Greg Street on the queue system and champion balance this season

▲ League of Legends Design Director Greg Street


In the 2017 queue update, which has two separate queues for solo/duo and flex, why did you decide to allow duos in solo queue?

It’s something we’ve had many internal discussions about. We understand the players’ needs for solo queue. We also heard from the community that people weren’t completely happy with the last year’s dynamic queue implementation.

For this season, we’d like to run a ranked system that satisfies as many players as possible. Truth is, we let duos into solo queue because of the success of the previous iteration of solo/duo queue. If enough players want to separate duos from solo queue, then we’ll discuss it. Although it’s unlikely that we’ll do that in the middle of the season, we’ll keep the option open.

What’s the reason behind keeping Flex Queue, which was comparatively unpopular?

We don’t believe that last year’s Dynamic Queue failed completely. It may not apply to everyone in some parts of the world, but there were indeed players who enjoyed Dynamic Queue.

However, since there were players who didn’t like Dynamic Queue, we are trying to fill the needs of everyone by introducing two types of queues in this season. With the current setup, players who prioritize individual skills prefer Solo Queue, and those who want to use various strategies as a team prefer Flex Queue. We’re happy with where the queue system is now.

How do you feel about this season’s new item, Redemption, which is very popular among the players? Do you plan to add similar items in the future?

As it stands, there’s no denying that Redemption is very strong. It also introduced some interesting elements to the game and enabled many amazing plays. Honestly, we’re always happy to see items that make the support position more desirable, because support is not as popular as other positions now. But if this item is so powerful that it decides the outcome of games, then we believe we need to adjust its impact.

At this point, it’s hard to say what kinds of items will be added to the game next, but we always keep in mind that champions should have more influence than items do.

Why did you make changes to jungle monsters so that early jungling got a little tougher?

One of the biggest reasons for making those changes was to individualize jungle champions. Our aim wasn’t to increase the difficulty for early jungling, but to let each champion – ones with high single-target damage or with excellent area-of-effect damage – choose an optimal jungling path based on their strengths. But Krugs were too much of a hassle to deal with, so we had to adjust them accordingly.

Are you satisfied with how Rengar, LeBlanc, Katarina, and Talon have performed in Ranked after the Assassin Update? If not, what would you like to change?

After the update, we asked the community if they preferred the old or the new iterations of assassins, and most players said they like the updated versions better. Apparently, players are satisfied with the change, and so are we.

It’s true that we had some early balance issues such as certain champions having stats that were too powerful and some mismatch between player skills. We’re investigating whether these issues stem from how these champions actually perform or if those deficits resulted from the players’ difference in individual skill.

Specifically, we’re aware that LeBlanc and Rengar are too powerful right now, and we plan to carefully make changes.

Because of the many changes to stealth mechanics and vision wards being replaced with control wards, some players claim that there is little counter against stealth champions. Any thoughts?

Previously, even the most skilled players struggled to effectively play stealth assassins, because stealth could be easily countered by vision wards. With this update, stealth duration is shorter but more potent and deadly, so we hope more experienced players can learn to use assassins effectively by making the most out of the new stealth.

How do you plan to address the concerns that, in the last season, late-game oriented ADCs were overshadowed by those with high utility like Ashe and Jhin? Many players worry that hard-carrying ADCs are few and far between with limited viability.

We’re happy with the current balance of ADCs, but it’s true that ADCs with high utility were more favored in the last season. In this season, we plan to make changes to hyper-carrying ADCs, so that they can shine in the late game.

On a separate note, I think the bigger issue was that assassins couldn’t easily kill ADCs, and we’re planning to address that.

What do you plan to do about the concern that only six to seven ADCs are competitive at this point while the number of marksman champions themselves is rather limited?

We’re aware of the issue. Since the ADC position heavily relies on auto attacks and focuses on taking down structures, the champions who excel at those tasks are very popular.

To address the issue, we plan to buff hyper-carrying champions like Tristana and Vayne.

Even though meta and champion preferences differ from region to region as they did with Lux, some players think that Riot is predominantly balancing the game based on US ranked data. Any thoughts?

We balance champions based on every region’s data. Since we do it with the global data, we don’t make changes based on a particular region.

In the case of Lux, Korea didn’t have too big of an issue but we had to adjust her balance because other regions did have issues.

How do you decide on which champion to rework? People notice that some champions like Ryze receive multiple reworks while others like Aatrox don’t get the same level of attention. Can you give us a sneak peak at which champions are scheduled for rework this season?

Deciding the priority of champion reworks requires a lot of information. It’s not simply a matter of necessity. We also have to come up with an exact solution to tackle each problem and take into account many elements like gameplay, animation, and background story, not just how the champion performs.

Since you brought him up, I don’t think Aatrox needs a major rework like Poppy did, because his backstory and visuals don’t have big issues. However, his gameplay does, and we’re aware that part could use a rework.

For this season, we’re planning to rework champions who specialize in tanking and diving. Aatrox can be considered a dive-y champion, but I don’t know if he can make the list.

How would you rate last season’s champion balance on a scale of 1 to 10?

I’d probably give it a 6 or 7 because there generally weren’t any major issues.

Circumstantial evidence of that can be seen in the early stages of the 2016 Worlds, where there was a diversity of champions played before the tournament meta settled. If I had to rate myself though, I think I did well enough. [laughs]

What took replays and practice mode so long to implement?

Internally, there were so many features we wanted to add to the game, and we had to run many iterations and experiments, which delayed the process. However, it’s true that we focused on bringing out the new client first.

Since many players asked and were waiting for replays and practice mode, we tried to gather as much feedback as we could on exactly what they wanted and we were able to present it this time around.

Do you have plans to add multiplayer practice mode in the future? Also, are there plans to expand practice mode to include a team-based version, since some champions, like Kalista, require special environments to practice?

It’s something we’ve discussed internally many times. I can’t give a definite answer, but we’re considering adding various features to the practice mode like target dummies. Please keep in mind that those features are made for simple practice and not for massive 5v5 teamfights.

Thank you for clarifying things for the new season; do you have any last words you’d like to deliver to the fans?

We love Korean fans for their enthusiasm and active feedback. I’ll do my best to keep you happy.


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