Analyzing LoL's new Pick and Ban system

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games/lolesports / NA LCS Spring 2016 / Riot Games

Riot has introduced a new pick and ban system for the 2017 competitive season, shaking up staff and making good on their promise to do so in the past (a good omen for Riot in 2017, perhaps?)

Lots of critics have observed the current state of drafting in competitive play as stale, with only 57 champions chosen at 2016 Worlds of the 123 available. The hope is, from professional players, staff and viewers, that the new format will shake up champion and strategic diversity. However, some have also criticized the format, calling for a setup similar to the one seen in Dota 2.

There are lots of problems with the conception that adapting another big MOBA's pick-ban system is automatically the correct option, so I've looked into a simple comparative between other MOBAs in order to draw out a distinction that disqualifies the Dota 2 format as a necessary addition to the LoL competitive ecosystem.

A comparison of MOBA Contemporaries

One thing to note immediately is that a pick and ban system is meant to be another factor in competitive balance; one side will inherently have an advantage in the draft no matter what, purely based on game systems and the metagame that develops in competitive play. Understanding why Riot adopted a pick and ban phase that wasn’t Dota’s has everything to do with the unique aspects of these two MOBAs and their associated quirks.

Champions (or Heroes) aside, one of the bigger functional differences between Dota and LoL is the difference in the way the maps are laid out. Dota is more unique in its map’s asymmetry, and as such carves out specific advantages for one side over another. In the past, Dire had an advantage because of its proximity and easier ability to reach Roshan, but Radiant has had an advantage as well at certain points in time. Radiant has an easier time stacking their ancient camp (imagine if you could cause dozens of Krugs to spawn in one camp, then put them all on gold/exp. steroids), and has an easier time pulling creeps into the jungle to create experience discrepancies.

Conversely, the cartography of Smite is unique as well. But one thing remains consistent when compared with LoL: the maps are fairly symmetrical in their composition. This means that there are theoretically no inherent advantages for one side of the map because both teams operate with the same quadrants and the same architecture. However, other factors may determine the differences in map winrates.

For red side in League of Legends, the oft-cited reasons for its lower overall win rate involve the camera angle being more awkward for players to lane on the red side (an issue not seen in the third-person perspective that Smite uses), as well as the limited ways to enter and engage or disengage Baron Nashor in more balanced mid and late game situations. As well, LoL's high number of power and flex picks in recent metas tends to neutralize the counterpicking power that red side holds in the draft stage.

From maps to metagames

But it can’t be as simple as just asymmetry, can it? Dota's draft system and associated meta has often shifted the power balance in the other direction to compensate for the fact that Dire side gets two picks in a row during the first rotation. For example, at the Boston Major, Radiant still outperformed Dire 151-134 (52.9%) even though Dire has the advantage in draft. The new Dota map is unclear data-wise as to who has the inherent side advantage, but its asymmetry is still particular to that MOBA.

However, LoL is dealing with a different kind of asymmetry. One of the other big ways in which competitive play is balanced is the meta, and how many champions are considered priority picks at a given moment. A glut of power picks potentially gives a slight edge to whichever side has more opportunities to get what they want or need, and lane assignments can shift the ways in which we conceive of the priority roles or champions in a draft. This is all more theoretical than the asymmetry mentioned, but worth considering as the game actively changes.

The system that LoL has adopted is most comparable to Smite, in so far as it is the exact same pick and ban phase, probably for all the aforementioned tangible reasons. The symmetrical maps lend the corrections to side advantage to be minimal based on the draft format. As such we see something fundamentally different to the Dota draft: a reduction of phases. Dota 2 has six phases total, while LoL now has four.

This simplifies the process, and allows for less strategic diversity than Dota 2. This is because Dota's final phase, as shown below, has each team banning and then picking their last choices, completely revealing a good portion of their team composition and opening up a last chance at securing vital counterpicks or the finishing pieces of a team composition.

In Dota’s pick and ban system, Dire has a double pick very early in the draft that Radiant never has access to, allowing them to secure two very powerful picks immediately. This differs from the LoL system, which gives its blue side more double picks. In exchange, red side has a counterpick in each picking phase.

