When Europe spanked North America at Rift Rivals last week, shocked fans looked for a reason for the loss—someone or something to use as a scapegoat. Was it Team Liquid’s epic choke job against Splyce? What about EU’s advanced read of the meta? Or were NA teams just too far behind in communication and team synergy?
In the days following the tournament, a new reason has emerged, one that’s been lurking under the surface for a while now: NA players are bad because they play on too high of ping.
It’s been well-known for years now that NA suffers from worse ping than other regions. Too bad there’s an absurdly simple solution to fixing all this: expanding use of the Tournament Realm.
One of the first to opine was Echo Fox top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, who complained about it in a post-match interview with Travis Gafford. “If [Riot] really wants NA to win Worlds,” Huni said. “They should change the ping to seven.”
Before long, even the EU players were jumping in with criticism, saying that learning mechanics on 60 ping—common in NA—is “impossible.”
Historically, South Korean and Chinese teams basically play on single-digit ping, which closely mimics the stage environment. Europe West is not far behind. But NA’s servers are located in Chicago—with pros operating out of Los Angeles, solo queue ping has been a bane for a long time.
But there’s a solution for this, and it doesn’t even require new technology.
The Tournament Realm
The Tournament Realm is a private server used to house smaller tournaments. But it’s used by professional players in the LCS and Academy scenes to scrim and play each other. Two years ago, when Dynamic Queue was released for the first time to a barrage of criticism, many LCS pros even ditched solo queue altogether to play in-house games against other teams on the Tournament Realm.
But then Dynamic Queue was fixed—sort of—and pros went back to solo queue for one major reason: Riot forbids teams and players from streaming Tournament Realm games.
It’s time for that restriction to end. Professional players should not be forced to practice against random players in solo queue, even if those accounts are in Challenger. We’ve needed a dedicated practice place for vetted pros, and the fact that it would dramatically reduce ping issues—because you could host the servers in L.A.—is just gravy.
This is such an obvious solution that numerous analysts and players have already proposed very similar things. And there isn’t a good reason why pro players should not be able to stream Tournament Realm games—all you would need is some sort of acknowledgment from all parties that streaming will be allowed in a particular match.
There are other ways to make the Tournament Realm better. Riot could restrict access to a select group of vetted pros and Challenger players. Players like former LCS jungler Christian “IWDominate” Rivera, who is still on Team Liquid’s stream team.
Maybe instead of just 10 players across the LCS and Academy squads, teams could contract with a whole host of semi-pros to stream and compete on the Tournament Realm and sharpen the skills of their own LCS players. They could even shape the way those players play and give them champion assignments to play against the LCS players. Imagine how much faster NA players would pick up the meta if they had this sort of structured practice in place.
Playing on the Tournament Realm would allow for better competition while fixing issues with high ping, and the best part is the technology already exists.