Red Post Collection: /Dev: Ranked and Matchmaking in 2020 & /Dev: TFT: Rise of the Elements Learnings

Posted on at 12:11 PM by Aznbeat
[ADDED 3/1: Boards are shutting down March 9th! Info added!]

Today's red post collection includes /Dev blogs on learnings from TFT: Rise of the Elements, as well a /Dev blog on Ranked and Matchmaking in 2020!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Saying Farewell to Boards

"Starting March 9, 2020, we'll be closing down the League of Legends Boards. 
We know some of you use them regularly, so we didn’t arrive at this decision lightly. However, after looking at how many of you were using Boards, it became clear that the popularity of the platform had decreased significantly. Both players and Rioters have migrated to other community discussion platforms such as Reddit and Discord, leaving Boards underpopulated. 
We replaced the original League forums with Boards several years ago. The goal was to create a place where players and Rioters could connect outside of the game and have discussions about their favourite topics in League. Many of you also formed friendships within the Boards, and found new carries and/or apologetic feeders for your teams. There were epic debates, hilarious shitposts and legendary community memes. 
We want to give a huge shout-out to our volunteer moderators! Over time we saw a volunteer moderation program emerge for those who were passionate enough to support players in their local regions. They put a huge amount of work into hosting community events such as cosplay and fan-art contests. They were ever-present on Boards to talk with players and assist them. To the volunteers who have spent the past decade moderating and helping the community on Boards, we cannot thank you enough! <3

What’s next? 
March 9 - Boards are made read only, but threads and files are still accessible. Make sure to save anything you want to keep! 
March 16 - Boards go offline. All threads and files become inaccessible. The old forum archive will also become inaccessible at this point.

If you are interested in talking with fellow players and Rioters in other community spaces, there are some channels below that you are welcome to join. 
League of Legends Social Channels:
Community Channels

To ALL the players and volunteers thank you for contributing and being a part of Boards during the last decade."

Over on Twitter, Riot Scruffy mentioned he and Meddler will continue to communicatw their gameplay thoughts in dev blogs every Friday :
"Boards are shutting down soon, but @RiotMeddler
and I will still be posting gameplay thoughts and LoL thoughts blogs every Friday on the dev section of our site. New format, but expect the same level of transparency and engagement from us as always."

As for the PBE, Porosite tweeted:
"Sad to see it go. For you PBE players we are working on another solution for how the boards acted as a channel for feedback and bug reporting on upcoming patches."

For the Story, Art & Sound board community, Riot Ashekendi posted on the boards noting:
"Thanks for helping direct the community with this Iceborn, and for all those moderating and running the various Reddits and Discords! You should see some of the names you know here on threads on Reddit and popping into Discords like we always have. 
We on the IP side of Riot are working on solution for our Story/Lore/Creative community, and hopefully we will have something to share later in March or early into April on what that plan is. 
The Boards have been an awesome place for writers from Riot and the community to come together over the last several years, and we're still excited for what this community will look like in the future, but rest assured that we're wholly committed to supporting the Runeterra IP and the community around it."

/Dev: Ranked and Matchmaking in 2020

Here's a /Dev blog on ranked and matchmaking - "Sharing our ranked plans for the year.":
"Hey everyone! Cody “Riot Codebear” Germain here, Product Lead for Competitive Gameplay. 
Back in January, we started a conversation around improving ranked for 2020. Today we’d like to run through our big goals, how we’re planning to meet those goals, and share where we’re going with our next steps. 
Over the past year we’ve been collecting your feedback to help us build clear goals for a more competitive, transparent and rewarding ranked system in League of Legends. 
Specifically, here are the areas you called out: 
  • Improve queue matchmaking quality without compromising queue time and availability.
  • Improve transparency around ranked and matchmaking systems.
  • Improve progression satisfaction and skill expression in our systems.
  • Make rewards more recognizable and relevant for time spent in League.
  • Players can play with, and find, others they want to play with.

