A bad League of Legends pickup match can be like showing up to a party wearing the exact same outfit as someone else. It's super awkward, and you almost immediately start arguing over who gets to slaughter your mutual enemies and their pets while everyone else keeps one of you from keeling over. "I owned this dress first! And I'm a way better AP Carry than you," says my mixed metaphor born of sleep deprivation, immediately conjuring up images of LoL players of all ages, codes, and creeds duking it out in ostentatious party gowns. Fortunately, Riot might just have a solution (for the role selection issue; not my sleep deprivation or intrusive party gown fantasies): a smart team builder that matches players based on which roles they feel like playing.
Lead social systems designer Jeffrey "Lyte" Lin explained in a forum post:
"An ideal champ select is one where all five players get their preferred role and feel like they’re all on the same page for the upcoming match. Sometimes things work out perfectly and everyone gets the champion and role they wanted without a hitch. But if multiple players are looking to play the same role or lane, a consensus has to be built in a relatively short period of time. That’s time that could be used to get to know each other, agree on a strategy and build confidence that it’s going to be a fun match."
"Team Builder is intended to bring players together that complement each other’s expectations and intentions from the moment they enter the lobby. When everyone’s aligned on who will be going where and playing what, the only thing left to figure out is how to dominate the opposition."
It'll enter testing soon. In conjunction with that, Riot's also hoping to beef up the brains of its matchmaking system, which will soon account for experience with any given role, position, or champion. Sounds pretty smart, I think.
The worry, however, is that this system will serve to reinforce a rigid set of metagame roles instead of allowing players to experiment with outside-the-box plans for various champions and positions. And there might be some truth to that, but we'll have to wait and see how the system is implemented. For now, I at least like the idea on paper, but there will almost certainly be kinks to work out. What do you think?