Why more bans?
In pro play we think pick/ban changes can lead to an increase in champion diversity and strategic play. We believe that offering more bans will encourage deeper champion pools with more individual champions seeing the Rift - and that it’ll make a fun and engaging draft phase for fans to watch. The plan here is to give each team two additional bans partway through the draft; this midpoint ban should encourage adaptability and reward teams who can accurately predict what strategies their opponents are planning then move swiftly to counter them.
We tested these theories in partnership with pros, trialed a few different solutions and took their feedback into account when introducing the new changes. As with every new change, we’ll be gathering consistent feedback from fans and pros as we roll out the extended bans.
Organized Play vs Matchmaking considerations
We think improvements to the pick/ban system can offer multiple benefits. Those will be somewhat different in pro play or other organized play, than in regular games though. In organized play you’re playing with a consistent group, you know who your opponents are and what they play, and you may even have played against them before. In matchmade games by contrast you’re adapting to a new group and don’t have any initial information about the team you’ll be facing. The needs and benefits of each context’s somewhat different as a result.
Organized play pick/ban - what does it look like?
The first part of champ select will be the same as at present, with both sides banning 3 champs then some picks. Blue picks first, red picks twice, blue picks twice and then red picks once again. After that there’s a second ban phase, where the two sides alternate bans back and forth, starting with red side. There’s then a final pick phase, where red picks once, blue picks twice and red picks one final time.
After iterating and exploring different versions of drafts with pros and semi-pros worldwide, we reached this version. We also made sure this change didn’t lead to an increase of time of the P&B phase.
What about regular matchmade games that use bans?
Revised pick/ban for regular play will come somewhat later than the changes in organized play. We’re still assessing what style of pick/ban changes makes the most sense for regular games, given the different circumstances (unfamiliar allies, lack of information about your opposition).
Shifting to 10 bans still has a lot of appeal, in particular because it allows one ban per player giving each person equal agency in the ban phase. Goals of bans are somewhat different though (e.g. you’re not banning the unusual pick you know the enemy team likes to run).
The amount of time it takes to get into a game’s also a particularly big concern for regular games, given we’re already getting a lot of feedback that time from pressing ‘Play’ to actually starting the game feels too long. Some of the options we’re looking at include reduced time in champ select as a focus as a result.
We should be able to talk more about our thoughts on pick/ban changes in regular play early 2017. In the meantime if you’ve got any thoughts on pick/ban, whether in pro or regular play, please do let us know!