I'm writing this in the event that someone at Riot who cares about customer experience reads this.
I've complained a lot about the game over the years and while I haven't wavered from many positions, some realities I can work around. A few remain that I not only can't move past, but I also feel like is a larger issue beyond just myself.
* Incentivize Normals.
If everyone were decent, people would only play ranked when they were prepared and when they wanted to climb. Everyone isn't decent, though, and without any real incentive to play Normals, people are making decisions based on subjective self-interest. If you want a low stress game, maybe you play Normals. If you want to troll, you get more bang for your buck in ranked.
Heretofore, these are some of the prime movers in terms of ranked selection. My problem here is that customer satisfaction (CS) isn't being valued correctly, because it's assuming queue time is a major component of CS. But if you apply that to other sectors, it doesn't add up. McDonalds is faster than Ruth's Chris, and while people might say they're satisfied with both, that doesn't mean they value each product equally.
To resolve this issue, you should do the following:
Ranked no longer provides chests, levels, keys, or quest completion
Ranked no longer gives you BE
Normals no longer has Autofill
Normals should gain "All Except" fill option meaning they can select 4 roles instead of 2 or 5.
The goal here isn't obscure. Make Normals a place where games come quick, fun is expected, and non-winning goals are accepted. Ranked, conversely, should be a sparse game mode that provides a merit-based evaluation of your player. Nothing more.
So long as Normals is ranked-lite, you're going to have substantially more behavior problems.
* Fix Matchmaking
You can't fix matchmaking until you incentivize Normals, in my opinion, because until you pick off the low-hanging fruit of the non-try-hards you can't mitigate the risk of people showing up to not win. Eliminating even 30% of the non-serious players in ranked would be a marked improvement. I don't blame people for wanting to complete quests, but if they do it in Ranked (to me) that's trolling.
Therefore, as it currently stands, disparities in ranked play and talent seem heightened because someone who is 3 brackets below you and isn't trying isn't the same as someone who is three brackets below you and is. They know their champs, they read a guide, they've played with them before, they're familiar with matchups.
For actionable items, you need to start considering champ selection in LP assignments. No amount of measuring is going to determine if someone is good. Period. No exceptions. So we don't need to determine how good someone could be, but how familiar they are with what is bad. Mastery mandates are often met with some amount of pushback for the usual, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt reasons. "What if I'm on my alt and I select a champ with no mastery!" the folks cry, defending the .02% that both smurfs, and shouldn't be thrown into traffic.
This is resolved by adding modifiers to experience with a champ.+/-2/3/5 LP if you're Master 5/6/7 on wins and losses. i'm old and I'm tired of a broken system, so I'm not going to argue with people on this issue. Take it or leave it. I've heard all of your arguments before "But what if the trolls play until Mastery 5?!?!" I'm sure you're capable of doing the math. Those rare trolls who enter into ranked, despite no incentives, and who play enough until Mastery level 5 so they don't lose as much LP can squeeze in an extra game or two. Good for them.
The lock on the door to your house doesn't keep all intruders out. But it creates enough of a barrier that it keeps most folks from trying. This is the same concept.
* Separate DuoQueue
I play with people in LoL a lot. It's usually the same two guys but occasionally there's a larger group.The advantage of being on the same page as your allies is as much of an advantage as picking a champ you've played 5 times before is trolling. Which is to say it's an advantage/trolling that is currently not given the appropriate weight to it's effect on game outcome.
I personally notice this advantage most painfully when the top lane and the jungler are not only on Comms but have synergy. I would guess that you could climb out of your bracket with ease if a majority of your games had this combo simply because of geography. Top is the easiest to get into a base, it has the Herald, and even if the enemy jungler is competent, they aren't constantly camping top lane.
Again, this is predicated upon both Incentivizing Normals and Fixing Matchmaking. Having duo's go to Flex doesn't fix anything without the other two.
* Create Ranked Bans
Finally, you need to find a way to let people know that while they can play the game however they want, if they choose their own path, and it leads to multiple failures, then they need to reconsider things because it's tantamount to trolling. I've made this accusation a few times here, so I think it warrants explanation.
If you run down lane and die repeatedly. We think that's detrimental to game play and you get banned.
If you take Smite while being the support. We think that's detrimental to game play and you can get banned.
If you tell the enemy what your team is doing. We think that's detrimental to game play and you get banned.
All three of those examples don't blow up a nexus. But statistically they result in a loss. But so do playing champs you don't know and trying strats with items that don't work. So why isn't that bannable?
This shouldn't lock in a meta. If you win, then there's no problem, and even if wins come intermittently, I don't think that should be met with a Ranked Ban. But the game needs a way to tell players, who seemingly don't get that they're part of the problem that, in fact, they are the problem. You could measure this against all other players win records to say "jeez, these other guys are at least winning 30% of their games, and you're not...so..."
Ranked Bans should be that. A 3/5/10 game benching from Ranked - but not Normals - to suggest to the player without preventing them from improving that they need to go back to the drawing board. What I find funny about this suggestion (and I've made it prior though mostly as a resolution for Bronze 5 where you can't suck your way to a lower devision) is that they went forward with Chat bans, despite A.) having a mute function and B.) chat being the least problematic portion of toxicity (AFKs, and feeding being worse).
If you're willing to ban chat, why not try ranked. Where it matters?
As I mentioned, I'm having fun doing other things these days. I'm not fiening for a return and part of me hopes something here will at least be discussed at Riot HQ. I honestly enjoy the hell out of this game when I think it's fair. But in the currently landscape of constantly shifting champs, item OP levels, and dumb metas that focus on big plays over strategy I don't find the game either fun or fair. Working my tail off to lose because of an AFK is one thing - to have it go unpunished is another.
I'd like to return someday and I hope I can do so in a more equitable, merit-based MOBA.