Over the years the League of Legends roster of champions has gone from strength to strength, starting at only 40 and expanding to the 134 it has now (with more champions being released regularly). With this expanding champion pool has arisen a problem in the professional scene: with so many strong champions, how can you possibly only ban three a side? After much consideration, Riot Games has come forward with a solution: teams bans will be increased to five a side.
Starting in the 2017 Spring Split, professional games will see an overhauled pick/ban phase with Riot saying of the change: “We believe that offering more bans will encourage deeper champion pools with more individual champions seeing the Rift – and that it’ll make a fun and engaging draft phase for fans to watch.”
So, how will the new phase work? “The plan here is to give each team two additional bans partway through the draft; this midpoint ban should encourage adaptability and reward teams who can accurately predict what strategies their opponents are planning then move swiftly to counter them.”
“The first part of champ select will be the same as at present, with both sides banning 3 champs then some picks. Blue picks first, red picks twice, blue picks twice and then red picks once again. After that there’s a second ban phase, where the two sides alternate bans back and forth, starting with red side. There’s then a final pick phase, where red picks once, blue picks twice and red picks one final time.
After iterating and exploring different versions of drafts with pros and semi-pros worldwide, we reached this version. We also made sure this change didn’t lead to an increase of time of the P&B phase.”
While the new system will come into effect for the professional scene at the start of the Spring Split, normal queues will have to wait a while before seeing it in regular matchmade games: “Revised pick/ban for regular play will come somewhat later than the changes in organised play. We’re still assessing what style of pick/ban changes makes the most sense for regular games, given the different circumstances (unfamiliar allies, lack of information about your opposition).”
“Why is it good? More bans means more things are taken out of the game. In any competitive game that features a banning phase or ruleset that bans certain things from entering the competitive playing field, then it’s usually an indication of things being overpowered. In League’s case, the fewer overpowered champions actively available to be played in the game means that there will, or should be, a wider variety of champion diversity.
For professionals it’s also more rewarding for the players with bigger champion pools and it could become worrying for teams if there is a big difference in champion oceans vs champion ponds in their relevant lane match-ups. It forces pro players to learn and get better at more champions, which also increases the overall viewer excitement because you don’t know what could come next.”
In terms of making it’s way to regular queue, brafester foresees both pro’s and cons to its implementation: “RiotMeddler touched on it a little on a Reddit post and there were a couple of interesting points he brought up that I agree with. Firstly, I think the format used of three bans, three picks, two bans, two picks can be a little confusing for the more casual player, even in ranked. However, it “forces” more communication from teams from the get-go and hopefully the communication from champ select increases game quality by having team compositions make a little more sense but, at the same time, it’s still solo queue.
Personally, when it comes out, it means I can just use it for comfort bans. I hate Yasuo and now my other four teammates have bans too so I’ll just ban Yasuo every game without feeling a little guilty.”
Finally, in terms of its implementation into the local DGL league: “I think it’s very similar in terms of pro play: teams and players are going to be forced to increase their champion pools. There are a lot of one trick ponies in SA and, while the GoonSquad won’t really suffer, the anxiety that lower league teams face when matched against higher ranked opponents will be somewhat alleviated without too much cost due to the possibility of being able to ban away some of those comfort picks from the top teams with this new system. It should be noted here that I still think a lot of teams need to and can improve their pick and ban phase and this more complex pick and ban phase would actually make things easier because you can see half of the comps before you make the last two bans. This knowledge can be used to create a disruption in what teams want to do, and those that don’t prepare accordingly will be punished.
As a side note, the craziest thing I want to see is teams using all ten bans to target a carry lane; that’s definitely going to allow for some strange and unique picks.”