One of the most exciting developments Riot announced yesterday for its massive pre-season overhaul of League of Legends is a new and retooled champion select system. The thing went live last night on League's public beta and I got a chance to try it out. So far so good! Seriously, so good.
The current champion selection system is one of the many things in League of Legends that's begun to feel woefully outdated at this point in the history of the world's most popular game. Currently, players are forced to simply call out their positions in the pre-game chat box and hope that their four other teammates acknowledge and respect their choice. This leaves a great deal to the players themselves to figure out with one another pre-game, so it's no wonder that people abuse the current system in any number of ways. League players often do things like immediately lock in their preferred champion before even speaking with their team about it (a practice known as instalocking). More often people will just start bickering over who gets to play what, especially when more than one person wants a certain position and nobody wants to jungle or support (the two least popular positions).
The new champion selection system doesn't solve all the issues with queueing up in League — I still managed to find myself being berated by an angry dude who kept calling me a "fucking idiot" because I took a character he wanted this morning. But it's much, much better than the current champion select options.
You can watch me walk through the entire process of selecting and champion and preparing for a game in this video:
The League of Legends news site Surrender at 20 also has a comprehensive breakdown of the new feature.
Essentially, the way that Riot changed things is they finally gave you the option to select two preferred positions before you even queue up to be matched with other players. You can also pick "fill" if you're willing to play any position on a team.
This makes it so the entire team is already assembled, position-wise, before the champion select even truly begins. There's also a cool little CNN-style diagram of the map to show where everyone's going:
Then, and only then, you and your few teammates can select the champions you all want to play:
This is not the same thing as locking in. Rather, it displays your preferences prior to the picking and banning process.
After that, you go into the ban phase. The bottom three players on each team get to choose a ban, one per player. Previously, only the team captain was allowed to ban all three champions, so this gives more of the team a voice in the banning process.
Then after all that is done, you get to choose your official champion selection for the oncoming game.
Obviously, this system isn't airtight when it comes to making everyone happy. The reason one of my teammates started calling me an idiot in one team building phase, for instance, was because I had selected a ranged champion named Graves to play on bottom lane, but he wanted to play him in the jungle. Teammates wanting to choose the same champion will undoubtedly still be an issue, and in this future system the arguments will be more pointed — people going back and forth about whether Graves is better as a jungler, top or bot laner, and so forth.
But, still: it's a whole lot better than what we have right now! Hopefully it will be coming into the main game soon.