Unwrapping Patch 7.22: Blue Essence and Level Caps

Unwrapping Patch 7.22: Blue Essence and Level Caps

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Yesterday we gave a quick and dirty breakdown of the identity-based rune system overhaul from patch 7.22. If you haven’t read it, you should probably head on over this way. Aside from runes, IP is a thing of the past, being replaced with blue essence, summoners are no longer capped at level 30 as Riot seems to have taken a somewhat questionable queue from Heroes of The Storm, and every single champion in the game has had their stats tweaked, although granted, that last change is tied to the Rune overhaul.

All sounds a bit daunting, doesn’t it? Well, fret not, we’re about to carve it out into nice, big, but digestible chunks. In this second article, I’ll be breaking down the IP to essence changes, as well as the removal of the level cap.

Nobody likes change

It’s always dangerous to change things up, once people have gotten used to it, as Riot know all too well. The IP removal has been heralded for a while now, as a means of making the currencies of League of Legends, easier. The changes intertwine all over, so the basics is this:

Spending IP on Runes never felt like you were doing something good with your points, but instead felt like you were being punished. You needed runes to compete, but they came at the expense of new Champions. Removing runes, however, would inflate the rate of IP pouring in, and give you almost nothing else to spend it on. It would just be Champion unlock tokens.

Riot identified the following concerns with the old system:

Spending IP on runes doesn’t feel good and comes at the expense of unlocking champs

Grinding to unlock champions takes too long, especially for newer players

Lots of players have huge IP balances with nothing to spend it on

The leveling system hasn’t aged well and offers nothing to longtime players

So going from here, step one was a new Rune system. From there though, something had to be done about the currency. The idea was to reward players for investing in League of Legends. Riot wanted to reward people who spent time and effort on the game and to emphasise this, they also removed the level cap. Not unlike Heroes of The Storm, your level cap, champion caps and so on, are now infinite. Every time you level up, you get Blue Essence and a loot box of sorts (because everything is a loot box today), called a capsule, with skin shards, champion chards and the like.

Riot argued that this system would see new players rewarded faster, while veterans might see their rewards slow down a bit (need more xp to level higher up) but it would still be more than what they were receiving right now (which is nothing, once you have all champs).

So a system that grants you Blizzard style rewards for levelling up, and free Runes. In theory, not bad. Except people aren’t liking it one bit. As has been shown on Reddit where several posts on the subject have sprung up ever since. Riot have been quick to respond to the criticism and stated that changes and tweaks will be made, so despite the launch, it’s not set in stone yet.

Hmmmmmm yeah that does feel bad. I think we didn’t really consider that spending BE on champ mastery could feel worse in the new system because it now comes at the expense of other good shit.

Thanks for pointing this out. We’re gonna think about what we should do.

- The Cactopus

Riot initially stated that the new system wouldn't slow anyone down or feel like a slog, and justified it with a lengthy post where they explained two scenarios about how to go about bulking up on essence. People were quick to dismiss this though, stating that the example given, with 2-3 games per day, wasn't representative of a large part of their audience.

Is it all Doom and Gloom?

So what does all this mean? Well. It means you’ll be spending longer unlocking new champions for free if you’re already high level and have a lot of them, which is where most the criticism stems from. New players will see rewards more often, and players with few Champions will find use in all the shards that drastically reduce the price of getting a new Champion, but casual long-time players will see their acquisition slow down. Math by Riot suggests that a casual player, playing 2-3 games per day and including the first win, should see enough Blue Essence to unlock a champion about once a week. Which seems fair enough, until we remember that there’s nothing casual about 2-3 games per day.

It’s not hardcore, but especially the older players might find that hard to squeeze in on a daily basis. Play any less than that, and the first win bonus isn’t guaranteed, and suddenly, you could be going at it for a while, before you see any progress. Like Overwatch and Heroes of The Storm, it’s also an “all or nothing” system, in which you get a reward when you level, and nothing otherwise, which can make some of these games feel like chores.

On the flip side, it’s a free game. The money’s got to come from somewhere, so expecting people to buy the occasional Champion probably isn’t unfair. But that’s neither here nor there.

The new currency does have other uses than Champion unlocking though. Some exclusive purchase options that you can't get in any other way have been added to the store, available for those who already have every champion and are looking for something to blow their stockpile on. The legacy Urfwick skin being amongst the “show-off” vanity options on sale, but be advised, it’s priced somewhere near the stratosphere. The same goes for the “I’m very rich” Poro icons.

This brings us to the level cap. Every level will see you get essence and some form of reward, be it Champion or Skin shards, emotes, icons and borders. It’s like Overwatch really, where every capsule either gives you that one skin you want, or more sprays and emotes that you’ll never use. Ever. Having said that, Riot have stated that the loot capsules are balanced, meaning that if you get a low-grade shard in there, it will include other higher rarity things to make up for it. Another thing to notice is that old accounts won’t be given capsules retroactively. IP has already been distributed for those levels, and that IP has been converted to Essence (or been spent already) so no freebies in that regard. All your bought pages and runes will be converted though, so you won't be logging in to find anything waiting for you, aside from the rewards for converted runes and pages.

An unforeseen consequence of the change is that you can no longer re-roll champion shards. Like all other games out there, duplicates are going to feel bad, as you disenchant them for very little. They can, however, be spent upgrading masteries, as Champion mastery levels 6 and 7 currently require blue essence to unlock, but Riot might be changing that soon enough, due to the community backlash.


If you’re lvl 30+ with a lot of champions already unlocked, getting new ones will feel marginally slower, there’s no way around it. Shards disenchant for less, can’t be rerolled, new champions are more expensive in essence cost to offset the loss of revenue from Runes and you won’t see any points or the like for games that didn’t give you another level. So while all runes are free, Champions may feel like they’re incentivising you to purchase them, more than before.

On the flip side, no currency is useless anymore, you'll get random shard drops when you level up, and once you have all champions, there will actually be something for you to use all your hard earned essence on, unlike before, where it was just sitting there, collecting dust. The changes are less "amazing" than the Rune changes but are necessarily entwined with the Rune changes and if we view them together, it's still a change for the better.

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