What do you know about ARAM?

With League of Legends’ latest patch, Riot introduced a new matchmaking queue, based on a game mode previously available exclusively in custom matches. The game mode is called “ARAM”, or “All Random, All Mid”.  It originated with people playing on the “Summoner’s Rift” map, simply ignoring the top and bottom lanes, and picking random champions. Later, Riot enabled the  use of “The Proving Grounds” which was their newbie training map, and contained only one lane. I discovered the game mode during this phase. I had heard and read about it before, but never really had an interest until one day I randomly decided to try it out.

What I found was an amazing game. Much like in Guardians of Middle-Earth, there was a map that was a single lane, and allowed for 5v5 matches, although there was such a limit on champions in that game (though they are steadily adding more) and picking a random champion was not enforced. Back to LoL, this mode was very enjoyable, aside from a couple of issues. The main issue was the fact that because these were custom games, there was no part of the LeaverBuster system that was used, so if people got an undesired champion, they would simply dodge and then join another lobby (I was even guilty of doing this a couple of times). The other issue was that custom games only allow a certain amount of IP (Influence points) to be earned per day. I didn’t realize this at first, because I was jumping around between ranked and dominion games with some ARAM sprinkled here and there. One day I got on a roll and kept playing ARAM games, and ended up having a win where I only earned about 3-5 IP, whereas I would normally earn around 40-50. After doing some reading I found you could only earn about 2 hours worth of game time in IP per day with custom matches (with the average ARAM match running 20-30 minutes). So I only play custom matches when testing now, but am not limited while playing ARAM anymore.

To counter these issues, Riot created ARAM matchmaking, so the IP issue is immediately null and void (there are no IP limits in matchmaking lobbies, as these are all PvP). Also, because this is sanctioned matchmaking, the LeaverBuster system works, and if you dodge out of an ARAM queue, be prepared to wait 15 minutes before you can play another game. To make things a little more fair, Riot went a step further by adding in a re-roll option, so that when you get stuck on a team that is all melee champs, a couple of you can re-roll to get some range or added CC, whatever you may need. The system allows for 2 re-rolls maximum, and you earn points towards more re-rolls by completing matches. These points accumulate faster dependent on how many champs you own. I liked this fact because I have over 60 of the champs, so I get re-rolls quick, and that’s helped me from getting stuck with champs I completely suck with. Not to say I’m guaranteed a win if I get a champ that I like, nor that I will automatically lose playing a champion that I am not comfortable with. I just get to pick and choose if I want who I end up with.

However, I will say that ARAM should be required playing. Because of the random factor, you never know who you’re going to get or face, and it challenges you to be good at different roles. It challenges you to learn all of the champions, not just ones whom you favor. I have found that after playing ARAM matches for a week, I have learned to play some of the champions I hadn’t really touched, or at one point decided I didn’t like. I also believe that the random factor helps in determining skill level. An example:

When playing ranked you get an ELO. If you don’t know what ELO is, educate yourself. When playing normal 5s, 3s, Dominion, and I’m assuming ARAM, there is a “hidden ELO”. I believe Riot is calling it “MMR”, short for “Match Making Rating”. This works like ELO, but is kept hidden from users. So when you play Ranked in the Bronze division, you are playing those that are in the same division. Theoretically you would also play those from the Bronze division while playing another game mode, but it appears that because ARAM just started and I have noticed a lower quality of players with me, MMR is different for each mode. This could just be my perception, but it seems to be the case. Now, because of the fact that players aren’t allowed to choose who they play, they might not have runes or masteries set up for every champion combination, or they may not know how to play the champion very well. A “good” player will adapt to the situation through his item purchases, and use of skill shots, etc. A “bad” player will not take AD/AP scaling into account, will have a hard time with the character, and most likely feed as a result, and cause your team to lose. So, does this bad player on my team account for my loss, and subsequent loss of MMR, and cause me to be stuck in “ELO hell”? That is a discussion for another post I believe, but the point I was trying to get at is MMR or ELO or whatever you want to call it goes out the window when playing ARAM.

ARAM forces players to play as a team, to adapt to situations differently. There are no walls to jump over. There is no place to hide, and when the entire game is team fights, towers will be dived. Players have to learn their champs quickly, but it forces them to learn what you can do to counter opponents, and counter strange team builds that aren’t part of the “accepted meta”. I think that everyone should play ARAM just to be able to say you can win with anyone. It builds the skill set and confidence needed to move forward in the traditional game, and I think it would help some people adapt to become a pro. Maybe I’ll follow my own advice.