We're starting with the first goal, which covers matchmaking. We’ve all been in games where we feel like we’re at a disadvantage from the start. We want to take a look under the hood of our matchmaking system and make sure that the current system is balancing player matches out the gate to the best of its ability. 
Our first two ranked matchmaking improvements are in testing and nearly ready for launch. Expect the following features within the next few patches: 
  • Autofill Balance - As announced in Season Start, these updates aim to balance the number of autofilled players on each team.
  • Duo Balance - This update aims to balance the number of premades on each team.
Given the sensitivity of matchmaking quality and the impact it has on players, we’ll be constantly tuning these features behind the scenes as necessary. Once they've been live for a while, we'll circle back and let you know how they performed—potentially alongside a status update on... 
There are a couple standout areas where our matchmaking service can be improved to more accurately assess skill level. We've begun exploring system improvements to better handle them. 
  • New Account Seeding - For players entering ranked for the first time, we think we can better identify true skill level by looking more holistically at their playstyle.
  • Position Informed Autofill - Though our current system does not specifically measure you against all potential positions, we do understand that position proficiency has a significant impact on the game. We’re balancing the number of autofills on each team, but we would also like to balance the positions autofilled if we can. We think there are small adjustments that we can make without putting risk on areas of the system that are already working well.  
Past the four specific improvements above, we’re also deeply investigating opportunities to fix some more complex pain points. The products of those investigations will be coming later in the year (anything big will wait for preseason), but expect updates as we go. Here's where we’re working: 
  • Game Ruining Behavior - We’re attempting to develop better ways of dealing with disruptive behavior. Examples include better detection and punishment for behaviors like intentionally feeding, AFKing, win trading, and griefing, in addition to giving more frequent feedback when we’ve taken action on unsportsmanlike behavior you reported.
  • Rank and Matchmaking Rating (MMR) Transparency - The hidden relation between player’s visible ranks and matchmaking rating has been causing confusion and frustration ever since the tier system launched years ago. We’d like to provide more clarity to players around their rank and updates to where we can fix the disconnect in meaningful ways.
  • Promotion Series - We know that too many promos have become a source of frustration. We're seriously examining the current promotion system and will be making changes to shift the role it plays in our competitive ecosystem.
  • Flex Queue and Organization - Hovering somewhere between a social competitive queue for groups and a quasi-competitive queue for those looking to try out some new things, it's unclear exactly what Flex is supposed to be best at. We’re taking an immediate look at loosening up restrictions for group formation to make it easier to play with your friends, and how we can tie Flex to the greater competitive ecosystem.
The Competitive Gameplay team is dedicated to making League the most rewarding and competitive experience out there and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. As we do, please keep the feedback and criticisms coming. Many of the changes we're working on are frankly overdue, and we want to make up for lost time by being as attentive and responsive as possible as our updates roll out through the year. 
You’ll be hearing from us again in a few weeks once we've got results to report for autofill and premade balance. See you on the Rift!"

