A new patching format that alternates between large and small patches is going into effect soon with the future launch of Patch 8.2.
The new method of implementing patches would include changes that fit the size of the patch with the more impactful changes going in the larger patches and the smaller tweaks rolling out between the big patches. Patches would still debut in a similar two-week schedule to the one in place now, but the new format would allow players to be more familiar with a patch's meta for a longer period before it changes again.
"As previously mentioned we're going to be trying a test this year where we alternate between patches with a larger number of gameplay changes and those with a smaller number," Riot Meddler said. "We're interested in whether keeping the game a bit more consistent for 4 week blocks like that results in more development of strategy and interesting play since there'll be a more stable state to explore/optimize in. We're also hoping it will allow us to get more done solving bigger picture issues (e.g. item overhauls, adding missing runes, kit updates etc), since less time will be spent on short term balance adjustments."
The idea of converting to this style of patching was first proposed back in September when Meddler introduced the idea of swapping between larger and smaller patches. Smaller patches would target either champions that were in critical need of a change before the next big patch or would make changes that are easy to implement. It's purely an experimental method at the moment though, and it's entirely possible that Riot will shift back to the current format if it doesn't work out.
Patch 8.2 will be the first large patch of the season with 8.3 implementing the smaller changes, the cycle continuing from that point, but only certain gameplay changes will be affected.
"Important to note that this large/small cycle only applies to some types of gameplay changes, at least for now. If we're changing a bunch of items for example that'll happen in a large (even number) patch. So will most balance changes. Stuff like skins, bug fixing, rotating game modes, new client features etc won't be taking the large/small distinction into account though and will keep going out in whichever patch they're ready for. At least for now new champs and VGUs will also continue to be in small patches as well as large. "