April 1st 2014: Riot Games announced a new gamemode, Urf, as an April Fool’s prank for League of Legends. Urf (short for Ultra Rapid Fire), features a more light-hearted gameplay that massively increases the pace of the game by reducing cooldowns of abilities, removing mana costs, increasing attack speeds, etc. The “future of League of Legends” as jokingly dubbed by Riot Games was made available to play for only one week, leaving many players craving for more and was one of the most highly requested gamemodes after its departure from League gameplay. Urf 2014 was played by professional teams and you can watch a game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5FOq93R29A
Fast forward to 2015, Riot first announced a new Urf known as NURF (a play on the gaming slang “nerf” which refers to the reduction of the effectiveness of something that was once considered powerful). Nurf is the total opposite of Urf: everything is set to turtle speed, leaving some players confused, some curious and some upset. Surprisingly (or not) on April 1st, Riot revealed that Nurf was just a prank and Urf will make its return to Summoner’s Rift.
This time, Riot went all out with the prank and hosted an URFitational, complete with top hats and monocles, involving current and former professional players. The Urfitational can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj9q3-YFteA (Skip to 20:35 if you just want to see gameplay).
While some aspects were tweaked to increase balance, the crux of the gamemode remains. Chaos, carnage and joy reign supreme as champions get steroid-level buffs. 80% cooldown reduction and unlimited mana? Urf makes me feel like a Korean pro-gamer, mashing my keyboard and mouse every tenth of a second as I attempt to dodge what is thrown my way, while also returning fire with anything and everything I have. Although quick, teamfights are enjoyable train-wrecks as 10 players make the futile attempt to outplay each other while unintentionally outplaying themselves in the ensuing chaos.
I have to say, it is incredibly rewarding to try out as many champions as possible and goof around with them, taking every advantage of their enhanced abilities. Playing with friends just amplifies the fun as comical things tend to happen in Urf. I laugh at myself while simultaneously sighing in embarrassment as I spammed all my abilities to kill a Shaco clone, causing it to hilariously explode — right in my face, killing me and my friend at the same time.
Last year, Riot gradually removed overpowered champions that unbalanced the game. This year however, Riot made tweaks to individual champions such as Kassadin by limiting his cooldown reduction to 50% instead of 80%, which helped to ensure that no champion needed to be removed from the rift. Of course, there is no way in hell the gamemode could ever be perfectly balanced as some champions will naturally be better than others and that is to be expected. However, I suggest not to take Urf too seriously and go with whatever champion you want to try out. Regardless of what the enemy team plays, just have a jolly good time playing with your team (except for all you dirty Sona and Hecarim players out there).
Urf is an incredibly fun gamemode that gives the original game some interesting tweaks. If you’ve never played League of Legends before, you might want to consider giving it a go just to get your feet wet. Like other gamemodes Riot has released before, Urf will only be available for a limited period of time. Play it while you still can!