/Dev: TFT: Rise of the Elements Learnings

Here's Riot Mort with details on what was learned from TFT: Rise of the Elements - "Counters, disables, board clarity, balance, The Spatula, and more.":
"As we approach the end of Rise of the Elements, it’s time to reflect on what we promised for the set, how we did, and what new lessons we’ll take forward as we move into the next chapter for Teamfight Tactics. (In case you missed it, the next set will be TFT: Galaxies. Head here for an intro to the new set mechanic or here for a preview of a few of the upcoming origin traits.) 
This is a long one, so here's the TLDR: 
Looking Back…
  • TFT: Galaxies will have a LOT less random targeting for individual spells and will be more focused on specific things you can play around.
  • Balance was better in Rise of the Elements than in the launch set (more viable strategies, fewer drastic shifts), but there's still room for improvement.
  • Traits with strong disables (like Glacial) were less frustrating in Rise of the Elements, but we're still keeping an eye on them moving forward.
  • Soft counters are good, hard counters are not so good. Expect us to continue making more soft counters and even fewer hard counters.
  • Galaxies will feature one big mid-set expansion instead of the smaller one-off trait and champion additions.
  • Bugs are still bad, and while there were fewer of them in Rise of the Elements, we need to be even better.
Looking Forward…
  • We want spells to have higher impact, have greater clarity, and be more exciting visually.
  • Expect more viable carries across the cost spectrum.
  • Major traits (the big ones) should be a viable option, but should always be a little bit weaker than a truly creative combination of traits.
  • The Spatula is coming back to the carousel but in more controlled and… unique ways.
  • The new ranked season will start immediately with Galaxies, and the reset will work differently. 
Looking Back 
Let's talk about how we did applying our major learnings from the first set to RotE, including ways we hope to continue improving going forward. 
We want to keep random effects in positive and controlled spaces. 
We made progress here, but not as much as we could have. While it’s true that some of the more insane things like Phantom and Hextech were gone, there were still some effects that were random and fight-deciding. At the beginning of RotE, Mountain was often considered “Reverse Phantom,” though it didn’t end up being as impactful as was originally feared. 
The bigger issue was our spell targetting. 
Having so many champions with randomly-targeting spells led to a lot of extreme variance in fights. Taliyah and Azir were especially rough because they started with very high mana pools, which led to fights being decided by where their first cast went. Some random spells worked out quite well (Malphite and Lux) and added a healthy amount of fight variance. AoE Spells with variance make positioning a rich decision-making challenge, while single target CC spells that start early end up feeling like dice rolls. 
For the next set, you’ll see a LOT less random targeting on spells and more focused on specific things you can play around. For example, one new spell is always aimed at the enemy with the most attack speed. This will allow you to use your game knowledge to outplay opponents more often. 
Hold us to a higher standard for balancing the game so that a wider variety of comps can win in a given patch. 
This is another one where we made significant progress compared to the launch set but didn’t nail it. The balance of Rise of the Elements was overall much better than the launch set, with way less outliers. But it also had its share of misses. Singed at launch, Brand in 9.23, Amumu in 9.24, “blender” Nocturne and Azir, and Yorick & Zed all jump out as clear balance issues that were a bit dominant in their given patch. 
That being said, two things greatly helped balance in RotE. One is that the set’s design allowed counter options to come up in a lot of cases, so even if something was dominant, there were traits like Mystic and Cloud that could still give you a leg up. The other was that we were quicker to adapt when things became dominant. Strategic B-patches to target big outliers were helpful in bringing things to a more balanced state quicker. We also took a lighter-touch approach to balance, which led to less dramatic meta shifts, so people weren’t as thrown off patch to patch. 
