Is It Too Early to Talk About Fantasy LCS™ ?
If you clicked on this article, I assume I don't have to make the case for Fantasy LCS as a topic worthy of discussion. Of course fantasy is purely for fun and inherently a bit silly, but if Riot could make it better, why shouldn't they?
Now, if you logged onto the fantasy site toward the end of the season, you were prompted to take a survey that included this question:
All of these items would undoubtedly be good for Fantasy LCS. Trading is a must (huge oversight that it wasn't included in the first place, really) and chat/message boards would be a welcome addition. However, if any one or two of these things were implemented, I'm doubtful that customizable scoring would make the cut. I'm more doubtful that, even if it was, the range of customization options would be broad enough to make the scoring system decent. Every week during the summer, the Riot broadcast team did a Fantasy LCS segment on the preview show and the lolesports.com writers published, at the very least, two articles pertaining to fantasy. I think they will want to keep everybody on the same page. Fantasy can only be a community-building element if when you say, "Wow, Rekkles had a ridiculous week," it's true for everyone.
If we don't get customizable scoring, then the system could do with some attention. I enjoyed Fantasy LCS very much but it was hard to ignore its flaws. Someone, somewhere at Riot must know this, because they were very defensive about it during the summer. One article in particular revealed a reluctance on Riot's part to acknowledge any imperfections in the system, at least while the season was still going on. Jayway, Associate QA Analyst at Riot, attempted to dispel the prevailing notion that it was better for your fantasy players to lose slowly than win quickly. You can judge his argument for yourself, but he misses the point. The system favors a style more than game length, and if it is even a question whether winning decisively is best or not, there is a problem. If you log into the Fantasy LCS site right now, the teaser for the last article they published, "The Perfect Fantasy Team," incredulously exclaims, "Oddly, they're all from one region!" Well it's not a coincidence! Europe plays a different game than North America, some teams more so than others. How else does every Millennium player have one of the highest fantasy scores for their respective positions, despite a losing record? Each player had an average or slightly above average KDA – they just had more of everything. KottenX, fantasy's highest-scoring jungler, led the league in deaths, and most of his teammates were not far behind him.
If you're with me so far, I'm pleased, but I don't claim to have the ultimate solution. I can think of a few scoring systems that would be superior to what Riot has now, but there are some smart people in the League community, better mathematicians than me, who could devise something really clever, and I invite anybody who reads this to see what they can do.
My contribution is this: it must be simple. Riot's intention with Fantasy LCS, I can only imagine, was to increase the sustained week-to-week viewership. It was probably meant to attract fringe viewers more than it was meant to appeal to people like myself who watch most weeks anyway. I'm sure it was by design that the scoring was immediately graspable – "A kill? 2 points! Another kill!? Another 2 points!!" – or else it would have driven away those people who did not care very much in the first place. The trouble is, even if they were not hardcore viewers, the scoring was still unintuitive to them as players of League of Legends. I think most everybody would agree that when two mid laners kill each other, it could be a good thing for your team, it could be a bad thing, and fantasy scoring should probably just treat it as a neutral event. So why do both players net 1.5 points? Why does a respectable KDA like 2/0/3 yield the same score as 2/12/7? Do 4 assists really make up for 12 deaths? Score-wise, they do.
Inelegant as it may be, even having a player's KDA be their fantasy score would have been better than what we had in the summer. At least in that case, the best fantasy picks would be the better players, and not all from the same region: Rekkles, Froggen, Shiphtur (one of the worst fantasy picks, despite rarely dying), YellOwStaR and Altec would have been the top scorers.
As I said, somebody will come up with something better than me, but my own idea is a system involving kill shares. All participants in a kill divide the credit equally. If there are two participants, they each get half a point; if there are three, they get a third, and so on. Each death then subtracts one whole point. That way, solo kills would mean the most for a player's fantasy score, you wouldn't be sitting there during teamfights hoping your player gets the killing blows, and trading kills in mid lane would net you 0 points, as it should. I just don't think this idea is simple enough to gain traction with Riot.
Help me out! What can we do?
All images belong to Riot Games.