Do We Need More Bans?

I played this game since beta and I was able to experience he game when it had only a few champions and some of them were crazy unbalanced. You would likely see two Twisted Fate champions in one game at some point, you couldn't see what the enemy team was picking so your "fun" pick might just get screwed over, you had no semblance of order so players would just instalock. It was a huge mess. Eventually, picks and bans were introduced and we finally had our chance of forcing games to be less stressful. We had just two bans per team at the start and that worked out since there was not many champions at the time. It was later increased to three bans as the champion pool became significantly larger and it was getting harder to be strategic about bans.

The number of champions has continued to increase as well as "reworks" of older, out-of-date champions yet the ban number per team has not. It is believed by plenty of people that the game would greatly benefit by having an increased number of bans. It would not only improve the competitive scene but it would also improve the solo queue ladders. There are arguments that support both sides of this issue. I hope to present this as neutral as possible and I want to present a counter-argument to every counter argument.

The top video fits the theme of the article. It encompasses strong counter picks/diverse picks. I did not have a prepared headliner for this article.

More Bans Control Champion Imbalances

This is rather self explanatory. The argument is that having more bans would make it so you could ban the currently imbalanced champions and/or buggy champions that can completely ruin the experience of players in the game. This would force players not to rely on the currently imbalanced champions in order to win and force players to pick alternative champions.

Counter Argument #1 - Players in Solo Queue will just ban out all the "overpowered" champions and pick whatever other flavor of the month champions remain. The number of arguments in champion select could increase as it could become more difficult for players to get the champions they want. It could also increase the amount of time it takes to actually start a game.

Counter Argument #2 - Teams would just focus ban a player in a team and prevent them from picking anything they are familiar with picking. Teams could just focus ban all supports, tanks or etc and stagnate the potential picks.

Reply to #1 - Players in solo queue would probably just be petty and argue about the picks and bans. The reality is that they do this already and it thus it wouldn't change anything. As far as banning only overpowered champions - they also already do this. This would only increase the amount of time it takes to start the game. The rest would pretty much stay the same and it would make it easier for players to justify more outlandish picks.

Reply to #2 - The pro players should honestly just learn more champions. The Dota pro players have vast hero pools because they are forced to play different heroes and because most heroes are useful in their own ways. I think it is very disrespectful to assume that League pro players cannot achieve having such vast champion pools at a time. They are pro players for a reason. They should be able to adapt if they get banned out.

The same goes if the teams decide to focus ban all tanks or supports or something. There are plenty of champions that can adapt to the position (especially tank) or they can simply innovate new laning comps to deal with role drought.

 A Crafty Ban System Increases Diversity

Dota 2 has an interesting banning system that involves a pick break in the middle of phase. It is three bans per team, then three picks per team, then an additional two bans per team and finally two more picks per team. That break in the middle allows both teams to grab whatever characters they desire/need for whatever team comp they had in mind or to grab the power characters in the current iteration of the game. The second ban phase allows teams to either ban out characters that can defeat their team comp or to ban out a character that is crucial to the enemy team's composition. In either case, it ends up forcing the teams to make important picks earlier and then figure out which characters they could pick that would still fulfill the purpose of the team comp.

It could make it easier for champions that are unpopular to see gameplay. There is no doubt that there are champions in League of Legends that have other champions that are simply better than them. Imagine if a team was taking a pure AoE team composition. The first bans go as usual and nothing of theirs is targeted. Their next choices are champions like Miss Fortune, Sona and Vladimir. Suddenly their team comp is becoming apparent to the enemy team. The AoE team still needs a jungler and thus their opponents decide to ban Amumu and Malphite - two junglers that are strong in AoE team compositions. Fortunately, Sejuani still exists and she works well for AoE compositions and thus she is picked.

Counter Argument #1 - The second ban phase would not have any impact as the game has too many champions that can fulfill multiple roles who are also incredibly powerful. If anything, this means that picking a counter champion can become more difficult. Either you pick the counter first and risk your opponents taking other power picks or it gets to the second ban phase and the counter is simply banned. In the current pick and ban system, you can delay picking the counter until the end. If the enemy team snatches the counter pick, they may get stuck with a champion they do not actually need and that can be exploited.

