One of the changes that most applauded the players of League of Legends was the position selection. Nobody imagines going back to the days before 2016, when we entered the champion select room without knowing what role we would have to assume in the game. Respecting the ‘pick order’ was just an unwritten community rule according to which the player who appeared highest on the screen had priority when choosing. There were constant conflicts and threats from many players who, if they couldn’t go to a certain lane, were willing to lose the game on purpose.
The situation was almost untenable and Riot Games I knew it. That is why the company introduced the possibility of choosing before starting two positions in which we would like to play. Even more important is that when entering the selection screen, the game itself made it very clear to us which line we should go to, avoiding discussions and making community guidelines part of the Summoner Code. It is true that sometimes we were assigned a role that we did not like, but it happened so rarely that we did not even complain. Also, over the years there have been changes to League of Legends that make autofill less common and much more fair.
A ‘mistake’ that Riot Games can no longer turn back on
The problem is that this change has generated situations that are very difficult to resolve to the point that a Riot Games employee has confessed that a common opinion in the company’s internal discussions is that “it was awesome for players but bad for overall gameThis was revealed by the person in charge of the sweet playable (matchmaking, systems…) of League of Legends in a discussion about the state of the matchmaking.
“The position pick did a lot of different things. Like you said, it made players less versatile because it allows you to focus on hyperspecialization, but it also made a lot of the community super happy for that very reason. ‘It’s great for players but bad for the game in general’ is not an uncommon opinion in our internal discussions. However, it would cost us a lot if we decided to remove it.” Riot Auberaun, January 2023
When we think about it carefully, the role selection has given rise to several problems. Without going any further and although now they are relatively solved, the most obvious are those related to pairing. Role selection gave rise to the term ‘autofill’ which refers to players being automatically placed in a position that does not correspond to either of the two you had previously selected. This was not a problem in the past for two reasons. The first is that everyone had to have minimal knowledge of each role and the second is that the opposing team would also find these situations very common.
A player who has joined League of Legends after the introduction of role select may have played thousands of games and less than a dozen of them have been in the top lane or bot lane. He will be able to function in these lines in a relatively acceptable way thanks to the experience acquired in other positions, but will not be able to perform at the same level than a rival who has spent almost all his time specializing in dominating the ‘top lane’. Thus, first a system had to be developed to ensure the autofill paritywith the same number of players out of position on both teams, and then another that included the symmetry. That is to say, that the ‘autofill’ of both teams were in the same position.
It’s easy to get carried away with Riot Games, but the truth is that they got an A on this subject, since the waiting times to find a game increased considerably. However, this also has bad effects for games. There is less ability to understand what is expected of the rest of the lines or what their most common problems are when we have never played them. If we have never seen ourselves in the situation in which a single mistake in the top lane leaves us almost 1,000 gold behindwe will hardly understand why our partner has died eight times in a row.
For example, a tip that doesn’t appear in almost any guide to rank up and that applies especially to junglers is to play all other lanes in normal games. It is easier to know how to help our colleagues or know when we can receive it if we have been in those situations before. Nevertheless, this was lost as the game tended towards specialization. It’s not necessarily a negative. Coming home from a day of work or study and being able to play the game in the role you want and maybe with your favorite champion is something very important for players. But here they explain a good part of the problems.
All told, we should not interpret the words of this Riot Games employee as meaning that role selection is going to be eliminated. Although things could potentially improve, it would be an unprecedented step backwards and would be one of the most difficult measures for the community to explain. There was almost a revolution among League of Legends fans when the company explored removing the option to play in pairs from the Solo/Duo queue; which is another system that gives rise to many problems. After all… What does it matter that the game is a little worse if it is more fun?