LoL: The way surrender might have been

LoL purple Nexus.

One of the best differentiators between League of Legends and Dota is surrender. If at 25 minutes it seems a sure loss, teams with a heavy majority vote – 4/5 – can surrender the game by simply typing /surrender. It’s a great mechanic for those steamroller games, whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a brutal beating. It saves time and a lot of frustration for most everyone involved.

It can be annoying, though. I’ve had many games that have been close, only to have the other team surrender as we’re pushing down inhibitor turrets. It’s a small thing, but sometimes it’s nice to have that complete victory. The thing is, the minor frustration of not finishing a game is nowhere near the frustration of enduring a guaranteed loss because your teammates won’t surrender. Quite a few players believe there is some sort of surrender penalty and won’t surrender because they don’t want to cripple their IP gain. It was almost implemented – luckily, Riot was smart enough to see the problem and simply moved surrenders to 25 minutes instead of keeping it at 15.

Apparently Zileas posted a few months back suggesting a penalty for surrender. I haven’t been able to find that post – what I found was an old post asking Riot to reconsider. Zileas posted a couple times inside, both of which provide a disconcerting look what was then the possible future of the surrender mechanic. Basically Riot wanted to distinguish between true losses and surrenders so that it could properly “reward” players who stay until the bitter end. In turn, teams that surrender will be subject to a penalty, likely in the form of reduced IP gain. His first response is below:

Players tend to do what they are rewarded for. Players get a lot of satisfaction out of “Finishing” opponents off in our game, and everyone enjoys that sometimes. We want to reward people to not surrender for this reason.

This “reward” system completely ignores the fact that players can “surrender” by standing afk at fountain while the other team pushes it in. The strategy is used all the time with AFK players because it’s a waste of everyone’s time to play the game out. The new system wouldn’t have “rewarded” anyone, it would have incentivized people to AFK, effectively ruining the game. This was one of Dota’s major problems, one Riot combatted with the surrender vote.

Zileas’ second response revealed that the game would be going to 15-minute surrenders if a penalty system was implemented.

we want 15 min surrenders — but the platform doesnt distinguish between losses and surrenders presently. Once it does, we will go 15 mins. Right now, if we did that, the optimal behavior would be to chain surrender at 15 mins every game.

Luckily the system never went through. I’m not sure I would have noticed if that was the way surrender had always worked. We likely would have just seen a lot more AFK once a player thought the game was decided.

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