To start with, my biggest complaint regarding this test is the ranked draft system. By making bans only apply to one team, games regularly have identical bans.
In platinum, Sizuka and Death Knight are almost always banned. In expert, it’s generally Sizuka, Nedien, and MBA.
Because in the current system, you are only banning for the enemy team, which means you are very frequently only banning masters that are either ridiculously strong in general or ridiculously strong against your comp.
The exact numbers I’m going to use for how many picks and bans is under the assumption that the game will reach at least 50 masters. Currently, there are 35, and I think that 15 more by launch isn’t unreasonable.
In the current system, bans only apply to the opposing team, your team picks a total of 10 masters, and it’s possible to have the same master once on each team.
The smallest number of masters that will be picked and banned combined is 12 (assuming the same 2 masters are banned by both teams and the same 10 masters are picked). The largest number of masters that will be picked and banned combined is 24 (assuming different masters are picked and banned across the board).
In this current system, though, Sizuka is regularly banned in Platinum and Expert level games. Your team has no reservations about banning Sizuka because even if you ban her, the enemy still has to ban her or you can get her. This makes the value of a ban extremely lopsided.
With that said, let’s talk about a different draft system: A semi-blind draft.
It would start as it does now. The first set of masters would be banned. Once both captains have made their selections, the bans are shown. These masters are banned for *both* teams, and it is possible for both teams to pick the same ban.
The second set of masters must now be banned. The masters that are banned by either side are not selectable, but this is another blind ban phase.
Now the first two players from both teams get to make their picks. Once they have been picked, there is another 1-ban phase. For this ban phase, bans are not retroactive, but they apply to both teams moving forward. A captain can also only ban masters that are not already banned or visibly picked by the enemy team. That is to say that a master picked by your own team can still be banned, but a master that has been visibly picked by the opposing team cannot. This leaves situations where the blind picks can trick the enemy captain into a wasted ban.
Now the next two players will pick their masters.
After this pick phase, there will be one more ban phase where one master is banned again.
After this, the captains will pick their masters.
Won’t this take too much time?
Given the current amount of time, yes. So, I propose a modification of how much time the captains have.
The captains will start with a reserve pool of 60 seconds. Every banning phase will give the player 15 baseline seconds. If the captain bans within the first 15 seconds, they do not spend any of their reserve pool. If they take more than 15 seconds, they spend some of their reserve pool. None of the phase’s base time carries over to subsequent phases.
Current system takes a max of 1 minute during the ban phase.
Proposed system would take up to 2 minutes for the ban phase. Slightly longer, but not significantly so.
How much of a difference could we see?
Raw Master Counts:
We would see 14 masters picked and banned at the minimum (if both teams ban and draft the same masters).
We would see 28 masters picked and banned at the maximum (if both teams ban and draft completely different masters from each other).
Hopefully we will see changes to the drafting system to encourage a larger variety of masters in game, and I think that allowing for more bans is the most reliable way to encourage it. Balancing is the best way for encouraging a wider swathe of masters, but the metagame in MOBAs tends to shift for weeks or month before it starts to stabilize, so it is also much harder to make good balance changes and not simply make kneejerk changes to early perceived imbalances.
A deeper ban system also allows for specific tiers of players to better handle was is strong at their specific bracket. In DOTA 2, for example, even when Invoker is strong, he isn’t a good hero at 1k or 2k, but he is a strong hero at 6k. You can’t realistically balance the game for both tiers, so giving more bans is a great solution.
Don’t Automate The Captain Unless Necessary
I know that this change combined with the first one will extend how long the draft phase goes, but I feel these will help the overall quality of matches. Sometimes the highest MMR player doesn’t want to ban, but sometimes he does.
For this, I propose a 15 second captain selection phase at the start of the match. People who wish to be captain must offer to be captain during this phase. If multiple people offer, it will select the person with the highest MMR of those that offered. If none offer, it will select the person with the highest MMR on the team.
The other 4 teammates will still be sorted in terms of MMR as they are currently.