In competitive games like League of Legends and Dota 2, the strongest playstyles change constantly as companies like Riot issue new patches with an array of buffs, nerfs, and other sorts of changes that affect gameplay.
The strongest playstyle at any given time, the current “meta”, is followed by most players almost religiously. Diverting from the meta is often seen detrimental to the team and players get a lot of flak for it, depending on how extreme their choices are. Playing an ADC in mid, for example, would probably elicit more hateful responses than a strong but unconventional champion for the top lane.
If you are one of the players who decide not to follow the meta, there is a pretty high chance that you will be reported by others players. This was the experience of player “Take the Draw” who received a 14-day ban from Riot Games after playing several hundred games as Nunu support.
Take the Draw’s playstyle was not unconventional simply because Nunu support is considered weak in the current met but also because he did not play as an ADC support but rather a jungler support. More specifically, the player would counter-jungle and help his jungler clear camps but would also leave his ADC in a 1v2 lane in the process.
This led to a sleuth of reports and subsequently the ban from Riot Games. The community was somewhat divided on the issue though most agreed that banning someone simply for playing the game in a different way goes against innovation, does not allow players to experiment, and forces them to lock in to the meta that Riot has set.
The other side argues that in this specific case, Take the Draw basically forced his team to follow his own playstyle of what is basically a double jungle with no support for the bot lane. The fact that his team must always follow his own choices was controversial, to say the least.
Initially, Riot Games stood by its decision. WookieeCookie, Player Support Lead in Player Behavior for Riot Games, explained that the decision to ban Take the Draw was not based on his unconventional picks but on the fact that he disrupted the games of his teammates.
Now, however, Riot Games has issued a new statement, announcing they will be updating their policies towards unusual play styles so that they do not receive 14-day bans. According to WookieeCookie, most reports about unconventional picks regard players who are trolling or intentionally feeding. Take the Draw belongs in a subcategory of cases which are extremely rare (4 or 5 per year).
In such cases, the players may disrupt their teammates and follow completely unconventional playstyles but their intent to win is clear. As such, Riot Games felt that issuing a 14-day ban was too harsh a punishment as the real issue here is “imperfect communication”.
The new policy seeks to address this issue by following an entirely different approach:
- First, players who get reported for frustrating their teammates with weird picks will receive a temporary lock to their accounts.
- Afterwards, Player Support will contact those players to let them know what is happening and that a lock is not the same as a ban. They will communicate with the players, talk with them about the behavior that caused the lock, and give them feedback on how to improve their communication skills.
- Following that, Player Support will unlock the account and allow the players to get back to the game with the same playstyles. Further penalties will only be received if there is toxic behavior like trolling.
It seems that this is a decent compromise that will certainly help the few players that would have otherwise received actual bans. Riot Games can still claim to promote unconventional strategies and players can learn to communicate with their teams better.