Every time something gets taken away from the community, an incredibly vocal minority starts crying out, usually exaggerating facts and ignoring the objective. Last season, it was solo queue. Before that, the reaction had surrounded things like Mana Potions and Boot Enchantments. This time, everyone’s crying for Normal Draft.
In the past week, Riot has made a series of announcements concerning its design around gameplay options for 2017. For the purposes of this article, I’m just looking at Normal Draft, so try not to think about the others. The mode is going to be ‘retired’ in all regions except NA, EUW, and BR. These regions are not only some of the largest, but also the ones that play the mode most. In fact, Normal Draft in NA accounts for about 41% of all normal games. In contrast, in EUNE this number drops down to about 15%.
Everyone knows the sob stories. Everyone knows the complaints. But why is nobody acknowledging the main, and substantial, benefits?
1. Queue Times Reduced
As much as having more options may appeal to a bigger crowd, in reality, it might turn people off. Especially at a higher MMR, players have trouble finding game modes. By removing the number of ‘pools’ to match-make from, each ‘pool’ increases in size. You’re likely to find a normal game in a shorter time, and with higher quality.
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2. Providing Clarity
It’s confusing to have choices. Now, I’m not calling you dumb. But from a design perspective, you have to ask yourself where the game is going to go. When a game diverges too much, it becomes incredibly diluted and the modes no longer ‘talk to each other’, so to speak. Riot clearly wants Normal games to carry a more casual feel, and understands that the majority of regions agree. It will allow for separation between Ranked and Normal, instead of just having a bunch of modes – some that hide numbers, and some that show them. That’s just superficial.
If you want to play draft, just play ranked. It’s the same thing, other than your own perception of it. Normal Draft, where it was removed, just wasn’t providing a decent amount of value for the community. There are viable alternatives, and even if people are complaining now, 99% of them will find contentment in one of them.