PHASED DRAFT ROLLOUT
Draft Mode is a massive improvement on the Ranked experience, and our vision is for all Ranked matches to be Draft. If you’re curious what makes Draft so awesome, check out this video.
But Draft is a big change, so we’re going to make it in steps. This will allow players to become familiar with the new mode in a comfortable, gradual way. And most importantly, it allows us to collect lots of community feedback before the feature becomes mandatory in Ranked. This game belongs to all of us, and your input helps shape it. Once you’ve tried Draft a few times, please fill out this Draft Mode feedback survey so we can make the experience better for you!
PHASE 1: COMPLETED; BETA TESTING ONLY
We announced and began beta testing on Phase 1 back on Jan. 28, and we’ve already completed this first phase! In Phase 1, Ranked matches only featured Draft Mode if you queued as a full three-person party, and you only played in Draft against three-person parties. But the Matchmaker didn’t really care who it placed you against, including solo and duo queuers, so the odds of getting a Draft match were quite low. We’ve learned what we need to from this and will today take the next step, timed to the deployment of Update 1.14.
PHASE 2 (TODAY): RANKED QUEUE ‘SOFT SPLIT’
Phase 2 rolls out to the public with the release of Update 1.14. In this phase, Ranked matches only featured Draft Mode if you have queued as a full three-person party, and you only played in Draft against three-person parties. What’s different is that we are “soft-splitting” the Ranked queue. This means the Matchmaker will try very hard to match you with another three-person party and kick off a Draft match. We will be tuning this Matchmaker logic in real-time as we learn.
As a last resort, the Matchmaker is able to kick off a Blind Pick match after a number of minutes of waiting if it simply cannot find any three-person parties for a Draft match. This “soft split” will result is significantly more Draft matches forming than under the previous Matchmaker rules. This also means that highly coordinated three-person parties are far less likely to encounter solo and duo-queuers who are at an inherent disadvantage against a full team.
PHASE 3 (FEB. 15): ‘DRAFT FEEDBACK DAY’
A special Draft Feedback Day will start on Monday, Feb. 15 at 11AM PST and run until Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 11AM PST. During this 24-hour period, all Ranked matches will be in Draft Mode! You will still need to meet the preexisting Ranked match requirements to enter Ranked at all. Especially for those who don’t often play as three-person parties, this is your chance to provide feedback on Draft and shape the future experience! We want this mode to be the best possible for you! On Draft Feedback Day, be sure to send fresh feedback! You are welcome to fill out the Draft feedback form again (or for the first time).
PHASE 4 (DATE TBD): ‘HOTNESS & ABOVE’
On a to-be-determined date after Phase 3, we will make Draft Mode “always on” for players at the visual skill tier of Hotness or above. Our belief is that if you’e earned your way to Hotness in Winter Season, you are an experienced enough Ranked player to not be intimidated or overwhelmed by the Draft Mode system. We know you got this, and we want you to enjoy all the benefits Draft Mode has to offer.
This means the Matchmaker will only place Hotness players in Ranked queue with other Hotness or above players and it will always be a Draft match. If you find yourself on the cusp of Hotness, it’s possible to have an awkward transition in and out of Draft Mode as your skill tier fluctuates between ranks. We’re going to live with this because of the massive upside we think this skill tier gating will have.
We intend to leave Draft with this “Hotness and Above” gating until it’s “always on” for everyone in Ranked.
THE FUTURE: RANKED = DRAFT MODE FOR EVERYONE
Eventually, Draft will be “always on” for all players entering Ranked matches. We won’t rush this and we want to collect plenty of your feedback first. We’ll turn Draft Mode on for all players in Ranked when we’re 100% sure all players can have a great experience! This will most likely not happen in Update 1.14, but you never know.