There's change afoot to how League of Legends' ranked play works. Up until now, players were matched with those of similar skill level with no regard for which champions or roles they preferred to play. Riot introduced a team builder to unranked play that would allow you to select a champion and role before the game, and it worked to some success. Now they're rolling out a slightly altered version for Ranked, which should help to improve player behaviour without sacrificing queue times. At least that's the plan according to Jeffrey "Lyte" Lin, Riot's lead designer of social systems, who broke down how the system will work in an ask.fm post.
Here's Lyte's rundown of the system:
- 1) Players can invite friends into a Lobby.
- 2) Each player is required to select at least 2 Positions (such as Top/Mid, or Mid/Jungle). On average, Ranked players only play 2.2 positions, so we wanted to start simple with a Pick-2 design, but have some backups like rank-sorting all 5 positions if there are queue time issues. We also have designs to incentivize mastering all positions in the future.
- 3) There's a new position called "Fill."
- 4) We're currently asking Duo Queues to cover at least 3 unique positions, to further improve queue times. Duo Queues will still have a higher chance of getting the exact 2 positions they want, but it is not 100% guaranteed.
- 5) Once you've chosen your positions, we match you into a full team and you enter Champion Select.
- 6) We've made some changes to how drafting works; however, we'll be talking more about this in a future design blog.
- 7) During Champ Select, you can still negotiate with your teammates to lane swap or trade champs if you want a more favorable match-up just like Champ Select today.
- 8) Once drafting is done, your team enters the game.
He's also answered a flurry of follow-up questions. He explained that pick-2 was best for the majority of players, and the "Fill" role was created to allow those who are proficient (or wish to be) in multiple roles a chance to play whatever. He also clarified that two players selecting Fill counts as two unique roles, so a duo-queue can both pick to filter out into the team and still pick the same main role without any issues.
There's also some planned updates to the system already being developed. On launch, seperate roles won't have different MMR, meaning a very good mid player will also be seen as a very good jungler, even if it's his first time playing the role. They're looking to fix that once they have some more data. They'll also be using their newfound knowledge of who's playing what role when entering a game (before, the client could only guess based on champion picks, and that wasn't 100% accurate) for various quality of life changes, including scoreboard ordering.
Riot are also changing how matchmaking works for players with not a lot of opponents at their level. Instead of expanding the pool they can play with over time, they'll just be grabbing whoever the closest-skill players looking for a game are at the time, within reason. This is necessary to combat, as the question asker says, the natural queue time increase that will come from the matchmaker building actual teams, instead of just groups of five.