/dev: New001 on competition beyond ranked

By New001

/dev is a new, ongoing series where League’s key leaders and decision makers share their thoughts on the game, its development, and anything else that may come to mind.

Hi everyone, New001 here, lead producer on League. Over the last year, you might have caught wind of the direction we want to take League -- to make League a global sport that lasts for generations. But it might not be clear what this direction actually means to us, or what we’re trying to get at when we talk about the idea of “sport.”

One way of explaining this is to say that we want League to offer meaningful competition at all levels. And, from my perspective, we’re currently falling short there.

Missing links

Today, League can actually feel like a few distinct competitive experiences:

  1. There’s the 1-30 experience: here you’re just trying to understand basic concepts and learn the fundamentals of the game.
  2. Then there’s ranked: shit gets real, you have to focus on improving, pay attention to the current meta, and widen your champ pool.
  3. And of course, there’s pro play: the highest tier of competitive League, which can sometimes seem like a completely different game!

There’s even more to it than that, but I want to talk about a specific underserved experience between ranked and pro play. Many of us will never be good enough to perform at the Staples Center, in the Mercedes-Benz arena, or in Sangam Stadium, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have competitive teamplay experiences that generate the same heart-pumping adrenaline, and bring the coordination, intensity, and highs and lows of pro play to everyone who wants to experience them. This type of organized play is something we want to deliver to players -- something that bridges the gap between #2 and #3.

The Rumble experience

At Riot, we have a longstanding tournament called Riot Rumble. Rumble takes place twice a year, lasts for a few months, and hundreds of Rioters around the world participate. Participants break into tiers by MMR, teams form and compete for the ultimate prize: custom jackets (and more importantly, bragging rights).

During Rumble, the atmosphere in the office changes. Rioters reorganize their lives around the tournament. We get serious about our champion pools. We stay late practicing specific comps with our teams. On match night it’s not uncommon to hear screams of victory and defeat around the office. The morning after, epic stories about wiping at Baron are traded in the halls.

Rumble changes the core game experience. Pick and ban phase becomes about banning out specific team comps, strategies, and specific team members instead of just taking out champs that happen to be powerful (it’s infinitely more meaningful to ban out the opposing jungler because you did your homework than it is to ban Zed because he’s strong, and it’s satisfying to feel the respect when you get banned). Teams get coaches. You scout, scrim, and review tape.

Playing with the same group over and over helps you develop a team identity. You find out if you’re better at pick comps or sieging. You work hard to make your comms more effective over time. You have rivalries. You build meaningful relationships and grow as a team. In Ranked play, I want to be Doublelift; in Rumble, we want to be TSM.

In Rumble I’ve had incredible team experiences that have deepened my understanding of League in a way I don’t think I could get from Solo Q. I’ve built stronger relationships with my teammates, have learned how to scout and scrim, and have been exposed to a beyond-Ranked type of competitive experience that gives a taste of pro play despite my non-pro abilities.

When I look at League from this perspective, I see a gap between ranked and pro play. We want to fill this gap. We want teams to grow together, succeed together, and fail together, even in Bronze. Basically, we want everyone who plays League to have an opportunity to experience this type of intense, coordinated competition.

Moving forward

The intent of this new series of dev blogs is to share our thoughts on a more philosophical level (we haven’t forgotten about our promise to update you on Season 2017’s ranked changes -- that post is coming in the next few days). So although we don’t have any specific organized play features to announce right now, it’s one area we are actively exploring and where you can expect to see us invest more in the future . We think this could be an awesome new addition to the current experiences League offers, and we hope we can share these types of experiences with our most hardcore League players.

I’ll be around in the comments for a bit to answer questions.

2 years ago

Tagged with: 
Dev Blog, Ranked Play