Bad Ranked Distribution in LoL Means Unpredictable Teammates

Izento 2024-01-01 07:55:28
  For those of us that have played ranked in League of Legends this year, its felt quite starkly different. For one, Riot removed promotion series, and then in June of 2023, Riot introduced the Emerald rank, which goes in between platinum and diamond. Many players have realized that the introduction of this new Emerald rank has brought on a slew of problems, from an elo in which rampant smurfs propagate, to chief among those problems, a rank dubbed the highest in skill disparity among similarly ranked players. It’s not just skill disparity that plagues the ranked ladder currently, but rank inflation and distribution. Here are two rank distribution graphs for North America taken from OP.GG. One is from October 2022, and the other is December 2023. These two months have been used as a comparison because comparing rank distribution in June 2023–right before Riot introduced the Emerald rank–would mean it’s only halfway through the year, and some players don’t play ranked until the end of the year, so population figures are too low for proper distribution, hence we must grab 2022 (and we couldn’t grab December 2022 since Archive doesn’t have that). In 2022, Diamond 4 (D4) and above ranks made up 2.01% of the entire playerbase, in 2023 this figure is now 3.56%. That equates to roughly 17,000 more players in D4+. October 31, 2022 December 30, 2023 There’s now 9.7K players in Masters. In 2022 October, 4.3K. That means there are more than two times as many players in Masters from 2022 to 2023. For 2023, D4 comprises 22K players, in 2022 it was 12.5K. That’s almost 10K more players in D4 this year compared to last year. Riot specifically said, “we’re NOT changing anything about how [diamond and up] are distributed”. Things definitely have changed. By all metrics, there are more players that have made it to D4 and above. This means there are far more players likely to be out of their appropriate skill bracket, and this could be due to Riot removing promotion series. Now, even if the logic is that visible rank is meaningless since Riot goes off of MMR, something is evidently wrong when the allowable ranks in a lobby has also increased. It’s not uncommon this year for Masters players to be matched against Diamond 3 players, or Emerald 2 players being matched with Gold players or brand new accounts. Last year, you would be hard pressed to find a platinum player matched with silver players. It’s very clear that the MMR system includes a wider range of allowable MMR in a single game. The issue with high rank disparity–which equates to skill disparity–is that it makes playing with allies (and against enemies to a lesser extent) unpredictable. You don’t know what plays they’re going to make or if they’ll follow up on your own plays, and this extends from simple micro things like engaging during laning phase or early skirmishes, to macro concepts such as appropriate TP usage and lane assignments. If you don’t know what skill level your allies are, you don’t know what play is appropriate to make, and this goes for both the high skilled player and low skilled player. Gemini (Volibear) invading (Team Liquid vs Machi Esports 2020 Worlds) If you’re jungling and invade because your laners have the push, your allies might not know to rotate to help as the enemy laners are forced with the decision to help their own jungler defend against the invade or grab the cs wave that’s crashing into the turret. You more readily see this tactic in diamond, but not so much in emerald and much less in platinum. In this instance, having high skill variance between teammates prevents the jungler from invading in the first place, because he doesn’t know if his team will follow, even when it is technically the theoretical best play to make on the map. Playing with a myriad of skill levels inside a single game means that you don’t know how your allies are going to react to the plays that you make. To draw comparisons from pro play, this is why Koreans play differently when they come to the LCS. They must use different tactics to integrate into the team, often degrading their own play so that it fits with the level of their teammates. Plays work with an upperbound, determined largely off of the skill of the individual making the play as well as the skill of their allies. While this may sound like the classic blame shifting scenario "it's my teammates holding me back", it should be noted that your strategy should change based upon how your allies will react, therefore making it the correct play, but once again, it is difficult to know what play to make if your teammate's skill levels have high variance from game to game. The general populace of LoL is now experiencing what Challenger players have been complaining about for years. Riot has increased skill disparity which lowers game quality for all players involved with the introduction of Emerald and removal of promotion series. The low elo player inside the game gets dumpstered, and the high elo player can’t make the plays they want for fear of misunderstood game concepts. Emerald is a sort of “green hell”, a nickname also given to the German race track Nurburgring. Both are very long courses filled with high variance corners and slow public traffic. So it’s no wonder so many players crash and burn at this elo.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content. Rank distribution images from OP.GG For more LoL content, check out our LoL section

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