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League of Legends: A brief history of modes and maps

August 18 2022

League of Legends: A brief history of modes and maps
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Despite more than thirteen years of updates, changes, additions, and removals, there have been surprisingly few changes to the maps of League of Legends.

Throughout the years, several different maps featured various game modes for League of Legends, with only two maps remaining available today. Let’s look at how the League of Legends’ maps has evolved so far and learn more about the history of the game we all love.

League of legends maps history modes lore

Summoner’s Rift

The most popular map of League of Legends is Summoner’s Rift. This is the original map that still resembles the first version launched more than thirteen years ago during the Alpha stage of League of Legends back in 2009. The standout features of Summoner’s Rift include the three distinct lanes and the scattered neutral camps for which both teams compete. This map style is similar to its predecessor, Defense of the Ancients (DOTA).

Alternate versions of Summoner’s Rift

league of legends maps lore history

Throughout the years, the company behind League of Legends, Riot Games, has released various versions of Summoner’s Rift. The different versions include variants like the original Winter Showdown edition, the seasonal release for Autumn in 2010, and the Arcane and Bloodmoon variants in 2017.

Nowadays, seasonal variants of Summoner’s Rift are few and far between since the addition of the Elemental Rifts provided by the Elemental Dragons. Aside from the “normal” version of Summoner’s Rift, the Dragon Souls provide five, technically six, alternative versions of the rift, including Cloud, Mountain, Ocean, Hextech, and Infernal. In addition, a sixth elemental rift does exist from the Chemtech Dragon; however, it is currently unavailable in League of Legends. 

Each elemental rift provides different changes to the Summoner’s Rift. For example, the Cloud Drake creates areas in both teams’ jungles where champions gain increased movement speed. Similarly, Infernal Drake removes various brushes and certain structures from the map. Ocean and Mountain have the opposite effects to Infernal, as they instead add brushes and structures. Lastly, Hextech Drake brings “Hex technology” to this map, which creates portals that allow players to quickly traverse from their base to other regions of Summoner’s Rift.

Alcove Gaming

league of legends maps lore history

A rare change to the actual structure of Summoner’s Rift happened with the League of Legends 9.23 update. This update added two “alcoves,” which provide a new hiding area in the outer corners of the top and bot lane. While the areas aren’t particularly impactful in most League of Legends games, they have led to some interesting situations over the years in competitive play.

Howling Abyss, Proving Grounds & the Magma Chamber

league of legends maps lore history

Aside from Summoner’s Rift, the next most popular map in League of Legends is the Howling Abyss. Proving Grounds was the original map for the All-Random-All-Mid (ARAM) game mode since Season one. The Howling Abyss replaced the original ARAM map back in Season three of League of legends. This map has various features to aid the ARAM game mode, including healing locations, Poros, and ARAM-specific items.

In addition to the ever-popular ARAM game mode, the Howling Abyss also features various temporary game modes, including Showdown, Poro King, and One-for-All: Mirror Mode.

The Magma Chamber

league of legends maps lore history

The Howling Abyss isn’t actually the only single-lane map in the history of League of Legends. Back in 2013, Riot Games revealed the unreleased map called the Magma Chamber. This was originally designed as another 5v5 style map with a different feel than Summoner’s Rift but was never made available to the public.

Despite many requests from the community, the only time we saw the Magma Chamber was during portions of the 2013 All-Star event. To this day, players hold out hope of getting the chance to play the Magma Chamber as a 1v1 map in League of Legends.

The Twisted Treeline is gone but never forgotten

league of legends maps lore history

While new players have probably never heard of the Twisted Treeline before, as Riot Games removed the game mode almost three years ago, the classic 3v3 map had a dedicated community of players who loved it dearly. The Twisted Treeline was designed with an entirely different style than the other maps of League of Legends, featuring two lanes and a jungle portion alongside its “Baron Nashor,” the Vilemaw.

Since its official release in March of 2010, a dedicated community of players and content creators developed their own strategies and playstyles separate from Summoner’s Rift. However, even if the map went through many iterations, it never gained enough popularity to justify keeping up to date. The Twisted Treeline also had various map-specific items that combined tools from Summoner’s Rift to create more powerful ones and to accommodate the mode's faster-paced playstyle. It's unlikely that the map will return to League of Legends, as Riot has publicly shared their intention to keep different, permanent maps to a minimum as they cause the player base to become divided. This also increases queue times and creates other matchmaking problems at higher ranks.

Crystal Scar (Dominion)

league of legends maps lore history

The last different League of Legends map that players may remember is Crystal Scar from the Dominion game mode. While Riot disabled the original Dominion mode in 2016, players can still access the Crystal Scar map during the rotating game modes Ascension and Definitely not Dominion.

For players unfamiliar with the Dominion game mode, it was effectively the League of Legends version of Capture the Flag. Players compete to capture the five points on the map, reducing the enemy team's total points. After gaining the majority of the points, the opposite teams’ counter decreases, and they continue to decrease even faster when more points are captured simultaneously.

The distance to walk a full lap of the Dominion map is roughly 28,000 units. Comparatively, the League of Legends map from corner to corner is approximately 20,000 units in total. Other interesting aspects of the Crystal Scar map include the Dominion game mode’s unique items and the various shrines on the map, which grant different powerful buffs. These include speed-ups, or stronger relics, like the Greater Relics: Shield & Lightning that provide extra damage and shielding powers.

If this history has made your fingers itch to play League of Legends, why not check out G-Loot? With the G-Loot tracker you can record your LoL stats and earn various rewards, just by having it on in the background!

Arend Zijdenbos

Arend Zijdenbos
Arend Zijdenbos

Writer. Explorer. Gamer.