League of Legends: the new TR streaming rules can improve solo queue

League of Legends.
League of Legends. /
Victorious Aatrox, League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games /

Riot recently announced that pro players would be able to stream their inhouse League of Legends games, but there has been a lot of debate as to the effect it will have on solo queue.

Earlier this week, Riot announced a new change to their streaming policy and it could have a massive change to how League of Legends solo queue in high elo could function. With the announcement that LCS players could stream games from the tournament realm, there has been great optimism and skepticism at the prospect.

On the one hand, this can give NA pros more quality practice time outside of scrims, where they’ll compete against teammates and other pro players in a more relaxed atmosphere. On the other, this new system risks further diluting the talent pool of solo queue.

To the first point, in the aftermath of NA’s failure to advance out of the group stage at Worlds, many pundits have pointed the blame at the region’s poor solo queue environment. Without sufficient quality of competition to challenge the established pros and also help identify up-and-coming talent, NA has stagnated as a region compared to the dominant regions like Korea, China, and Europe.

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On the other hand, pros like CoreJJ have taken to Twitter to discourage further isolating themselves from the solo queue environment by spending more practice time doing in-house scrims. Doing so, he says, takes these pro players out of the solo queue pool and only makes the problem worse.

However, I feel like this new scenario provides a unique opportunity for Riot and the LCS to not only change pro scouting but also change solo queue. It may not be possible from a technical sense, but here is the grand idea: what if high-elo solo queue was played exclusively on this tournament realm?

It sounds crazy and it very well not be practically feasible, but here’s how it could work. Starting at an arbitrary cut-off point (let’s say Master tier), players would receive an invite to the tournament realm and their LP gains and losses would be tracked there. The invites would require some verification (IP, phone number, or something) so that there wouldn’t be any smurfs or duplicative accounts.

Additionally, players in this tournament realm could be held to a far higher standard than players in solo queue typically are. Things like “passive inting” and wintrading that are hard to prove in the regular game could be more closely monitored by Riot in the tournament realm. The tribunal could return, run by high elo players, who would monitor player behavior beyond just toxicity.

This would work because, unlike solo queue, there are far fewer games for Riot and the system to keep track of and monitor. In addition, if the tournament realm is invite only, Riot would be justified in having a higher standard to earn the privilege of getting to participate. Players who are toxic, intentionally feed, or AFK would be subject to bans for as long as the players or Riot would like.

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Obviously, this is not a perfect solution and there would be massive issues like low player count, the problem of how to reconcile this with players competing not on the tournament realm, and many more. But giving high-elo players an aspirational opportunity to play on a major stage that isn’t just the LCS, which can help their careers in streaming or pro play, and set a precedent for a system where players at high elo will be forced to try their best is a win-win for everyone involved.