League of Legends is one of the largest PC games in the world, it’s infamous for wide-spread, constant changes to the game and a toxic player-base. Its Reddit community can likewise be a dangerous place, sometimes reflecting the worst facets of that toxicity.
Today, a Reddit user wrote one such anger-induced post condemning the work of one of League’s designers—Bradford “CertainlyT” Wenban. Even if the poster’s frustration was well-founded, which we don’t think is true, it wasn’t communicated in a healthy way. It pointed out champions designed by CertainlyT that are currently problems in the meta, and then instead of providing useful feedback, they simply insulted CertainlyT’s career. This is often the case with these sorts of posts.
The League Reddit community is where players come to complain, complain, and complain some more. Over the past few days alone, there have been posts attacking an official NA LCS broadcast translator, Riot’s handling of an esports league, and not a day goes by without posts targeting a different balance change per patch. There’s certainly a healthy amount of creative content, like interviews, highlights, and artwork on a daily basis, but posts of the unproductive complaining variety are weaved throughout.
Today, the post condemning CertainlyT hit the front page of the subreddit. It’s just another in a long line of posts saying the same thing: All our frustration is this one person’s fault. These posts often turn one designer into a bogeyman of sorts, focusing all frustration from lost games and high in-game death counts toward a single Riot employee or Riot itself.
CertainlyT has helmed the creation of several new champions and champion updates over the last seven years. Some of those champions, including Yasuo, Zoe, Graves, and Akali, have taken over ban priority in games ranging from Bronze all the way to Challenger. Today’s Reddit post blames their high ban-rate on being too strong, and it holds CertainlyT responsible for that.
This sentiment is incorrect, for the most part. Yasuo, Graves, and even Zoe spent a significant amount of time at the very bottom of the barrel in both win-rate and ban priority, and only rose to the top after a series of buffs over several patches. Overall, however, they’re fun champions with clear counters (when they’re not over-tuned). Champions become OP sometimes, it happens, but that’s nothing to pin on the original designer.
Graves and Yasuo will probably be nerfed at some point in the future, and a small rework is on the way for Zoe. We’ll cede that Akali is frustrating to play against, but that’s often what happens right after a champion is released or heavily updated. And just like those times, there will probably be a couple of patches of follow-up work to smooth out her edges. The post fails to mention Thresh, Warwick, and Zyra, CertainlyT’s other works, which are some of the most satisfying and currently well-balanced champions to play in the game.
Not only is this thought process incorrect in this specific instance, but overall, it’s unhelpful. If you blindly call for a designer to be fired or petition that they should’ve never been hired, like leading a feedback post on the game’s forums with a melodramatic statement like, “With hiring [Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street] you kinda signed your death sentence,” you’re hurting the game more than solving anything. If you don’t create a post with the goal of starting a discussion about how a champion could be made more wholesome and interactive in a satisfying way, how do you expect that champion to improve?
Unfortunately, this sort of finger-pointing and scapegoating happens much more often than any sort of constructive criticism, and just like the Ghostcrawler post, a good portion of the constructive criticism out there is laced with toxicity, anyway.
You’re allowed to disagree with a designer’s decision, but ultimately, it’s not your game. If you start a witch-hunt instead of a debate, not only will nothing actually get accomplished, but you’ll also be a contributing factor to the already-toxic player-base, and that’s the last thing this game needs.