Solo queue is back! Riot announce big changes to the ranked system

Sivir and Nautilus in a duo queue, courtesy of Riot Games.
Sivir and Nautilus in a duo queue, courtesy of Riot Games. /

Riot’s decision to institute dynamic queue at the beginning of Season 6 has been decried over and over again. Today, they announced the return of solo queue.

League fans rejoice! Riot has announced the return of solo queue and duo queue for the 2017 season. Riot’s decision to dig in its heels and steadfastly promote the dynamic queue was met by intense criticism from players concerned over the gameplay imbalances the queue presented.

In an admirable show of humility and responsiveness, Riot admitted they got it wrong. They tried to fix it, and now that they’ve failed, they’ve given in.

Solo queue is back!

How did we get here?

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Way back before Season 6, Riot announced a groundbreaking change to the ranked games system. Previously, there were two types of games: solo- and duo-queue where teams were made entirely of single players or, at most, a pair of friends. A separate queue was provided for groups of friends that wanted to play as a premade team (a team assembled before the draft).

Of course, that wasn’t the only change. Riot also attempted to improve the matchmaking system by allowing players to select which roles they wished to play. Riot wanted to improve teamplay overall and to reward people that were playing as a team.

Overall, these changes seemed like a good idea, and they worked most of the time.

What went wrong — unintended consequences

Dynamic queue was almost immediately beset by numerous problems. Long queue times. Poorly matched teams. An autofill system that ignored players’ role preferences too often. Games were solo players were either thrown against a premade team (good luck) or with a team of four premades (instant flame).

Unfortunately for Riot, those problems manifested themselves the most for players in the top leagues. These are League’s most passionate, loyal, outspoken fans, and boy did they have a lot to say. We wrote that Dynamic Queue was one of League’s top problems of 2016.

Take Peter “Doublelift” Peng, never one to mince words:

Riot seemed determined to make dynamic queue work, concerned that a return to the previous system would be detrimental. But they admitted that things weren’t working. A short time ago, they announced that the highest elo players, those most adversely affected by dynamic queue, would get solo queue back.

Beginning in Season 7, solo queue will be back for everyone.

The matchmaking system might be better than ever.

Now that they’ve given in and announced the return of separate queues for single/double players and premade teams, let’s see how it will shape out. Instead of the old solo/premade delineation, Riot will create a “Flex Queue,” in which solo players can participate, but where premade teams will also reside. Players that put time into Flex Queue will receive bonus mystery reward at the end of the season.

Next: Riot also planning assassin and vision changes for Season 7

Riot will also be keeping the role selection logic they’ve developed, but with a big improvement: the ability to veto your least favorite position as well as decline to be autofilled (put into a game in a role other than your chosen two).

It remains to be seen how the player population bounces between the two queues. Maybe the Flex Queue won’t work, but Riot is taking a step in the right direction by listening and reacting to their community. We hope that Riot can continue making this game better for players at all levels.

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