What is this guide about?
It can be quite difficult as a Set 10 player to get a good grasp on the Headliner mechanic. How exactly does it work, how often do you have to roll to see the same unit again and does selling a unit even make a difference?
In this guide I will try my best to go over every Headliner Rule in the game, so you know what to expect when rolling down your gold.
The publicly known rules for Headliners are:
- If you don't have a Headliner, you will receive one in every shop
- If you have a Headliner, then you will see a new one every 4 shops
- You have to sell your current Headliner to buy a new one from the shop
This is more or less what Riot was willing to share with the playerbase, but they left out a lot of the fine details.
The Halfway Rule
To combat a problem with the Headliner mechanic during the PBE Cycle, Riot decided to add a new rule before the Set went live:
- Any champion with less than half of its copies left in the pool, can't appear as Headliners.
How exactly does this work? First of all we have to take a look at the current Champion Pool:
Total Champion Pool
- Tier 1 -> 22
- Tier 2 -> 20
- Tier 3 -> 17
- Tier 4 -> 10
- Tier 5 -> 9
As an example, this means in the entire game there are only 9 Yoricks in the entire champion pool. If any player has a single Yorick on their board, bench or even in their shop, then it becomes impossible to find Yorick 3 without the help of Champion Duplicators.
The way the Halfway Rule works is that the game will check for the remaining units. If too many units are taken out, the Unit is not allowed to show up as a Headliner anymore.
Headliner can't appear anymore if only x copies are still in the pool:
- Tier 1 -> 10
- Tier 2 -> 9
- Tier 3 -> 8
- Tier 4 -> 4
- Tier 5 -> 4
For example, if you want to go for Zac 3 Star, then you are allowed to buy 4 Zac. As long as nobody in your Lobby has any Zac on the board, bench or in their shop you can still find a Zac Headliner in your shop. Then you just have to find the last two Zac with normal rolls or simply use a Champion Duplicator to upgrade him to 3 Star.
For Tier 5 units like Qiyana, you are also only allowed to buy a total of 4, assuming she is not contested. This way there are still 5 left in the pool and she is a viable option to appear as a Headliner.
One Rule that is easy to confirm with a bit of testing has to do with alternating traits. Sometimes you are looking for a very specific Headliner, for example Crowd Diver Katarina. If the first Katarina Headliner you find has the Country Trait doubled, then you can skip her if you can afford it. The next time you will have a Katarina she is 100% going to have +2 to Crowd DIver.
This rule is consistent if a unit has two traits, but what about three? The rule technically doesn't change, because all it does to force one trait to skip out once. Let's say you have a unit like Gnar with Pentakill, Superfan and Mosher. Your first Gnar Headliner was Mosher and you skipped him. You now have a 50 / 50 chance for either Pentakill or Superfan. Let's assume Pentakill was the second trait for Gnar to show up. If you would roll past him again, the next you see Gnar you have a 50 / 50 chance for either Mosher or Superfan. There is no guarantee for the third trait to appear.
There also other rules in place that will influence your roll down. For example, every time you skip past a Headliner trait, then you won't see the same trait again in the next four shops.
For example if you're Level 6 and skip past Twitch with Executioner as his Headliner then it is not possible to find Samira or Vex with Executioner as their Headliner in the next four shops. Only in the fifth shop would it be possible for the Executioner trait to roll again.
Similar to traits, there is also a rule in place that prevents units from appearing in quick succession. The amount of shops required to lift this rule is different depending on the Tier Level of your unit:
- Tier 1, 2, 3 -> Can't appear in next 7 Shops
- Tier 4 -> Can't appear in next 5 Shops
- Tier 5 -> Can't appear in next 4 Shops
So if you have a Country Katarina Headliner and skip past her, you will have to roll at least 8 times to have a chance at seeing her again. If you end finding a random Crowd Diver Headliner, then the previous trait rule can increase the amount of required shops.
Keep in mind that this is not a guarantee to find a specific Headliner, it's simply a case of "Can it even appear".
Does Selling your Headliner make a difference? This is a bit more difficult to answer. If you would go into a random game, collect a bunch of gold and proceed to buy and sell every Headliner you have in your shop, then the rules mentioned above won't be in place.
Constantly buying and selling your Headliner does make it possible for the same trait to appear twice in a row and the same unit appearing after only one shop inbetween. However the exact conditions to break the rules are still a bit unclear and constantly selling your Headliner will cost you a lot of gold long term, so it's not necessarily a recommended strategy to aim for at the moment.