A Guide To Understanding LoL Patches In-Depth

Every League of Legends player is always excited to see the next LoL patch that comes out to see how the game will change for the next few weeks. Patches in League of Legends come out regularly for a myriad of reasons, all intended to make the game more interesting for the majority of players. If you’re new to League of Legends, you might not know how these infographics work and what the changes mean. That’s why we’ve prepared a guide to help you understand them better.

Types of LoL Patches

There are three types of League of Legends patches which is the regular patch, seasonal patch, and hotfixes. Each of these three patches comes out on different occasions and has unique purposes.

1. Regular Patches

Regular LoL patches are the standard patch that you always see. They come out every 2 weeks, with the information about the changes being announced a week before. Regular patches often include champion changes, item changes, gameplay changes, minor bug fixes, events, new skin/champion releases, reworks, and rotating game modes. Depending on the number of changes, the patch size can be anywhere from 50-800MB.

LoL Patch Notes 11.20 inforgraphic showing changes in the game
Regular Patch Notes

Since the information is released beforehand, players often get to test it out on the Public Beta Environment to determine if the changes are either too strong or too weak. The Riot Games development team is in-charge of always adding changes to the game to make it more interesting for players. Despite constant changes, there is still no guarantee that the game will be perfectly balanced after every patch.

2. Seasonal Patches

Seasonal Patches are special patches that only come out once a year. These are usually released after the regular season has ended which is after November of every year. The purpose of the seasonal patch is to introduce the new game mechanics in League of Legends which usually completely change everything about how the game is played. These include changes in Summoner’s Rift, the item shop, objectives, champions, and other in-game interactions.

Specialized LoL Patch Note infographic for the new season
Seasonal Patch Notes

Seasonal patches require more time being tested in the Public Beta Environment because of how big the changes are going to be. You can expect the seasonal patch to be a few gigabytes in size so it’ll take a while to download the game all over again. The purpose of the Seasonal Patch is to make sure that League of Legends stays interesting for the next year, introducing completely new mechanics that improve the overall experience.

3. Hotfixes

Hotfixes are emergency patches that are not released regularly. These only come out when the game experiences a game-breaking bug or a specific champion or item is extremely overturned that it disrupts the playing experience for other players. Most hotfixes are really small so the updates are really quick.

Heimerdinger as a mechanic
Emergency Hotfixes don’t have infographics!

The speed of the hotfix depends on the severity of the problem. Sometimes, the developers won’t give a hotfix until later on in the patch when too many people really start abusing it. There are also some hidden bugs that players don’t discover early so a hotfix can arrive really late. If the bug isn’t gamebreaking in any way, the developers might consider adding the fix on the next regular patch instead.

How to Read Patches

There are 4 parts to a regular LoL patch. If you want to learn how a patch works, you need to understand what each of these parts do. Since most patches have the same system, the information that you can get here is uniform to any future or past patchnotes that you can get.


Nerfs refers to a champion or item being tuned down because it has been performing too well in the previous patch. When a champion or item is nerfed, either the values of their abilities are lowered so that they are not as potent in battle or a part of their ability is removed. The reason why most champions are nerfed is that they have too high of a win rate and pick rate in League of Legends. The goal of a nerf is to bring a champion back to a state that is playable enough to get an average win rate.

The average win rate in League of Legends is 50-55% and anything above that is considered overpowered if the pick rate is at least above 2% globally. You can check out these stats on websites like u.gg or op.gg. Every change that the Riot Games Development Team does depends on the current state of the LoL Meta. Developers may opt for a hard nerf, essentially making it unplayable for a few patches until they come up with a working solution or a soft nerf that allows the champion to still be playable.


Buffs refer to a champion or item being upgraded because it either has not been performing well or it has an incredibly low pick rate. When a champion or item is buffed, either the values of their abilities are increased or they are a part of their ability is changed to benefit them. The reason why most champions are buffed is that they have too low of a win rate and/or their pick rate in League of Legends is too low. The goal of a buff to make a champion more appealing to play for the players.

The average win rate in League of Legends is 50-55% and anything below that is considered underpowered if the pick rate is at least above 2%. If the pick rate is below 0.5%, the champion will be put under investigation to determine why they have been so prioritized so low. Buffs may also be given to champions if the previous LoL patch has issued a nerf on that champion which is deemed to harsh that the champion has completely lost all of its combat ability.


Adjustments/Changes can either be a nerf or buff with the intent simply being to fix a champion. When adjusting a champion, they will either change a part of the ability into something else that they deem to be equal or they will lower one value and increase another to give the champion more identity. An example for this is if an intended Ability Power champion is working too well on Attack Damage items, they’ll lower the AD conversion and increase the AP conversion on their abilities.

