Analysis: League Of Legends Griefing

EDIT2: Believe it or not, this blog garnered a lot of attention. Its on the first page of Google results for League of Legends griefing. I’ve since stopped playing League when I had to finish college after my internship, and I don’t intend to return to the game anytime soon. But, looking back, this article is kind of poorly written. So take it with a grain of salt. I will forever have mixed feelings about League of Legends on a competitive scale but for normal play, it is a really fantastic game.

My…. relationship with League of Legends has been a very on and off one. Love, hate, love hate. It digs into me how much the game fluctuates to my favor. I wanted to delve into why so I thought what better than to revive my Analysis blogs. Which I think I did one or two of before, but just never got around to doing more.

League of Legends is a game with a huge following, but even its own following has massive gripes about it. Its a gripping game that is quite addicting by nature, and encourages more playing to get better. But, what happens when you constantly play with no change in your outcome or worse – you get the opposite results?

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So a quick background. League of Legends is a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena). The game centers around 3 lanes of combat where a continuous line of NPC “minions” duke it out for 2 teams. Players (5 per team) are assigned to their lanes have to “push” their minion dominance killing the opposing team’s minion, which results in the destruction of their objective (their base). The goal for victory is to destroy the other team’s base core at the end of the lanes. Inbetween these lanes are whats known as the “jungle”, and teams typically have 1 player assigned to playing there so they can pop out in surprise to assist the lanes (also known as ganking). There are also additional optional objectives (dragon and baron) that give buffs to the team that defeats them to help tip the balance of play. Players obtain money from objectives, killing enemies, and minions to help build items which boost their stats for play. Players pick and choose from dozens of “champions”, or avatars, which have unique abilities that define their play style. Some are counters to others and some are just outright bad or broken & over-powered.

That’s essentially everything you need to know to watch a game of League to understand whats happening. To be good at it while playing is another story, but one thing is for sure, the community loves to follow whatever recent plays the professional players do and it turns into a total “let me try to walk and talk like that cool guy on TV” mess. Its kind of frustrating when people dont acknowledge that what professional players do isn’t end all, yet alone highly situational.

The game itself is really interesting. Its incredible, actually, in my opinion. Its so “barebones” in nature, but it has infinite re-playability and expansion. You just need to introduce new champions to play and skins for the old ones = profit. Everyone loves it too. Its fantastic. The champions are all unique, interesting, and you just want to explore them all. And then tournaments get tons of sponsors, viewers, its really awesome. The mechanics are so fun and its awesome to see great matchups! There’s nothing more fascinating than seeing or participating in a neck-and-neck game.

The issue is you don’t often see great matchups as a normal player though. Most of the time, its bloody domination or the most ridiculous come backs imaginable. And you see it in the professional games too. Recently the LCS was held, and I saw what a significant lead turn into a total loss and endgame in less than 2 minutes. Ugh! The frustration even as a viewer, let alone as a player. Its mind numbing almost. And, as a player who’s done more than 100 games in Silver ranking, its almost every game this occurs.

 

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The issue, I find, lies in the fact that its such a team-orientated game. We have tons of multiplayer video games where while you are indeed on a team, the repercussions of a single person being bad is cushioned. In League, it is a loss for the entire team. Can you win if your 1 of your 5 teammates is doing bad or even not even connected (afk)? Yes of course. I’ve seen it happen with only 3 players. But its so few and far between occurrences that I simply don’t believe it to be true. If one player is “feeding” their lane opponent, the difficulty of the game ramps up in an incredibly ridiculous fashion as of today’s date. And they just patched it so early game kills mean more….. that’s kind of the opposite that I was hoping for. In the last 10 losing games I’ve played so far, besides “troll matches”, specifically serious games, the shut outs are amazing. One person screws up the ENTIRE mess for everyone. Every one of these losing games results in everyone going “what the hell did you just do” before the lose screen appears. Sometimes, I will admit, its me. I screw up plenty. And even when it isn’t me, I do acknowledge that there are some things I could’ve done better. But, when I’m 8 kills and 2 deaths and suddenly my lane opponent who had nothing going for him gets 10 kills, I lose patience. I just spent 35 minutes super-focused and super amped about my dominating performance, only to be steamrolled in the last 2 minutes because our jungler just decided to fight the enemy team. Alone. Repeatedly. WHAT?! WHY?! WHY WASTE MY TIME?!

