So here we are, and the day our small community feared would come has arrived. As you'd expect, reactions have been mixed. Sure, there's lots of talk of quitting league and defeatism is rampant. After all, we knew this day was coming. We saw what happened to Dominion and Nexus Blitz; we saw the population numbers subtly posted in dev blogs and tweets; and we knew that the end was near.
And still some players have had a different reaction: jubilation. In their eyes, the often memed and forgotten map born together with Summoner's Rift in 2009 has come to an end. Gone are the bizarre shapes and map features that kept most of League's population a few mouse clicks away all these years. Gone are the shifting metas that caused them to write a dozen reddit posts about imbalance. Gone are the toxic trolls and rift rejects who have made the twisting trees their home. For these players, the dev post signalling the end of The Twisted Treeline on its 10 year anniversary was met with a muttered "good riddance." But not all of us feel this way.
And we're not gone yet.
The purpose of this post is threefold: to acknowledge Riot's role in creating the Twisted Treeline's problems and how those led to criticisms and a low population; to address Riot's failure to openly look for any solutions whatsoever; and ultimately to make the case for the reversal of Riot's decision to retire The Twisted Treeline at the end of this season.
We can't do this without your support. Riot Games does not exist without the League of Legends community. And we, the community, control the decisions that Riot makes - not the other way around. We don't have to accept the retiring of a piece of League's history, the death of a community united in fighting for survival, and the end of an era of ranked gameplay that didn't fit within the eSports cookie-cutter box. The map doesn't die when they kill it - it dies when we stop fighting.
Now I know there's no shortage of criticism for the map, so I'd like to talk openly and honestly about the biggest one. The truth is that Funnel Meta has ostracized many newcomers to the map and prevented curious players who hear about it from joining the community. When compared to the Funnel Meta that took over LCS on Summoner's Rift, the same criticisms of low map interaction and boring laning phases are completely warranted. There are 2 main responses to this:
First, the 3v3 community has advocated for years to make low resource buffs to junglers to give them a stronger role. I've personally written about these in length on the various reddit posts about Twisted Treeline funneling over the years. Riot hasn't even acknowledged that there are map-specific ways of fixing the Funneling problem or talked with any 3v3 players about what small changes could be made to strengthen junglers.
Second, jungling is a proper counter to funneling if you coordinate invades to the enemy jungle and gank weak lanes - even without the changes mentioned above. Many top 3v3 teams have employed junglers to punish greedy, farm-focused funneling teams to great success. With the combination of buffs to early pro-activity and greater knowledge of the map, jungle mains will have no problem crushing even the strongest funnel teams.
Funneling and Jungling co-existing together is a beautiful source of strategic diversity for the game. After all, with the LCS getting their builds from analysts and most of Solo Q copying the LCS, when was the last time Summoner's Rift felt like it had more than one viable strategy at a time? There's nothing wrong with one map being the game designers' focus, but the people enjoying their game should have other map options for playing competitively and employing different strategies.
And that's the underlying problem at the heart of The Twisted Treeline's retirement: Riot doesn't want to give players the option of how to enjoy their game. They want you to play and watch 5v5, and they will do anything - no matter the cost to other maps or modes - to keep their player base inside their client and a few clicks away from spawning into Summoner's Rift. They create interesting maps and game modes like Nexus Blitz to get people to return to League, and then kill those modes as soon as Summoner's Rift activity begins to increase. And if another game developer creates an exciting project that takes off on Twitch, then they will effectively copy a version of that game with their own assets. But even Teamfight Tactics' stated purpose is to relieve frustration between games of Summoner's Rift. While maintaining relevance is expected from a gaming company, the kicker is that Riot no longer cares about supporting any game mode that doesn't increase LCS viewership and participation in Solo Q games. Riot Games no longer cares about creating a diverse experience for their players.
