Riot’s latest dev blog explains why numbers often don’t determine champion balance:
BY RIOT JULES
Hey everyone! I’m Jules and I help the balance team leverage data to make smart changes to the game. I wanted to offer some insight into how we evaluate champion balance and discuss the nuances of power, win rate, play rate, and ban rate. Getting started: our primary goal is to empower you to succeed with any champion. When you’re picking a champion, ideally, that decision is agnostic of power. Situationally, some champions will always be stronger than others due to team compositions, synergies, and counterpicks – all of these are an integral part of League of Legends. All else equal, our philosophy is you shouldn’t feel compelled to pick a champion because it’s OP.
Power is the degree to which a champion is capable of winning. Champions might specialize in late game scaling or teamfights or pentakills or objective control, but those are simply tools to achieve the primary objective: destroying the enemy Nexus. Power is not constant. In a given game, it is a function of the champions being played and the skill of the players with those champions. Kog’Maw isn’t powerful in every situation, but he’s incredibly powerful with the correct team composition in the hands of skilled players. Just as one could use KDA to measure a champion’s ability to score kills and avoid death, we leverage win rate as one way to measure a champion’s ability to win, or power.
If a champion’s power is analogous to true accuracy, a champion’s win rate is akin to empirical accuracy. Win rate is the probability of winning given the current ecosystem of champions and players. It tells us something about the power of the champion (powerful champions are more likely to win), but it alsotells us something about the skill of the player (skilled players are more likely to win). More powerful champions tend to have higher win rates, but win rate is an imperfect measure of power because it’s conflated with player skill. We can validate this by observing that a champion’s win rate tends to drop during the free-to-play rotation, due to an influx of inexperienced players. One implication of this is that champions can be balanced above or below 50% win rate. According to our data, only a fraction of Azir players are highly skilled with him, so we expect his win rate to be sub-50% in a balanced state. Conversely, a large proportion of players playing Heimerdinger are die-hard mains, so we expect his win rate to be above 50%.
We take into account the impact of changes at all levels of play, but that doesn’t mean we pretend all players fit one mold. Skilled players make decisions with greater information and execute on those decisions with greater precision. We’re comfortable saying that we look closely at these players to best understand the metagame and balance of League of Legends. We believe balancing around a skillfully – but not perfectly – played game creates the best competitive experience for everyone. It also encourages mastery. Sure, Twisted Fate is challenging to play, but as we better learn his kit, we realize what he’s capable of and start pulling off crazy plays. It feels good and makes the investment well worth it.
Play rate is the likelihood a champion is picked in an individual game. If players were robots that optimized only on winning, play rate would be highly indicative of power. In reality, players care about winning, but they also care about having fun and playing what appeals to them. Ahri is more appealing than Urgot for most players, so we expect Ahri to be more popular than Urgot. Play rate trends can teach us something about power, but the signal is blurry. We also care about champion variety (e.g. not seeing Jinx every game), but one of our tenets is to avoid sacrificing balance just to promote variety. In other words, we won’t nerf champions just because they’re popular and we won’t buff champions just because they’re unpopular.
Listening is another way we evaluate balance. When everyone is complaining about Nidalee, we don’t act rashly, but we do refocus our attention. While it doesn’t replace reading the boards or communicating directly, ban rate does complement anecdotal evidence with a more objective lens. One caveat of ban rate is that it is highly influenced by play rate. Even if Rumble is strong, he’s probably not worth a ban if the opposing team is unlikely to pick him. As a rule of thumb, optimal ban strategy (i.e. the strategy that maximizes your probability of winning) is to ban champions that are both high win rate and high play rate.
In reality, ban rate is not only a function of win rate and play rate, but also of perception of power, transparency of power, frustration, and risk-aversion. A few months ago when LeBlanc held the title of most banned, she was a suboptimal ban outside of Master/Challenger. Janna, statistically one of the best bans in the game, was banned in less than 1% of games. With that understanding, we keep a close eye on ban rates but don’t let them single-handedly drive balance decisions.
Data matters, but it’s only one part of the equation. Believe it or not, we play League of Legends too. We feel it just as quickly as you when Skarner is in every game and, more importantly, winning every game. We want a fun and balanced game not just because it’s our job but because we’re players. We acknowledge we’re human and susceptible to a plethora of cognitive biases. That’s exactly why we leverage information from all angles. Ultimately, everything we do is an effort to make League of Legends the most fun it can be. In the next dev blog, Jag will discuss how we examine champion balance from a design perspective.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at email@example.com.