Counter Argument #2 - This goes hand in hand with the first argument - League champion's are just too versatile. There are very few specialized champions that are actually used. In most cases, you sort of just adapt the same champions into fulfilling multiple roles. Teams will still probably not pick a specialized champions since they can just pick a champ that is already strong and contested that can be adapted into the needed role.

Reply to both - it is very true that League champions are too strong individually. This is an overall issue with how the champions are balanced. Even so, there are "strong" champions that are simply not picked because a champion that demolishes them in their respective lane/jungle has already been picked. If you could ban out their counters or if a team can notice that the first three picks of their opponents do not counter a certain specialized champion then they could ban those champions out in the next ban phase to further solidify that champions a choice. In simpler terms, teams can lower the amount of weaknesses certain borderline champions may have thanks to the second ban phase.

More Bans Will Improve Player Skill

It is argued that having more bans would overall increase the skill of the game's players. More bans could force players to learn more champions (as it was already somewhat already discussed) and players would be more encouraged to learn about team compositions so they could properly utilize the second banning phase and/or learn proper counter match-ups so they can make proper picks during the second pick phase. It gives them incentive to learn champions that are not exactly flavor-of-the-month such as champions that can heavily counter those characters.

Counter Argument - People are lazy. There really is not way to explain this better than to say that a good amount of people will simply not care. They will pick whatever they want to pick and ban whatever. Even if four people on the team want to make strategic bans or picks as long as the captain does not care that may not happen. To add to this, some players may simply not own counter-picks or know how to (or want to) play them.

Reply - I have no real counter to this one. It is very true...people are lazy.

Facts About Increasing Bans

- It would increase the number of champions you need
- It would increase the time it takes for matches to start



  • #69 Cerbereth

    Dota's system is confusing. I also think that we should just give every player one ban and one pick. That way there would be 10 bans every game at various points in champion select. It would also get rid of one of the biggest complaints late game that we lost, because our team captain is an idiot and didn't ban x who went 20/2. It also wouldn't take much longer as everyone has in mind at least one champion they dislike. Also first pick already lucked out being first pick why does he get to make all 3 bans as well?

  • #67 Ellestar

    > It would increase the time it takes for matches to start

    Not really. You can let players ban three pairs of champions instead of three champions. it will take exactly the same time as before.

    Last edited by Ellestar: 12/30/2013 6:46:22 AM
  • #66 FluffyRacoonBot

    What I think would be cool, would be if the ban sistem would be changed to instead the captain banning whatever he wants, every team member gets to ban a single champion to a total of five bans. Some would be selfish and ban counterpicks to what they will pick, however they won't be able to ban out lets say all of Kassadins counters. Other players may care more about not letting the slippery Fizz get through even though they might go support, not mid.

  • #58 ohGr

    I'm for, and have been for ages, adopting the DOTA 2 pick/ban style. It's about the only thing in that game I liked. I play LoL because it weeded out a lot of mechanics I geniunely dislike from DOTA like denial, but their pick/ban got it right on the nose.

  • #56 Zereth

    I am going to assume that you've read this post by Zileas 2 seasons ago but I am going to link it anyway because I think he answers a lot of these questions.

    Last edited by Zereth: 12/26/2013 11:01:59 PM
  • #68 ksharrison

    Thanks for sharing that.  I found it particularly useful for an argument against intermittent bans.  It also highlighted that, from Riot's point of view, the issue is not at all about increasing the time of champion select, rather about how much of the game is decided in champion select as opposed to in-game.

    After reading Zileas' post, I am against interweaving bans, and I am for preserving as much gameplay in-game as possible while reducing the influence of champion select.

