The introduction of North America’s Champion’s Queue generated its fair share of controversy at the start of 2022, offering LCS pros a chance to practice in a more competitive environment outside of scrims. Now, Riot have announced they’ll be turning off Champion’s Queue until May 31 – and community reactions are divided.
On April 13, Riot Games posted an official update to the status of Champion’s Queue. The system, implemented at the start of the 2022 Spring split, was designed to counteract complaints from North American pros about the quality of practice available on the North American solo queue server.
It allowed them to compete in a professional-only environment, queueing up via a custom matchmaking system that only paired them with vetted players who had been allowed access to Champions Queue.
Directly after the queue’s implementation, community sentiment was that this initiative would save North American LoL. Community and pro reactions were almost universally positive, with many saying that this was the mentality change the NA scene needed to fix its international underperformance.
That sentiment, however, didn’t last long.
Beginning to fall apart
Community and pro attitudes towards Champions Queue began to sour as North America edged ever closer to the Spring playoffs. Social media spats broke out about players not using the service, saying that interest had dipped heavily due to laziness and lack of motivation.
At this point I don't even know what is holding back players from at least playing 1-2 Champ Q games a night. I just really want to see NA put in the effort, work and passion to grow and get better. Champions Q is truly an amazing benefit to NA, wish it was just used more…
— Samson Jackson (@Lourlo) April 8, 2022
After the initial hype of the queue’s introduction, interest quickly began to die down. In Riot’s developer post, four key issues with the queue were cited after discussion with the LCS Players Association and the Amateur and Academy Committee. According to this post, one of the key issues that pros had found with the queue was the matchmaking quality and the disparity of role availability throughout the day.
This role availability was discussed by Evil Geniuses head coach Peter Dun at the start of the split. He compared the queue times of EG mid laner Joseph ‘Jojopyun’ Joonpyun and academy AD Carry Muhammed Hasan ‘Kaori’ Şentürk.
Only one complaint about Champions Queue. ADC queue times are horrific. Kaori and Jojo have played about equal times, but Jojo has double the games in that time.
Rest has been pretty hype so far.
— Peter Dun (@pcdv8r) February 11, 2022
In order to counter this, Riot stated they will be re-adding more players of certain roles after a chunk of the player base was lost due to a change to minimum MMR threshold from Master to Grandmaster a few months into the split.
The discussion around LCS player motivation and drive to improve has come to a head recently, after multiple LCS pros spoke out about mentality issues surrounding Champion’s Queue. LCS Player’s Association president Darshan Upadhyaya posted a Twitlonger outlining some of his key issues with pro mentality on April 14, which kicked off a leaguewide discussion on how North America’s pros approach practice and improvement.
Champions Queue, Practice, and Improvement
— C9 Darshan (@DarshanU) April 14, 2022
One of the key points was that North America’s issue was not necessarily one of laziness, and that NA’s international performance issues wouldn’t simply be fixed by playing more, both on Champion’s Queue and in scrims.
He argued that improvement for NA would come from practicing “more intentionally,” and that simply spamming games wouldn’t help NA catch up to other regions internationally because of how big the skill disparity is already.
He also highlighted the issue of skill disparity and matchmaking that Riot mentioned in their previous developer post, stating that consistent underperformance should bring the threat of removal from the server.
“I think another important facet is moderating the players in champions queue and removing those who are severely underperforming. Of course, everyone has bad games, but when it gets to the point that certain players are consistently lowering the quality of the games and also being brought up to the council, I believe they should be removed to have a higher quality environment.”
Further community pushback
In a recent post-game scrum after GGS’s defeat versus Cloud9, Golden Guardians support Kim ‘Olleh’ Joosung voiced his opinions on the NA mentality towards improvement and Champions Queue.
Some players paid thousands USD to play korean solo Q.
( flight tickets / place to stay / food- cheaper than LA 🙂 )
"Wow 9 ping , Oh! I met lck player in my game ! , random dude is better than my region pro , etc "
Then, CQ wanna pay you to play.
Maybe we should pay to play cq?
— Olleh (@Olleh) April 14, 2022
Coming from Korea, a region notorious for its grind mentality towards League, Olleh said he was shocked by the lack of practice from certain NA teams. He compared the attitude of Korean and North American players, saying that “if Champion’s Queue were to happen in Korea, people would try hard to get rank one because that gives you a reputation that can literally get you a team for free.”
Olleh finished in fifth place in the 2022 Champion’s Queue Spring split, with a 57% win rate as the highest-rated support on the ladder.
He’s not the only one to have commented on the Champion’s Queue break, either – casters, team owners, and fans alike have all weighed in on the controversy of a two-month downtime for the server.
4 years earlier, talking about inhouses instead of Champions Queue…
New reasons but the result is the same 🤔 https://t.co/dc5LVjmVW0
— Mark Zimmerman (@TheeMarkZ) April 9, 2022
LCS caster Mark ‘MarkZ’ Zimmerman brought up an old episode of the Flame Game, a Riot preshow segment from 2018, where he discussed the argument that LCS players were at an international disadvantage due to the high ping numbers in NA solo queue. Although the topic of discussion has changed since 2018, he argued that the points made in the segment were still just as relevant.
In the segment, he calls the “deflection of blame” by North American players and fans “pretty ridiculous”.
“This isn’t any more complicated than pickup basketball, and all over the world people have been able to figure that one out. If pro players can’t figure out how to play pickup League of Legends, they probably can’t figure out how to win a World Championship.”
The Champion’s Queue is due to return at the start of the Summer Split.