This is a good indicator of pick-ban balance to offset the aforementioned red side detriments, and it will be interesting to see if this swings win percentages too far in favor of red side. I'm inclined to say that it does, especially in the early stages of the implementation of this draft, as staff may put greater emphasis on comfort picks for players rather than crafting compositions that can execute a particular style.

In the current meta, the following picks are all regarded as fairly viable, among others:

Lane Champions
Top lane Camille Poppy Fiora Nautilus Maokai
Jungle Lee Sin Rengar Vi Hecarim Rek’Sai
Mid lane Orianna Cassiopeia LeBlanc Ryze Viktor
AD Carry Caitlyn Jhin Ezreal Varus Ziggs 
Support Zyra Karma janna Brand Nami

At this point, it seems likely that power picks are still comfortably a part of the first set of bans. Afterward, securing picks which don’t reveal crucial parts of what you need in your composition would be best. Picks such as Poppy, Lee Sin, Orianna, Ryze, Karma, and Zyra are well-rounded enough that they don’t reveal much with respect to the type of composition you are running, versus something like a Fiora which would reveal what is likely a splitpushing composition.

Conclusion

At the moment, the biggest weakness of the new format is the proposed time for each pick and ban, which has been reduced by half, from 60 seconds per pick/ban to 30. If the change in format was meant to induce strategic diversity, this change reduces it just as much. It will hopefully be changed before the season starts; otherwise, panic picks are more likely and coaching staff's plans can be thrown to the wayside very easily if a particularly off-meta or otherwise unusual pick shows up in a draft.

However, it is important to note that overall, the new system makes much more sense in LoL's current competitive ecosystem than implementing Dota 2's system would. Dota's system is meant to compensate for an asymmetrical map and a relative dearth of absolutely necessary powerpicks, neither of which LoL has to deal with.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

Tainted Minds release statement on OPL contract dispute

by 13h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Tainted Minds

Tainted Minds have spoken out on the ongoing contract dispute with their former OPL roster, stating that conditions in their team house, amongst other allegations, were not severe enough to allow the players to attempt to terminate their contracts.

On Feb. 13, Ryan "ShorterACE" Nget, Tristan "Cake" Côté-Lalumière, Aaron "ChuChuZ" Bland, Andrew "Rosey" Rose, the team's coach, Nick "Inero" Smith, and manager Fasffy left Tainted Minds' Strathfield team house after retaining a lawyer, Matt Jessep, who advised them to send notices of contract termination to the organization over a number of contract breaches.

RELATED: Former Tainted Minds coach alleges team was mistreated by org, players reportedly in contract dispute

Many of the players' complaints revolve around perceived inaction on the part of Tainted Minds in regards to addressing issues such as unstable internet and electricity in the house as well as the general sanitary situation. But, the organization's statement says that it was difficult to procure solutions because of a number of factors including difficulty getting in touch with contractors due to the Australian holiday season, a record-breaking heatwave and the fact that the house was a rental property.

"Tainted Minds acknowledges that issues arose with their gaming house but by the time of mediation with Riot on February 6, 2017, it appeared the majority of the issues had been resolved, although a few minor problems remained," the statement said. "These minor issues were subsequently resolved. Because of this, the notices of termination came as a complete surprise to Tainted Minds, especially after a win the day before."

However, according to a counter-statement from Fasffy, the issues had remained serious even after mediation.

"We still had no extra council [garbage] bins, power in the house was still tripping, we still had internet issues, we still didn’t have the pc’s we were promised," she wrote. "3 times random people showed up at the house, we didn’t know when they’d be coming and we'd lose practice. We didn't know when people would be coming. So most importantly.. we were still NOT ABLE TO PERFORM OUR JOBS OUTLINED IN OUR AGREEMENTS."

While Tainted Minds acquired four players to create a new OPL roster to fill in for the rest of the season (one player from the original team stayed on), the org refused to acknowledge that the rest of the original roster's contracts had been terminated and kept them signed on Riot Games' official contract database.