    One point about Zileas' post that I think has proven to be wrong: Riot has not successfully reduced the number of S-Tier champions.  The number of S-Tier champions has increased proportionally to the total number of champions, rather than being a flat amount.  This isn't a knock on Zileas, as in S2 there still wasn't adequate evidence this was the case.  Now, though, there are between 3-4 S-tier picks per lane, which are impossible to adequately cover with 6 total bans.  Do you ban Elise, Olaf, Kassadin, Mundo, Shyvanna, Annie, Zed, Riven, Gragas, Orianna, Renekton, Jinx, Lucian, or Sivir?  I is this number just a result of a seasonal transition? For at S3 Worlds, half of those names weren’t considered power picks, and the list was even smaller—although still not an improvement over S2.  I think that at best, a wall in terms of champion balance has been reached where champion diversity is going to have difficulty making strides forward.

    However, adding more bans would not solve this.  It's become evident that the game is less about discrete divisions of champions—eg. the S-class champions as opposed to "all the rest"—and more about a continuum of champion viability.  We're used to tier lists providing us discrete viability of champions, when in reality there are no tier lists.  Even the creators of tier lists order, within a tier, which champion is better than another.  If we add more bans, we will simply increase the number of champions at the top of this continuum who are banned, and players will only adapt and move down the list to the next set of viable champions.

    The only reasonable approach to promoting champion diversity in champion select, ie. solving the ban issue is to create multiple, distinct continua, or multiple “tier lists" so to speak, respective to different comps.  In other words, we need as many team comps and strategies to be viable as possible, and each comp/strategy needs to have its respective champions that work best within these comps.  Furthermore, the champions particular to these comps need to be unique.  For example, Mundo works great in a dive comp, but he also works great in a siege comp.  From a champion select perspective, there's no point to having multiple strategies and comps available if the same champions are S-tier in multiple comps.

    This would be an extremely complex system to implement but would represent the ultimate achievable balance for a MOBA.  Rather than focusing on balancing champions individually compared to the rest of champions, which has proven to only cycle the list of OP champions every few months, we would be focusing mostly on achieving the highest possible resolution between different playstyles, and then balancing champions within these playstyles.  This doesn't mean every champion is good, but it does mean there is a larger pool of viable champions in the game.  Rather than one pool of S-Tier champions to pick from, we have several different pools of S-tier champions.  It is an indirect form of evening the playing field, but it is a far more plausible approach than balancing on an individual basis.  It’s not perfect, but if you realize how ineffective the individual approach has been at achieving any additional improvement to game balance, then I think the suggested approach promises more potential for balance and diversity than the current system.

    Summary of this system’s goal/tl;dr of last 4 paragraphs

    A key point is that certain champions will always be better than others at everything.  These will ultimately be the #1 bans according to Zilean, the banning of power picks.  Another way of looking at the new suggested system is that its goal is to actually increase the number of power picks by introducing as many strategies as possible, each with its own power picks, so that we have as many champions viable as possible simultaneously.  In the current system, we have relatively poor fidelity between team comps, which provides little room for champion diversity as certain champions dominate multiple comps/strategies; banning out these dominant champions only leaves the next-most OP champion available to pick.  Increasing the number of bans will not solve this.  We could go 30 bans deep and still see elements of this.  However, if we had more distinct playstyles, say 3 or 4 playstyles even, and each had its top 5-10 champions, we could easily see 25+ very strong champions to choose from, in addition to likely another 20-30 A-class champions that would be favorable depending on the lane match up.  This I think is the most plausible balance a MOBA can achieve.  The current approach is an uphill battle that will not show returns.

    In order to implement the new system, we need to:

    1. We must focus on designing less well-rounded champions, with more emphasis on pigeonholing them into specific playstyles.  Using the example of Mundo from before, we could double Mundo's ult cooldown if it is used below half health, or cut his health regeneration if he is not doing/taking damage.  This forces him away from a siege comp and more into dive comp viability.  He might become B tier in the former and remain S tier in the latter.  Riot's initial philosophy of minimizing burden of knowledge on champion design was useful as MOBA were still new, but as more players have embraced the genre, additional complexity and details can make useful levers in directing champion design.  The main point is that this complexity must extend beyond difficult mechanics like Yasuo—although this is also good—and more into controlling that champion's role in the game.

