and change the way dragons impact the game and they did indeed change things. They introduced the Dragon Soul, which would grant the team that slays four dragons a huge elemental buff from the dragon that lands after the second of the game has been slain. They also changed the buffs the Dragons gave, especially when it comes to the Elder Dragon. Finally, they made the environment of the Rift change according to which elemental dragon spawns third.
With these changes, specifically with the Soul, it makes slaying Dragons all more important. The Soul buff, unlike the Baron and Elder buffs, remain permanent throughout the whole game, meaning that whatever Soul you have, that's yours to do what you will until the match is over. With that, the Souls have become an essential part of winning matches on the Rift, all you have to do is look at the stats. According to GOSU.AI, which in part tracks the win rates of teams with Dragon Soul buffs, every Dragon Soul had a win rate of 78% or higher, the lowest being the Cloud Soul at 78.89%, followed by the Infernal Soul at 79.42%, the Mountain Soul at 79.68% and the highest being the Ocean Soul at a 79.91% team win rate. This is why it's important for junglers and teams to keep tabs on when Dragons spawn, because with each Dragon slain, a team gets one step closer to securing the all important Dragon Soul.
Now, let’s explore the changes made to each Dragon to gain a better understanding of them.
As previously stated, this dragon was and still is one of the most sought out Dragons on the rift. The additional raw damage buff is huge for a team, as it would give them the edge in a fight against their lane opponents. To change that, Riot downgraded the damage buff a single Infernal Dragon gives to the enemy team. Instead of giving the champions a big percentage buff, the Dragons give a smaller and more modest 4% increase in attack damage and ability power. This means that while the Dragon will still give out additional damage buffs, it won’t be as huge as it was in the past, giving the team that does not have the buff a fairer chance to fight back.
The Soul this Dragon provides champions with an area of effect explosion that deals damage plus additional damage based on the champion’s attack damage, ability power and bonus health they have picked up throughout the match. When this Dragon spawns in third, it burns away the brush and part of the barriers around the red and blue buffs on the Rift. This change gives players more angles to take a red or blue buff and gives them more avenues to roam when in the mid-to-late game.
This Soul works extremely well with champions that rely heavily on auto attacking, so Marksmen and melee champions like Jax, Yasuo, Varus and Vayne benefits greatly from this Dragon. It also works with mages that have low cooldowns on their abilities. Having a team comp that can utilize the explosion rapidly to deal its AoE damage will use the Soul's power to its fullest potential.
This dragon was called the most broken of the Dragons by many players, both pro and casual, because of how the buff of extra damage against monsters made slaying Dragons, the Rift Herald and Baron Nashor look like it took no real effort. To change that, Riot overhauled this Dragon to make its buff different, while still being a viable dragon to pick up. Instead of giving champions additional damage to neutral objectives, it gives champions a small bonus of armor and magic resist. When it comes to what it does for the map, it adds bluffs of rock in different areas in the jungle across the Rift. This offers new chokeholds for players to squeeze their enemies into and, in turn, gives area of effect champions like Orianna the chance to get a big wombo combo off.
The Soul for this Dragon offers some defense for the team that slays it. It grants the team a small shield against both attack damage and ability power and just like the Infernal Soul, the shield scales based off the bonus attack damage, ability power and bonus health. This gives the whole team a good barrier of self-protection when they go in on a fight or they get dove on by a team. Don't take it for granted though, as it will melt in an instant when you're against a high damage dealer, so it's best to utilize it as a team when in a teamfight rather then fighting 1v1s.
This Dragon, unlike the Mountain and Cloud and much like the Infernal, remains relatively intact when compared to its previous incarnation. In the past, the Ocean Dragon gave players a percentage of their health back when they have not taken damage from turrets or other enemy champions. The new version remains the same in its purpose, but instead with 2.5% of health regen every five seconds for every Ocean Dragon slain. The buff itself is best used in the early game, because it would make trading less of a risk and it helps a team recover quicker after being the victims of poke. When it comes to what it does to the map, it’s the most drastic and game changing. It adds more bushes and makes the bushes on the map bigger, allowing for teams more room to hide on a bush and get a surprise attack on the enemy team. It also adds more honeyfruit to the map, so players can top off on health and mana and can come back into a lane faster.
When it comes time to the Ocean Soul, that’s when things begin to get spicy. Every time a champion deals damage, it triggers a health regen for and restores mana over three seconds. Like with all the other Souls, both stack based on your bonus AD, AP and bonus HP. This works extremely well for most if not all champions, but to be more specific, tanks and ADCs can benefit the most from this buff. For tanks, ability to be the front line and deal damage, even it’s small, is huge for a team that carries the ocean soul, as the tank will merely be self-healing as they keep attacking and attacking. Trust me, you don't want to be on the receiving end of an Ocean Soul powered Dr. Mundo. For ADCs, with them attacking from a distance, it can provide them with fast health regen because of their scaled up attack speed, so picking champions that can attack rapidly to continuously trigger the buff would be best.
This Dragon was not as useful back before its rework. Sure, it offers bonus movement speed, but in comparison to the other buffs of additional AD and AP, bonus damage to monsters and health regen, it paled. When it came to reworking this Dragon, Riot kept the element of what it used to be, but also changed the Dragon buff to make it more valuable. In game, the buff offers a percentage cooldown reduction for a champion’s ultimate. This buff can work like peanut butter and jelly for champions that have low ultimate cooldowns like Lux and a saving grace for champions that have longer ultimate cooldowns like Ryze. What it does to the map, is make the movement speed around the jungle much faster. This works well for teams that need to keep tabs on a split pusher champion or to quickly move into a lane from deep in the jungle to help gank or defend.
The Soul this Dragon gives out is still very much in touch to its past roots. When you cast your ultimate, you gain a huge burst of movement speed. While not as viable as the other Souls, this works well for champions that need to move into a fight or move out of a fight after casting their ultimate, like Nunu and Willump, Swain, and Wukong.
This Dragon spawns in after the Dragon Soul has been claimed and has been a staple of the League of Legends late game. In the past, this Dragon carried a buff that granted a burning effect on attacks while also giving the team an increase of their previous buff’s strength by 50%. With that, if a team had the Mountain and slain the elder, they could make a move to Baron and slay it within seconds or if they had Infernal, they can melt anyone that gets in their way. To change that, Riot removed the buff to the bonuses gained by slaying Dragons and instead replaced it with an execute component. If anyone’s HP falls low enough, 20% to be exact, by any form of champion damage, they will be executed on the spot. There are very few ways to avoid this fate, but it is avoidable because of the one second delay before the execution. For this, you can use certain means of escape, such as by using a stopwatch at just the right moment or using ultimates that can save someone from that fate, such as with Kindred’s Lamb's Respite and Zilean’s Chronoshift.
Riot made these changes to give Dragons a bigger impact in the game and make them all equal in priority. For the most part, they accomplished that. Now, Dragons are more important than ever, with the Soul offering the team that earns it an all but certain winning fate. I hope that this guide helps out any newcomers and even some veterans to gain a better understanding to these changes. Good luck and see you on the rift, summoners!