"Tainted Minds was advised by their legal counsel that the grounds disclosed for termination were not legally sufficient under the termination provisions in the team members' contracts and were therefore of no effect," the organization said in their statement. "Tainted Minds had invested a significant amount of money in the players and held them to their legal contracts. It was also believed that this would set a bad precedent for the industry if players could ignore contracts and walk from a team at any moment without following process."

While the original roster accused Tainted Minds of breaking Riot regulations by having a 13-player roster on the contract database and attempting to cover it up by changing the "date modified" field, according to a statement from Riot OCE, a temporary exception was made for Tainted Minds and the database failed to update properly.

RELATED: Riot OCE responds to Tainted Minds controversy

While Inero and ShorterACE have settled with Tainted Minds and ChuChuZ retired from competitive League, Rosey and Cake are still signed to the org on the contract database. On Mar. 22, Cake publicly released an extensive database of chat logs documenting conversations between Inero, Fasffy and Tainted Minds between November and February. This database was previously made available to the press, including theScore esports.

"I am only releasing this to cover my reputation and seek recovery for the damages they have caused me by restraining my ability to play for the rest of split 1, when my contract has been legally terminated," Cake wrote in a Twitlonger. "Tainted Minds declined arbitration offered by Riot NA a few weeks ago, but are suddenly interested in it, after a few of my friends have been released, and after I threatened to release the chat logs. If all those proofs are not enough to get Tainted Minds a competitive ruling from OPL, I will make sure to find more."

According to Tainted Minds' statement, while they attempted to negotiate a settlement with Cake, the 22-year-old Canadian refused and sought out damages for the time he was unable to play.

"The additional terms of the settlement were that neither party acknowledge fault and that both parties release a joint statement to express their regret in the situation and wish each other the best in their future endeavors. Tristan declined this to which his legal representative immediately emailed back to say Tristan would consider the offer," the statement said.

"March 17th Tristan then threatened to release confidential communications unless he was paid $10,000 USD. Even still TM reiterated the previous offer to him with one more chance to sign, which was declined."

According to Cake, while he did ask for $10,000 in damages in exchange for signing the settlement agreement, he only said he would release the chat logs after negotiations with Tainted Minds broke down.

"I asked for money to cover some of my damages and also for my reputation being hurt signing that deed with them after going public. It was the amount i was willing for my reputation to take a hit," he told theScore esports.

"In [one] email I mention chat logs going public, but that was after I publicly said that I would release stuff in 24 [hours]."

Tainted Minds' statement also leveled serious accusations against Fasffy, saying that many of the issues have arisen as a result of the quality of the contracts. According to Tainted Minds and the player's database, Fasffy brought forward a personal friend whom she appeared to present as a "practicing lawyer" in the players' chat logs. She allegedly said her friend could draw up contracts for free on the condition that the contracts not be re-used outside of the agreed upon players and personnel.

However, Tainted Minds said that after confronting Fasffy about contacting the captain of their recently-acquired CS:GO squad about the terms of their contracts, Fasffy then requested they pay her friend a fee because they broke his terms and used his contracts outside of their intended purpose. The incident appears to arise in chat logs from both from Tainted Minds and the players' database.

Though Tainted Minds say Fasffy would not initially share the friend's full name or contact information, relaying their negotiations through herself, their own lawyer discovered Fasffy's friend was not a fully-licensed lawyer.

"It was discovered that the individual was not a certified, practicing lawyer but 'someone that works at [redacted] Legal,'" the statement said. "However, we emphasise that the person represented as a lawyer, never made that statement themselves and it was only ever Fasffy who referred to them as a 'lawyer.'"

While Tainted Minds were previously accused of missing payments, they said in their statement that they held back payments from players who had not properly filled out tax documents.

"Player payments provided by Riot were paid immediately to players who provided compliant tax details to Tainted Minds. 49% was withheld from players who had not, as required by law and the Australian Tax Office (ATO)," the statement said. "Under the agreement, TM has the right to make such deductions to meet its legal requirements. These player payments have since been made in full upon request from Riot. All other relevant player monthly / OPL match payments / valid invoices were paid on time and in full and complied with Riot payment schedules"

Cake confirmed in a counter-statement that he has since been paid the sums he previously said he was not paid.

