LoL: Riot Tackling AFKs

AFK Thumb
There are new AFK rules in League of Legends. | © Riot Games

League of Legends has always had problems with players going AFK, especially when they fall behind in the game and don't think they can win anymore. Which is why Riot is going to punish anyone AFK-ing thanks to some changes in LoL Patch 11.19.

BarackProbama and TimTamMonster, design and product leads for League’s Behavioral Systems Team, posted a dev-blog detailing the changes that came in Lol Patch 11.19. AFK-ing will be punished harder in hopes to persuade players from staying in-game to create a better environment for everyone.

Riot explained that to reduce the amount of inactivity within a game, there are multiple issues they have to tackle:

  • Add additional tiers to our penalty structure so that players who continue to AFK/leave consistently, incur these new punishments
  • Add a new penalty type to shield players from repeat offenders
  • Improve the way we evaluate attempts to reform in our games

New Punishments for Going AFK

Riot hasn't been happy with the results of current AFK punishments. Many players merely sat through the time they were locked out and didn't change their behavior once they got into game once more.

For most folks Queue Delays work well, but about 9% of our players worldwide engage in consistent AFK behavior and don’t seem to be deterred by a few delays between their games.

Now, Riot wants to punish players who consistently AFK with a much harsher penalty – Queue Lockouts. This means players won't have to wait a mere 5 minutes before they can queue up once more. Oh no, instead, they might be locked out of the queue for a whole day! Even if you sit through your one day, you'll still have to wait 15 minutes before joining the queue in the first five games back.

These are some big changes and could make even the most prone AFK-abuser think again before leaving a game. Well... unless they've got fifteen smurfs lined up, then even this punishment won't bother them.

When we issue a Queue Lockout, we're not saying "hey, doesn't it suck to have your time wasted?" We're removing the player from the population for a while so they can't continue to AFK in games. Once a queue lockout does expire, it's followed by the maximum-level queue delay so we can still maintain the benefits of behavior modification and players who take a break don’t get to sit out their entire punishment.

Players in high tiers will be reset to Tier 3 to give them a chance to reform themselves before they get locked out of the queue completely.

Here is a table showing all the new punishments and Tiers:

TierQueue LockoutQueue Delay
0None0 Minutes
1None5 Minutes for 5 Games
2None10 Minutes for 5 Games


15 Minutes for 5 Games
4 (new Tier)1 Day15 Minutes for 5 Games
5 (new Tier)3 Days15 Minutes for 5 Games
6 (new Tier)7 Days15 Minutes for 5 Games
7 (new Tier)14 Days15 Minutes for 5 Games

These Tiers are not time-based. To get out of one of the tiers, you'll have to show good behavior, and you won't be allowed to be inactive during games.

New Evaluations for Good Behavior

So if you've landed in a high tier, it was hard for Riot to lower your punishment tier even after good behavior. Therefore, Riot has decided to create a more sophisticated model which will look at multiple factors when issuing the AFK warnings.

Also, connection problems will also be taken out when looking to see who is AFK-ing.

[...] a player at a high AFK tier is actually being consistently disruptive and isn’t stuck there for other reasons, like intermittent connectivity issues, which can be particularly common in some regions.

This is What Riot Still Wants to Work On

Riot Games is working together with multiple teams to ensure that those AFK-ing will be treated fairly in the future:

  • Not enough ability to come back from behind
  • Inability to deal with other disruptive behavior in-game
  • Connectivity challenges

What do you guys think of these new AFK punishments? Is this too harsh or just right? Let us know on Discord!

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