Don’t get me started on the troll games. We can have a poor start to a game, and suddenly, someone says “I told you guys I was going to afk if you pissed me off or fed.” *queue Player has disconnected sound*

We’re 6 minutes into the game. And you’ve now just made our next 14 minutes of gameplay so much harder. You bastard. The experience is ruined. And, sometimes, that’s not bad. If the guy stays disconnected, we still have a chance of a comeback. But now with early kills ramped up, its that much harder. And worse yet, what about the troll player that doesn’t disconnect? He instead decides to run into my lane and feeds. He just runs at the enemy team. Kill kill kill. Nothing we can do about it! Nothing. They’re not afraid of getting reported. Players don’t get direct feedback if their reporting has done anything. You literally sit there for 20+ minutes and get dominated. Its now no longer a fun game, or a game for that matter at all other than a waiting game. People insist “you learn from these games still, the more you play the better you get.” You don’t “learn” from this experience. You can’t get “better” from playing this out to the end. I’ve done it so much and have gotten nothing out of it when all was said and done. I just see my last 30 minutes get blown away, because the enemy team found it better to grief us by dabbling around the map destroying unnecessary objectives and scoring as many kills as possible before killing us. And our team wouldn’t surrender despite the obvious shut out (32-9). You don’t win from that, and if you do win from that (as the team with only 9 kills of course Im speaking), then you shouldn’t really feel victorious because something obviously stupid happened. I feel guilty when a really obvious loss becomes a victory. I shouldn’t, but in League I do because I know how frustrating it is for someone on my team to make a mistake and it somehow becomes game changing.

For a game that encourages replayability, something has to give when its a small knit team of 5 strangers who have less than 10 minutes to adapt to each other and win. Even if they find their sync around 30 minutes into the game, it often times is far too late I find. My most recent game was a perfect example of going 8-2, the only person positive on my team, when everyone realizes that “okay get this guy then that guy, do this do that for victory we got this” for the first time, we start a small comeback, but oops – the jungler just decides to throw it all away on us with a simple out of position mistake. Our great comeback just got squashed.

Another game, we were pushing down middle lane for the win. Our top lane decides its best to push bot for some obnoxious reason. Their base core (the nexus), is now at half health when the enemy team respawns – kills us – and just takes out our base instead. A win just flipped into a loss faster than my head could spin. If we had our top laner there for even 5 seconds of that time, we would’ve won. But nope. 42 minutes down the drain and a demotion down the ranked leaderboard to boot. There are few words to describe my frustration about that game. And best part is, I somehow managed to contain my hatred for this player from the chat.

People often say to me when this stuff happens,”If you don’t fight with the people, you’ll win more games.” In ranked in particular, I try to be as nice and as supportive as possible. Often times I wont write anything, and when I do, I try to be as constructive as possible. Every~ kill our team gets I try to say “well played” or “good job”. Even if its a player who is being troll and annoying. And I think it works to our favor interestingly enough. But, it still won’t prevent these focused twist of events in the game from spiraling out of control! One player simply doesnt have that ability most of the time no matter how “fed” they are. Its….. indescribable.

jungle

Here’s my LoLKing page – a player statistics site that tracks matches. As you can see, I’m about 50-50 on wins vs loses. A bit more wins, but I feel that if I continue to play that will surely tip in opposite lately it seems. I feel like even with my main champions, I have a lot to learn. But when I ask for advice, it seems like people just regurgitate the stuff I already know and am actively doing. Playing more games simply doesn’t equate to “you play better.” I think that’s tremendously wrong, especially when you’re stuck with players like the afk/feeder before. And Riot currently doesn’t have anything to battle that. There is no way for anyone in Ranked games to combat the “toxic” players and still win for their team. I just think for anyone to say that’s consistently possible is horribly incorrect and is using a one time occurrence they’ve had or heard of as basis for their logic. Last season I was up and down the Bronze rankings 2 times over and through Silver. This season I went from Bronze 4 all the way to Silver 1 promotions, and now I’m just bouncing between Silver 2 and Silver 1 for dozens of games. The best part is I don’t feel improvement. Never have. From bottom of Bronze 4 all the way to Silver 1, it just all feels the same to me. I feel like its been utter luck that I’ve done it this easy.