    2. We need more fidelity between playstyles.  What is a playstyle? In the end, it is just a conglomeration of champions: a team comp.  How this team comp interacts with the game depends on exterior factors like buffs, bosses, minions, and towers, as well as on the champions themselves.  In the first point, we addressed the champion design; we could also focus on the exterior factors, like orienting the buffs towards specific playstyles, as well as controlling the pace of the game.  However, we aren't at the point where we can theoretically predict how the pacing of the game needs to be to optimize different playstyles.  In fact, history has shown that correct pacing is best discovered one step at a time empirically.

    On the other hand, we could influence champions in another way: items.  Currently, we balance items according to base stats: this item offers this much defense/health, this other item this much damage.  We have a few items for AD defense, two/three for critical hits, two for AD, etc.  The division between items is based on their base stats, and less on their utility stats, like unique actives/passives.  Base stats have universal application, which means they don't promote multiple strategies and team comps, as they are generally equally effective in all comps.  Utility stats, however, can be tailored finely to different strategies.  Randuin's has a great active for teamfight diving, but its strategic utility is outshined by the efficiency of its base stats—it is the most efficient AD defense item in the game.  It doesn't matter if you are a dive champion or not, if you want to be tanky, you need this item.  Alternatively, Statikk Shivv is a more interesting item, as it highlights the small nuances between its counterpart, PD, according to your specific needs.  We can do even better than this.

    So what do we do? If the unique actives/passives are the utility factor we want to emphasize, do we create 3 different Warmogs, one with a % health regen passive, one with an AoE slow active, and one with a 2 second, self buff shield?  In a word, I believe yes.  While it's impossible to accurately predict what would work and what wouldn't work purely based on hypothetical musing, it's also unfair to offer criticism without suggesting a solution.  So, I will put forth a suggestion that I believe has a hope of providing the framework for an interesting, practical system.

    Let’s start with something we already know: boot enchantments.  I'd like to extend this idea to all items.  Remove most (all?) unique actives/passives on items and sort them into certain classes, eg AD, AP, defense, support, jungle etc.; title these unique effects "enchantments."  Next, rank both enchantments and items based on their quality: basic, superior, legendary, mythical.  An item's rank and type determine what/how many enchantments it may take.  You can associate a cost with enchanting the item, like with boots, or you may make the enchantments refundable, like with trinkets.  In this way, we have one anti AD/health item, Randuin’s, and we can enchant it with a unique active/passive(s) depending on the playstyle you want to have.  We would have one health stacking item, Warmog’s, which you build when you want health.  You then enchant it with corresponding unique effects according to how you want to play the game.  A shop design more intuitive in this system (thinking of Dawn Gate) would go a long ways towards facilitating this.

    Summary of goals

    One of the original problems we wanted to tackle was "How can we create more fidelity between different team comps?"  We then asked: What is a playstyle?  In my opinion, changes to exterior factors like objectives are much harder to predict in how they will perform, but respective to champions, I believe this game has reached the point where we can afford to add more complexity with the aim of mostly exclusive optimization towards a specific playstyle, and the same can be done with items.

    By creating greater fidelity between team comps, we encourage orthogonal groupings of champions—in other words, we expand the different ways champions can be viable.  This will increase champion diversity while maintaining the focus of gameplay on the game itself. It will improve gameplay quality overall.

    If we leave the system as it is, we will continue to see that a small group of S-tier champions will always dominate the scene, while non S-tier champions are more liable to be outclassed.  Adding more bans will only remove the top champions and make more room for the next-most OP champions.  Perfect game balance between 100+ champions is impossible, but expanding game diversity will allow more space for different champions to shine.  The need for game balance in the new system would not in any way be lessened; however, the game would be more about balancing different playstyles, rather than about balancing individual champions, which has only proven to cycle through whichever 5-8 champions are currently most OP.  In summary, an environment based on playstyles would simply be far more conducive to diversity and non-stale gameplay.

