League of Legends: the problems of (and solutions to) positional matchmaking

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Some possible solutions

1. Prevent role swaps OR make them available in champ select

One way that could prevent or temper the ability for duos to abuse the queuing system that places you in a lower MMR when you queue for an off-role is just to simply not allow role swaps to happen at all. Now, when I say that, I don’t mean that you punish everyone who attempts to switch, but make it irrelevant if you do so. If you queue mid and get assigned mid in champ select, even if you swap to jungle your MMR/LP gains will go to your mid lane role.

There’s also the possibility that Riot could standardize the role swap criteria in champ select. In other words, give players the option to swap their positions like they swap their champions in the champ select window, and then make the role they end in the role that they rank up in. Yes, this still creates the situation where a Diamond mid laner queues top and swaps with his Platinum top friend, but Riot can also address that by giving massively low LP gains/high losses to that Diamond mid when he’s abused the system.

Riot could also do some cheeky things to prevent this role swap abuse like not letting anyone other than the person assigned jungle take smite, or only allowing the support to buy the sightstone items. Given their previous stance on wanting to encourage innovation and not punish people for playing the game differently than the standard meta, this seems unlikely.

2. Remove duoQ

There have been a lot of suggestions to remove duoQ as it would remove this possibility to abuse the system. And yes, if there was no option to queue up with a friend, that would eliminate any possibility of players swapping to abuse the matchmaking. In a world where FlexQ is an available option for friends who want to play ranked together, there certainly don’t seem to be many arguments against it.

However, although removing DuoQ would eliminate the possibility of system abuse, there would still be the issues of feeling like the season is too much of a grind and lacking incentive to tryhard in auto-filled games. Personally, I think this could be a decent idea, but it’s only a fix for the symptom of abuse rather than the underlying problem. And given Riot’s past hesitancy to remove DuoQ, such a change seems unlikely.

3. More closely tighten the MMR between positions

Riot has already stated in their earlier /dev breakdown on the troubles of positional matchmaking that they were looking into fixes that included tightening the MMRs between a player’s main role and off roles. While this may help in lower elos, preventing gold ADCs from playing with Iron mids, it’s not helpful to the top of the ladder, where even a low Diamond player will largely be outclassed by a Master-tier player.

Moreover, unfortunately, whatever changes Riot has already implemented don’t seem to have had much of an effect. Unfortunately, there are still reports of unbalanced games across Reddit in ranked games. Riot has always preached matchmaking as king, but the positional matchmaking seem to screw that (perceived) balance up.

4. Increase the splash LP

One way that Riot has said they would address the problems of grinding and autofill not being worthwhile is to increase the amount of splash LP you get from winning or losing while off-role. The idea is that this will give players more incentive to try hard in those auto-filled games, plus it will give you an evener distribution of LP to all your roles as you climb.

The problem, however, is that this will allow people to artificially climb higher since there will be more available LP to be gained or lost at a time. And if Riot didn’t want to do so, they’d still be in a position where the splash gains were so low there isn’t a reason to take the auto-filled games seriously. At best, this would just exacerbate the issues with matchmaking that so many have complained about.

5. Remove promotional series OR rework them

Another pain point that most of the community seems to have an issue with is the fact that LP splashes can cause you to demote, but not enter promotion tournaments when you get off-rolled. There have been proposed solutions and Riot recently announced that you would be able to promote from splash LP when filled.

However, this could be an opportunity to take a look at how to improve the promotional system. Some have suggested that Riot remove the promotion series – or even ranked tiers – altogether.

Another solution that I’ve always found intriguing is to make the promotion series like an “unlock system,” in that once you have gotten to a certain rank (up until Diamond let’s say) for the rest of that season you don’t need to play the promotion series to get back into that elo. For instance, say you demote from Bronze I to Bronze II. When you get enough LP back to hit Bronze II, 100 LP, you automatically promote back to Bronze I, no promotion series needed.

This would alleviate the feelings of frustration should you demote due to a bad game in your off-role. Instead, you’ll be able to climb right back to where you were after one win on your main.

6. Massively rework LP splashes in off-roles

If Riot is committed to keeping the positional matchmaking, they could simply rework how splashing works to give players the choice of how they want their LP to splash, rather than having it be at predetermined amounts. For instance, if I win a game of ADC as a top main, the system could offer me a choice: take all of the base LP for AD plus the little splash or convert a percentage of it to LP for your main role.

In this case, your wins or losses on off-roles will still impact your main role, but you will have the option to maximize your gains for that one main role when you get off-role, or minimize the losses when you get auto-filled. Yes, this system is still rife with opportunities for abuse (you can still queue up in your off-role and convert a win against weaker opponents to LP for your main role), but if Riot adjusted the LP conversions so that you couldn’t make the conversion that often, say, it would be a good way to keep people motivated to win when they do get auto-filled.

7. Keep positional MMR, but go back to one single rank

Another option to fix the problems of positional matchmaking is to go back to the old LP system…kind of. While Riot could keep the positional MMR for purely matchmaking purposes, they could also go back to the system where each player had a single rank. It would reduce the feelings of grinding and eliminate all the complication of fearing demotion from splashing LP.

Of course, there is again the opportunity to abuse this with role-swapping and queuing for an off-role with a lower MMR. However, if Riot adopted another of the solutions listed above (removing DuoQ or not allowing swaps), this problem would be massively alleviated.

Riot could also implement a system where you have one “true” MMR and when you play in a role with MMR lower than that base, you gain and lose massively more or less LP. Basically, Riot could pull levers to make it much more difficult and time-consuming to climb by trying to abuse the system and play weaker competition in your “off” role.

8. Reset the ladder

This seems to be one of the most popular solutions among high-elo players. Since the positional matchmaking has had so much abuse and issues, and the LP cushioning at the beginning of the season was so generous to artificially inflate bad players to ranks they don’t deserve, Riot should reset the ladder.

The only issue with this, however, is that in this scenario Riot would be taking away a month’s worth of grinding from players. All those ranked games played in January and February left moot by a reset is sure to leave a bad taste in some players mouths.

9. Revert the system next split

I think this is the most likely scenario as to what we will see. Riot purposefully divided the ranked season into splits for this exact purpose.

If they cannot fully fix the positional matchmaking system, I anticipate Riot will go right back to the old one rank/one MMR system next time. Unfortunately for those of us feeling the painful impact of positional matchmaking in NA and Korea, we’ll just have to wait.

Next. Patch 9.4 breakdown. dark

What do you think is the best answer to fix the problems of positional matchmaking? Has the new system made you feel less excited to play League of Legends? Let us know in the comments!