The addition of two more bans per team could be implemented in a variety of ways. Since Riot has yet to give us much information about which system will be used, we currently just have to speculate. I’ll be going through a few different possibliites, and seeing the effects they would’ve had on a match that should still be fresh in everyone’s memory.
Bans Then Picks (Current System)
Currently, the banning phase of League of Legends involves teams taking turns in banning one champion at a time, until they proceed to the drafting phase. It would take this type of system to really create some of the issues stated in Thorin’s recent article, and it seems fairly likely that this isn’t the system we’ll be receiving. However, since Riot has yet to outright say this will not be the system, here’s how this could have impacted the following match.
SKT vs. ROX (Semifinals Worlds 2016)
It would be a tough argument to say anything prior to this stage would’ve changed for either team, as they blazed their way to the semifinals with the dominance one would expect the best Korean teams to display. Coming into this series, there was only a couple of things each team had shown in regards to pick/ban.
SKT had a near flawless group stage, only dropping a single game to the Flash Wolves against Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang’s Aurelion Sol. SKT went undefeated for the rest of the group stage, banning Aurelion Sol in all games except, oddly enough, in their rematch against the Flash Wolves. This showed that while SKT had no interest in playing against Aurelion Sol, picking the champion didn’t seem to be an option. This didn’t seem to be a problem in the quarterfinals, as RNG didn’t show any interest in Aurelion Sol until game four of the series against SKT, by which point, it seemed as if nothing was stopping SKT on their path to the semifinals.
As for the ROX Tigers, it seemed like their confidence got the best of them, as they dropped games to Counter Logic Gaming and Albux NoX Luna in weeks one and two respectively. However, they seemed to clean it up and took first place in their group with a win over CLG, followed by a convincing win against ANX in the tie-breaker. ROX stormed on through their quarterfinal opponents, EDward Gaming, who was having another underwhelming performance on the world stage. The most notable aspect of their play was that seven out of the Tigers’ eight wins were done with Han “Peanut” Wang-ho on Elise or Lee Sin.
Game one of the series was an all out brawl with both teams trading blows back and forth until the very end. A big contributing factor of SKT’s loss to the Flash Wolves in the group stage was FW banning Trundle, while picking Poppy. This seems like a likely ban that would’ve come through from ROX if they had an additonal two. As expected, later in the game, Trundle became a split-pushing monster that Poppy had no chance of defending against, giving SKT a lot of pressure on the map.
The other likely ban ROX would’ve looked for was the Olaf. Prior to this series, SKT picked Olaf in four of their ten games. Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong’s Olaf was fearlessly running through the ROX Tigers’ jungle repeatedly throughout the early game. That, combined with some intelligent warding and Peanut’s early pressure that was so key to ROX’s victories, was heavily diminished.
SKT would’ve had the option to ban out Lee Sin and Elise, which would most likely result in the opposing jungler going to a nerfed Rek’Sai that only carried a 44.4 percent win rate through the tournament, or an Olaf that we hadn’t seen Peanut on the entire year, except for a single game this tournament. SKT’s Bae “Bang” Jun-sik had been the target of a ban from ROX, and it’s also likely we could have seen a Jhin or Ashe ban tossed in the direction of Kim “PraY” Jong-in to try and level out the playing field in the bottom lane.
In game two, we saw very similar bans, with ROX having to drop the Ezreal ban in favor of Nidalee due to being on the red side. This allowed SKT to ban out the Jhin since they were no longer the team having to ban Nidalee. After game two is where things would begin to get interesting, as Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon’s support Miss Fortune proved quite dangerous for SKT.
With each team taking a loss, the game three bans ended up almost identical to the bans from game one. The only difference being, with ROX having taken down Bang’s Ezreal in game two, they dropped the Ezreal ban and opted to ban out Karma instead. With SKT feeling the need to stick to their original three bans, it was quite likely that extra bans would’ve simply allowed them to eliminate the Miss Fortune pick then and there instead of hoping they’d be able to play into it. After the way game one played out, there’s no doubt that an Orianna ban from ROX would’ve been desirable. Lee “Kuro” Seo-haeng felt the pressure of Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok very heavily every single game, and Faker’s classic Orianna pick was almost too overwhelming, even with SKT dropping game three, and could definitely have been deemed ban-worthy.
Game four is where SKT no longer had enough bans to deal with the power picks of the ROX Tigers. SKT couldn’t afford to ban Nidalee on blue side, which resulted in them having to pick it for themselves. Despite Bengi having an (incredibly unexpected) stand-out performance on Nidalee, it is without a doubt that SKT would’ve rather been able to just get that off of the table. While it seemed like SKT would’ve reaped a greater benefit from having two extra bans, it’s hard to say that this series would’ve been any less fantastic in this system with the unseen level of play from both sides of the matchup.
