It’s been a while already, specifically since the preseason arrived in November, since Riot decided to remove the duo queue option for League of Legends players ranked Master and above—and a major part of the community isn’t exactly happy about it.
Pros are most affected by this change because they can’t practice their synergies with teammates between scrims. Many players, such as MAD Lions ADC Carzzy, Misfits support Vander, and Team Liquid jungler Santorin, have publicly asked for the return of high Elo duo queue. These players have even proposed alternative ways to implement duo queue again without the problems that Riot saw with it.
Dot Esports talked with Jonathan “RiotIAmWalrus” Moormann, the designer of League’s ranked system, Clash, and more at Riot Games, to discuss what went into this controversial change and other complaints from pros about League’s ranked system.
First, why did Riot decide to remove duo queue—and why only in Master and above—during the last preseason?
RiotIAmWalrus: When we make matches that involve a duo, we try to match them against another duo or a slightly harder set of solo opponents, since being able to coordinate with one of your teammates provides a definite advantage. For most ranks, this is something we can do with reasonable consistency in a reasonable amount of time. Duoing is very popular (and fun!), so it’s something we want to support, and this matchmaking strategy allows players to do that without giving the duoing players a serious advantage.
But for players at Master and above, this solution falls apart. First, there aren’t a lot of Master+ players, so finding another duo in a reasonable queue time becomes very difficult. And second, we often aren’t able to match the duo against harder opponents to compensate, especially when we’re seeing duos of the No. 1 and No. 2 players on the server.
Why did Riot decide to make this change in the last preseason?
During last season, we looked into how frequently the top players on the ladder, across all regions, were playing primarily as duos. We also tracked the performance of duos specifically among Master, GM, and Challenger players, and it was clear that there was a sizable competitive advantage. We want the most competitive positions in solo/duo queue to be determined by consistently fair (and timely) matches, so we knew we had to make a change.
Likewise, we try to make these major systemic changes between seasons, so we’re not changing the rules on folks halfway through the year. So with Season 2021, we switched it over.
After seeing critical reactions from the community, are you planning to alter or revert this change in the near future? It looks like pure solo queue players like it, but pros don’t like it because, for example, as a bot lane, they can’t really practice their synergies. Do you plan to provide some solution for this?
We definitely feel for pro players on this front. When we started allowing duos in Challenger in 2018, pros were a huge part of that decision. But we don’t want duoing to become mandatory for players who wish to succeed in solo/duo queue’s highest ranks, so we felt we had to remove it for the betterment of the entire ranked ecosystem.
I do think there are other opportunities for pros to practice their synergies, whether through in-houses, other queues where duoing is allowed, or scrims. And while those have their own issues (lack of availability, questionable competition, etc.), we have to weigh those trade-offs against the impact of allowing duos on everyone else playing in Master, GM, and Challenger. The majority of players at the highest ranks aren’t pros. Some are pro hopefuls, some are streamers or content creators, and some are just folks who want to be as good as they can be at League of Legends.
We know that Riot is committed to removing autofill as much as possible. What are your future plans on this?
Autofill is something we are always trying to reduce but will probably never be able to completely remove. A game of League needs someone for each position, but players don’t necessarily queue up for each position at equal rates. We also want to make matches within a reasonable amount of time, and with players of similar skill, and if there was no autofill, we’d have to make huge trade-offs in either or both of those areas.
Last season, we added some logic to the matchmaker that attempts to make autofills even across both teams, and we’ve found that makes matches more fair, even if some players are still playing positions where they are less comfortable. There’s more work we can explore in that area (such as trying to make sure that both teams have an autofill in the same position), but we’re always going to be weighing those changes against match times and match quality.
League players also complain a lot about the one-trick pony (OTP) players. What are Riot’s thoughts on this kind of player?
We want players to be able to play the way they find fun, so long as that doesn’t hurt the experience of other players. For some folks, that means learning all the positions and matchups in the game; for some, that means playing 1,000 games of Ivern. We try to make champions with that depth in mind and we don’t want to tell them they can’t do what they enjoy.
That being said, there are times when being an OTP will hinder you during your climb. As mentioned in the last question, autofill does exist and tying yourself to a single champion means you may be playing off your game when they’re banned or you’re forced into a new role. There are a lot of fun and diverse ways to play League and having a variety of tools will make you better prepared for the different situations you may find yourself in, but we’re also not going to tell you to stop obsessing over your main.
We know that Riot also removed the promos between divisions, but are there any plans for making the ladder system more transparent? The Elo and MMR make it a bit difficult to understand.
There are a lot of reasons we’ve discussed in the past about why we don’t show MMR and they still hold true. MMR is basically the current estimation of your skill, and for it to be accurate, it will at times over or underestimate your abilities. If you’re only watching MMR, it can feel like you’re getting worse at the game, when the truth is just that the system was testing you against tougher opponents and learning how to match you more accurately.
By adapting MMR into rank, players progress through the system in a more realistic path. This is especially true for new players, but also for the majority of the player base whose MMR isn’t at the very tip-top of the ladder. Rank also lets us include things like demotion protection, which keeps you from being overly punished for a streak of losses at an unfortunate time. We’re going to keep working on ways to make both the rank and MMR systems feel smooth and accurate, but we don’t want to make either system do a job it wasn’t designed to do.
If you’re a high Elo player waiting for duo queue to come back, these words from RiotIAmWalrus aren’t exactly hopeful. But the dev provided a lot of insight to help League fans understand why this decision was made. Riot will continue to improve the ranked system, though, so high Elo duo queue could potentially make a comeback in the future if the devs find a way to apply it correctly.
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