League of Legends in 21:9 UltraWide – is this CHEATING?

Ultra wide monitors have been a fad in first person shooters for a while now, but is the 21:9 aspect ratio any good in a game like League of Legends?
Yes. It’s damn good. It’s so good it feels like I’m cheating sometimes.
Wide monitor on desk-1
Last Christmas I finally bought an Acer 34” 21:9 Ultra Wide Monitor. I’m a video editor so that makes sense, but I had no idea how much the extra screen real estate was going to improve my gaming. It was neat having a little extra vision in an ultra wide Fortnite and Battlefield 1, but when I fired up League of Legends I was in for a real surprise.
To be perfectly honest I didn’t even know League supported an ultra wide resolution. I figured I would be playing in 16:9 with the black bars on either side of the game. I was just happy to have a bigger screen than the 23” 1080p monitor I had been using.
But now, having seen the glory of high resolution, super-duper wide view of summoner’s rift, I can never go back.

But wait, the pros don’t use 21:9 ultra wide… yet

When you watched Worlds 2018 every monitor on stage was 16:9. Heck when you watch any professional gaming the screens are all 16:9. So why is that? There’s two big reasons.
Reason one: competitive games need to be fair and therefore need to use standards. Everyone needs to play the same screens with access to the same information, abilities and so on. So you can’t have some yahoo with a clear hardware advantage.
16:9 was the standard League started with and standards are hard to change. Twitch broadcasts competitions in 16:9. Nearly every streamer (whether on Twitch or YouTube) streams in 16:9. Your living room TV is 16:9 which means console games are made for 16:9. Most smart phones are a perfect 16:9 as well. It’s the standard.
Reason two: having such a ubiquitous standard steers pros away from switching to a wider screen in they’re off-time. If they chose to use an 21:9 ultra wide for personal use it would give them an advantage that goes away the second they step onto a competitive stage. It’s not smart for pros to practice like that.
Unless of course one day 21:9 becomes the standard—which I think it will.
But you’re not planning on becoming a pro, and there’s no rules against better monitors in solo queue. Riot are the ones who developed and let you play in native-ultra-wide resolution, so why wouldn’t you want the extra advantage? 

How much more do you really see?

How much more screen do you get exactly? A whole hell of a lot.
Compare mini maps and you can see how much more information is available at any moment.
Percentage-wise that’s a pretty big gain. A typical 16:9 2K monitor (1440p) has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. That’s about 3.69 million pixels in total. A 21:9 2k ultra wide monitor has a resolution of 3440 x 1440 with a total pixel count of 4.95 million.
That means you’re seeing a full 29% more game.
It’s not just more pixels squeezed into the same game so things look sharper, it’s more of the actual game itself. That’s more information to make important decisions and see critical things.
It’s more rift, more skill shots, more health bars, more team fights and everything else.

The ultra-wide advantage

In FPS games this extra screen space might be just enough in your peripheral vision to save your life or net you an extra kill. But, in a game like League of Legends which focuses more heavily on macro strategy, the actual advantage gained is even greater.
A mini map just can’t give you all the important information. For example, when you’re in the bottom lane, being able to actually see a jungler coming from the river, not just on the mini map, means you can react more appropriately. The mini map can’t tell you if Xin Zhao has red buff, or if Nidalee is in human form throwing a spear from the brush. More importantly it can’t tell you how much health or manna the potential ganker might have.
I’ve even noticed that I’m able to see long range skill shots without having to check for them by moving my cursor. Imagine seeing that incoming Ashe arrow or Draven ultimate a little bit earlier. That sneaky Ezreal Trueshot Barrage won’t catch you backing in a bush so easily if you saw it coming a split second sooner.
I could go on about being able to see more of team fights and such, but I can sum it up this way: it’s like being able to zoom out just a little bit further than normal. Trust me, you’ll start to feel like 16:9 is cramped when you finally switch to an ultra wide.
Beyond that there’s the general advantage that comes with a larger screen; being able to see details more easily.
The reality is League of Legends is a competitive game. If you’re looking to climb ranked you’ll spend hours figuring out which champions are strong to gain a slight advantage. An ultra wide monitor is another small advantage that any serious player should want.
This extra screen space is great in League, but I’m willing to bet it helps just much in other RTS style games as well.

Is it worth the cost of a new ultra wide monitor?

Ultra wide monitors have been reputably expensive for years, but prices have come down significantly in 2018—with many monitors selling for half of what they did when they released.
But for League of Legends, a free-to-play game that can run on 10-year-old laptops, is dropping hundreds of dollars really a good choice?
I can answer that with an analogy.
Is Five Guys better than Wendy’s? Yes. And don’t even try to argue with me on this one. Five Guys costs a good deal more than a jr. bacon cheeseburger. But if I can afford Five Guys I’m always going to choose to spend more because the experience is that much better!
A 21:9 ultra wide monitor lets you see more of the actual map, notice important details way easier and makes the game look absolutely beautiful in comparison. It’s hard to explain how much difference it actually makes.
And that’s just League of Legends. I haven’t even mentioned how cool it is on Fortnite or how stupidly awesome it is for video editing and other productivity. If you’ve got the money I think it’s worth getting ahead of the curve and buying one. Consider it a future-proof investment.

The new standard

There’s no doubt that 1440p monitors (sometimes also called 2k) will continue to become the new standard in gaming. The higher resolution and pixel density looks great and makes for a better experience in every genre. Game engines are constantly being optimized to support the greater pixel counts and powerful graphics cards are slowly coming down in price.
But will a new aspect ratio ever catch on? In short, yes.
Widescreen monitors offer enough value to gaming and productivity that prices will fall and adoption rates will increase. That means it only takes one serious (and popular) new game designed for users to play in 21:9 to start a trend toward ultra wide gaming becoming a normal thing. You could argue that Battlefield, Call of Duty and Fortnite are already making the case for ultra wide as the new standard.
We might be a few years out from watching Worlds in 21:9 on Twitch, but I can assure you whether it’s League of Legends or some brand new title, the ultra wide thing is more than a fad. 
I think you’d probably agree if you had one for yourself.