League of Legends is entering its preseason period right now, so don’t get too attached to, well, anything. After months of making only minor tweaks so’s not to disrupt competitive play, this is the time that Riot finally lean in and rearrange the big stuff. Beyond comprehensive changes to the way vision works, that also means a rejigging of the League system - the means by which players are matched according to skill level.
Riot are hoping to improve clarity about progression, to ensure players know they’re going in the right direction, and at a steady rate. To that end, they intend to remove clamping - a slightly demoralising system that sees LP gains more than halved once players reach a rank that matches their skill level - for all but the very top Diamond tier players.
“Players should no longer see tiny LP gains except in extreme edge cases or at the top of Diamond I,” writes game systems designer Riot Socrates. “The small LP gains are necessary in Diamond I to ensure Challenger represents only the very best players and is highly accurate.”
Elsewhere, the developers have noticed a curious trend - a “small but not insubstantial” group of players who’ve reached division V in a tier and promptly become less successful and more toxic. The problem, it seems, is the sudden immunity to tier-dropping these players are granted.
“Though tier immunity was originally intended to combat ladder anxiety we feel that complete immunity creates poor incentives and leads to abuse of the system,” explains Socrates. “This makes ranked play a worse experience for everyone and isn’t what a division V placement should represent.”
As a consequence, Riot have cut immunity back to a temporary 10-game reprieve. Beyond that, players who fall more than a full tier below their placement in terms of MMR will see a warning in their profile - presumably designed to shake them out of their funk. If they carry on losing games at 0 LP, they’ll eventually be demoted to division I of the next lowest tier, but not lower.
Finally, Riot have decided that the Challenger tier - the very peak of the system - currently represents too small a group of players in solo duo. That’ll mean more slots in Challenger available to the very best Diamond I players, to “ease some of that pressure [and] recognize more players”.
All three changes hit the public test servers about six hours ago, and will be implemented in the game proper once Season 3 ends next week. What do you make of them?
Thanks, Reign of Gaming, as ever.