Pros weigh in: Champions Queue first thoughts and impressions
As of Feb. 14, FlyQuest top laner Colin "Kumo" Zhao and Evil Geniuses mid laner Joseph "jojopyun" Joon Pyun sit in first place on the Champions Queue ladder with 175LP.
As of Feb. 14, FlyQuest top laner Colin "Kumo" Zhao and Evil Geniuses mid laner Joseph "jojopyun" Joon Pyun sit in first place on the Champions Queue ladder with 175LP. | Provided by Riot Games

Pros weigh in: Champions Queue first thoughts and impressions

Did Champions Queue save NA?

For years, fans of North American League of Legends have heard the same excuses after every failed international run. The players aren’t working hard enough. The player base is too small. Solo queue isn’t as competitive. The ping is too high.

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Gradual efforts have been made over time to address these issues. However, with no significant results to show for it, NA’s shortcomings have become one big meme in the eyes of the League community. But after the 2021 League of Legends World Championship, Riot Games unveiled a plan that would at least help NA tackle half of the above-listed obstacles.

Champions Queue is a west coast-based competitive solo queue environment equipped to host the best talent North America has to offer. Currently, players ranked Master and above can apply to play on this super server, but the minimum requirement will be raised to Grandmaster on Feb. 25. All players competing in the League of Legends Championship Series, LCS Academy, Liga Latinoamérica as well as the top 16 amateur teams from both Spring Proving Grounds Qualifiers and some select LCS alums will be granted access by Riot Games. The kicker is Riot will also be adding on a $400,000 prize pool distributed throughout seven total splits of play this year.

It’s officially been an entire week since Champions Queue’s Feb. 7 launch, and so far, the sentiment around it has been overwhelmingly positive from some of North America’s best. To learn more about how Champion’s Queue is going so far, Upcomer spoke with pros, solo queue players and coaches to hear their first impressions on the new matchmaking system.

The Champion’s Queue reviews are in

Here are some insights on how Champions Queue is going so far, how it could be improved and what it could mean for pro play in North America.

Alex “Animegirl” Luo (Immortals AOE, top laner): Champions Queue is gonna have the same problems as solo queue in terms of balancing and uneven teams, but the average quality of games is definitely higher, and having the opportunity to face LCS players is always a plus.

Samson “Lourlo” Jackson (Pro top laner): I think bringing the social and human aspect to League with Champions Queue really helps bring out the best in people. On top of that, playing and matching with players from different levels of regions and imports, like having the chance to play with players like Brandon Joel “Josedeodo” Villegas, Kacper “Inspired” Słoma, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in will definitely help level up NA as a whole as time goes on, from learning and building habits from the top players.

Jonathan “Chime” Pomponio (Golden Guardians Academy, support): Champions Queue is super helpful practice for pros. When you get quality practice with good ping, it allows you to practice making team plays rather than punishing individual mistakes in solo queue. I think the LP system is not ideal, as it only encourages grinding rather than a good win rate. Also, the Monday full-day only helps LCS players, not Academy players.

Alexey “rjs” Zatorski (Pro mid laner): Loving champions queue so far. So fun to play on lower ping with people trying to win every game. Only improvement would be adding MMR, but they’re already going to do that later. Riot is really smart and I think it’s by design they made the first split be +10 per win -5 per loss since it encourages people grinding it as much as possible.

Winston Herold (Immortals AOE, jungler): Champions Queue is a great breath of fresh air. I find that it’s great for building connections and working with very experienced and skillful players compared to on live servers, and the practice it provides is much more productive compared to normal solo queue games.

I find with solo queue, at many times, I can become complacent or not completely focus on what I want to improve upon outside of individual mechanics and champion mastery. However, with Champions Queue, the drafts are much more realistic to pro play; it’s much easier to communicate information to your teammates and coordinate with them to make team plays. This results in very basic blunders from being completely avoided, which is a recurring theme with regular solo queue, and allows for the gameplay to be at a high level.

They’re still working on the ladder system with some bugs, but other than the issues that Zack “Riot Whoopley” Elliot (Champions Queue project lead) and others are constantly looking to tackle around the clock, the overall experience has been great. Sometimes matchmaking can be unbalanced, player-wise, but the majority of the games are very productive, outside of smite enchanters top.

Liam “Leemo” Hodson (Amateur jungler): [Champions Queue is] very good for skill development, especially for amateur players. [It] helps improve comms to become more concise and to the point, will make the way teams communicate more similar over time, making transitions between teams easier (ex: calling plays based on waves instead of just timestamps). [It] may make opinions on the value of objectives become more of a general consensus instead of distinct variations from team to team (especially in amateur).

[It’s an] amazing way to get early high-level experience under the belt of amateur players. Reviewing VODs or watching other players’ VODs in Champions Queue is really helpful to see into the mind of players. [I] would probably consider it better than Pro View cause of comms. [I’m] personally not in it for the money, but rather long-term improvement, though I think it is necessary to make players motivated to play in it and not just have them play solo queue instead.

The majority of games are close unless teams opt into some early game fight. [The] skill gap in some games is noticeable, but I do think that as games go on, skill gap will shrink and games will continue to become closer. I think currently some of the amateur players, especially younger ones like myself, are having growing pains adapting to this new environment where we are somewhat on equal ground with people who are where we want to be.

Though lots of bugs are popping up, Riot is doing a pretty good job fixing all the bugs ASAP. Subs should probably be done case by case for being allowed to play in Champions Queue, as I do think this will be something a lot of teams abuse in this coming up open qualifiers, but I guess we’ll see as it comes up.

Alex “Sharkz” Taranda (FlyQuest, head coach): I think Champions Queue is really good for NA. Because players are drafting with voice, I think Champions Queue will have a big impact on the LCS meta. I think LCS will have more of their ideas from Champions Queue because I don’t think Champions Queue will just copy the meta from League of Legends Pro League/League of Legends Championship Korea. I think Champions Queue will have the meta from solo queue… I’m changing the process and the way that we practice so players have as much time as they want in Champions Queue. Champions Queue will have a big impact on the structures and processes in terms of practice for every single LCS team.

Parkes Ousley also contributed to this article.

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Nick Ray
Pop culture consumer and League of Legends thought-haver. Working on becoming a weirder person.