It's undeniable that the launch of Champions Queue, the low-ping, high-level only ranked queue for players on the North American League of Legends server, has changed the game. In nearly a decade of LCS play, the professional players competing in NA's premiere competitive league have never had the opportunities presented to them by the launch of Champions Queue. However, the perceived value of Champions Queue, as well as how it can help pros, varies depending on who one asks.
Let's take a closer look at the first impressions of Champions Queue as shared to Inven Global by professional players competing in the 2022 LCS.
Calling Champions Queue perfect in its current iteration would be inaccurate, but the benefits it provides to professional players in the LCS, as well as those in the LCS Academy and amateur circuits, are undeniable.
Every professional LCS player, as well as many who voluntarily choose to optimize their attempt at going pro, currently live in Los Angeles, CA, which is about 2,000 miles from the North American League of Legends server in Chicago, IL. While solo queue only makes up one portion of the pro training regimen, it's hard to deny that the pros in China, South Korea, and Europe — all competitive regions with localized competitive areas closer to their servers — have an advantage in this regard.
One need look no further than the opinions of Evil Geniuses mid laner Joseph "jojoypun" Joon Pyun. The 17-year-old rookie has lived up to his hype, but his individual success in context of the LCS did not affect his perspective on the benefit of Champions Queue to North America. "Before Champion’s Queue came out, I feel like I wasn’t playing solo queue as much," jojopyun told Inven Global.
"I couldn’t improve, the ping was really high, the players weren’t as good, and there were a lot of trolls. So, I didn’t really play that much, and I feel like that really impacted my performance in scrims and in LCS. I think after Champion’s Queue came out, I’m just going to assume everyone improved, and I feel like everyone’s taking it seriously. I feel like it’s really good that they added Champion’s queue."
Immortals Progressive's support Mitchell "Destiny" Shaw has a particularly unique perspective in competing in other regions at the top competitive tier while also boasting experience in NA after signing with IMT in 2021, and he had nothing but positive things to say about Champions Queue.
"I think Champion’s Queue is one of the best things to happen to NA. It’s a low-ping environment, it’s high quality games because the drafts are more realistic, and there’s a reputation part to it as well. If you int a game, people will know who inted the game. It just feels like it’s more serious. I mean, yeah, it’s the best thing I could ask for. I’d say the only problem with it right now is the queue times can be a little rough because you can’t see who’s in queue for the role, but that’s in the works I’ve been told."
Destiny praised Riot Games for their efforts on Champions Queue, particularly Zack "Whoopley" Elliot, who spearheaded the project: "I think he’s put a lot of effort into it, and I’m just really glad. It’s everything a player should want. The money prize on the line is motivating for the ecosystem and everything. I’m really grateful for Champions Queue, it’s making me a better player."
Champions Queue has bolstered the region as a whole in its current best players, who are all looking to continue to improve, but 100 Thieves jungler Can "Closer" Çelik highlighted the incentives as a factor that could help the region prosper in the long-term: I think it’s really good being able to play with low ping, and there’s a prize pool in the end. In solo queue, you just play and earn LP I guess? But here, there’s still ranking and you can earn the prize pool."
Destiny isn't the only member of Immortals Progressive who believes in Champions Queue. In fact, IMT top laner Mo "Revenge" Kaddoura had a hand in bringing the idea to fruition.
"I've been playing Champions Queue and I'm on the executive board for the LCS Players Association. I've been giving a lot of opinions on a lot of the decisions involved in making Champions Queue, so I've been aware of what it would be for months before it launched. I've been really, really excited for it, but I was actually a little nervous about it at the start because it was going to be on Discord primarily, but it's actually been such a huge success."
Closer has competed before his time in the LCS, notably reaching Worlds 2018 as the starting jungler of TCL squad Royal Youth, but he was clear on his thoughts regarding whether Champions Queue should be launched in other regions. "No. When you’re playing in [the LCS], you are forced to live in LA. Not forced, but everyone lives in LA. When you play [in LA] you get higher ping, so I think the main reason people want Champion’s Queue is the lower ping."
Champions Queue has introduced a way for pros to hone their skills in a 'solo queue' environment. However, that doesn't mean the divide between a priority in honing one's skills and in climbing the ladder have changed. First off, I’m really happy that we get to play on low ping," said Team Liquid jungler Lucas "Santorin" Larsen. "That’s something I’ve been wanting for 6 years, so I’m really happy about that.
However, regardless of one's motivation to play and climb in Champions Queue, improvements can be made. "When it comes to Champion’s queue right now, I think the main thing I’d like changed is the matchmaking system. Right now, how it’s made, pretty much whoever’s the longest in queue will get the same games," said Santorin.
"With that mindset, sometimes you’ll have a stronger te am than your opponent. Sometimes the other team will be a lot stronger than yours. Sometimes I’ve been the only LCS player with 4 amateur players, while the other team is 4 LCS players and one academy player. So, in that sense, I just want it to be more stabilized. You learn a lot more from games that are more close rather than pure stomps."
Destiny has found himself mixing both priorities into his focus due to the high-level gameplay: "I’d say it’s a bit of both. Obviously, I want to focus on my own improvement. For example, if I want to improve my communication on a particular timing, let’s say Rift Herald, I can do that in Champion’s queue. I wasn’t able to do that in solo queue. If I’m playing well, the side mission is climbing the ladder. Focusing on my own improvement first is the priority."
Champions Queue's release coincides with many players' first competitive season in North America, and for those making their LCS debut like FlyQuest mid laner Loïc "toucouille" Dubois, it has been nothing but helpful.
"I really like the Champion’s queue," said toucouille. "I think the most important thing is that you have low ping, so it just feels way better to play. Everything becomes way more mechanical, the lane phase becomes much more interesting. You’re in an environment where there’s a lot of pro players, and you get to talk to a lot of new players too because a lot of games are with voice chat. I like it a lot. I learn a lot from playing with some good pro players in Champion’s queue."
In regional solo que comparison, Cloud9 top laner Park "Summit" Woo-tae spoke positively about what Champions Queue can offer LCS players, regardless of how those players made their way to LCS .
"I’m extremely happy with the creation of Champion’s queue, and, because it’s so exclusive to only pro players, semi-pro players, and ex-pro players, the quality of games is definitely comparable to Korean high-elo solo queue," said Summit.
TSM mid laner Zhu "Keaiduo" Xiong, whose only competitive experience comes from the LDL, identified Champions Queue as a resource for learning English while simultaneously ensuring he could compare his personal grind with his peers.
"Champion’s queue is definitely a good thing because I can learn English there," said Keiaduo after week 1 of the 2022 LCS Spring Split. "But right now, I haven’t started playing Champion’s queue because I’m trying to get #1 on NA server. But, right now, everyone’s playing on Champion’s queue. I might have to go to Champion’s queue for now."
Champions Queue has its flaws, but early on in its release, it has contributed to the competitive North American League of Legends scene in a positive fashion, and its future improvements can only bolster the validity of the fact.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.