So while we made progress, we can still get better with balance. Continue to hold us responsible in making more comps viable patch to patch. 
We’re aiming for less frustrating and fewer disables overall. 
This is one we pretty clearly met. Compared to the launch set, there were just FAR fewer disables. The only really frustrating one was probably Olaf being Glacial Berserker. Someone with a 1.5 attack speed (or more) who AoE cleaves and freezes multiple champs was probably a bit over the line. Even when he was balanced or even sometimes underpowered, it just FELT frustrating to have your whole team frozen. Disables are healthy for keeping the pace of the game in check and creating tension in the battles, but when they get overwhelming (such as Launch 6 Glacial) that balance goes away. 
Moving forward we will still have disables, as they are a key part of TFT champ design, but we’ll be keeping an eye on them and providing strategic and tactical ways to play around them. 
Rise of the Elements will have more traits in the “soft counter” space.
This was a success, but also taught us a lot. Gone from the launch set were things like Dragon (100% magic damage reduction), and in its place were things like Mystic and Cloud. These traits allowed you to adapt and make smart decisions based on your opponents, but weren’t foolproof win conditions against certain comps. This was successful. 
But we learned that even better-designed traits like Mystic still leave people feeling like they were hard countered. In addition, there were still a few traits that had that “hard counter” feel. (4 Desert vs 6 Warden being the biggest example). With this in mind, expect us to continue using soft counter traits even more while avoiding hard counters altogether
Rise of the Elements will ship less total content patches, but each one will be larger. 
While it’s true that we didn’t ship any content patches with only one champ like we did in the launch set, we’re still not happy with the way our content patches are coming out. 
There were basically two major patches in Rise of the Elements that added content: 
  • 9.24: Added Lucian, Senna, Amumu, Soulbound, and UI improvements.
  • 10.1: Added Leona, Karma, Lunar, and Item Reworks. 
Other than that, patches were typically balance changes and small systemic adjustments (such as removing Spatula from the carousel). We feel like having two content patches that aren’t that big isn’t the best we can do, so for Galaxies we’re going to take a different approach. We’re going to launch one mid-set expansion, focusing our efforts on one specific cool moment to come back and see all the new stuff. 
B-Patches will be extremely small and only for nerfing strong outliers. 
We did this one really well. 9.22 and 9.23 didn’t have B-patches. 9.24 had a large one due to the holiday, but otherwise would've been fine. 10.1 had a small B patch that did exactly as we described (only nerfed 3 outliers), and 10.2 didn’t have a B-patch. 
Our goal is to keep changes at a smaller and healthier amount than what we did in the launch set, and we seemed to hit that with RotE. The next step is to try to lessen the number of actual balance changes needed each patch so that things aren’t shifting around as much. That said, the B-Patch rules will continue into the next set, with us only using them to nerf outliers in extreme cases. 
Rise of the Elements will have less bugs and issues. 
We feel like we hit this in the sense that there were way less bugs this time around. Ranked was never taken down for example, compared to the launch set where we had to bring ranked down a few times at the start of patches. That being said, we still have a ways to go in this area as there were quite a few bugs that persisted for too long. 
Zyra plants getting targeted by spells, Kindred’s spell not being able to crit with Jeweled Gauntlet, Quicksilver blocking the damage on spells with CC in them… These are just a few of the things we let slip through for too many patches. Each individual bug is not massively impacting, but the combination of them all leave TFT still feeling a bit incomplete. We’re going to continue to improve.