[ Reminder ] The PBE is a testing ground for changes. What you see here may not reflect what you see in Patch Notes. Remember that developers want your feedback so if you disagree with a change, you can always submit your thoughts on the PBE Community Forums.
Over the course of the season, you felt both sides of a stolen Baron. You carried hard and took the occasional ride in a teammate’s backpack. The struggle is real, but victory is sweet. Now it’s time for one last push.
Ranked rewards return with Victorious Sivir, new division markers atop loading screen borders, and an evolving ward skin for ranked teams. Make your mark and be Victorious before November 11.
Loading screen border (with new division markers)
Loading screen border (with new division markers)
Invite and friend request flair
Victorious Sivir (and Sivir if unowned)
Ranked rewards based on your end of season ranking, not peak ranking.
A new evolving ward skin unlocks exclusively for those who hit their squad goals and rack up wins as part of a ranked team.
How to earn points
1 point for a ranked team win on the Twisted Treeline
3 points for a ranked team win on Summoner’s Rift
Keep in mind, you play in the win to earn the point(s)—just being on the roster won’t score you anything.
Here’s a wallpaper-sized version of the recently teased Victorious Sivir:
When does the season end?
The 2015 season wraps up at the end of day (in your territory) on November 10—technically this means 12:01AM on November 11.
When do rewards hit my account?
Rewards will arrive by end of day on November 17.
I don’t own Sivir, can I still use the skin? ;-;
If you’re Gold+ and don’t own Sivir, the champion will be unlocked alongside your new skin.
Are ranked borders queue specific?
Can I use my borders from previous seasons?
Nope. Borders reflect your most recent seasonal ranking.
Will I still decay in the pre-season?
You won’t! We’ll disable decay alongside the season’s end. We’ll turn it back on once the 2016 season begins!
Are there any eligibility requirements for these rewards outside of ranked results?
Yes, some players are ineligible for rewards because of negative in-game behavior. This applies only to the 2015 season. Here are the details:
Players with bans or chat/ranked restrictions active when the season ends are ineligible for this year’s rewards
Players banned for seven days or more in the three months prior to the end of the season (July 10) are ineligible for this year’s rewards.
Players banned for boosting during the 2015 season remain ineligible for rewards
Players who experienced fraud-related and erroneous bans will still be eligible
All players will have another chance at future ranked season rewards. RANKED TEAM REWARDS
Do wins from different teams count towards my point total?
Yep! As long as you participated in the win, you’ll earn the point(s).
I transferred servers, do I keep the points I earned on my old server?
No, that data is lost in the transfer. Sorry
Do my ranked team’s placement wins count toward my point total?
They sure do!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find extra resources about Kindred in the following posts:
Kindred’s a new champion. She’ll be available for 7800 IP/975 RP for the first week, after which the price will drop down to 6300 IP/975 RP.
Below you can find in-game previews of both Kindred and her release skin – Shadowfire Kindred:
From left-to-right and top-to-bottom: Joke, Taunt, Dance and Laugh.
Here’s her Champion Select quote:
Base Health: 530 [+85 per level]
Base Health-per-5: 10 [+0.55 per level]
Base Mana: 300 [+35 per level]
Base Mana-per-5: 6.95 [+0.4 per level]
Base AD: 49 [+2.2 per level]
Auto-Attack Range: 500
Base Movement Speed: 325
Base Armor: 26.5 [+3.25 per level]
Base Magic Resist: 30
Lamb can choose a champion to hunt by clicking the champion portraits above the inventory.
Wolf periodically hungers for and huntsenemy jungle monsters.
Gaining a kill or assist on a hunted target permanently empowers Kindred’s attacks against all targets, causing them to deal 1.25% of the target’s current Health in bonus on-hit physical damage.
Current Damage = X%
Wolf will no longer mark jungle monsters after you reach 6 stacks.
Cost: 30 mana at all ranks || Cooldown: 9 seconds at all ranks || Range: 340
Kindred dashes in a target direction before firing at up to three nearby enemies, dealing 60/90/120/150/180 [ +0.2 Total AD ] damage to each target.
Casting this spell while inside Wolf’s Frenzy or dashing in the spell’s area reduces the cooldown to 2 seconds.
Cost: 40 mana at all ranks || Cooldown: 18/17/16/15/14 seconds || Range (of zone): 900
Passive: Kindred build stacks of Hunter’s Vigor as they move around, up to a maximum of 100. Once fully stacked, Kindred’s next basic attack heals for 60 + 3-per-level.
