The number of playable champions in League of Legends (LoL) grows every season, but it astounds me how one particular aspect remains unchanged – the number of champion bans in Draft Pick.
There are more than 120 champions to choose from, but the system still restricts teams ban up to six champions (three per side) to this day. LoL is currently in its 6th season so it’s been long overdue for additional champion bans.
As the total number of champions for the roster increases, so too should the ban count, right? To give you an idea of how long it has been, the last time Riot Games added more bans for Draft Mode was the Fizz patch back in November 2011.
With LoL’s roster at its size now, the ideal number of bans would be a maximum of 10 – one ban for each person in the standard 5v5 mode.
In fact, I would love to see each person in Draft Mode being able to ban one champion apiece. And of course, competitive play would just have a predetermined captain who would get to decide their respective bans normally. It is not like the idea of a 10-ban sequence hasn’t been thrown around before as another MOBA on the block, Dota 2, utilizes a 10-ban system for its Captains Mode.
I realize there are various arguments about the banning phase in LoL, but here are five main points I would like to make about why the magic number could be raised to 10 bans.
1. Implement a “Scaling” Ban Number to Accommodate Entry to Ranked Matches
Riot Games has stated numerous times over the years that they want to allow new players to enter ranked matches as soon as possible. An aspect of this is tied to the number of champions a player has unlocked. If the ban count is increased, it would require more champions to be unlocked before any player can enter ranked matches.
My suggested solution? Use a scaling number for the ban total based on the ranked division. For example, the Bronze Division starts with six bans total and the number would scale up to the 10 bans when you get into higher divisions. This way, Riot Games can keep the amount of fresh players strong while still providing an incentive for people to climb up the ladder, with additional bans becoming a privilege of sorts as strategic elements and concepts are better understood.
2. More Bans Will Equate to More Strategy
I strongly believe the entire banning phase should be a reflection of tactics versus the throwaway sequence it currently plays out to be. At six bans, the banning phase has always felt like a moot process.
I realize in the context of solo queue matches, people have a tendency to ban flavor-of-the-month (FOTM) champions regardless, but it would be a welcome change to ban something “different” once in a while. Perhaps even for a strategic reason! You just don’t have the wiggle room to do so unless you enjoy being criticized by your teammates for “wasting” a ban.
For example, if you’re an amazing Fiddlesticks player, you would ideally like to ban your counter, Janna. But in the current situation, that is not possible since the FOTM champions take priority.
With an extra ban or two to work with, I believe having the option to deviate from banning the same characters each time injects more meaning into the banning process.
3. Target Bans at Competitive Play Will Always Occur
I find worrying about competitive teams target-banning a player to death to be ridiculous.
For one thing, competitive teams still target ban no matter how many bans there are. If you are skilled enough to warrant the “respect” to have some of your champions banned out, it is going to happen.
Secondly, if your champion pool is somehow fewer than the number of total bans there are, then that’s an entirely different matter altogether. Pros have expectations to meet, and a basic expectation entails being able to play more than a few handful of champions within your role competently.
Quite frankly, I think fans would love to see their favorite pros be forced into different champion choices when their characters get banned out. It would really test their versatility, plus it would spice up the match with some diversity.
4. Other Champions Can Enter the Limelight
Now going off of my last point about match diversity, I think extra bans will create more variety at all levels of play. If you can strategically ban the right champions in the appropriate strategies, it would naturally allow other champions to enter the limelight and potentiality thrive.
Practically banning out a champion’s natural counter will motivate players to pick something outside of the box more. This diversifies the matches as opposed to being shoehorned into the same, and possibly stagnant, champion choices again and again due to necessity instead of flexibility.
It may not seem like that much of a difference, but getting a few extra bans to open up the roster would directly impact any given meta of LoL.
5. Adding More Bans ≠ Current State of Balance
I have had people tell me how adding further bans would not fix any and all of LoL’s current state of balance. And to that, I respond with, “What does game balance have to do with the banning phase?” A point I really want to emphasize here is banning alone should not be the defined solution for preventing a champion who is (supposedly) overpowered from wreaking havoc. This thought process will always exist, even if there were 50 bans.
At the end of the day, only 10 champions out of a roster comprised of more than 120 will make it into play.
An entire phase that serves the sole purpose of forbidding both sides from using certain champions should impact how the lucky 10 get picked. The act of banning champions should yield strategic merit. There should be some value in the banning process instead of willy-nilly choices with little thought involved.
I would like to see target banning at its finest at the pro level. I want to see key champions eliminated and removed off the table, forcing the other side to adapt when potential team compositions become compromised. I want more bans to open up interesting pick opportunities.
Instead, the current state of the banning phase is just a big joke to me. I scoff at the notion when people talk about the “picks and bans,” especially at the competitive level of LoL when it just appears the same champions are banned repeatedly.
Where is the real strategy?
I don’t expect Riot Games to increase the ban count this season. This is something LoL will have to deal with until more players realize that the banning phase can mean a lot more than just banning three random champions on each side and then proceeding right to picks.
Perhaps I am just saying this as someone who has played Dota 2 and as someone who loved the intricate banning/picking sequence in that game way more than LoL’s, but one can only dream for more champion bans in LoL’s Draft Mode.