Snake Draft (Dota 2 System)
Dota 2 uses a much different system than League of Legends, where the bans are integrated throughout the drafting process rather than all at the beginning. The current Dota 2 system is as follows:
There are a few key ways this system would impact a League of Legends draft if implemented. The first thing to note is that while there are more bans overall, there are less bans before the first picks are allowed. Another thing to understand is that before each banning phase, each team will have the same number of champions picked. A final point of importance would be that the same advantage to each side remains, where the blue side team would get the first pick, while the red side team gets the last pick.
Taking a look back at the SKT vs. ROX series, it really makes you wonder which champion each team would’ve allowed through with only two bans. Seeing how SKT banned Aurelion Sol every game, and continued to ban Nidalee every red side game, it seems as if they would’ve allowed the Jayce to fall through. Since Syndra and Ryze were the two bans that ROX didn’t change for all five games, it’s fairly likely that they would have not banned Ezreal.
With Jayce available, he would have likely been the Tigers’ first pick instead of the Caitlyn. ROX was mostly using the Caitlyn to attempt to punish Bang after pushing him off of Ezreal, but with Ezreal available, it’s likely we would’ve seen SKT grab him with the Zyra in their first set of picks, if not Ezreal/Olaf as SKT seemed to desire that pick as well. With the high preference ROX had shown towards Elise throughout the tournament, the jungle pick would’ve likely rounded out the first set of picks for this game.
Moving into the second ban phase is where you can see the strategic depth allowed in this structure. Assuming picks and bans had gone as I layed out, we’d be entering this phase with the following:
Bans – Syndra/Ryze/Aurelion Sol/Nidalee
Picks – Jayce/Elise(ROX) and Ezreal/Zyra(SKT)
For SKT’s bans, we could see them looking to target the bottom lane of ROX with their champions already secured. They could have possibly chosen to take Karma out of the picture, as that was a pretty staple support throughout the tournament (specifically into the Zyra matchup), and maybe look for a Jhin or Ashe ban against Pray. Here, ROX could now take out the Olaf, and possibly even the Poppy. While Poppy isn’t going to necessarily stop the Jayce from being a terror, we’ve seen plenty of Poppy players come out of lane down 30+ CS and still be able to have an impact with the utility of that champion.
Without Lee “Duke” Ho-seong having a lane that he could safely lose, without allowing Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho to take over the game, and Bengi being forced onto something such as Lee Sin or Rek’Sai, one would think that this opens up a lot of potential for ROX to make some plays in the early game that we didn’t really get to see in the way game one actually played out. At this point, it’s very hard to speculate where the rest of the draft would’ve gone, possibly some more squeezing of Faker’s champion pool (despite that seeming to be an exercise in futility), but there’s simply endless permutations for the rest of the pick/ban.
Just from a partial pick/ban of a single game, you can already see how many exciting possibilites this could open for the teams. I’d say the most interesting part of all this would be after the second game, if ROX did continue with the MF support strategy. The part I enjoy the most about this idea is that when someone busts out a surprise pick, you only have the two bans, and possibly a pick, before they get to draft their first champion. This would make it much harder on teams to simply ban out champions they don’t want to play against, and force them to have counter-picks and strategies available to deal with those champions if/when they come into play.
The Middle Ground (A combination of the two systems)
While if we increase to 10 bans, I think it’s likely that we move to a drafting system more similar to Dota 2‘s, I also think it wouldn’t be an exact copy of the system. The thing that is most likely to remain the same would be the three bans from each team in the beginning, and then an additional one or two ban phases throughout the draft. The system I would prefer, and the one I’ll be using as an example would follow as:
This system is pretty simple, as it follows the current League of Legends draft, with a simple addition of each team banning two champions after their initial picks. I feel that drafting pairs of champions is vital to the way teams build their compositions, so I wouldn’t want to take that away from our current draft system. This still allows my favorite parts of a draft (one team gets first pick while the other team gets two, and last pick) but still would add a very interesting dynamic to the rest of the draft.
Going back to our example, we could say that the first part of the draft remains as it played out with Ryze/Ezreal/Syndra bans from ROX the picking up Caitlyn, and Aurelion Sol/Jayce/Nidalee bans from SKT then picking up Zyra/Olaf. The second ban phase would then give SKT the opportunity to ban Karma and perhaps Viktor as well, which at this point would leave Malzahar as the only pick remaining Kuro had played at the tournament. ROX would have an excellent opportunity to take both Jhin and Ashe off of the table, leaving Bang likely to default to a Sivir pick. ROX could’ve also went in the direction of only banning AD champions, and banning the Trundle that ended up being such a problem for Smeb’s Poppy in the first game. With each team getting more of a chance to negate the strengths that their opponents brought to the table, the entire game one could have played out much differently.
While you can never know for certain how things would go in a different situation, I think it’s safe to say that additional bans are certainly an interesting idea. Allowing teams and coaches more of an opportunity to impact the game, and emphasize their player’s strengths, would probably be beneficial to the scene. I think there’s plenty of different ways that more bans could be implemented, all of which have their own unique flavor to them. For now, we’ll have to wait and see where Riot decides to go with this, but it’s important to understand that no matter what, there’s something we could gain from a new system.
Photo credit: LoL Esports