But yet I admire the game’s mechanics. I admire the champions, the art, the UI, and everything inbetween. I think League of Legends has so much to be appreciated for. It wouldn’t be as popular as it is today without these things.

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But simply put, the community is absolutely god awful and the game doesn’t do anything at all to improve it. There are no mechanics that support combating a player who runs at their enemy team or one that just disconnects because of a power outage for example. Yes, that scenario somehow counts for a loss which I think is absurd!!! We have the technology to figure this out in games, but instead League encourages players to essentially get mad and frustrated for 30 minutes because a player disappears mid game. Why? Its a question I must ask in 2014. Recently, a reddit comment brought this issue up and the response essentially boils down to “we haven’t gotten around to it.” The biggest issue with League and one pretty significant way to help is something that “hasnt gotten around to yet”? Hire me and I’ll bang something out in a few days. I can’t be the only one confident to be able to implement a pre-20 minute player disconnect grief system, even if just for testing. This can’t be a serious answer can it? He even admits to being able to tell a statistic of players that have power failures or internet drops. I find it contradictory.

But anyways, back more to my point, League facilitates interesting gameplay but has so many “pits” that make or break the game 30-40 minutes in. I can no longer have fun with the game because I lose a sense of progression due to these pits occurring merely at random based on my stranger teammate matchups. And the recent chances of this writing facilitates making these pits bigger to fall into. And on one hand I’m struggling to see why this was warranted, and on the other I’m appreciating the fact that it makes players think they can go all in pre-10 minutes so I can just capitalize on, hoping that at 30 minutes at least one other individual on the team has wizened up. Then of course the toxic community plays into this.

Why shouldn’t I flip a shit on a teammate who did something so painfully stupid that now domino-effects into a loss so fast? Its frustrating, it makes these long rounds painful, and it creates the ideas of these “elo-hells” that exist with the leaderboard system. Its like a self-fulfilling-prophecy for Riot. And when players cant identify what they’ve done wrong in a match, or what they could’ve done better, it becomes an endless circle of toxicity. I can’t even ask another player what I could be doing better or how to carry a game from early game into late properly without getting criticized in the worst possible ways. Riot needs to identify this and find a way to increase player identity.

That’s my take on the issue. League is complex, and there will never be a one-fix for a game like this that makes all of these issues go away. But, after 3 years of playing, I still don’t see it getting better. Or myself at the game for that matter. It doesn’t feel that way at all.

UPDATE:

In my naivety, I continue to play this game because I just can’t get past the fact that it literally has become a random pick out of hat with who you get teamed with.

wtf

 

So this game demonstrates my frustration with the game perfectly. Look at the domination we had from start of the game until 29:30 minutes in. We, as purple, dominated the game. Our Xin and Volibear, at the team fight at 29:00, decided to focus an Alistar and Amumu. They engaged on them, and literally only did damage to them. While me (Fizz), a really fed Lucian, and a Braum tried to fight off a Kassadin, a Vladimir, and Tristana. I had a lead on Kassadin for most of the game. Not a huge one, but enough for me to have been confident until that point. But when Vlad and Kass both ulti me, and I react by doing everything I can damage wise between Kass and Tristana, everything was on cooldown, I die nearly immediately. Lucian, in all his obesity, still can’t fight 3 people essentially by himself. And Braum can’t do much except maybe zone Trist right. In 30 seconds that the Xin decided to go AWOL on us, we lost one fight. One fight. That one fight signaled a HUGE turn around. HOW DOES THAT WORK?!! Kass alone picked up about 5 kills right in this fight, he practically got a penta. Only to get 4 more at the very very end. His score is pretty inflated by the last few minutes.

So at 28:00 there clearly was a misstep where perhaps our team should’ve been putting more pressure on the objectives to prevent them from getting more gold. Gold is a great way to track progress through a match between two teams, and I love that Riot now has these charts. But dammit to hell if this only blows my mind further. How the hell does this happen? We had domination for 29 minutes. Then things go to hell in less than 4. Its baffling and frustrating.

 

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