While Fasffy has also accused the organization of failing to remunerate her after working hefty amounts of overtime and also paying household expenses out of pocket, the statement says there was "considerable doubt over the billable hours claimed, these include 24 hour days which under no circumstance would be requested by management for health and safety reasons and general welfare of the individual."

Tainted Minds said that while they did review her contract with the intent of drafting a new agreement that better reflected her responsibilities, she and the players left before that process was completed.

"Even in mediation you would not pay me for the previously agreed upon necessary overtime worked unless I’d signed a new contract," Fasffy wrote in a counter-statement. "I did not refuse to accept a new contract, I simply stated that I was not comfortable going into new contract negotiations until the outstanding and and old issues were resolved and that it looked like you had no intention of paying my ... December overtime so it looked like we were not going to be able to move forward from this."

On March 16, Riot Games announced that they would be investigating the Tainted Minds situation alongside Riot OCE. The results of the investigation should be released later this week.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Best Rumble builds

by 18h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Rumble's builds as an AP carry are pretty varied beyond his core of early magic penetration. As such, he has some unique build paths based on the enemy composition and how he chooses to deal damage or deal with the mix of damage presented by the enemy team. Because of Rumble's early health through Liandry's, runes and masteries, resists are particularly potent in making the firestarter as durable as he is damaging.

RELATED: A guide to Rumble

The Classic

  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rabadon’s Deathcap

  8. Guardian Angel

Against Heavy AP

  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Negatron Cloak

  5. Liandry’s Torment

  6. Abyssal Scepter

  7. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  8. Void Staff

  9. Guardian Angel

RELATED: 8 quick tips for Rumble

Against heavy AD
  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rabadon's Deathcap

  8. Guardian Angel

Against majority squishies
  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rabadon's Deathcap

  8. Guardian Angel

Against majority tanks
  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rylai's Crystal Scepter

  8. Rabadon's Deathcap if ahead, or Luden's Echo if even or behind

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

8 quick tips for Rumble

by 18h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Rumble is one of the more difficult champions to play to perfection. The tiny Yordle's mechanic are full of tricks and surprises, which often can turn your small leg up into a giant robot leg up instead. These tips and tricks focus around ease and usability mostly, to make your time with Rumble more focused on what to do with your advantages rather than how you secure them.

RELATED: A guide to Rumble

  1. Use Electro-Harpoon to keep your heat up at yellow stages so that you can continue using amplified spells

  2. Harass enemies from afar with Flamespitter by using your stop key (Default S) to stand outside of turret aggro range or further away from them

  3. Do not smartcast your equalizer when starting to play Rumble — it is very difficult to land consistently good ones and sometimes you will have some incredibly bad results

  4. If you do want to smartcast your ultimate, hold down your ultimate key to see the trajectory and right-click if you want to cancel the input

  5. Flamespitter does damage every 0.25 seconds, so you should be able to pivot Rumble quickly to do damage to things you want to do damage to, such as using Q to last hit a minion quickly and turning away

  6. No form of crowd control stops Flamespitter

  7. Build up heat before minions spawn so that you have access to the enhanced version of your Flamespitter once you enter the lane, giving you greater lane bully potential

  8. If you overheat casting Electro-Harpoon, you can continue casting other Electro-Harpoons for the duration of the Overheat passive

RELATED: Best Rumble builds

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

A guide to Rumble

by 18h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Rumble has been a staple of competitive play since his introduction in Season 1. His game-changing ultimates, low-cooldown damage abilities, and resource-free design make him incredibly fun and interesting for people to play as well, yielding a decent level of popularity in solo queue and a very significant level of popularity in higher ELO. Once you master Rumble, he's a champion that can completely change the tide of a fight. In the truest sense, he's your go-to 1v9'er in the top lane.

Runes

Magic Penetration Reds, Scaling Health Yellows, Ability Power Blues, Ability Power Quintessences

Magic penetration reds synergize with Rumble’s early itemization and give him 37.8 magic penetration once he completes his early game combo of Haunting Guise and Sorcerer Shoes. This is enough to shred through almost a full Negatron Cloak. Scaling health yellows give Rumble some much-needed durability, moreso against tanks than armor would just due to their propensity to not deal attack damage as heavily. AP blues and quints give Rumble even more early damage to bully opponents out of lane.

