. Last updated: July 22, 2022
The LDL’s all-new draft format was the talk of the town in competitive League of Legends. But could it work anywhere else in the world?
If there’s one thing that primarily divides the League’s esports community, it’s the importance of the draft phase. Selecting and locking champions might seem like a fairly simple process, but it’s actually a complex chess game involving priority selection and target locks that can give a team a significant advantage right from the start.
Around the world, the draft format remains the same almost everywhere. So what happens when a region decides to shake things up a bit?
The “Fearless” draft
On July 14, the LDL (China’s official tier-2 league) announced that a new draft structure for the tournament was being implemented. Known as the “Fearless” design, it is a unique innovation not seen anywhere else in the competitive league world.
The essence of Fearless Draft is this: once a team has played a champion in a series, that team cannot pick that champion again.
The suspension system remains the same, with five suspensions for each team per game. But now it will add five bans per game in games two and three, preventing players from re-picking the champions they previously played.
How has the system worked so far?
From Akshan Mid to Kayn Jungle to Maokai support, we’re already seeing some out-of-meta innovations from the LDL.
According to LPL caster and LDL co-streamer Jake “Hysterics” Osypenko, the Fearless system is having the desired effect. So far, it’s encouraged players to start expanding their champion pools as early as the first week of its implementation, and makes for a much more exciting broadcast.
“I think going forward it will give us a bigger profile of players to watch that aren’t just these amazing OTPS [One-trick-ponies] or two champion chucks. It encourages LDL players who can navigate a more flexible system and play more than one style. ”
Given the LDL’s status as a developing league, this is vital – the Fearless draft was intended to build strong, adaptable and flexible players who will eventually advance to the LPL and continue to enhance the region’s international performance.
It’s a complicated system with a clear set of advantages and disadvantages that make its implementation a controversial choice. On the one hand, it forces players to have a deep, effective champion pool and prevents competitive games from getting stuck in a rut of the same champions in every role.
On the other hand, it is downright grueling for players to have to prove their competence against a large number of champions. It can also make the viewing experience much more complicated for casual viewers who want to expand their knowledge of drawing — which is a difficult process in itself.
But could we ever see this system elsewhere in the world of League of Legends?
Not in the LEC or LCS
Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to see fearless drafting in the LEC or LCS any time soon.
A key issue preventing the Fearless design from being implemented in LEC or LCS is that it requires a BO3 format. Both major western regions are running best-of-one, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
In an interview with Dexerto, Excel trainer Joey “Youngbuck” Steltenpool stated that despite its ability to encourage innovation, the Fearless draft would be very “difficult to implement” if brought to the LEC.
“Do I think it’s a good change? Honestly, I do not know. I think it’s great that they’re testing it in the LDL, and I think if they’re going to test it here, it should be in the ERLs first. But I think for the LEC and LCS, where the regular splits are best-of-ones, it wouldn’t be a big change because if you suddenly went into a playoff series and had to play a unique champion every game, that would do quite a bit annoying.”
The best-of-one format is much less taxing for players and allows the LCS and LEC to be condensed into weekends instead of being held all week like the LPL and LCK.
And while it would be nice to think that the LEC and LCS could just switch to the LPL/LCK model, that just wouldn’t be feasible right now, with viewership already looking a little rocky for both regions. As Youngbuck explains, “best-of-one drives the best viewership, and most importantly, the LEC and LCS thrive as competitions.”
Where else could we see the fearless format shine?
Where better to test a development format than in one of the biggest development leagues in the world?
If not in the big regions, then where?
Look no further than Europe’s regional leagues. Both Hysterics and Youngbuck brought up the ERLs as a possible further testing ground for the fearless draft, in large part because of their status as a European talent development system. Much like the LDL to the LPL, the ERLs are seen by many as the “training ground” for players looking to enter the LEC.
“I think it would definitely work in the ERLs,” Hysterics explained, “because champion diversity is already a big focus there, and it’s going to push some of the more standardized teams to think a little more on their toes.”
It would require the ERLs to move from BO1 to BO3 – but with many of the accredited leagues being run by third party tournament organizers (Spanish Superliga and Nordic NLC are two examples of this) this could be a slightly easier process to implement than in the LEC.
And in fact, this drafting system was previously proposed in an ERL. This ERL was none other than the UKLC, the original regional league of the United Kingdom before the UK and Scandinavia regions merged to form the NLC.
Nik ‘Lustriga’ Topham, who currently works with Guild Esports on their Academy initiative, was working for LVP when they acquired the UKLC in 2019 and presented an early iteration of the Fearless blueprint to the UKLC. He told Dexerto the goal of the idea is to “get younger players and players looking to find their future place to diversify strategies and not get locked into meta champion pools.”
Although the idea was eventually scrapped in favor of the old UKLC tower format, it’s proof that the format wouldn’t be totally out of place in the ERLs.
https://www.dexerto.com/league-of-legends/ldl-new-fearless-drafts-competitive-league-of-legends-1880072/ Could the LDL’s new Fearless drafts work elsewhere in competitive League of Legends?