For the past season or two, League of Legends has become a long and arduous climb. The ranking system no longer reflects MMR and wins, more than ever, seem to matter little. But this is intentional, according to Riot Games.
“The climb takes a lot longer now. This is intentional,” Riot said on Twitter. “We really don’t want players creating alt accounts just to blow through the climb. We encourage players to stay on their mains. Smurfing ruins the game experience for others.”
Smurfing has always been an issue in League. Something had to be done in one form or another, but Riot may be taking the wrong approach to fixing the problem.
The changes to the system mean MMR will go up at the same pace, while rank will take longer to catch up. This could theoretically persuade smurfs to stick to their main accounts, but at the same time, it may deter regular players from climbing the ranks.
Valve took an almost polar opposite approach to smurfing in Dota 2 last year. Instead of blaming players for smurfing, it blamed its ranking system, and rather than slowing down the climbing process, it sped it up.
“The system searches for players that frequently perform significantly above their current skill bracket, and applies an MMR increase to those players until they’ve reached a skill bracket where they’re no longer over-performing,” Valve said in September. And it seems to have worked.
But in League, it looks like smurfs are here to stay, at least for the time being.
Update Feb. 20 11:10am CT: Riot clarified today that it didn’t change “the climb” and it isn’t using the climb to combat smurfing.
“The tweet from player support was incorrect on all of these points. Sorry for the confusion,” Riot Brightmoon said.