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/dev diary: Position Ranks Explained

Riot Sapmagic and Riot Gortok outline the plan for position ranks in 2019 and answer your questions.

We’ve added the transcript below in case you’re spelunking and can’t stream a video right now.


Ed “Sapmagic: Hey everyone, it’s almost time to kick off the season and we’re back! I’m Ed, the lead for the Ranked team.

Riot Gortok: And I’m still Primus, the lead designer for Ranked.

Sapmagic: It’s been a while since our dev blog on position ranks, so today we’re gonna discuss why it’s important, what it is, and how we’re rolling it out. That’s a lot to cover, so let’s get into it.


Sapmagic: Since the introduction of position select, you’re getting your main more often. Great, right? When you play another position though, and especially when you get autofilled, you might not be as skilled, and as a result the game could feel less winnable. We can’t get rid of Autofill without tripling, or in some cases even quadrupling, queue times for everyone, so we looked into how we could make your matches more fair instead.

Riot Gortok: With position ranks, you get a matchmaking rating and rank for each position you play. This gives us a more accurate measure of your skill in every position, so we can put you in more fair matches, no matter which one you queue up for. At the end of the game, you’ll get LP for the position you played, and some of it will splash into all your other positions. Because if you’re climbing in one position, some of that skill is transferable to your others.

Sapmagic: With different ratings for each position, you won’t be punished if you’re bored of one-tricking Malzahar mid and decide to focus on Jungle for a while. Similarly, someone getting autofilled into your game shouldn’t make it feel unwinnable either. And since your ranks are split out by position, you’ll know exactly how good you are at your main.


Sapmagic: We’re excited about position ranks, but we want to be super diligent, prepared, and most importantly, open to feedback on such a big change. Last summer, we started testing positional matchmaking in Normal Draft to make sure it was ready for prime time, and the results so far have been promising. Queue times and how often you get your main haven’t changed, but win rates when you’re playing off-positions have improved substantially. In short: It’s an across-the-board upgrade to matchmaking. For position ranks, we need your hands-on feedback to help us make sure Ranked still has that competitive feel you expect, which is why we need to do the position ranks preview before rolling it out more broadly.

Riot Gortok: At season start, Korea and North America will preview position ranks. During the first split, we’ll be closely monitoring it. We’ll be gathering and addressing feedback, and tuning the systems, like how much splashing you get when you win or lose. All of the rest of the changes to placements, tiers, splits, rewards is going to go everywhere at start of season. We chose to preview position ranks in North America and Korea because they’re both globally competitive regions. Including North America also gives us hands-on experience and lets us get our feedback more directly from you.

Sapmagic: During the preview, we’ll be looking for feedback about your experience. We’ll also be keeping an eye on overall stability and matchmaking health: things like queue times, autofill rates, and match fairness. Finally, we’ll be watching for abuse cases in the system so we can fix them.

Riot Gortok: In all regions, we’re tracking both position ranks and current ranks. That way, if there are any issues, technical or otherwise, we’ll be ready to switch everyone back as soon as possible without you losing any progress.

Sapmagic: We’ll update you every month on how things are going and what changes we’re making based on feedback, which could range from system tuning to new features designed to address abuse cases and preserve competitive integrity. At the end of the first split, we’ll unify Ranked and detail what the worldwide experience will be going forward. We’re confident position ranks will be a meaningful upgrade for matchmaking and the Ranked system as a whole, but let me be real with you: We’re open to rolling it back if things just don’t work out. Having said that, we’re excited for you to try it, and we’re hoping it will be a hit, so make sure to keep giving us your feedback.


Sapmagic: We’ve seen a ton of discussion about position ranks over the last year, so let’s switch gears and talk about the things we’ve seen the most questions about.

Q: Position ranks seem super abusable. What about position swapping when getting an off-role, for example? Say, a Diamond 1 top laner got autofilled Jungle in a Plat 3 game and switches to top lane with a duo or teammate.

Riot Gortok: There’s this thing that we want to make sure that we allow, which is strategically swapping if it makes sense—that’s what players do now. We don’t really want to suppress that in any way. So what we’re gonna do is track each player and how often that they’re switching positions. If you’re someone who ends up switching more often than we think is reasonable, we’re going to start to tighten the links between your positions, for the purposes of matchmaking, so that when we put you into a match, it’s gonna be a match that we think is most competitive with your highest position.

Sapmagic: Yeah, I think something else that’s relevant there is that when you’re actually playing a position and then you swap in champion select or at the beginning of the game, what happens at the end of the game is you’re gonna get LP for the position you played, no matter what. But the problem with that is, if you played in an “easier” game, you’ll also get less LP for winning, but you’ll lose more for losing the game.

Q: Is the new system gonna be more grindy? Like, are you really gonna make me play five times as many ranked games as I did this year?

Riot Gortok: We’ve got a couple mechanics that we’ve baked into the system to help pull you up in your other positions as you play your primary. First of all, splashing will help pull up the other positions until they get close enough to be within range of what we think is reasonable. In addition to that, as your highest rank gets higher, it starts to actually become a target for the other positions, where when they’re climbing, they get a little bit of bonus if they’re trying to catch up. So it’s actually easier to climb in the second, third, and so on, positions.

Q: Since games where I’m not playing my main position have way less impact on the rank I care about, can’t I just feed or surrender when I get autofilled to get a faster shot at playing my main again?

Sapmagic: This is pretty much the core concern that both we as a team and you as players have expressed to us over the entire year that we’ve been working on position ranks.

Riot Gortok: More than that.

Sapmagic: Yeah, probably more than that. And the answer, honestly, is splashing. So we talked about how when you win or lose games, you splash some LP to other positions—that works both in a positive sense and also in a negative sense. If you’re trying your hardest when you get an off position, we don’t want to punish you for that. So splashing does start fairly low, but what we do want to address is either systemic abuse of the systems through people just queuing up and surrendering or feeding, and we also want to combat situations where someone’s been miscalibrated, like one of their ranks is higher than it actually should be and they’ve started losing a lot of games. So as you lose more and as your performance gets worse over those games, the negative splashing starts to ramp up and hit you harder to your other positions that you either care about more or that might be miscalibrated.


Sapmagic: From everyone on the team, thank you so much for your questions, feedback, and thoughts. Ranked is already way better because of your contributions over the last year. We’ll be talking with you all over the course of the preview, so keep sharing your feedback. Good luck in your placements, and as always, we’ll see you on the Rift!

To see position ranks in action—including what it’ll look like if you’re an autofill player, a mid main, or someone who tries to game the system—head on over to our dev blog. As always, we’re open to your feedback, so let us know what you think. Hit us up with your questions in the comments, or better yet, smash that Ask Riot button below.

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/dev: Position Ranks in Action