On the 19th of January, the Asia and Southeast Asia (SEA) Shards will be merging into the Asia-Pacific, or APAC, Shard.
For those not playing on the Asia or Southeast Asia shard already, this merge will not affect you.
A full breakdown of all of these is as follows, taken from Riot’s official article found here:
We’re merging the Asia and SEA shards to improve the overall experience for players in these regions, shortening queue times and providing an opportunity for more players to play together across regions.
No action is required from players on these shards – the process is fully automated.
Coin prices and in-game store prices will stay the same for all players within their respective region.
All player data is being maintained in the transfer, with the exception of match history.
Rank / Master Rank LP, MMR, Prime Glories, The Path of Champions progress, and personal Collections are fully-maintained.
The Asia and SEA shard Seasonal Tournaments are also being merged into a single tournament, starting with the Magic Misadventures Seasonal Tournament.
The top 700 ranked Masters players from the combined Leaderboard will qualify for the Open Rounds after the cutoff on February 3 at 11:59PM SGT (Feb 4 at 12:59AM JPT / Feb 3 at 7:59AM PT).
The full Seasonal Tournament schedule with updated times for the Open Rounds and Playoffs will be available in the near future.
At this point in time, no additional shard merges are planned, but we’ll provide an update if that changes in the future.
For those who don’t know, Server Shards are a common regulation strategy games developers use to handle online play. By having their players register where they are, they can enter games with people in the same region, which keeps gameplay consistent and reduces latency. Only playing against people within their shard is necessary for a lot of games with a large ping, but many players have critiqued the region lock on LoR.
Many gamers wonder why the region locks are necessary. For card games, the latency a player feels is so small it’s hardly noticeable, so play between players across regions is not really a concern. In the past, there has been cross server play in direct friend challenges, but Riot disabled this feature in February 2021.
With this merger of two, smaller servers, we get the indication that maybe Runeterra is getting closer to being globalised.
The community reactions in these shards have been very positive so far. Reddit User u/reloyal says that “The player base has decreased so quickly that it takes quite long to find a match in high rank nowadays compared to a year ago.” This loss of a player base is concerning, and may have been what prompted this change from Riot, but the decrease in queue time will bring more play over all.
Reddit user u/pfeifenix made the interesting note that “SEA can finally get statistics. In a way […] I can finally use some sites. Yey”. By being the smallest server, their data for the metagame may have been smaller than most, so they may actually be able to understand the wider metagame in their new server shard.
Multiple comments on both Reddit and Twitter have asked why there hasn’t been a total merger of all server shards in this way. Riot says in their main article that “no additional shard merges are planned”.
With this exciting news, we have to wonder how this will affect Seasonal Tournaments. Previously, it was the four server shards picking their top 1024 players, but now there’ll only be 3 cohorts for Seasonals? Riot themselves say that “Rank / Master Rank LP, MMR, Prime Glories, The Path of Champions progress, and personal Collections are fully-maintained”, so players can expect a surge of new people filling their region, making their competitive climb harder? I know some players will both welcome and hate this sudden challenge.
In any case, the player base becoming more cohesive like this is definitely for the game’s benefit, and we look forward to more hands on community support from Riot going into 2022.