    Would we even have to worry about balancing the individual champions? I think the new system will be so different that we can’t even think of it in the same context as now.  Specifically, if we accept that certain champions will always be on top, then as long as we forcibly place every champion into a playstyle, we only need to balance the few playstyles between each other.  The ordering of champions within a playstyle will fall into place and require minimal individual attention compared to now, likely mostly to some exceptional champions.  Yes, it will turn everything on its head, but when the ashes settle, we might be left with far more fertile gameplay to bring LoL into the future.  It’s maybe an approach to discuss for S5/S6.


  • #54 NaNoSoLdIeR

    i think the only reason riot hasn't increased the number of bans is because of the small support pool effectively right now one can ban every support top contender and be left with unbalanced choices i think once they release one or two more support picks they'll increase the number of bans

  • #55 Vaestus

    Sona, Soraka, Leona, Taric, Janna, Annie, Nami, Lulu, Zyra and Thresh (fuck Blitzcrank) are all seeing a lot of play. I doubt both teams would spend all their bans on support.

  • #57 NaNoSoLdIeR

    i've seen it happen in ogn and the support players really suffered on those games they didn't know the champions and couldn't quickly adapt of course that all happened before annie was seeing any play on the bottom lane

  • #61 SummonerSupreme
    Quote from NaNoSoLdIeR »

    i think the only reason riot hasn't increased the number of bans is because of the small support pool effectively right now one can ban every support top contender and be left with unbalanced choices i think once they release one or two more support picks they'll increase the number of bans

    Support players need to learn to play traditional supports more effectively. The FOTM supports are great but im so freaking tired of seeing the same every game. Alistar, Janna, Lulu, it'd be great to see them again.

    I think they will wait to release next support though because next champ is a support supposedly.

  • #62 eeree

    Alistar, Janna and Lulu were just nerfed to hard. That's all. Most of us see no point in playing those champions, if there are superior supports, like Tresh or Sona. Currently most of mid/jungle champions are a lot better as supports (Orianna, Cho'Gath, Maokai, Lux, Annie, Fiddlesticks, ...). If RIOT fix those nerfs ppl will start playing those champions again. That's all.

  • #63 gtjio

    Yeah those nerfs are a big reason why people started playing Annie and Fiddlesticks support

  • #53 registermyaccount

    I am totally for 1 more ban per team, at least for solo Q (I don't watch a lot of pro games, so I dunno about pros). The thing is, even if a champ isn't OP at all levels, they stomp solo Q really hard. Examples include most junglers that can gank hard early and often (Jarvan, Lee), and champs that are good at shutting down 1 enemy in a teamfight like Vi (Since solo Q is most of the time either a stompfest where everybody's fed, or 1 champ on each team taking all the kills). Also, champs that are really good on capitalizing when the enemy gets greedy and overextends (which happen all the time) like Leona stomp hard.

    Pretty much, its not just banning the 'OP' champs that Riot's going to nerf next patch, but the champs with kits that are inherently good for solo Q. And with more champs introduced, the more that are good at stomping solo and hence the need for a bit more bans.

  • #52 natemiddleman2

    At minimum they should make it 4 bans each and give the last ban to the second player on each team.

  • #51 Yazla

    While I don't see us needing something like 12 bans, I agree that 6 is not good when we have 117 champions. We'd need 8 at minimum, and 10 I feel would be good.

  • #50 vitocapo2

    completely agree with you Stonewall. There should be 1 ban in total per every 10 champions. At the beginning we had a pool of 40 and 4 bans in total. Now we are reaching 120 champions there should be 6 bans for each side. 3 bans before picking, and the other 3 bans between picks, like in dota.

    With 12 bans overall we would see much more variety, fotm will be much more rare to see, meta will be much more dynamic and will change faster. Teams will have to be in a constant adaptation.

    Banning 6 champions of one player is not a problem, the other team can do the same... and you might loose the opportunity to ban some strategic champins. so thats not even an argument for not doing it.