Active: Wolf temporarily splits from Lamb, creating a large spirit zone around him for 8 seconds and attacking whoever Lamb attacks, or his closest enemy, dealing 25/30/35/40/45 [ +0.4 Total AD] + 40% of Mark of the Kindred’s stacked damage per hit.
Cost: 70 mana at all ranks || Cooldown: 16/15/14/13/12 seconds || Range: 500
Kindred initially slows a targeted enemy by 70% for 1 second. If Lamb attacks the marked target twice, on the third hit Wolf will instead pounce, dealing 80/110/140/170/200 [ + 0.2 Total AD ] + 5% of the target’s Health as physical damage [capped at 300 vs monsters].
Cost: 100 mana at all ranks || Cooldown: 150/130/110 seconds || Range: 500
Kindred creates a large zone beneath itself or a targeted ally for 4 seconds. While active, Lamb’s Respite prevents ALL units from dropping below 10% of their maximum health. At the end of the spell’s duration, Lamb’s Respite heals for 200/250/300.
Here is Kindred’s login theme from FrostyNinja:
And the music from the animation:
”Tell me again, little Lamb, which things are ours to take?”
“All things, Dear Wolf.”
Separate, but never parted, Kindred represents the twin essences of death. Lamb’s arrow offers a swift release for those who accept their fate. Wolf hunts down those who run from their end, delivering violent finality within his crushing jaws. Though interpretations of Kindred’s nature vary across Runeterra, every mortal must choose the true face of their death.”
Kindred’s backstory also includes a full length story titled “A Good Death“:
Shadowfire Kindred will be available for 1350 RP and will be on sale for 975 RP for the first 4 days after Kindred is released.
1) We introduced Intentional Feeder Detection to the Instant Feedback System for the first time, and now intentional feeders can be banned within 15 minutes of matches. We’ve started the settings relatively conservative to start because figuring out whether a player is intentionally feeding or just having a bad game is a tough problem, so we’re not catching ALLintentional feeders today.
2) We introduced Reform Cards in the client, and for Chat Restrictions for the first time. Reform Cards are basically summaries that show evidence for behaviors that led to your ban, whether it’s match histories for Intentional Feeders, or chat logs for Restrictions/Bans.
3) We introduced a new version of the penalty escalation system. Now, punishments in League of Legends work like this:
First Offense: 10 Chat Restrictions
Second Offense: 25 Chat Restrictions
Third Offense: 14-Day Ban
Fourth Offense: Permanent Ban
However, if a player is showing more severe behaviors, it is possible to be escalated straight to the 3rd Offense Tier, and immediately get a 14-day ban for your first offense. This also means that if you get another offense after that (even if it’s a less severe behavior!) you will be escalated to a permanent ban. By showing neutral or positive behaviors, it is possible to improve your account standing and drop punishment tiers as well.
So what are we doing here? Well, because player behavior systems have changed A LOT over the years, there’s a lot of questions about what’s current, what’s coming in the future and what’s no longer true for player behavior systems in League. We’re also getting questions to review chat logs for players who believe their punishments are undeserved. Neurocat and I will be happy to answer any questions about player behavior in this thread, so let’s get started!
IMPORTANT CAVEAT: If you ask a question related to your penalty (Restriction/Ban), you will be consenting to us discussing your chat logs or in-game data publicly. Please use Player Support tickets if you wish to have your questions answered privately.
We’re in the process of re-making the Report System and cleaning up the report categories, so apologies for some of the jankiness in the current system. But, reporting for Unskilled Player does not affect your report weights, and the report is never used to directly punish or ban a player. However, Unskilled Player reports are used by the matchmaking system to tune the system and help us figure out weird cases where a player was accidentally propelled to an inappropriate skill level.
We definitely understand the need to “vent” and how filing a Report helps resolve some of the frustration of playing in that particular game. We have some elements of the new system that help players understand more about where their reports are going and their impact, to help players feel better about what just happened.
The intentional feeder detection system is tuned pretty conservatively right now, so it’s just catching the more egregious intentional feeders. Not surprisingly, there aren’t many true intentional feeders in League anymore like the ones that buy 5 Zeals and just run down mid over and over. Sure, some players find examples and post them on Reddit, but you only see a dozen or so of these in a game with 67+ million players playing games nearly everyday.
The system isn’t tuned yet to perfectly catch the more nuanced feeders, who play normal 80% of the game, then suddenly walk into towers or run away from a team fight on purpose. These more nuanced behaviors will require more research and advanced machine learning to tease apart, and are being punished by Rioter manual reviews today.