Season 6 in League of Legends has been a complete roller coaster, with a ton of highs and lows, buffs and nerfs, lovetaps and complete reworks. The biggest change though is how you get into a game.
Now, there’s two forms of queue – blind pick queue and draft mode queue. Ranked mode uses the draft mode system. Each team gets three bans, then everyone picks a champion, one at a time (kinda) and locks in, then the game starts. Blind pick is kinda as it suggests, everyone just picks the champion they want, and this is used for the majority of game modes, with a three-champions-banned-per-team phase added for some game modes and no ban phase for others. But no one cares about the other game modes, Draft/Ranked mode is where it’s at.
In the previous 5 seasons, you could only ever play Ranked as a solo player or as a pair (duo), pitted against a team of five solo or duo players. There was no way for a team to consist of 4 people in the same skype call and one person missing out, the worst case scenario was being a solo player mated with two duos. Either way, you could always assume that everyone would be on somewhat equal levels. There were problems with Draft mode back then, but most of the problems were to people choosing what lane they wanted, and ruining the game if they didn’t get their way, or if their champion got banned, or whatever.
So Riot invented dynamic queue. A big part of dynamic queue is that you pick your roles when you queue up. You pick two out of the following roles: Middle, Top, Bottom, Support, Jungle, Fill, with Fill being any role that’s free. Not everyone wants or can play two roles, but alright. Of course, picking two roles means that you might not get your preferred role, and as there aren’t equal amounts of players wanting to pick each role, wait times increase and decrease. Supports can find a match in under a minute, Mid players might wait five minutes or more. Picking Fill will make you play support about 70% of the time, jungle 25% of the time. Still, at least you get a role you kinda want.
You can also choose a champion you want to play before the ban phase starts. But your team mates can see who you want to play as well. Originally, so could your enemies, so they could just ban the champions you wanted to play. Then again, there’s nothing stopping your team mates from banning your desired champion too.
Dynamic queue also allows you to queue up as a team of up to 5 players. Five-man teams are perfectly fine, since everyone wants to be there and there’s no single solo guy there to feel left out, but three-man and four-man teams can do a lot to screw with the balance of the game. A four-man team can surrender whenever they feel like it, with the lone solo player being unable to do anything about the vote. A three-man team has a lot more power to surrender as well. And while a solo player may be able to carry a duo who are intentionally feeding, it’s far, far harder to carry when everyone but you is feeding the enemy team. The worst thing is how a four-man team can report you at the end of a game, since teammate reports are stronger than enemy player reports. At least a duo team has to convince your other two team mates to report you.
Having larger groups also screws up matchmaking. Although there’s a limit to who you queue up with (one tier above or below you), how does matchmaking work out what will be a balanced game, when you’ve got one person in Diamond 1, two in diamond 5 and one player in Platinum 5? And what about unranked players? Right now, an unranked player can play with four Diamond 1 players, which means the unranked player has such a low rating that the Diamond players end up fighting (and steamrolling) players in Silver and Gold. On the flip side of things, grouping up together makes the matchmaking system assume you’ll work better together, so a team of 5 Silver players may find themselves fighting against Gold or Platinum solo players. How is that fair to anyone?
But the thing is, Riot already developed a system where everyone could play whatever they wanted. Team Builder, released in Season 5 and removed in pre-Season 6, allowed a player to pick a single role, with a single champion, and queue up to play, being put into a queue, where team captains could accept or decline players for specific roles. You could queue as a solo player or up to a team of 5 players. The most prominent thing was that you could play off-meta roles as well. If you wanted to take, for example, Tryndamere as a support, you could queue up for that. It might take a while to find a team captain willing to accept you, but you’d eventually find yourself in a game, exactly as you wanted. There were no bans in this game mode, but since everyone got the exact role and champion they wanted, experiences were much more fun and everyone was happy. Of course, adding ELO into the mix would be very confusing, but it wouldn’t be any different from the mess that matchmaking is right now.
Sadly, Team Builder was replaced with Dynamic Queue, which was said to do Team Builder’s job better.
Apart from the fact that it doesn’t, really.