LoL fans, players and teams around the world already know the new set of changes that is sweeping the LoL game world. Starting from improving the gaming experience to protecting players, 2016 has started with a bang. And the trend continues as there are some renewed rules that will standardize the game norms within the LCS and global leagues arena.
There are interesting announcements from Riot about the kind of changes in rules that will be implemented in the LCS and global leagues and how these rules will lead to a balanced ecosystem within the league thereby increasing the quality and fairness of the play for fans, players and teams.
The changes in the rules at regional and global levels echoes with the LoL sentiments of improving the gaming experience by promoting fair play and punishing the wrong behavior through appropriate penalties. Apart from promoting the health of league, the intention to introduce new rules is also to maintain clarity and transparency so that every player and team knows the intricacies of rules and consequences that they might face when they break rules
The changes in rule sets will take place on three levels-
- A penalty index that helps players and teams to understand the rules clearly which lists the most common offenses along with the respective penalties
- It’s not only important to list out offenses and respective penalties but to maintain transparency it is vital to set penalty tracker that can keep an account of all the penalties imposed during the game season. And the penalty tracker can be viewed by anybody.
- For any rule to stay structured, communication is essential. Hence, there are plans to increase the communication with the players and owners of the teams in relation to LCS rule sets and structure.
1) Penalty Index
There will be a two tier approach to keep a tab on minor and major offenses along with the respective penalties- An EU LCS penalty index that addresses the commonest, minor offenses in the play and a global penalty index to track the major offenses and penalties that can result in suspension from competitive play for 3 months and in severe cases more. Going forward, every global league will follow the uniform and standardized rules.
- There were inconsistencies in penalties for offenses across the regions due to various approaches and changes over a period. Players faced different penalties for similar offenses. Players within the same zone were punished differently for similar offenses.
- Penalties across various zone varied to a great extent which led fans, players and teams to feel the unpredictability and uncertainty in fair play. Some penalties were too grave while others were surprisingly light.
- Determining the right punishment for an offense was often delayed as one had to deal with inconsistencies and unpredictability. It was difficult to implement the right action to enforce rules and structure so that the league is played fairly. It was also a time consuming process in which affected teams and players often had to wait.
The new rules emphasize on eliminating the above constraints wherein, there is consistency and certainty across the regions so that everyone follows standardized rules. Standardizing penalties can actually help players and teams realize their responsibilities to maintain integrity of the league and set the right expectations along with awareness.
The penalty will be based on the gravity of the offense committed and a penalty index would detail the offense, description of the offense, the suspension time (that will be imposed on the offender- a minimum of 3 competitive months or a maximum of 20 competitive months) and limitation period- a time period within which the penalty can be imposed.
Penalty index terminologies
The typical and minimum suspension time (Warning/3 competitive months)
The typical and minimum suspension time includes particular offenses with “typical” instances. Based on what is considered as the most common or standard case of a particular offense, a minimum suspension time is elicited. In other words typical penalty equals minimum penalty.
In most of the cases excluding certain rare situations, the most common offenses will be punishable with minimum penalty. One of the classic examples of “typical” instances of a particular offense would be ELO boosting which can put the players in a minimum suspension period of 3 competitive months in case of global penalty index.
Maximum penalty or suspension time (up to 20 competitive months/indefinite)
Any first-time offense that is way too radical or extreme will come under maximum penalty or suspension time. For instance, any unacceptable behaviour or misconduct towards other people in the competitive play can attract a minimum of penalty of warning or a minimum suspension time of 3 months. However extreme form of misconduct that includes in-game toxicity even after warnings and minor penalty will lead to a maximum suspension time of 10 competitive months.
Limitation period (12 calendar months)
Limitation period is a timeframe within which the offense committed will be punishable. In case of extreme in-game toxicity that might include many weeks of repeated offense the limitation timeframe will be counted from the date of last offense committed along with all the offenses in that series. Offense timeframe include all of the actions that are related to that particular offense.
Competitive months (January-October)
Active months starting from January to October are considered as competitive months.
- During November and December, many of the players/teams are not active in the competition arena and hence, suspensions are not imposed for those two months.
- Imposing suspension during off season would not provide any value for the punishment imposed. And that is why months from January to October are considered as competitive months wherein suspensions will have some meaning to the leagues.
Here’s how penalty index at LCS and global levels would work:
- The LCS penalty index is applicable to Season 6 of EU LCS and NA LCS and these two regions will work on their own penalty index.
- LCS penalty index includes minor and day-to-day offenses compared to global penalty index that includes major offenses and penalties.
- Fans, players and teams can see the LCS and global penalty index on NALCS and EULCS segments of Lolesports.
- The LCS penalty will be categorized into general, in-game and administrative penalties
How they work?
Minor offenses like inappropriate gesturing on game stage, disobedience to follow reasonable instructions given by LCS officials, possible attempt of briber etc will be subject to action under general penalties.
In-game penalties include offenses like removing headsets way before the end of the game without prior approval, distracting players with unapproved communication during competitive play etc.
