Sunday, November 27, 2022

The final verdict: Is League of Legends Champions Queue a miserable failure?

Champions Queue is a prestigious invite-only League of Legends server hosted by Riot Games that serves as a proving and training ground for professional and academy players. Designed in the image of solo queue, Champions Queue was launched on Feb. 7, 2022, as “the latest evolution of high-level competitive systems.” The idea was to create a highly competitive environment where the pro and academy players could play tournament-like games without any disturbances from trolls, griefers, and soft inters. Although the general idea behind Champions Queue is a step forward, especially for competitive leagueChampions Cue hasn’t seen the glory Riot had in mind.

After only a single split, Champion Queue started showing its true colors, or rather problems. According to Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, one of the biggest problems was the lack of interest and players for Champions Queue. Although Champions Queue is an exclusive server, Riot ensured enough players would join the queue. In fact, the real reasons why the players left were the skill discrepancy between players, lack of communication, and the tournament-like draft that doesn’t entice players to explore and experiment but rather to stick to traditional picks.

With Worlds 2022 kicking off on Sept. 29, Riot once again opened Champions Queue to welcome the most hard-working and consistent players from all across the world. Seen as the last-ditch effort to popularize Champions Queue, the queue has actually been facing severe community backlash that began with ex-pro player Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek. Instead of blowing over, the backlash continued with content creator Christian “IW Dominate” Rivera and league caster and coach Nick “LS” De Cesare heavily scrutinizing it due to invite inconsistencies and riot prioritizing North American players over Europeans. But the drama doesn’t stop there. Nemesis, LS, and IWDominate were accused on r/League of Legends of spreading misinformation to their viewers.

So, to clear the drama behind the Champions Queue and see what exactly the future holds for this unique queue, we dug deep into the ins and outs of Champions Queue, its current state, and the potential outcomes.

Riot doesn’t abide by its own rules

back in february, Riot shared a detailed post outlining the general idea behind Champions Queue, minimal requirements, and total pricing of the first split. Since the main goal of this exclusive server is to be the training ground for professional and academy players, the server initially only invited the players that reached at least Master in solo queue. This was updated on April 13, with Riot raising the bar to Grandmaster. On top of that, one trick ponies, or OTPs for short, have been entirely banned from joining the server even though they satisfy the rank requirement.

Although this set of rules is intended to keep the standards of Champion Queue up, Riot has violated its own rules by inviting OTPs like brisk who has over 700 games on Rengar, content creators like Samson “Lourlo” Jackson, substitute players that don’t play actively like Emanuel “Fatorix” Mendez, and retired players like Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and Eugene “Pobelter” Park. Since Riot bent the rules, you’d expect the devs would let in well-known league content creators like Sanchovies, Danny “Shiptur” Lee, and Michael “imqtpie” Santana, but all of their applications were declined for unknown reasons.

On top of all of this, ex-professional player and now caster, Marc “Caedrel” Lamont, who had been initially accepted to Champions Queue, learned only a couple of days before flying to the US that he’s no longer eligible to play in Champions Queue since he’s playing on any active roster qualified for Worlds 2022. Nemesis was in similar shoes to Caedrel, but unfortunately, he didn’t receive any valid reasoning behind this sudden decision.

Ignored quality-of-life changes

Pro players have, with a few minor breaks in between splits, regularly played Champions Queue hoping to unleash its full potential and prepare for matches better. Unsurprisingly, pros were full of ideas on how to improve the server to keep its integrity and increase the quality of games. So, pros proposed obligatory voice comms, a regular pick and ban phase, and a skill-dependent queue that would immediately skyrocket the quality of games. Unfortunately, Riot adopted none of these ideas to improve the queue but rather only focused on drawing in players with lower latency. Although this is a step forward, all these previously mentioned issues still remain unresolved. If Riot invested time and effort to fix Champions Queue, the player reception and involvement would have probably been through the roof.

Champions Queue games are an imbalanced low-quality nightmare

Thanks to Riot biasedly accepting and declining players from Champions Queue, the finest league players are suffering the consequences in the form of low-quality games that are, as a rule, decided in the first 10 minutes of the match beginning. This is largely due to Champions Queue letting in OTPs and low-ranking players that simply can’t keep up with professional and semi-professional players. Since Riot doesn’t regulate Champions Queue at all to provide a meaningful experience for all, some games end in a 15-minute stomp. As a direct result of this, Champions Queue fell down to 20 to 30 regular players in the first splitmaking the queues excruciatingly long.

Here are the most notable examples from Champions Queue:

Screen grab via Riot Games
Screen grab via Riot Games
Screen grab via Riot Games

Riot sabotages the promotion of Champions Queue

As we already mentioned, Riot revoked Caedrel’s and Nemesis’ invites to Champions Queue only a few days before they left for the US According to Nemesisthis is a huge missed opportunity since league Steamers like them, who regularly have over 5,000 viewers on Twitch, are promoting league and its esports scene left and right. They would, as planned, stream Champions Queue, and therefore raise the interest for the queue significantly. This could result in a long-term viewership investment, and professional players playing Champions Queue on a regular basis. Since Riot subjectively chooses the streamers to join the server, Champions Queue probably won’t ever reach its fullest potential and become the true training ground for professionals.

Will Champions Queue fail miserably?

Generally speaking, Champions Queue is an excellent idea poorly executed due to Riot ignoring the players’ feedback, inviting lower-skilled players, and not promoting the server enough to reach its fullest potential. Expectedly, Champions Queue will have a guaranteed player base over the course of Worlds 2022, however, the exact future of Champions Queue still remains a mystery. Unless Riot puts on its responsibility pants and realizes that the future of Champions Queue is in its hand, the server is most likely to dwindle in both popularity and player base. There’s still more than enough time to fix these recurring mistakes and perk up the server to truly be a home for the finest league Players looking to push their own limits and practice their skills to perfection.

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