Toxicity in League of Legends.
Why Elo Hell exists and what Riot is doing to get rid of it.
The competitive scene has been one of League of Legends most substantial aspects, expanding almost as fast as its immense player base. Yet toxicity has always been an annoying itch for Riot Games, growing fast, seemingly overpowering the player base and becoming the dominant group. Online communities aren't generally the best I’ll admit, but League is on a whole other level.
Why all the rage? League of Legends is quoted as having one of the most toxic communities out of any other MOBA. Yet Riot doesn’t seem to care. Don’t believe me? Go on any League of Legends thread and you’ll see hundreds if not thousands of players complaining about the tribunal. This problem seems to have existed almost as soon as League of Legends release, yet it seems to be rapidly worsening.
League is a team focused game, yet it’s extremely hard to enjoy the game when your own team handicaps you. This can lead to anger and usually causes players to lash out at their teammates, worsening the situation. Which leads me to my next question, one that I’m sure you have all heard before; “Does Elo Hell exist?” And if it does, what exactly is Riot Games doing to get rid of it.
Mathematically, since there are only 10 players in one League game, 9 excluding you, your team has 4 positions left open for trolls/afkers and ragers, while the enemy team have 5. That means that luck is in your favour, and the more you play the higher your chance to ultimately “get lucky” and climb. Yet League seems to corrupt its player base immensely hard, and before you know it, you’ll be angrily shouting at your support for taking a minion, or your mid laner for getting outplayed, and bit by bit feel like the whole community is working against you. Why is this; how can a team based game cause you to lose control this hard? The answer is quite simple. Its due to Riot’s rapidly expanding competitive scene: The LCS...
Riot Games have a huge competitive scene, with over 10 teams in each region, averaging a total of 300k viewers per tournament. Most League players enjoy watching LCS, and if they don't have time to watch it, they still most likely know of it, and probably also have a favourite team. Yet how does a competitive environment raise a games toxicity? The answer is simple; “High expectations”. Let me explain how it works: A Bronze player just finishes watching the CLG vs TSM game, he was on the edge of his seat throughout the whole game, and witnessed plays he couldn’t believe were humanly possible.
His favourite team just won, and he’s in an ecstatic mood, deciding to play a quick Solo Queue game right before he goes to bed. The quality of his game can't even compare to the legendary game he just witnessed, he’s disappointed and starts flaming his team, getting angrier and angrier, with utter frustration he gives up and goes AFK. Not only is the competitive scene of League of Legends inspiring, it also gives false expectations of a high quality game, one where you have to work as a team to win. This image very often falls flat, and ends up frustrating its player base. Even in high Diamond, Solo Queue games very rarely offer a challenge. As the League of Legends competitive scene increases, more and more people get disappointed by their own games, and instead of trying to improve they start blaming their teammates for simple mistakes. As they get more frustrated, they start playing champions they never even knew existed out of desperation, just because Bjergsen played them, resulting in them doing much worse than they normally would.
Not only will the unbelievably high expectations from the LCS cause the players to play unknown champions in Solo Queue just because it’s “Meta”, it’ll also give them false hope in their team. This mentality makes them believe their whole team will play well, and if one person feeds it shatters that image, causing them to “tilt”, resulting in them not playing as they should, and also ultimately “flaming” their team. Meanwhile Riot Games are working on increasing their competitive scene, not caring about how this will affect the quality of their Solo Queue games, but instead focusing on grabbing in more players, toxic or not
Not only does the LCS dictate the quality of games in normal Solo Queue matches, it also decides what we call the “Meta”. The Meta controls what lanes, roles, and champions are best for carrying, yet despite it being good in a “team-game”, once these champions are played in Solo Queue, you find out that they aren't as strong by themselves, and are heavily team reliant. Let’s take Shen for example, Shen has huge global pressure with his ult, immense dueling and amazing objective control with his AOE life-regen ability, yet is very lacklustre in lane, relying on his team far too hard to be viable in a competitive Solo Queue game. Top laners will choose a champion based off the fact that they are one of the top LCS picks,, and usually not perform as well as the pro’s, usually getting beaten top lane and having no pressure late game. Additionally, the LCS also dictates what champions get buffed and nerfed; Nidalee Jungle was a top Solo Queue pick, being picked/banned practically every game, yet as soon as it was picked in the LCS, Riot Games instantly nerfed it, changing the Solo Queue Jungle Meta simultaneously. Not only does Riot Games nerf the best Solo champions, it also results in more team based champions becoming much stronger, making it increasingly harder for an individual to carry Solo Queue.
Another way LCS seems to be increasing the toxicity level is by the community supporting the competitive scene, people have favourite teams, that parts is normal in a competitive environment, but what's truly igniting the toxicity is the amount of level Riot Games want their viewers to get involved. From Fantasy LCS to voting for what team they want to win, Riot is unknowingly damaging their community. The more the community gets involved the more they want their team to win, even going as far as insulting the opposition. The League of Legends, and any other Esports game, competitive scene has always been aggressive due to the concept of “losing your job” if you play bad, and over the years the expectations from each player has only gone up. By going through a lot of stress and pressure the players seem to lash out at the enemy, and sadly so do their “fan boys”. A good example is the EU>NA business that has been going on for quite a while. The League of Legends community love making a competition out of anything in order to feel more superior than the other players, even if it’s something you can’t help such as nationality.
This brings me back to my previous point, and ultimately my conclusion: Does Elo Hell exist? To put it bluntly; Yes! And as the competitive scene of Riot Games expands, Elo Hell will get worse and worse. More and more low elo players will try to “reach for the sun”, resulting in them crashing down spectacularly.
Being on the internet or on an online team based game, the sensible players either stay quiet or leave during an intense argument. Yet, as soon as all the reasonable people have quietly left, you find that everyone who is talking all agree with each other, or are so passionate about their hate and anger that they will stick around just to argue. That is what's happening to League of Legends at this moment. As the game becomes more competitive and people “tryhard’ more, most of the reasonable fun-seeking players stop playing, and all that remains are those who are so indulged in their self worth that they forget it's a team game, and this, just like a domino effect, causes the whole community to crash, resulting in something we call Elo Hell.
Written by: Prince - Diamond GuestWriter
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