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Why the League of Legends Divisions will never represent true skill.

Riot's Elo System has Fundamental Flaws
Riot's Elo System has Fundamental Flaws
Riot Games

Elo hell is the oft-debated, oddly controversial topic that has filled the General Discussion boards for many months. But what players often address but Riot has rarely come out and publicly acknowledged is the fact that the divisions system (formerly the elo system) was never designed for team games.

Elo is a method of measurement of skill designed for competitor vs competitor games. Note that I say "competitor", and not "competitors". Elo is used in games like chess, not sports like football; when was the last time you heard anyone mention Peyton Manning's Elo rating? Elo works because when one competitor loses more often than not against another opponent, you can expect that the player winning more matches is more skilled.

But what about in team games?

No one can argue that the team that wins is more skilled as a whole; it's why the Divisions system works well for teams. But as far as individuals go? Sure, you may end up with a 12/2 or even 14/0 carry on your team, but when they went up against a 0/12 or 0/14 lane antagonist, are they really skilled? Or is it the lack of skill of their opponent? More importantly, is the 3-1 teammate of that person unskilled for losing to the 14-0 carry with a full build at 30?

The divisions system is really just a cover; it's the elo system, but with more control over when and where you can cross from bronze to silver, silver to gold, and further on, or in reverse. And as such, rankings for the Solo queue will remain broken. It is impossible to effectively create an evaluation of a player's individual skill when you are using the skill of an entire team as a basis to alter it.

Whether there truly is an "elo hell" or not, a place so low in the rankings that most of the players you play against are trolls, one cannot argue for the logic of using a system designed for individuals to measure them when their skill is watered down against the backdrop of the other four players. Riot's system is fundamentally flawed; their entire philosophy about it is as well, yet they have not shown any desire to change it to a more fitting system. And with so many players of very high skill unable to get a team because of their low solo rankings, it's creating the same type of flawed environment that WoW players often suffer because of, when the Raid tiers create a catch 22 and you cannot get to the new content because you don't have gear from the new content.

The elo system has long been in need of a re-work; merely changing its name and making your placement more obvious has not fixed it, and will not fix it any time in the immediate future. While some players will be matched with a great team nine times out of ten, and so will end up climbing through the ladder both because of their own skill and that of their teammates, others will be stuck attempting to carry teams that are unskilled, uncooperative, or downright unfriendly. Trolls and feeders are terms that are thrown around quite frequently the lower you dive in the ranking system, and it's easy to see why sometimes.

The best fix is to implement a way to measure individual skill - through a combination of factors, including kills, assists, farm, position, and even less important or visible factors such as damage dealt and taken or healing done for champions that it applies to. While both may posses some skill, the 12/2 who loses the game certainly deserves as much or more recognition than the 2/5 who wins. Until this player can get his deserved boost in rankings the system will remain as it has always been.

Fundamentally flawed.


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