Riot Games have updated their blog with the plans for League of Legends' 2019 ranked season changes. It may look a little early to talk about Season 9 now, which prompts one question - why exactly are they announcing the changes so soon?
According to Riot's employee Sapmagic, ranked progression exists in order to provide milestones and meaningful goals for players. Apparently Riot Games started thinking about potential changes to the system some time in 2017. One of the issues they stumbled upon was that hardcore players who excel at multiple positions didn't have receive enough recognition.
Thus, the idea of role based ranks was born. Players' rank will now be separately tracked for each of the five positions in League of Legends. For example a one trick pony type of Yasuo may be Diamond in mid lane, but Bronze in the jungle. Players who can play multiple positions will likely have less of a discrepancy between their ranks. Riot Games' current plan is to unify the rank once again if a player reaches Master tier.
Diamond and Bronze tiers apparently have way too many players whose skill discrepancy is too high. To that end, Riot Games introduce two new tiers next to Diamond and Bronze. In order to compensate for increased number of tiers, one division will be removed from each tier in order to keep player progression visible and somewhat fluid.
Ranked seasons will consist of three splits. While a player's rank will still be reset only at the end of a season, there will be more opportunities to earn rewards at the end of each split. This change aims to reduce the players' frustration at the placement matches, with their main argument being that some players can earn the same rewards in ten matches that other players earn in one hundred or more matches. I don't see how this change will fix anything, but maybe Riot Games will provide more clarification as we delve further into Season 8.
There will also be a new tutorial and auto-buy systems that will ease new players into the game. On top of the info listed above, this pretty much spells out Riot Games are trying to bring new players into League of Legends and keep them in it. With the super early announcement, one might argue it also sounds like the game is shedding players and Riot are now grasping at straws.