Masteries

Eighteen points in ferocity give Rumble access to the most possible damage. Battle Trance should be taken over Double-Edged Sword for a few reasons. Firstly, your damage over time will keep your Battle Trance stacks up, and Deathfire Touch will as well. Secondly, it does all this without the downside of having Double-Edged Sword’s additional damage inflicted onto you. Deathfire Touch’s nerfs don’t affect Rumble, and the damage helps him substantially as he seeks to burn down enemies with his multiple damage-over-time area-of-effect spells.

Veteran Scars will help you with your early laning and ability to survive the early game more than Runic Armor would. Insight gives you lower Flash and Teleport cooldowns which would be incredibly useful for coming into fights more consistently and landing those crucial Equalizers. As such, 12 in Resolve is more worth it than 12 in Cunning would be.

Skill order

First six levels: QEWQQR

Your Flamespitter is your most active and useful ability for a few reasons. One is that it will frequently help build up and maintain heat, as well as your Deathfire Touch damage and your Battle Trance stacks. But it’s also your best ability to harass enemies due to its high damage and ability to hit through minion waves, terrain and other enemies. It should be maxed in basically all circumstances.

Putting points into your Electro-Harpoon second continues to add to your damage and harass, provides an easy way to keep your Heat in the yellow, and also provides a ranged option to CS if need be. The slow is also great for early gank assistance in the long lane.

Your Scrap shield should be maxed last, but leveled early for its utility. An early level could be the difference between surviving a gank and not, and it gives you a comfortable shield against minion harass when using your Flamespitter to harass champions through a creep wave. It also has a secondary usage of managing heat. Your ultimate should be leveled up whenever available, due to its sheer impact and importance.

Build order

Rumble benefits greatly from a large amount of early magic penetration in order to keep bullying his opponents and do damage to squishy enemies. Early magic penetration also helps against tanks who will grab magic resistance in the form of an early Spectre’s Cowl or Negatron Cloak. Rushing into Liandry’s as early as possible with your Sorcerer Shoes will make it incredibly difficult to take trades with you, due to the magic penetration and burn damage. Your AP scalings are incredibly good on your damage as well, so going into heavier AP items are beneficial to you and your team.

RELATED: Best Rumble builds

  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rabadon’s Deathcap

  8. Guardian Angel

Playstyle

The early game is about Rumble's status as an AP Carry and lane bully. However, building into these offensive stats early on does make you a little more vulnerable, so be sure to play forward based on the information you have from your vision and the minimap. Try and track the jungler and play based on where you suspect he is. Use your pushing advantage against most every champ to get ahead and ward deep to have a greater warning if the enemy jungler is showing up. Rumble in his current 7.5/7.6 state can win most trades one versus one when even, so it really is a matter of how much you neutralize the effect of the enemy jungler’s pressure in order to stay ahead and outscale your opponent.

RELATED: 8 quick tips for Rumble

The mid game is Rumble’s time to swing fights one way or the other. His Equalizer is more than just an equalizing presence, it’s a complete game-changer. A well-placed Rumble ultimate in a teamfight can cause chaos and remove people from a fight. Either using it to cover a key corridor or to split the frontline tanks and backline damage dealers are ideal scenarios. Any crowd control that can keep them in the Equalizer is doubly effective too, such as Ashe ultimate or Orianna ultimate.

The late game is the exact same thing as the mid game, except Rumble also has the added benefit of being able to split push fairly effectively. His damage versus tanks puts a lot of pressure on the map, stretching it such that his team can use that pressure to effectively control neutral objectives or siege towers on other parts of the map.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

The best fails from Week 8 of the 2017 Spring Split

theScore esports Staff 1d ago

Yes Krepo, Tundle and Stresh are really good for LP.

In the penultimate week of the regular season, EU experienced their fair share of broadcast flubs, Bang slapped Wolf and Piglet couldn't quite set up a proper ambush.

With plenty of missed Flashes across all regions, here are the best fails from Week 8.

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