Riot Games Announces Upcoming League of Legends Team Builder
League of Legends has a meta. This is hardly news to anyone who is in any way familiar with online gaming, whether they have any experience with League of Legends itself or not.
The MOBA's meta has a firm enough hand on the competitive side of the game that many have wondered if Riot Games would eventually attempt to use something similar to World of Warcraft's Dungeonfinder to make it easier to form a team. Letting players queue for specific roles would help simplify the process of putting together a team of strangers, but Riot has insisted they do not want to enforce any given meta.
Riot may have found a compromise.
They have just announced a new Team Builder feature coming to at least the Public Beta Environment in the near future. Like players have considered, the proposed system will enable players to queue into a specific role and champion. What players wondering about such a system did not generally consider is these roles and champions being completely open.
Players will be able to select any champion in any role in any position. The way people can still ensure getting a team they can work with is they also select what roles they prefer elsewhere in the game. It is entirely possible to pick a preference for a three-person midlane or a double-jungle with ease. The only consequence of such is a longer queue time while you wait for enough people with compatible team composition requirements to be queued. Here's an example of a decidedly non-meta Team Builder composition.
The players having the option of either accepting or rejecting a given champion in a given role even prevents someone locking a champion for a specific role precisely because that champion is terrible at said role. Being able to avoid things like post-rework AP Yi goes a long way to preventing trolls from ruining the gaming experiences of others.
This has potential, and not all of it is good.
Players immediately jumped all over the announcement, crying foul about Riot enforcing the game's meta despite having always insisting they would not. In its own defense, the company has pointed out this would be giving players all the options, whether they wanted to play according to the meta or not. Riot merely wants to give players the tools to smooth out champ select.
On the other hand...
This does have some very positive possibilities. For one thing, it will be literally impossible to have someone ruin champion select either by refusing to play a certain role or by deliberately picking something other than what they already said they would. In this Team Builder queue, the players never enter champion select. Once they pick their champion and preferences for composition, they go straight into a game when they have a team.
The possible pitfalls to watch for I can think of immediately include people trolling by picking champions for certain roles specifically because of how poor they, as players, are at those roles and painfully long queue times for non-meta team comps.
Even then, the first is something punishable either by having the player's matchmaking rating drop quickly or by having them face the Tribunal if they make their unpleasant intentions obvious.
But then, I assume such is why they announced bringing Team Builder to the PBE within the next year, rather than to the live game. I am optimistic for this concept, particularly given Riot's insistence on not enforcing League of Legends's meta. Being able to assemble wacky or unorthodox teams that everyone is happy with will let the players who want those teams and the players who do not both find more regular satisfaction in their games. Hopefully we will hear more sooner rather than later.