The situation is tense. With seconds to go before the launch into the Rift, there’s an uneasy feeling in the air – winning or losing a game will be determined before it even begins.
We were looking to play a game of Normal Draft, when we ran across a common problem: Our team of four was joined by someone from the queue — he was an outsider, not privy to our voice call. For two games in a row, a summoner on the other team dodged, making us wait for another match. Just as we were settling in to the third attempt, this happened:
Player 5: Mid
– Player 1 picks mid Viktor –
Player 5: Wtf? I called it!?
In voice chat, we talked about how the Summoner’s Code has provisions for this fiasco, as they state that pick order should be respected over calling what others would like to play (the bold emphasis is mine).
“Being a good team player begins at champion select. Be open minded when considering the needs of your team. If you’re the last one to pick, try to fill a niche in your team that hasn’t already been filled. If everyone’s picked and something stands out as a deficiency in your team composition, try asking for another player to fill the gap, or change roles to embrace that responsibility yourself. Remember, that by taking on a role you don’t normally play, you’ll learn more about unfamiliar champions and increase your own skill level.”
By disrespecting Player X’s “dibs”, we entered into a dangerous game. One even harder to win than Summoner’s Rift.
Monte had entered us into a Matchmaking Cold War. What follows next is what I explained as an escalating series of “one-upping” moves that served to possibly ruin the game in its entirety.
- Player 1 wants a certain pick
- Player 2 picks it for himself, due to higher order. Though this is reinforced in the Summoner’s Code, it can be considered a courtesy to let Player 1 have his pick, out of fear it will escalate (see below).
- Player 1 is disappointed and annoyed. He voices his frustration or anger, and starts the cycle of animosity. It has become clear to him that Player 2 does not want to “be a team player.”
- Player 2 brings out the Summoner’s Code defense. While the Code is a good guidelines, it isn’t an enforceable document by any means. No one has an obligation to follow it. By bringing it out, Player 2 is not taking responsibility for not communicating or willing to work with Player 1.
- As Player 1 came into this game expecting a certain experience (his choice of pick) and was left with one that he did not want, he is annoyed. He is also annoyed that the defense to this slight was something hypothetical, and an “on your honor” agreement. Therefore, he decides that if he can’t have the game he wants, no one can.
- Depending on the pick, Player 1 can lock into a number of roles that do nothing to support the team. He can choose a second jungler if one had already been locked in, not move from spawn, or continually run middle and feed kills to other champions. He is doing this out of revenge for the perceived slight in Champion Select.
Here is where tensions build.
The moment that Player 2 has decided to commit to “stealing” a role that someone else has requested, he is taking a tremendous risk. He is betting that Player 1 will be rational enough to switch to another, and care enough about wins and losses to not completely ruin the twenty minutes that follow the game loading. Due to the lack of vote-kicking mechanics, and the penalties incurred by dodging, this choice can be difficult to make.
However, if he loses the gamble, he will be subject to the worst “revenge” that can be doled out: at least twenty minutes of hell. This happens when the slighted player’s ego, and will for revenge, is higher than his will to win.
What makes this worse is that sometimes the intention to troll is not known until the game proper starts; this minimizes the chance that someone will dodge and reset the queue at their personal expense. The troll is betting that the person who has slighted him is more likely to play through the game than to wait five minutes or more to queue again. This troll has exponentially more power than the other player, as games are rarely winnable 4 vs 5 from the beginning of the game, and there is nothing his team can do to stop him besides dodge.
Like I said, this is a dangerous game.
What we’re left with is a vile game of chicken to see which person has the stones to stick around the longest. As the seconds wind down on team select, each party is thinking “Is he going to do it? Do I really want to stick around and waste 20 minutes? Do I really hate him this much? Is the report worth it? Is the dodge time?” As the seconds tick down on the Champion Select timer, the decision becomes tense, until… zero. Locked in. They’re in it for the long haul, now.
If you ever think to troll, or ignore a player’s request ask yourself: is it worth it to you to take that pick away? Would you rather play a role you’re uncomfortable with and possibly win, or stick with a champion you love and almost certainly lose?
For most players, that’s war’s just not worth fighting.