Last week, we began initial tests of new champ select, dynamic queue, and a new matchmaking system in North America and Turkey. Driven by the desire to try new features, we saw millions of games played and more ranked games than any preseason before. Compared to last preseason, as a percentage of total games played, the rate of Normal Draft games vaulted by 264%, and Ranked increased by 45%. We’ve also heard tons of feedback, and had our fair share of issues. With all that in mind, let’s share what we learned and what we’re doing for the 2016 Ranked Season, which kicks off around the world over the next 24 hours.
Historically, Ranked Solo/Duo was the place where similarly-skilled players came together to express raw mechanical skill, encyclopedic game knowledge, and their own ability to carry. On the other hand, players told us over and over again they wanted a more competitive experience they could play with friends that lacked the rigid barriers to entry and low queue population of Ranked Teams.
This led us to Dynamic Ranked, where you can queue up with as many friends as you’d like, as long as all party members are within one tier of each other. This new approach to ranked adds team play and even team leadership to the mix of skills mentioned above.
So we had two distinct visions for Ranked play in League, Solo/Duo and Dynamic. The easiest solution might seem like just adding the new queue, but segmenting players can be extremely risky because of potential queue time and match quality issues. These risks compound on servers with smaller populations that can only sustain two queues (currently Normal Blind & Ranked Solo/Duo in those regions).
Because a broad majority of players have voiced their opinion through their engagement, we’re kicking off the 2016 Ranked Season with Dynamic Queues. But there’s a bit more to talk about.
We also heard from some players who prefer to solely measure themselves against all comers. We’re sensitive to any large swath of players feeling like they’re losing their place in League and while we firmly believe in Dynamic Ranked as the future, the game’s social features don’t offer enough support for players looking for like-minded, similarly-skilled players today. Because of this, we’ll launch a new Solo Ranked Queue (no duo’s!) in the coming weeks.
We need to work out a few implementation details, especially for smaller servers before we can roll out the revamped Solo Ranked alongside its Dynamic sibling. Because Dynamic Ranked is an indisputably better experience for playing with friends, the Ranked Teams queue skips the 2016 season while we begin work to integrate the full team experience into Dynamic Ranked. Expect more details about improved organized play later in the year. To be clear, ranked queues for the 2016 season are:
* Dynamic Ranked
* A few weeks after season start: Solo Ranked
Some of you are probably wondering about Ranked Rewards, and because we’ve pivoted to supporting Dynamic and Solo Ranked, we’re still figuring them out ourselves. Expect most of the Ranked Rewards to shift to Dynamic Ranked and some concrete news in the first few months of the season.
Over the course of the last week, even up to Monday morning, we’ve made matchmaking upgrades for normal and ranked dynamic queues and the new tech allows for better monitoring and on the fly tuning than ever before. Marked improvements in overall match quality and queue times should already be making themselves felt on live. Here’s what we know after nearly a week of live testing:
* Premade 4’s are now matching with other Premade 4’s in 98% of their matches, while Premade 5’s are matching with other Premade 5s in 96% of their matches. These numbers are up from the mid-80’s at launch.
* We’re seeing queue times for high-skill and pro players drop dramatically and are working on further improvements.
* Most players should now be seeing more competitive (where competitive means each team is [equally likely to win](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elo_rating_system#Mathematical_details)) matches compared to the Solo/Duo Ranked queue from last season).
One pain point has been lock in failures in new champ select resulting in queue dodges. This issue compounded with the longer queue times of the initial launch for a pretty miserable experience. We believe the lock in requirement is worth sticking with because it encourages players to stay engaged with their team while drafting, and pushes overall time in champ select lower. Lock in failures are already trending downwards, but remind your friends to lock in during the first few days with new champ select! We expect to see this stabilize over the first two weeks of the system, and if it doesn’t, we’ll move quickly to address it.
Finally, we’re also aiming at a number of updates to new champ select and all dynamic queues over the next couple of patches. We’ll keep you posted on each of these in the patch notes, as well as matchmaking tune-ups and bug fixes:
* Chroma and ward skin selection
* Skin purchase in champ select
* Preventing pick intent from being displayed to opponents during the final pick phase
* Allowing players to bring the champion grid back up after a champion pick
* Further improving the dynamic soundtrack
* Matchmaking will better prioritize your primary position
The 2016 Ranked Season kicks off in NA at 2AM PST on 1/20. GL HF in your placements!
EDIT ::: Other servers will all get their season start dates over the next 24-48 hours.