Recently, Riot Games posted a development blog where they dove into changes that they will be making internally regarding their overarching philosophy on champion balance in League of Legends. The post begins by talking about what Riot's champion balance philosophy has been over the past nine years and why they are changing things going forward. The main reason stated is that players have often expressed that they sometimes don't understand what is trying to be accomplished by changes to champions in any given patch.
In an effort to clear up this confusion and allow players to have a way to hold the "balance" team accountable, at least in some small way, Riot has developed the Champion Balance Framework. That's not to say that there won't be changes players still don't like, but at least with this new system players will more clearly be able to understand the reasoning behind the changes made. Riot states that a key component of the framework is to "limit subjectivity in the assessment (not the reasons for) a champion's power level." so that they can limit the number of champions flying under the radar of "overpowered" or "underpowered", and "avoid risky bias-based balancing."
One of the largest changes in how Riot will be tackling balance from now on will be the move away from their old "we balance for Plat+ play." The post breaks down the player base of League of Legends into four main parts: Average Play (everyone below the top 10% of solo queue), Skilled Play (the top 10% of solo queue except for the very top), Elite Play (the top 0.1% of solo queue), and Professional Play (players currently in the LPL, LCK, LEC, LCS, and LMS). Each of these segments of the player base has different parameters that Riot will be looking at to determine if a champion is underpowered or overpowered for each of them. In Average Play win rate of a champion will be the main metric to determine champion power, ban rate will be another main factor for this segment. In Skilled Play win rate and ban rate will again be the main factors, but with this segment Riot says that the groups higher sensitivity to power level will make this segment's parameters a bit more restricted. Elite Play is such a small player pool that the win rate data Riot are able to collect isn't enough to make decisions on balance for this segment, so a champion's pick rate along with their ban rate will be the main factors going into determining champion power here. Lastly, we have Professional Play which will see pick rate be the main factor to determine champion power; Riot mentions that despite the fact that pick rates will be more heavily impacted by the current meta at this level rather than necessarily a champion's individual power they will look at balance in the context of the current meta. With all of the segments own parameters in mind Riot says:
Moving forward, we will consider a champion balanced for Summoner’s Rift if they can be considered balanced for any of these audiences. They will be considered overpowered if they cross the top end for ANY of the audiences, and they will holistically be considered underpowered if they are below the bottom end for ALL of the audiences.Riot goes on to explain the new and reworked champions will not follow these exact same parameters. This is because they will be taking into account the learning curve associated with new and reworked champions (both for players of those champions and those playing against them). Two other special types of champions addressed are those with high mastery curves and those that players feel are frustrating to play against. High mastery curve champions will hopefully be safe from unreasonable changes thanks to the exclusion of mastery curve data from champion power determining factors, as Riot says "we don’t want to enact a system that might punish the investments players make into mastering a champion." In regards to frustrating champions (looking at you 0/10 powerspike) they will be using the normal framework in combination with survey data and player conversations to determine what about a champion is frustrating, balancing, and then addressing the frustrating gameplay. Regional power is another factor in champion power, but Riot states that they will be looking at globally aggregated data instead of region-specific.
This new framework should help make things more clear for players why a champion is getting changed the way they are and allow Riot to balance in a way that isn't only serving the top segments of the player base anymore. Only time will tell how successful the new framework will be, but more transparency should allow Riot to get better feedback and make adjustments when needed going forward.
How do you feel about the new direction Riot is taking champion balance? Do you think the new framework will lead to a more healthy and balanced League of Legends for all players?