Thursday, February 6, 2014

League Analysis: Promos Series Between Ranked Divisions

Ranked in League of Legends has been a source of anxiety due to its competitive nature. This in turn can breed undesirable behavior (i.e. toxicity). In order to try to prevent this from happening, Riot implemented the League system in Season 3. While some aspects of the system did reduce ladder anxiety, such as the retention of tiers (i.e. Silver, Gold, Platinum) when a player reached that point no matter how much they lost, other aspects, such as the promotion series (which put significant weight on certain matches) or inconsistent League Point gains and losses, particularly through "clamping,"  increased ladder anxiety and thus the "solution" may have backfired.
My current standing in the League system as of this posting.
In Season 4, the League system was slightly changed by allowing players to drop tiers (so players stuck in division 5 of a tier can't relentlessly troll without penalty), removing League Point gain/loss clamping outside of Diamond I (at least in all but the fringe cases), and, more recently, allowing players to skip promotion series if their MMR, or matchmaking rating, is high enough. However, while the latter solution to handling promotion series is logical, I feel they should be removed entirely because of issues that I will highlight in the following section.

Issues With Promotion Series (Between Divisions)

A promotion series is started upon reaching 100 points in every division except in the Challenger tier. By either winning 2 out of 3 matches (from division to division) or 3 out of 5 matches (to promote to the next tier from division one), the player promotes. As mentioned above, serious weight is put on these matches since no matter how well a player did prior to entering their promotion series, they can find themselves in a predicament where they are prevented from promoting, regardless of whether it was in the player's control or not.

In terms of promoting to the next tier, I can understand why a promotion series is logical because earning a spot in the next tier usually requires that the player consistently play well at that level and the promotion series and the matches leading up to it are a sufficient method of challenging the player. Furthermore, the player "only" needs to win 60% of his or her matches in the promotion series to advance which is a more or less fair assessment of the player's skill in terms of playing at the level of the next tier. Finally, the promotion series is compensated for by granting the player protection from falling out as long as their MMR is within a sufficient level of tolerance to stay in the tier. The player also receives fair warning that their MMR is in danger before falling out of the tier (according to the patch notes).

In comparison, promoting to the next division requires that the player wins 66% of their matches in the series and the player receives immunity to dropping out for the first five matches in the next division. After that, the player can drop out by losing at zero LP (having high MMR can prevent this though there is apparently no warning like with dropping out of a tier).

There are several issues to be highlighted here, which are:
  • The player needs a higher win ratio to advance to the next division compared to the next tier.
  • Because of the immunity granted by advancing to the next division, 5 straight losses can severely mess with a player's MMR making it hard to determine where the player really is in the League system. This is especially so since there is no warning of the player's MMR being too low unlike with tiers.
  • The player may not benefit from the immunity at all (for example, they win a few matches then lose a few matches), meaning it's far easier to fall out of a division than it is to rise in division.
  • Falling out of a division places the player in the previous division at 75 LP, regardless of how much LP they may have lost for losing at 0 LP were it to be subtracted from 100 in the previous division (this usually means the loss is larger). While this is also the case for falling out of tiers, it again makes sense since the player has to be quite a bit of MMR below the tier they're about to fall out of to fall out.
With that said, let us consider the solution.

The Solution

While this may seem extreme, I feel that promotion series between divisions should be removed entirely. That the player has to statistically overcome a greater burden in order to promote into and retain standing in a division is rather unreasonable. Instead, division changes could work in such a way that when they gain enough League Points to advance or lose enough League Points to demote, they are placed in the next or previous division with League Points based on the difference for winning or losing. For example:
  • A player at 87 LP wins 25 LP. They promote to the next division with 12 LP.
  • A player at 5 LP loses 13 LP. They demote to the previous division with 92 LP.
  • Note: To prevent message spam for players who may promote and demote multiple times over a short period, the message would only be sent once for that specific promotion/demotion to the specific division within a specific time period (like 3 days, for instance). 
This would essentially turn a tier into a 500 League Point spread but still allow players to set smaller goals of advancing in divisions without additional stress. It is worth pointing out the rate of progression or regression of standing in the League system could be adjusted for the removal of the promotion series (for example, to compensate for the removal of the promotion series, players will gain or lose slightly less LP compared to the current system).

Update: It has come to my attention this suggestion has been made by others and is thus making its rounds and becoming a very popular opinion. Here's to hoping this issue gets addressed.

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