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League of Legends Column: Excited for LoL's Team Builder

By Michael Bitton on October 16, 2013

Riot Games has been struggling with finding a solution to the toxicity of champion select in League of Legends for some time now. Over the years, many have suggested adopting a sort of Dungeon Finder type queue frequently found in MMOs to solve the issue. After all, if everyone can pick what they want to play, then there shouldn’t be any issues, right?

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Well, yes, sort of. The problem with this particular solution is that Riot Games doesn’t want to enforce team roles or metas. Part of the beauty of League of Legends is discovering ways to turn the game on its head in search of optimal ways to play. That’s how these metas form and they form naturally as a result of players figuring out the game. League of Legends wasn’t always played with a marksman bottom lane with a support, a jungler, a mid lane mage, etc. As Riot continually updates and changes the game, even these configurations may change. That is, unless Riot enforces a particular configuration with a friendlier, but more constraining queue system.

However, it looks like Riot may have made some headway toward solving this conundrum. Yesterday, Lyte, the lead social systems designer on League of Legends, announced the ‘Team Builder’, a new queue for League of Legends that will  allow players to select the particular lane, champion, and role they want to play along with what they’d like to see for the remaining slots of their team. If you just feel like playing Renekton in the top lane today, you’ll be able to set that up. You can then set up what you’re looking for in the other lanes and the game will look for  compatible players looking to do the same thing. In the end, you’ll be matched up with players who have a similar vision for what they’re looking to do in their next game, even if that means you want to run something  off-the-wall like a double jungle. Best of all, there isn’t a time limit to any of this. The team can assemble and come up with a strategy and even get to know each other a little bit before readying up for the  match.

The Team Builder in its initial implementation won’t solve everything, but it has real potential to make an impact on where the champion select process goes from here. Initially, Team Builder will be available as its own queue, separate from all the other queues currently available, which means you won’t be using it for Ranked play – at least not yet. Riot wants to see how this goes and iterate on the system using feedback and analyzing the data that comes out of its use over time, so a separate queue makes sense.

Personally, I’m  looking forward to the Team Builder,  although I have a couple of reservations. I love League of Legends, but these days I just don’t play it as much as I’d really like to and the toxicity of champion select is the primary reason why I’ve taken a break. Sometimes I just want to do a certain thing or even if I’m feeling flexible, that doesn’t mean other teammates don’t have their own plans coming into champion select. Everyone has their own goals in mind and there isn’t a whole lot of time to sort out any differences. If I’m lucky, things go off without a hitch. If not, I can find myself locked into a 40+ minute commitment with someone determined to troll or otherwise ruin the game. Dodging the queue only works so many times before the wait time just isn’t worth it. This means when I have to really think about when I want to set aside time to try playing LoL and more often than not it means just not bothering to play at all. The notion of being able to just jump in and play what role or character I want without any drama has me incredibly excited.

The flip-side, at least for now, is that I have no idea how Riot plans to handle different picking modes with the initial implementation, if at all. I used to play nothing but Blind Pick back in the day, but I’ve since seen the benefit of Draft Mode and I really don’t want to go back. I’m not really sure how you’d do Draft Mode with the Team Builder. How do you make bans work, for one? What about counter picking? The only thing I can think of is having a less flexible version of the builder that allows you to pick lanes and roles before jumping into the champion select phase. Even if this isn’t dealt with in the feature’s initial implementation, I’m very likely to play the game more frequently with the Team Builder option available.

League of Legends’ Team Builder will be coming to the PBE in the ‘near future’. No word on when we can expect to see it on live servers.

What’s your take on the Team Builder? Excited? Meh? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB

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