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/dev: Clash

Developing a competitive team experience for League

If you’re in EUW, EUNE or TR, you can help us test Clash right now! Check or for signup details.

We just announced Clash, a new team-based competitive mode coming to League in 2018. In this blog, we’d like to go into a little more depth on how we think about premade competition in League, and a sneak peek at some of the new features included in the mode.

Making Fives Fun

When we were first began talking about an in-client tournament feature, we thought about what we wanted to do differently from the now-retired Ranked Teams queue, which was essentially just Solo/Duo queue but for larger premades. We saw that players struggled to manage their team effectively and it felt like a chore to get four friends together who would commit to grinding all year to get to Diamond. This, coupled with increasing queue times and poor quality matches, made for a pretty crappy experience. Considering how fun League can be when playing in a group of friends, the Ranked Teams queue ultimately felt like a missed opportunity.

We looked to esports, grassroots tournament play, and our own Riot Rumble, asking ourselves if we could bring the same feels to League players in-client. Could we build something high-stakes and team-based that was competitive for all players, regardless of skill level? Could we make it an intense sprint—in contrast to the marathon of Ranked? And how could we make winning teams feel like legendary champions?

Along Came Clash

So we’re developing Clash, a team-based competitive mode that’ll run a couple of times each month. You’ll assemble your team during the week, and on the weekend you’ll compete in a series of single-elimination brackets against teams of your skill level. Each day’s brackets get more competitive as you face off against the other winners from across the server, and the further your team gets, the greater your rewards. You can choose to play in any of the brackets over three days, but only teams that sign up on Friday and continue winning all the way to Sunday have a shot at taking home the biggest prizes.

Those are the basics—but Clash will also feature new tools and systems that we think will bring the feeling of a professional, high-stakes tournament to your matches.

What’s in a Feature?

As we developed, we focused on three key things we thought a mode like Clash should accomplish:

  • Provide teams with thrilling and intense competition at their skill level
  • Feel like the ultimate way to play League as a five-person premade
  • Deliver real rewards and ways to show them off for years to come

Let’s break down the features we built into Clash to deliver on those three key goals.

Thrilling and intense competition

Competition is only thrilling when the stakes are high, and it’s only intense if teams are evenly matched, so each Clash tournament will feature adaptive tier-based matchmaking. In the current design, each weekend’s tournament is split into four matchmaking tiers; you’ll always face teams that are close to your skill level. Because you can create a team with anyone, the system takes a top-weighted calculation of the entire team’s ranked data (plus their previous Clash match histories). This means that you can form a team of four bronzies and a diamond jungler, but you’re probably going to be pulled up into the big leagues.

We’re also implementing a “buy-in” for tournaments via Tickets. Tickets are unique to Clash and obtainable with Blue Essence, Riot Points, or earnable in other ways (like regular repeating missions). Each team member must enter at least one Ticket to participate in a Clash tournament, but adding more will multiply your rewards for winning.

With Tickets on the line, you can count on commitment from your teammates to see the tournament all the way through, a decrease in the amount of teams that bail midway, and real stakes on the line to play for. A buy-in with Tickets also allows us to give better rewards without totally breaking our in-game economy.

One more thing: We know smurfing can be a big concern for a competitive mode like this, so we’ve got some new systems in the works to counter them. We’ll talk more about those in early 2018.

The ultimate team experience

Individually, great players can be mechanical masterminds, hypercarry heroes, or shotcalling superstars—but when it comes to Clash, we wanted to develop a mode that rewards hardcore team players with the most compelling way to play League as five. Before each tournament, you’ll sign up your team, lock in a short time before the games begin, and enter into a scouting phase. The scouting phase shows your opponents’ most played and most successful champs, as well as those that they’ve recently played in Clash. Teams have the chance to get first blood in the draft phase, strategically picking compositions that can give them the edge in the game.

On top of this, champ select features the same split draft we use in pro play: each team bans three champs, then picks three. In the second phase, they’ll ban two, and pick two. We talked about the reasons why this works in a team mode like Clash and doesn’t in a standard ranked queue, and we’re super happy to finally bring this layer of strategy to regular play! With your team all on the same page, you can make decisions and necessary sacrifices in champ select that everyone can get on board with.

New rewards and recognition

Where would a tournament be without cool prizes? In addition to things like skin shards and essence, we’re introducing new reward types unique to Clash that you’ll be able to show off in ways we’ve never done before in League. We’re keeping those under wraps for now (except the nifty new team logos above), but can promise there will be different tiers of rewards based on winning overall brackets, winning individual matches, and even just showing up to play. Our goal is that you’ll always walk away with something good no matter how well your team performs—but the prizes will get better and better alongside your team’s performance.

Coming soon to a client near you

We’ll be back in 2018 with more info as we get closer to launching Clash globally, but before then we’re running a couple of beta tests in EUW, EUNE and TR. If you’re in one of those regions, we want to know what you think of the mode so far!

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