The combination of highly competitive games, young players, and the potential celebrity of professional status if a player does well, creates the perfect storm for a horrible social climate. In a post on their forums, Riot has announced a tool that may be more effective than psychological experiments in addressing the problem. The new Ranked Restrictions system prevents players with negative behavior ratings from joining ranked matches, until they have served a probationary period by playing non-ranked matches.
League of Legends players are concerned that dumping toxic personalities into the more casual, non-ranked environment could make casual play less attractive. The first response to the post announcing the new system makes that case, but there are other players praising the new system.
It’s unfair to tar all League of Legends players as being badly-behaved. The Tribunal system for governing toxic behavior in LoL, and one vehicle by which a negative player may be identified, is community-led. Tribunal cases are created when a player reaches a certain number of complaints against them. LoL players can then adjudicate the case. In the vast majority of judgments, Riot Games moderators have agreed with the punishments handed down via the Tribunal.
The Tribunal system doesn’t help manage behavior in the professional circuit, however. It doesn’t prevent LoL players from facing temporary bans for racist usernames, suspensions for verbally abusing other players, and even removing team coaches from tournament participation for charges including DDOS attacks on other players.
In League of Legends, ranked play is everything for anyone who is truly competitive. The leaderboards are tantamount to the minor leagues, where a player can get themselves noticed by professional teams. For the competitive player in League of Legends, removal from ranked play is like a “game over” screen.
While the Tribunal is aimed at the general LoL population, the new Ranked Restrictions tool could be seen as a preemptive measure targeted specifically at the sort of players who might someday work their way into professional circuits.
Once players who have been locked out of ranked matches have finished playing through their probationary, non-ranked games, Riot will reevaluate the status of the players who have been punished under the Ranked Restrictions tool.
“As with Chat Restrictions, after they finish the predetermined number of games, we’ll perform a final evaluation to make sure they’ve actually improved their in-game behavior. Players who haven’t shown improvement will continue to be restricted from playing ranked,” wrote Riot in the statement announcing the new system.