LoL's Draft Mode Needs More Bans
The champion roster for “League of Legends” continues to increase over time, with the total number of playable characters at roughly 100 and counting. As the champion roster reaches certain thresholds, I believe draft mode (for both normal and ranked) should adjust as well. In this case, I think the number of bans for the mode could be practically changed from the current figure of six bans to at least eight bans total.
Though six bans may suffice at the moment for the mode, the game could tweak the ban total without a hitch in all honesty. More playable characters after a while should warrant a rise in the ban total in due time.
The banning phase in the MOBA genre originated back in Defense of the Ancients when Captains Mode was first introduced. Long before there was an official mode, competitive players practiced a novel concept of “banning” characters for both teams, forbidding anyone from using certain heroes/champions in a given match (taking turns banning and picking without the mode was so ghetto, looking back at it). In practice, it would open a variety of strategic options because it meant certain characters lineups could be drastically altered.
I have always enjoyed this nuance of banning heroes/champions. Making sure your opponent does not get their hand on a big playmaker/overpowered character could make all the difference how a game would go. For instance, you could take away someone’s ace character from the other side. A lot of competitive teams specifically ban the other side’s best characters due to great reputations, which is pretty cool in my book. It is thus no surprise that LoL would borrow DotA’s concept of banning (LoL is based on DotA, after all). However, LoL took a different approach with the number of bans.
Initially, LoL used a paltry number of four bans back in Season 1. Oh Buddha, I can still recall how dark those days were for the average player who wanted to play draft mode. Four bans did not do **** half the time. Even when the roster was a little more than half the current size’s roster, four bans did not leave both sides much room to work with in terms of “strategy.” The fact that both sides could only ban two characters was pretty lame.
I just remember a lot of annoying situations where people would argue over, “OMG, WHY DIDN’T YOU BAN X CHARACTER?!” Well, geez! Our side only gets two bans to use! If I ban this character, then another character is bound to slip past the chopping block! In short, there was basically too much ground to cover, and four bans proved ineffective at pushing the strategic element of the mode.
So I was at least moderately happy when Season 2 rolled around with the ban total going from four to six. A whole six bans! Whoo! Not exactly amazing by any means, but it was a step in the right direction. My point is, I think the game could easily push the ban number to at least eight or even 10, factoring in the size of the current roster and the pending champions of the future.
Below are five random reasons (in no particular order of significance) why I think the game could use more champion bans in draft mode.
1. A larger roster means an eventual need for more bans.
LoL pumps champions out left and right at a very speedy rate. With no end in sight, this game is going to have A LOT OF CHARACTERS. It would be foolish to think that six bans will be enough forever.
2. More bans would lead to more strategic depth/possibilities.
With more bans, the strategic elements for LoL could be increased by a lot. LoL is evolving. More LoL champions are more practical and viable than ever before, to the point where “must bans” and “first picks” are even trickier than ever to figure out. Aside from Flavor of the Month champs, the overall roster at least has a good chunk of champions who can perform admirably in the right team compositions and with proper player skill. Being able to ban a few more champions could mean other characters may actually see themselves making their way into more draft mode screens. In short, more bans should lead to more diversity in team lineups. This is a good thing.
3. The requirement to increase the number of owned champions to play draft mode (for ranked) is rather moot.
An important aspect of LoL is that players “purchase” champions to own and use. What this means for draft mode in ranked games is players have to have a certain amount of champions to their name before they can even participate. With more bans, this would mean the total number of owned characters has to increase. Back when the game ran with four bans, this was a common reason cited for why Riot Games proved reluctant to expand the ban total. The rationale was Riot Games wanted “newer” players to begin climbing the ranked ladder sooner than later.
Honestly, I think the preliminary requirement of having x champions is not a big deal. The game already has a lot of characters for players to purchase. Is it that much of a hassle for a player to unlock a few more champions? Besides, newer players with less champions under their belt should avoid jumping the gun to play ranked matches. Having enough champions is just one important aspect along with other fundamentals (like actually knowing how to play LoL properly for ranked-caliber games).
4. Having eight/10 total bans would not mean “every champ is getting banned.”
“WHY DON’T YOU JUST BAN EVERY CHAMPION THEN?!” Ugh, no. This is not the main reason the banning phase exists. The banning phase should push the strategy element of draft mode. Sure, there probably is fear of entire lineups essentially being eliminated if both sides gain the luxury of being able to ban more champs, but there would be still, after all, roughly 90+ remaining characters leftover for choosing.
It would still amount to about 10 percent of the roster (at the moment) being banned. This is more than logical for the game. It is not like the game is going to implement banning an absurd number of champions anytime soon. So before people get all worked up over a few more bans, just sit down and think about it. It would be just be two or four more bans total.
5. Defense of the Ancients (both the original WC3 mod and the sequel’s beta) uses more bans.
All right, so ignoring the debates among the communities about which game is the best, I think LoL should take note of its most biggest, potential competitor just waiting to take its lunch money if they are not careful down the road. Dota 2, despite being in beta, has run with eight bans for its draft mode. Even the original Dota started using 10 bans at one point. Point is, if these games can use extra bans, why can’t LoL?
In short, LoL could definitely increase the ban total for its draft mode. Doing so would not ruin the game, but rather enhance it at this point. There are other aspects of draft mode I would also like Riot Games to scrutinize/reconsider, such as perhaps looking into different banning/picking sequences like how Dota 2 does it, but I would be very content with just the ban total being addressed.
Eight or 10 bans total for draft mode … please make it happen, Riot Games.
(On a side note: I probably broke a mini-record for use of the word “ban” in a single writing piece.)