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Oct 5, 2016

Large Scale Changes to 2017 Ranked Season

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In their latest efforts to please, Riot is bringing back the old solo or duo queue only ranked system. However, they are still keeping the role selection system available, and challenger players can only solo queue.

Meanwhile, they will still allow variable sized teams in something called "Flex Queue", which will allow solo players to join with the understanding that they will likely be placed on a multi-man squad.

Check out the full changes below!

Riot Pls: Ranked Pls - 2017 Season Ranked Changes

New001 and ScuttleChris - leads on League of Legends - back again.
A little over a month ago, we announced a number of improvements to ranked while acknowledging that Dynamic Queue hasn't met the needs of many players. Today, we’re ready to talk about what we’re planning for the 2017 season.
Let's start with the biggest news: We're bringing back Solo/Duo Queue for all players.

Solo/Duo Queue

Remember Season 2015's ranked system? It's a lot like that. Queue up alone or with one trusted friend and aim for Gold (or higher). The major differences from 2015 are that you'll be able to select two preferred positions and veto your least favorite (when autofill is enabled or if you choose fill). Challenger tier will also remain solo-only.

Ranked Flex

The Ranked Flex Queue allows up to five players to queue up and compete—a lot like 2016's DQ—and those who climb here will earn unique rewards (and additional flair on their border) at the end of the season. If your premade squad wants a serious, competitive game, this is where you play. Or, if you're a solo player who wants to get good in an environment that rewards more team-oriented skills, the Flex Queue is also there for you. Ranked fives will naturally be merged with this queue, and as a result they'll be available 24/7.
Those who climb to Gold in both Solo/Duo Queue and the Flex Queue will unlock an extra-special end-of-season reward.

How We Got Here

Anyone who followed our ranked changes this year is now probably thinking "so what changed?" For months, we resisted calls to re-release Solo/Duo Queue alongside Dynamic Queue because we believed queue health for both queues would suffer. We also thought we could improve Dynamic Queue enough to satisfy those who feel left out by its design—specifically, those players who really hate playing against premades (or who think premades destroy the integrity of the ranked ladder).
But over the course of the 2016 season, we developed matchmaking and design improvements to Dynamic Queue that have increased our confidence in our ability to support two ranked queues. So now we want to try it out.
Ultimately, there are fundamental, irreconcilable differences between Flex and Solo/Duo Queue beyond their varying rules on premades. Our hope is both queues will thrive by leveraging those differences to attract different types of players. For example, there are certain competencies that Solo/Duo Queue will reward more:
  • The ability to "solo carry" games is rewarded more highly in solo/duo queue. Since far fewer premade players are coming in with coordinated strategies they've practiced ahead of time, there's a bigger emphasis on your ability to win lane and leverage your power across the map.
  • You may be on your own, but you've got to be able to become a leader for a group of strangers. You can't tilt, and you have to be able to adapt on the fly to the idiosyncrasies of your teammates.
The Flex Queue also tests all the skills you've developed while playing solo, but additionally rewards a different set of competencies:
  • In champ select, you've got to focus more on cohesive team comps, and late game communication strategies will likely make the biggest difference between winning and losing teams—a well-coordinated crew with a solid game plan will shine brightest here.
  • This queue will likely develop its own meta that's more focused on early game invades and unexpected, tightly-coordinated rotations.
We think that with unique rewards and a different-feeling environment, players will see the value of the Flex and Solo/Duo Queue, and both will thrive.

But what if we're wrong?

It may be the case that solo or duo players aren't interested in the Flex Queue, and its population—and thus queue times—could suffer as a result. All queues need solo players to survive. It may work in some regions, but not others. If that's the case, we'll turn the Flex Queue into a strict five-man queue, effectively converting it into the old ranked fives queue (minus the roster management restrictions and plus all the algorithmic improvements we developed during the 2016 season).
We always want players to have the ability to play competitively as a group, but we'll give up our dream of a competitive "dynamic" queue if players don't think it's worth their time.
The 2016 ranked season taught us a lot about our game, players, and how Riot can do better. Thanks for sticking with us.


Q: Will these changes ship only on the client update, or for the legacy client as well?
A: These changes will ship to both clients.

Q: What about ranked emblems?
A: They're gone. Emblems were a band-aid solution, not a permanent fix,.

Q: What about a way for friends with vastly different ratings play togehther competitively? Last season's Ranked Teams let us do that.
A: Ultimately, we're making a trade-off here, but it's one we're okay with for a few reasons. If you're letting Bronze players queue up alongside Diamond friends, it's nearly impossible for us to create a well-matched game. We've tried it in the past with the Ranked Teams queue, and some players liked it, but queue populations were always incredibly small and match quality was inconsistent. Since we're supporting ranked five-on-five games in the Flex queue, we've got to draw a line here: in our new system, Normals are the best place for low-ranked players to queue up with their highly-ranked friends.

SSJ's Thoughts

Personally, I'm a bit skeptical if Flex Queue will take off with reasonable queue times. In order to have a healthy population as Riot indicated, it will need a large supply of solo queue players entering Flex Queue. 
However, since participating does not offer solo players any particular advantage and will instead likely subject them to harassment by four-man premades, it is unlikely any will stick with the queue after getting whatever year-end incentive reward Riot is offering.

What are your thought son the new ranked system? Comment below!

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