Captain, there’s an anomaly in the system!

My attempt to get a ranked win with all 75 champions is going well, at least for what I expected. I’ve managed to pick up a few first-attempt wins, which feels really good. Karthus was a one shot, as were Eve and Rumble. I expected the latter two to be easy, but the Karthus win was a pleasant surprise.

Ryze and Alistar continue to give me trouble. I’ve had solid starts with both champions in several games, but my teammates just can’t find a way to work with another. It’s painful.

I also had one extremely frustrating game last night in which I was paired with an unranked Malphite, even though he hadn’t duo queued with anyone. You can see the teams in the screenshot above. My own team’s rankings, in order from top to bottom, is as follows:


The enemy team, again from top to bottom, was:


The last two players on the enemy team also duo queued together, which I’ve always seen as an advantage, especially when the two players are so close in ELO. This sort of thing just shouldn’t happen in the matchmaking system. Even if that unranked player was lying for some reason and actually did duo with another player, we were outmatched as far as ELO is concerned. I know ELO isn’t a very good gauge of player skill, but when a player is dumped into a match 120 points above his ELO, against higher-rated duo queue to boot, well, I expect about the outcome I got. He bought Ninja Tabi against a very limited physical team and “initiated” by ulting one of the enemy players at a time, most often Xin Zhao. It was a mess.

Like I said, though, this is going better than expected. I just lost another with Ryze, bringing my total attempts with him to three. We’ll see if I have more tim this afternoon to try again.


Riot adds “Unskilled Player” to reportable offenses

You Suck.

I’m sure you’ve been in plenty of games with players saying things like, “report this Shaco for sucking,” or “report Eve for being a moron.” Of course you wouldn’t report them. After all, isn’t matchmaking supposed to weed out the unskilled, matching them against similarly unskilled players? Well, Riot wants you to give matchmaking a hand by reporting the unskilled just like you report the trolls.

I’m going to put this in italics because I don’t want anyone to miss it: The “unskilled player” offense is NOT bannable. No one will be catching a ban because they aren’t as good at this game as someone else. In fact, Tamat said the expected impact is small at best but “worth implementing all the same.” My question is, how?

I’m trying to think of the ways that Riot can pull valuable data from this metric and I’m coming up short. For starters, the kinds of players that typically want to be able to report unskilled players tend to be unskilled themselves, just searching for external reasons a game is going poorly. As an example, I recently played a game with an Udyr who was calling for reports on his team’s Shaco, who ended the game something like 4-12. Thing is, Udyr himself was 4-13, picking up his kills late in the game. To top things off, their team actually beat us (they had a solid Amumu/Kat/Corki and we had no tank). I know that examples don’t prove anything, but this is exactly the situation I see skill based reports being asked for most. Even if decent players are using this feature, there’s going to be a LOT of unreliable data, and that’s not good for anything.

Isn’t the real issue here that matchmaking and ELO simply don’t work well for assessing a team game. Solo queue is a nightmare to balance simply by its nature. There’s not a reliable statistical method for evaluating player performance as it relates to game outcome when you’re matching 10 random players. There just isn’t. The best we’ll get is an approximation. Throwing a set of unreliable data at the problem won’t do us any good.


My luck has officially run out


Earlier this week I was really excited to be playing ranked solo 5v5. I was making my way up the charts, thanks in part to good luck with teammates. My allies were cooperative and ready to coordinate, and chose teams that had a good mix of magic and physical damage, tankiness and crowd control. I made it from the high 1300s to 1530 in just a couple days. It was great.

That all changed at the start of the weekend. I played a few games for some Miss Fortune testing on Friday and it was loss after loss. Teammates weren’t paying attention, they were making bad champion choices, arguing about who would take middle, never bothering with dragon. I plummeted, all the way down to 1412 in something like seven straight losses, and I haven’t been able to pull myself back up.

I’ve pictured one of my most recent losses above. As you can see, my teammates were feeding early and often. Singed was 0-7 by the 18-minute mark. It wasn’t that he had a tough lane – he really didn’t – but he was running into fights he had no chance of living through. After engaging Warwick for a spell, I watched him start to run away at 200 hp just to go back in because Fling was off cooldown against a 500 hp Warwick. He died, of course, and it wasn’t the first time.

It’s strange how this game runs in streaks. I want to say that it points to a problem in the matchmaking system, but I don’t know if that’s accurate. I do think matchmaking needs to account for ELOs that drop dramatically in a short period of time. You don’t want to artificially inflate a player’s ELO so that he’s in a bracket he doesn’t belong in, but it’s also absurd that I can drop more than 100 ELO in a couple games, largely because of underskilled teammates. What if matchmaking tried to make you the lowest ELO player on a team if you lost, say, four games in a row. Losing that many games in a row is indicative of a problem with the MM system. Either a player who shouldn’t have been winning so many games was winning and he’s beyond his means, or a player is losing more games than he should, likely because the other team overmatches his own. I think the system should try to correct itself to better provide the service it’s designed to provide.


Late nights with LoL matchmaking

Garen fighting.I’m moving in about a week so my days have become increasingly hectic and I’m starting to lose sleep. It’s not that I’m worried, there’s just a lot to think about so I end up awake fairly late at night twiddling my thumbs. The obvious solution? You guessed it.

I make the distinction between night and day because night games are a very different animal. While daytime I usually expect someone on either team to know what they’re doing, nighttime that cannot be assumed. Late night games are this crazy hodgepodge of people playing toons they don’t know, crazy level one teamfights, complete and utter indifference to teammate requests for help, the same indifference toward map and buff control. I know, it sounds a lot like normal ranked games, and it is, just turned up about a hundred decibels and driving a ninety miles an hour toward a flaming brick wall. Heimer doesn’t get banned. Are you starting to see what I mean?

In a way it’s been a lot of fun. I stopped placing much stock in ranked queues a while ago, so it doesn’t bother me much that I’m seeing players go well into the double digits on kills again, or that games swing violently back and forth between one side’s advantage and the other’s. It’s been hectic in an enjoyable way.


Riot should let 3-man premades play 5v5 solo

Summoner's Rift early design.

I’ve been trying to spend a good bit of time in solo queue over the course of the weekend to see how things feel. There are still a lot of the same problems – bad players have been carried, good players are in brackets well below their skill level, there is so much animosity among teammates that it’s nearly impossible to organize people. My problem is that I want to see the stats that ranked matches provide, but playing the queue as a solo is painful.

I really think Riot should open up the solo queue to allow 3-man premades. There is really no reason not to. Among the queues, solo seems to be taken the least seriously. Even with three people, the chance for your other two players to be atrocious is high enough that it really shouldn’t be much different from the two man system.

I know there are normal games, but the fact that normal stats aren’t being tracked gives players too much flexibility to leave games without consequence. I still want to enjoy a competitive game with my friends on Summoner’s Rift and, unfortunately, the current system doesn’t allow for that.


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