Champions aren’t the only things that can get adjusted. Riot Games releases adjustments or changes on items and other game mechanics such as jungle camps more frequently than champs on LoL patches. The reason is that nerfing or buffing items or mechanics can’t immediately solve the issue at hand so it’s more efficient to redesign it completely. Riot Games has to be very careful adjusting items so that it doesn’t turn into a completely new problem altogether.


The New+ tab is pretty self-explanatory. It contains all the new stuff that will be added to the game such as new skin lines, champion releases, item additions, game modes, and events. In case of Seasonal Patches, they will include the new mechanics to the game as well. New additions arrive every month since the Riot Games Design Team always make sure to create new skins for champions.

In terms of gameplay, this part is the most unimpactful since it’s mostly cosmetics and game modes with the new champions only being added quarterly at best. However, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye out for these things so that you don’t accidentally miss out on something new that will be added to Summoner’s Rift. Although, that’s extremely unlikely since new champions and gameplay features are promoted through various trailers weeks before.

How are Champion Nerfs/Buffs Determined?

We already mentioned a few general things on how these nerfs, buffs, and adjustments are determined but there are a lot more factors that go into the investigation. To be more specific, we need to go to the environment where these changes are determined. There are two major environments where these nerfs and buffs are investigated and those are the general and professional scenes. Let’s check how these environments affect the outcome of future LoL patches.

General Environment

The general environment refers to the general players that play League of Legends casually. As mentioned before, this is determined by comparing the win rate to the pick rate of the champion on a global scale. Additionally, there are three additional environments where these nerfs and buffs are investigated and those are related to the ELO of the player. The three ELOs include Average, Skilled, and Elite, which are color-coded on the LoL patch infographics.

A picture of the solo queue lobby
Some general changes for the public

ELO is a good way to separate which champions need nerfs and buffs because picks and bans are completely different as you go up the rankings. Since there is no real meta in the low ELO environment, Riot Games begins at the Average skill level which is somewhere around the Gold Division. As you go up in the ladder, players will begin playing the hardest champions to play in the game which is why there needs to be different nerfs according to these divisions.

Professional Environment

The professional environment refers to the esports scene and mostly covers the meta in most of the major and intermediate regions. This is measured by how the esports players choose champions and how impactful those are in the game. Even though the esports meta is completely different than the solo queue meta, Riot Games still includes the nerfs and buffs in the LoL patch on the regular LoL client so that professional players can practice these champions outside of pro-play.

FNC Bwipo playing League of Legends on stage
Patch notes for the Pros!

A lot of players complain on how champions get nerfed to the ground even though they are really weak in solo queue. An example is Jayce, who has an incredibly low win rate in Solo Queue but is one of the best top laners to play in the esports scene. Since the esports scene draws a lot of viewership and fans don’t want to watch the same meta over and over, Riot Games needs to change that by applying esports-specific nerfs and buffs to promote diversity every LoL patch.

How to Read LoL Patches

Now you have everything you need to know about the different part of the LoL patches and why they are included which gives you a general idea on how to read these patches and determine how each of them has been added. However, there is the problem of learning how to determine if a change in the champion is good or bad. After all, you don’t want to play a post-nerf champion thinking that the changes are small enough only to realize that the champion has basically become unplayable.

the 11.16 LoL patch notes infographic
Learn what they mean

It’s completely unreasonable to expect beginners to understand if the value in a nerf or buff is good or bad. After all, for a completely inexperienced player, the numbers don’t really make any sense. However, it’s a good idea to study it by testing out the nerfs every patch until you get a general feel of how those small numbers affect your gameplay. You can also get updates from some analysts on YouTube or follow them on social media to get a general run-through of which changes are good or bad and why.

What Should I Do If A Champion is Nerfed or Buffed?

Depending on how good (buff) or bad (nerf) the change is, you should play (buff) or stop playing (nerf) a champion. Overpowered buffs are really good to abuse before the next nerf comes it if it’s really broken, you might see a hotfix coming soon. If you’re trying to rank up quickly, you might want to consider abusing the strongest champions post-patch so that you’ll have the best chances of winning the game for your team.

Nerfed champions should be approached with caution. Some champions are nerfed to the ground and will not give you a higher chance of winning. If you’re confident about your ability to use the champion that’s nerfed then you shouldn’t worry too much about it. Always do your research before using a champion by checking online resources for the pick rate and win rate of a champion.

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