To our surprise, League of Legends introduced the Team Builder feature in this weeks recent update. It offers the ability to pre-select your champion, lane and role. You can even play solo or with friends and then the system attempt to match you with other people who want to fill the remaining roles. It's a great idea and certainly designed to solve the frustrations of players fighting over lanes or being pair with players who can't play other lanes, however it doesn't seem to work as ideal as expected.
If you've played League of Legends long enough, you know that in the first 2 seconds after champion select screen appears is your only chance to call your lane or position before someone else snags it from you. You learn to have your fingers at the ready to quickly hit that chat bar and stake your claim, mid, top, adc, sup, jung. We don't even bother typing it all out since that extra 2 or 3 key strokes can mean the difference between getting your lane or losing it. Team Builder takes out all that fuss by letting you pre-select your ideal settings but it has some major draw backs.
Once you pick a champion and are put into the matching system, you are locked in. The problem with that is players like myself want a role and lane but necessarily a specific champion. I prefer to pick a champion that compliments the rest of the team. Things like balancing between AD and AP, lack of tanks, or choosing a support that compliments the ADC for example playing Soraka with mana hungry Urgot or Jayce or choosing a support that has CC to compliment gap closing ADCs.
It would probably be better for the Team Builder to allow people to just choose a lane and role, but have the choice of choosing a champ later, after all that is what people really care about. The specific champion can be chosen later. The matching system also takes into account things like how often you have played that champion, your scores and so on, but what about non-meta team comps such as Hiemerdinger support, or Soraka ADC with banana of doom.
Matching seems to take much longer than you would expect from normal and ranked matching systems. What we noticed was that many people joined the team and then abandoned the queue after seeing who the other players were already locked in as. Some strange comps could really scare people, for example in one situation our friend was determined to play mid lane AP Blitzcrank which pretty much scared everyone away and after 15 minutes of waiting we finally gave up.
The matching system seemed to prioritize lanes and time over skill and experience. We noticed in a number of games that we were match up with people who had never played the lane before, nor the champs they had chosen. Perhaps it was in the design to match up an inexperienced ADC playing Ezreal for the first time with my Leona who wins 80% of my games with Leona, so that it would give the inexperienced players a chance to survive with an experienced player. However, the cost is the synergy and I found myself spending a lot of time telling the ADC what they should and shouldn't do, even explaining their skill tree to them. Perhaps it should match up first time champs or first time lanes with other first timers to make it a balanced experienced, however chances are it could result in extremely long wait times.
Overall, it's a valiant effort to give players a solution to something they have always complained about, however with a little rework it could be much better. The choice of champions after a team is created while still retaining the early lane and role selection. Prevent's insta-locking into roles and lanes and would allow the team the opportunity to discuss together their ideal team composition. Chances are it is just temporary, much like hexakill, one for all and other game modes, but I personally hope it gets improved and comes back as a standard option for the game.