Looking Forward 
Now let's look at some of the new things we learned from releasing Rise of the Elements, including how some different approaches paid off and others didn’t. 
Spell Impact and Excitement 
One thing that felt like a bit of a downgrade from the launch set was that many of our spells were less exciting and impactful. The best example to illustrate this is Sejuani compared to Malphite. Both serve a very similar purpose (frontline tanks with a big AoE CC move), but Sejuani’s spell had much better anticipation as it was cast and a much clearer impact… and that’s just one example. 
In the launch set, champions like Karthus, Cho’Gath, Kennen, Garen, Blitzcrank, Lissandra, and many more had very high impact spells that were exciting when they were cast. Compare that to Syndra, Master Yi, Nautilus, Azir, and others that did similar things but in a way that was harder to appreciate and get excited by. This led to the game being much less exciting to spectate. 
With the next set, expect to see the return of many high-impact and exciting spells and a more exciting viewer experience. 
Combat Clarity 
A similar topic but it’s worth its own section. There were quite a few changes and champions that ended up making combat a lot harder to follow. Summoners were the biggest culprit here, as filling the board with Zyra plants and their projectiles, Malzahar minions, hard-to-see Azir soldiers (and more) led to a very busy board that often became almost impossible to track. 
In addition, we had quite a few invisible spells and effects that were hard to keep up with. The Berserker cleave was just one kind of “invisible AoE damage” that you had to trust was happening, but it was hard to track and be excited about. There were also Syndra orbs and Taliyah spells with no travel time, Yasuo and Kha'Zix moving around the map quickly, tiny Sivir boomerangs, and more. Expect to see a push for more visible and appreciable spells in the next set. 
Champion Balance and Design… Again 
There’s a lot to go into here as this could be its own article. Let’s see if we can get through some of the key points. 
The balance of spell power and stats relative to Star Level is in a much better spot: We made some big plays in RotE regarding this: We removed stats from 3-stars, we put MASSIVE amounts of spell power into four and five cost 3-stars, and we introduced item star scaling. This accomplished things we felt improved the game, such as opening more possible win conditions, increasing satisfaction when upgrades were achieved, and preventing the game from feeling too solved. But we still have room to improve. Currently it feels like 1-star units are too weak to include in armies after the early stages, so we’ll be continuing these kinds of adjustments in TFT: Galaxies. 
One and two cost champs were a bust this set: With a few exceptions (3-star Kog and Vayne come to mind) you couldn’t really consider viable late game options with one and two cost champions. They merely existed to act as trait bodies instead of having their own win conditions and fantasies. Compare that to the launch set which had Lucian, Lissandra, Zed, and more. We need to get more one and two cost champs to be playable in the end game, so expect to see a big push to make that happen. 
Creative but balanceable spell design is tough: Is something like Rise of the Elements Zed good for the game? He’s a super exciting five-cost champion who made some awesome moments (All-stars Zed vs Sivir is still an amazing highlight), but he was also very feast or famine. Zed was hard to use and often underpowered UNLESS you got the right items, in which case he became an unstoppable force. GA/Redemption/Dragon’s Claw Zed in particular was a very powerful and unintuitive build. Despite all this, we think it’s important to keep pushing the envelope with creative spells that push the genre and game into new possibilities. So expect to see more of these kinds of unique spells, with a big focus on how to do so while also keeping them healthy for the game. 
And that’s just scratching the surface. There’s more we could talk about, but for now expect to see improved champ and spell design in the next set, with more satisfying carries across the cost spectrum. 
Major Vs Minor Traits
For context here, a major trait is one that allows you to stack a lot of the same thing (6 Inferno, 6 Light, 6 Berserker, etc.) and minor trait is either smaller traits (like Mountain) or when you don’t go deep on a major trait (a 3 Mage, 3 Inferno, 3 Summoner comp, for example). 
At the start of Rise of the Elements, none of the major trait comps were powerful enough to play at the end game (except maybe Light). Using Mage as an example, it was better to take the powerful mages with powerful traits that’d buff the primary carry (Brand, Vlad, and Syndra to get Ocean and Mage) and ignore the others so you could maximize your trait connections. This was really fun for our more clever and connected players, but also made chasing things like 9 Inferno unsatisfying. So over the course of the set, we made corrections to things like Inferno, Berserker, and Mage to make them more viable. 
Unfortunately we swung too hard in the other direction. By the end of the set, it was mostly about the 6-piece trait options, and things like 3 Berserker or 3 Mage weren’t really seen. Our goal is for major-trait-focused comps to be a totally viable option, but in an optimal set up they should be about 95% of the power of a more creative comp using many Minor traits, as those are more difficult to put together. Expect us to be balancing and designing the traits next set to try to meet this goal and give more creative branching options. 
The Spatula 
With both the launch set and Rise of the Elements, we saw metas that were dominated by getting a key Spatula and using that to 1) make a champ that isn’t normally a trait become that trait, and 2) accelerate to a more difficult-to-get comps. Void-Assassin Kassadin from the launch set and “blender” Nocturne and Azir from RotE were the most notorious. As players learned how to optimize their economy and player damage to maximize the chances of getting these comps, it became clear that this wasn’t really what we intended when we designed the Spatula items. 
The Spatula was designed to be a very rare item that opened up new options if you were lucky enough to get one. But frankly it was showing up in the carousel way too often, especially early on. So in 10.3 we did a test to see what happened if we took Spatula off the carousel. The results have been positive for the most part, but we think the best solution requires more finesse. We want to maintain that the Spatula isn’t something you can count on, but rather something you have to adapt to when it shows up. 
In the next set, expect to see Spatula back on the carousel, but in a much more controlled and… unique ways. We look forward to seeing some of your reactions to what is possible. 
Other Thoughts
Of course there’s more we can talk about, but this is already a very long article, so here’s a couple final quick points. 
Ranked being off for the first patch and the ranked reset are both experiences we can improve on for TFT: Galaxies. Being stuck in Bronze while playing against Diamond or higher players made the climb way too difficult early, so expect to see changes there. And ranked will be available right away. 
Finally, gold inflation is a bit out of hand. Having enough gold to buy all your first shops takes all the interesting decision making out of the game, and having 50 gold by Krugs with little effort allowed you to snowball the game and increase the pace of the match to speeds faster than we’d like. We’ll be making some big swings at gold inflation in the next set. 
The End 
And with that, Rise of the Elements is coming to an end. On behalf of the whole TFT development team, thank you for playing and enjoying the game. As we continue to do our best to make TFT even more fun, please keep giving us feedback on what you want to see. Your passion for the game inspires us to keep moving forward. Good luck in your ranked climb, and we’ll see you for the next set: Galaxies."

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