Back in the day when yours truly was still a young boy and enjoyed League of Legends only occasionally, there was a game mode called Dominion. It wasn’t the most popular mode in LoL and frankly speaking, it wasn’t the most exciting one to play.
But… it was unique and fun enough to make so many pleasant memories in my mind as well as in many other players.
And before the younger generations of LoL players say “ok boomer”, let me take you on a journey in League’s history and tell you about a cool period when Dominion existed as a fun and different experience to traditional 5v5 Summoner’s Rift.
Dominion Was Pretty Fast-Paced for Its Time
The first thing that made Dominion a unique game mode was the lack of laning, gold and experience farming, and clear role definitions. There was no waiting for minions to spawn either.
Instead, Dominion allowed players to team fight right from the start. The whole game mode revolved around controlling bases that were scattered all over the map. And sometimes the two teams would go to one particular turret and teamfight in the first minute.
But the whole game mode was fast-paced. Since you didn’t have to destroy enemy turrets but only capture them, the dynamic of the mode was actually pretty frantic. Players were constantly forced to move around and recapture points, often fighting for them to death.
And this contrasted Summoner’s Rift’s methodical gameplay.
But also, the matches in Dominion often lasted for less than 20 minutes. And this fast-paced nature of the mode made was loved by a niche of LoL players, including me, who found it super interesting and refreshing.
The Unique Map Design of The Crystal Scar
Dominion’s official map was called The Crystal Scar. In my opinion, this was a beautiful map even for the old days when League’s graphics were still rough as hell.
The Crystal Scar was a relatively small map, circular in design, quite different from both the old Summoner’s Rift and Twisted Treeline, but also perfect for the game mode.
There were five capture points, or turrets, on The Crystal Scar scattered around its edges. Most of the action in Dominion happened around these capture points because controlling them meant victory. It was enough to control three (one more than the enemy team) at a time to ensure a win.
But The Crystal Scar also had other unique elements. There were speed shrines, health relics, and even storm shields, essentially buffs that made the gameplay very exciting. Some of these elements never made it to Summoner’s Rift.
Decision-making Over Skill and Mechanics
Dominion was more about quick decision-making rather than game knowledge and mechanical skill. The whole point was to capture and control turrets, so itemization and teamfight strategy really didn’t impact the outcome in any significant way.
Instead, if you queued as a team in Dominion, you had to coordinate well with your friends and hold the objectives. In a way, the game mode was all about macro play and watching your minimap so you can determine what the next best move is.
I often say that Dominion was the closest thing we had in League of Legends to a World of Warcraft battleground. You were awarded for good positioning and being smart, so you could win even if you didn’t have the greatest mechanical skill.
No Snowballing Effect
One of the most appealing aspects of Dominion for me personally was the reduced snowball effect. Back then 5v5 League of Legends was a much more “snowbally” game, and a single kill in lane early on could allow you to carry an entire game.
However, Dominion wasn’t like that at all. It actually kept the game exciting all the way to the end if both teams were evenly matched.
Because Dominion focused on point capture rather than objective destruction, the game score was always changing. That allowed comebacks and turnarounds all the time. And even if a team controlled four out of five capture points, a well-coordinated push from the other team could quickly take their place.
This also meant that early game mistakes were not as punishing in Dominion. So players could take risks and make aggressive plays without the fear of setting falling too far behind. I personally loved this because it simply meant more fun!
Dominion Created Unforgettable Memories
Although this is true for modern League of Legends as well, Dominion really gave us some unforgettable memories. In fact, there were so many clutch games where I won purely by capturing a turret when the enemy team was close to winning and taking the victory myself.
Dominion had its own meta and strategies that players enjoyed. It allowed us to experiment with crazy picks that we simply couldn’t in a ranked solo queue. And it let us play forgotten champions that were almost never picked on Summoner’s Rift (like old Sion).
So the Dominion’s memories will always be something I treasure. And I’m sure most players who were around that time would do the same.
Which leads me to my next point – if the game mode was loved and played and had the power to create pleasant memories in us, why the hell did Riot Games remove it from League of Legends completely?
Why Did Riot Games Remove Dominion from LoL?
Despite its unique appeal, Riot Games removed Dominion from League of Legends in February 2016 due to a lack of consistent player engagement in the game mode. In other words, not enough players actually played Dominion and they didn’t do it consistently either.
Riot Games even stated that a small percentage of the player base queued for Dominion which eventually led to extremely long queue times. And it didn’t make sense to them to continue spending resources in a game mode that players actually didn’t play.
Dominion was also confusing for many people, especially newer players. Since it was so different that Summoner’s Rift, it didn’t actually help educate them about the main game mode. So Riot thought it was best to remove it and focus on SR instead.
Will Riot Games Ever Bring Back Dominion in LoL?
This question has been asked thousands of times across the League of Legends forums and subreddits.
And although it’s impossible to predict the future with 100% certainty (since Riot Games can always change their minds) we can safely say that Dominion will never come back to League of Legends.
Since its removal, Riot has focused on improving Summoner’s Rift, adding more champions, more skins, more item changes, and so on. And I see no indication whatsoever that they will change their minds in the future.
Moreover, Riot Games have added TFT, a game mode that actually has a big player base. Not only that but they’ve also launched other games like Legends of Runeterra and Valorant. And they do launch temporary game modes like Nexus Blitz and ARURF.
So it’s safe to say that we’ll never get to experience Dominion again. And it’s a shame because the game mode was unique and unrepeated ever since.