Unlike the first two, the last type of LCS penalty index deals with administrative issues like deceiving LCS officials about one’s eligibility, disobeying the LCS uniform policy, displaying sponsor’s logo soon after the game which falls in on-broadcast commercial logo violation etc.
- Global penalty index will include major offenses of a suspension period of at least 3 or even more competitive months.
- The global penalty index lists all the punishable offenses for professional and semi-professional leagues (any league that facilitates the players to participate in Challenger series/qualifiers-NA/EU) around the globe.
- There’s an agreement to follow a consistent set of rules across the all the competitive zones. However, there could be small differences owing to regions.
- A suspension imposed is regarded by all the competitive zones.
- Global penalty index can be accessed on global rules segment of Lolesports.
How they work?
The global penalty index of GPI is a result of careful consideration of certain valid factors such as:
- The effect or impact of the offense on the leagues/teams/players
- The magnitude of the offense wherein certain offense may affect the healthy ecosystem of the league in a negative way or some offenses may not be that grave but the effect that they have on the league/team/player is huge and harmful (Elo boosting).
The GPI is not considered as rules that are set in stone but they will be reconsidered and revaluated at the beginning of every season so that the rules remain in sync with the global and regional league trends. GPI’s whole and sole intention is to gain clarity and transparency pertaining to the offenses, penalties and disciplinary actions.
Modification of minimum or maximum suspension terms
Minimum or maximum suspension terms can get modified under aggravating/extenuating situations.
- Extenuating circumstances
In extenuating situations a player comes forward with a confession of the offense committed. He would not have been prompted to do so by any of the team members, LCS officials or players.
- Aggravating circumstances
When a player who is committing repeated offense is caught it can be termed as aggravating circumstances.
The modification of minimum or maximum suspension terms is not common and LCS officials need to carefully consider many factors before dealing with aggravating/extenuating circumstances. Such situations are rather rare and considered as exceptions.
Suspension time frame- indefinite
Even though not all offenses amount to indefinite suspension, there are some that impact league and teams to a great extent. One such example is of match fixing and cheating. Such acts show premeditated intentions to harm the competitive spirit of the league.
When it comes to match fixing whether its attempted or carried out, the situation will be considered and punished as per the penalties imposed for match fixing. The LoL game structure is complicated and it becomes extremely difficult to draw a line between planned/actual match fixing and hence, both of the acts are harmful for the league they are punished in the same way.
Tampering/poaching and offense
Anyone and everyone associated with leagues can be punished for tampering and poaching. However players involved in such activities may have lighter penalty terms than owners, sponsors or managers who have the access to alter rosters and team structure.
2) Penalty tracker
The main intention to revise rule sets in LCS and global disciplinary system is to gain more transparency and clarity. And hence, penalty tracker that is accessible to the public will list all the details about penalties and suspension terms for various offenses. Even though compared to competitive rulings the details in the penalty tracker will be crisp but straight forward.
Such straightforward violation like missed roster deadlines etc, will be relatively easy to respond and address. In case of major or complex issues (match fixing/in-game toxicity/tampering/poaching) and offenses, competitive rulings will list the penalty and the content will be linked to penalty tracker so that the penalties are understood clearly by accessing the past disciplinary terms.
3) Increased communication with players and owners
The idea of facilitating communication with players and owners started back in 2015 during the summer split as every team was requested to send a representative player to be a part of “LCS pros Player Panel”. The players chosen by their team mates were requested to provide timely feedback on many things like league format, health of the league and welfare of the players and even the 2016 penalty index. The feedbacks were given during the periodic meetings with the Riot officials.
The player feedbacks have been instrumental in improving the changes that were implemented in Summer Split format- changes and Changes to player-team contracts. The player feedback is also an important tool to increase the awareness that can improve the game experience.
LCS Pro Player Panel
- Though in its initial stage, the LCS Pro Player Panel intends to receive feedbacks that can help the future changes and ongoing developments.
- The panel will actively discuss and take feedbacks on rule changes and implementation of best practices.
- Aside from discussing with the panel members, the panel also plans to meet those players who are penalized for various offenses to advise them on relief terms and potential penalties. Such practice was prevalent previously in the league but now it is going to be an integral part of LCS in future.
- The panel plans to meet with owners too to receive feedbacks on various aspect of the league. The panel has received some valuable feedbacks from the owners that has helped the Overhaul of the Promotion-relegation system.
- Aside from aiming towards better clarity and transparency, the league is striving hard to encourage players/teams/owners to show professionalism and sportsmanship. And to achieve this goal, players and owners will be involved in discussions and feedback sessions so that they know what they are asked to deliver for the health of the league.
The penalty index, penalty tracker and planned rule sets are intended towards an improved league ecosystem and better governance. The LoL is still growing and there are many changes that are being implemented to see what works best. As a part of evolution, the LoL system may change and modify few ways to provide the best gaming experience. It needs to be seen as to how these changes will grow over time in the league.
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About the Author: Amna El Tawil is a news reporter and a technology blogger. For the past five years, she has worked for major publications and TV networks in the Middle East, covering one of region’s hotspots. When Amna is not chasing after the truth amidst gas canisters, she can be found cheering her favorite football team on, or unwinding with some online gaming.