The story of The Twisted Treeline is a chronicle of a map foretold. Our map was born dying, and has been allowed to die ever since. Don't believe me? Check out this list of all Twisted Treeline changes since June of 2015. Our community has been crying out for changes for over 7 years since the last rework of the map. In fact, if you ask around you'll even find that most people preferred the pre-reworked Twisted Treeline and stopped playing the map after the overhaul was made. We've reached out to Riot dozens of times to get them to speak with the community. Riot never answered us. We gave them a list of changes that would help balance the map and bring in new players. Riot never answered us. We asked to be the grunt labor in updating recommended items for all champions on our map (Ezreal is recommended to build Sterak's Gage, by the way). Riot never answered us. We begged them for any channel of communication, any change to increase the map's popularity, any work that we could do as a community to save our map. Riot never answered us.
And now they tell us the map is going to be retired. They tell us the map is unpopular and that queue health is a concern. They tell us the map looks outdated and fails to be a quality gameplay experience.
Well of course it has problems, Riot. You created them. When you ignored the community's input on fixing the blatant issues with the map, you created the problem of under-population. When you chose complacency over working to increase the map's population, you allowed The Twisted Treeline to slip into disrepair. This disrepair compounded with failures to update the map as the game evolved, both aesthetically and with new mechanics such as turret plating, first turret gold, and champion kits (Qiyana still does not have access to River buff in 3v3, even after her update for ARAM). You couldn't even be bothered with the most basic of incentives to play the map like earning Mastery tokens and Mission rewards. The truth is that the map was on the chopping block for years, and you only had to wait until outdated art and balancing issues drove it to become a forgotten meme. And now, on the eve of its 10th anniversary, you announce that its number is up.
You say that your team "debated" giving it a balance update like ARAM, a map without even a ranked queue. Forgive us if we don't believe you for one god damn minute. You have the audacity to claim balancing was considered when you have barely even referenced the map in 7 years. In the same blog where you announced continued ARAM balancing, where you tell us ARURF is returning, where you crown TFT as the primary way of "unwinding between ranked games", you expect us to believe that Riot HQ hotly contested a Twisted Treeline map update? You didn't reach out to one single player in the community to get feedback on what those changes would look like. So no, we don't believe you. We have nearly a decade of inaction and non-communication that speaks louder than a few clumsy paragraphs in a developer blog.
So what can the League of Legends community do to stop the map's retirement? You can help by doing everything possible to raise awareness that we are here, we have a voice, and we want The Twisted Treeline to stay in the game.
Please start by posting your favorite memories of the treeline; how you found it; what you want changed; what the end of this 10 year old map would mean to you.
For those of you with connections to the Brazilian, Latin American, Korean, Chinese, and all other servers, please spread the message that we are not letting our map die without a fight.
Tweet out your thoughts and tag Rioters, share this with your discord servers, and go to the crosspost on the Riot Games boards and reply there.
Share your video reactions to the map's removal. One of the most touching ones I've seen can be found here.
Consider joining 3v3 tournaments, like the one u/kuferl is hosting on EUW. We need to show that people still have an interest in playing our map.
Check out any of the amazing content creators for the Twisted Treeline community, such as u/metamilo 's incredible website (DoubleDorans.com) or Williethewhale's educational youtube channel. These guys have put hundreds of cumulative hours into their content, and are an argument for keeping the mode by themselves.
If we do nothing, our map is gone and the community dies with it. If we do nothing, the precedent is set that no permanent game mode will last if it dips in popularity, and Riot need not consult with the community for ways to save dying maps. First Dominion and now The Twisted Treeline.
Ask yourself what kind of game you want League of Legends to be. Because if you don't have an answer ready or you're not willing to fight for it, then Riot will make the decision for you. We have until November to make our voices heard.
As for me, I don't plan on this season being my last dance with Vile'maw. I'll see you on the treeline.
((Special thanks to the friends and members of the 3v3.gg discord server that helped me in drafting this post))