Update: Riot has confirmed the 10-ban system coming to all the leagues run by Riot this spring.
"In pro play we think pick/ban changes can lead to an increase in champion diversity and strategic play. We believe that offering more bans will encourage deeper champion pools with more individual champions seeing the Rift - and that it'll make a fun and engaging draft phase for fans to watch."
Rumors of a 10-ban system circulated around mid-November after an article from PVP Live showed the new leaked format.
Below, Tyler "Fionn" Erzberger explores the impact of the 10-ban system when it was first rumored.
A new year of League of Legends means a slew of changes from champions and to the rosters of the clubs challenging for the Summoner's Cup and to the Summoner's Rift itself. One aspect of the game that hasn't morphed over the years, however, has been the drafting phase of the game -- but that is about to change.
Previously, the two teams fire bans back and forth until six champions are left off the table. From there, the blue side picks the first champion it wants in its composition, and then the red side counters with two picks of its own. At the end, to counteract the blue side from getting the theoretical strongest champion on the board with the first pick of the draft, the red side gets the final choice -- a position that is normally used to try to counter the opposing team, with the blue side having its lineup already set in place.
All that will be different in 2017, however, with 10-champion ban system being implemented for the new season. Unlike the current iteration, the draft phase could become a "staggered draft," meaning it would flip from banning to picking champions to back into banning champions -- before ultimately picking the final champions for each team's composition out of the remaining champion field.
With the amount of champions in the game growing by six to eight each year, it seemed inevitable the draft would need to be expanded.
In a world where the 10-ban staggered draft is implemented, it would change the entire complexion of the professional scene. Players with minuscule champion pools would almost certainly become extinct over the next year; while being able to play two to three champions at an elite level has been doable for the past few splits, it would be almost impossible in the new system. While teams could prioritize those players ahead of the rest in the drafting phase every game, that player would eventually become an anchor to the team, pulling down the rest of the club along the way.
The winners of the change, as cited by OGN caster Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles, would also just so happen to be the region that has won the past four World Championships in dominating fashion: South Korea.
"[Ten] bans in LoL is only going to make the gap between Korea and the West wider, due to deeper champ pools of KR players," said Mykles on Twitter. "Now there is basically no hope of Western pocket/comfort picks, and many NA/EU players can just be completely banned out. R.I.P. [CLG's] Huhi."
This change would almost seem like a gift to a player such as Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok. After revolutionizing the mid lane with picks such as Riven when he was a rookie, he has been itching to bring unknown champions to the spotlight with his immaculate touch. The extra bans would simply allow Faker to open up his Pacific Ocean-sized champion pool to swallow up teams whole. We've already seen what Faker can do on unorthodox champions against mid laners armed with their top choice. What happens when Faker gets to play against a player who is on their fourth- or fifth-best champion? The answer is a continuous montage of gray screens for the opponent.
Additionally, the drafting change will make the game more complex. With Riot reinforcing lane matchups to spite lane swapping, the scene has been missing the depth it once had. The drafting changes make it so that games could be decided, now more than ever, in the pick-and-ban phase. A good drafter -- be it the coach, in-game leader or committee -- could become stronger than the sum of its parts, with smart drafting and picking at the weak points of teams.
Last season, the Immortals team had trouble in the drafting phase but was able to overcome its shortcomings by being more talented than a majority of the field. In this new system, Immortals would be even more open to attacks from smaller clubs.
Adding four more bans with a staggered draft will separate the simply talented teams to the all-around great ones. As always in League of Legends, it's adapt or die.