  • #59 ohGr

    1 per 10 is way too steep a ban curve. 10 total bans for just under 120 champs would be fine, and would last until we reached like 160-180 in a few years.

  • #45 Albatrosity

    I'm against increasing the # of bans.  I certainly understand the theory that as champions in the game grows, so should bans.  So here are my thoughts:

    1) Banning over-powered champions -- Riot needs to address this directly.  If there are truly more than 6 OP champions that require banning them all every game, then Riot needs to look at the most banned champions and "tweak" their kits.  Of course, the history of any rise and fall from power is that there will always be another contender to take the title.  Hopefully they just won't be "as OP" as the previous OP champions.  Seriously, if there are so many OP champions, it shouldn't be on solo-queue to just ban them all the time... it should be on Riot to adjust those champions.  Otherwise, certain champions will always be perma-banned and that ruins the fun for players who enjoy those champions.

    2) Banning out a player's pool -- while this is a strategic ban, I believe one of the responses was simply that professional players need to expand their pools.  Well, let's assume players do start taking on 5-6 champions in their respective main role, what now?  If a player can play equally well with 5-6 champions, what's the point of even bothering with this type of strategic ban?  It basically goes back to my first point about banning their "most OP" champions in their pool.  This is actually more of an NA (and possibly EU) issue, where NA players focus on a small variety of champions.  After watching much of OGN and even worlds, I'd say that the other regions (and some teams of EU) do actually have a large enough pool that banning out a specific summoner is negligible.

    3) Ideally at the professional level, bans should be reserved for preventing your enemy from playing champions that are a hard, hard counter to your team's composition.  When team compositions are thoughtfully picked, they should also consider which champions are strong against their comp.  Those are the champions that should truly be banned.

    Bans, ideally, should focus on which champions are the biggest threat to the team composition, followed by which champions are just insanely OP (and hopefully just a few of them are like this after Riot really gives a good evaluation of which champions are in serious need of tweaking).

    It does kinda make me scratch my head as to how champions like Kassadin are continually banned, and yet Riot pretty much allows it because banning is a way to deal with him.  Riot should truly care that each of their champions are able to be played without gross imbalances.  If they could close the gap between champions, I think you'd see that 6 bans is just enough to accomplish the goal of banning.

  • #46 Vaestus
    Quote from Albatrosity »


    1- Yes, balancing is important and extra bans are obviously not "the final solution". On the other hand, balancing things properly is risky, takes time and entails a lot of work. A couple extra bans mitigate the issue until said balance is achieved.

    2- Having watched both EU and NA LCS throughout season 3, I'd say it's mostly a NA issue. I'm from Brazil, so there's no "home turf bias" there. And honestly, they should just learn more champions! Makes for finer entertainment too. And you're delluding yourself if you think bans are not all that meaningful in Asia. I doubt a lot of teams would let Faker play Zed. Yes, he'll pick something else and be good with it, but let him have his favorite pick and outright demolish you. It's like ice cream: sure, I'll eat whatever is handy, but give me choco chips and pisacchio and I'll be needing insulin within 30 minutes!

    3- Agreed, but with an ever-expanding champion pool, you'll have even more hard counters to just about everything. More champions = more bans => stable counter ratio.

    Edit: Edited out the quote because, quite frankly, it wasn't necessary to begin with.

    Last edited by Vaestus: 12/26/2013 11:54:31 AM
  • #48 Albatrosity

    I just don't want to see the game fall into a state where the pick and ban phase becomes exhausting.  Increasing the bans is just a method to band-aid the problem at the client level, when the fix needs to come from the developers.  If Riot continues to irresponsibly leave champions unbalanced, it will certainly call for more bans... but with Riot's schedule of releasing 15+ new champions a year, you'll see 10 bans, 12 bans, 14 bans in 3 years time.  That's entirely too many band-aids, and doesn't solve the core issue.  Especially when you're a player who wants to play X champion, but X champion is always banned.

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