I love League of Legends, but it’s no secret that the game’s community can be incredibly toxic. I’ve been playing LoL since beta and every couple of months I have to take a break from the game as I can only take so much toxicity. Last year, I decided to take a break between Season 3 and Season 4, but then I learned of Riot Games’ plan to implement a Team Builder feature that endeavored to help address one of the primary sources of toxicity in League of Legends: champion select.
Normally, you’re either instalocking whatever it is you want to do in blind pick mode and hoping the rest of the team isn’t doing the same with the role you wanted (or locking in your pick before you do) or dealing with draft mode, where what you end up playing is often at the whim of your pick or call order.
Neither mode is perfect and both only offer you a few minutes to come up with a team composition and agree with the rest of your teammates as to what you’ll all be doing in game. If someone decides to troll and pick something ridiculous because they don’t want to do the role they’ve ended up with or insult you because they don’t like whatever you’ve picked, well, you either have to dodge and face a scaling queue time penalty or roll with it. It’s this non-ideal environment that breeds a ton of toxicity in League of Legends and it can be incredibly frustrating for players, myself included, to deal with.
That’s why I found myself excited when Riot Games announced Team Builder. With Team Builder, you can queue up for the champion, role, and lane you want and join into a team that accepts your selection while also giving you the opportunity to decide whether or not you want to play in the composition of characters, roles, and lanes that everyone else has selected.
Of course, if you want to be even more specific or you’re playing with a group of friends, you can create a game as a team captain and pre-select the makeup of the lanes and roles you’d like to see in those lanes. This means you’re the one approving would-be teammates. It also allows you to set up all sorts of meta-breaking compositions and play with likeminded players who are interested in playing those compositions. Want to do double bruisers bottom? No problem. If anyone else is queued up that way, they’ll pop right into the slot. In any case, you don’t actually enter the queue itself until all teammates have agreed on the team makeup with their ready check and you have all the time in the world to discuss strategy before you jump into the queue.
The Team Builder queue allows players to fully circumvent the frequent toxicity of champion select while also offering them the ability to always play whatever it is they want to play. New champion come out and you want to try it? Go ahead and queue as that champion. You don’t have to worry about people dodging because they also wanted to play that champion. It’s just completely freeing.
It’s also a bit of a double-edged sword. If you’re just looking for a less toxic version of the standard League experience, you’re not likely to find it in Team Builder. While you’re able to agree on your own team composition before jumping into queue, you have no idea what the enemy has picked, and this means you’re much more likely to run into those off-meta picks even if you do decide to join into a more standard meta composition yourself. For some, this can be a source of excitement, but if you’re just looking to avoid all the nonsense that comes with champion select, you may also find yourself going against teams consisting of mid AP Sona and Ziggs/Quinn (support) bottom.
There are other issues, too. The primary issue with Team Builder as it’s currently designed is that it really only improves on the blind pick experience, which is generally far less competitive than Normal Draft and, of course, Ranked Draft. Due to the nature of the way Team Builder works, it doesn’t really allow for a draft mode or even bans, so if you’re someone who prefers Normal Draft or Ranked Draft so you can ban out overpowered champions, not have to deal with mirror matches, and counterpick the enemy, Team Builder may not be for you just yet. Riot is looking into ways it can design a Team Builder experience for these modes of play, but the initial implementation is essentially an enhanced Normal Blind Pick mode.