In an ideal world, every match would include ten individuals with identical MMRs queuing at the same time, each having selected a unique position that they're well-suited for.
But reality is a bit more complicated.
That's why our matchmaking system focuses on balancing three things each time you queue up:
- Fair Matches
- Position Preferences
- Quick Queues
To the matchmaker, a “fair” match is one where each team has a 50% +/-1% chance of winning, which we create by pairing off teams of roughly the same average MMR. Further down we'll get into some of the challenges that can complicate this process, but we aim for no more than a 4–5 MMR gap between the averages of both teams in the majority of games..
Before queuing up for Ranked, every player must list two preferred positions (unless you choose "Fill," you absolute legend). We'll always try to prioritize your Primary position, but your Secondary position may be used as a backup depending on matchmaking conditions.
However, neither preference is guaranteed. In the event we can't find a full team comp at your skill level, there's a small chance you will be Autofilled. This generally happens when your queue time gets too long, which is usually because there's a shortage of one or more positions in the queue. We consider this a last resort to get you out of the lobby and into a game.
Creating fair matches is one of League's top priorities, but we also respect your time and recognize how frustrating a long queue can be. After all, you're here to play—not to wait.
If your queue time is running long, that means the system is having trouble finding an appropriate match up. The longer you wait, the more the matchmaking system may stray from your MMR or swap someone's position—though we'll still try to keep things as fair as possible.
While we strive for fairness, preference, and speed, there are plenty of factors that can complicate those goals:
- Matches played during off-peak hours (smaller selection pool)
- Parties of players with very different MMRs (harder to average and match)
- A shortage of one or more positions (sometimes resulting in one or more players being autofilled)
These all throw curveballs at the matchmaker, forcing it to weigh one aspect more heavily than the others.
Even then, there can be other hidden elements that make a seemingly fair match feel a little unbalanced:
- One or more players trying an off-position
- One or more players trying an unfamiliar champion
- An otherwise fair match in which one lane has an unfair matchup
- A few key kills early on cause a game to snowball out of control
- Sometimes, players just have bad games!
- Your playstyles as a team just aren't meshing
Of course, the enemy team could potentially have all the same issues, so stay focused and always give it your best! Especially when facing...
It's one thing to feel a match is unbalanced, but another to actually play against opponents who are a few divisions—or even a tier!—above you.
But there are plenty of good reasons this may be happening!
You're winning a lot!
If you're being consistently placed against opponents who are a higher rank than you, then congratulations! That could mean the matchmaker is starting to suspect you're worthy of higher placement. If you're on a big win streak, you may even start to see opponents several divisions your senior!
Your opponent is losing a lot
Alas, balancing goes both ways. The matchmaker is placing them against lower-ranked opponents to find them an appropriate spot on the ladder.
Large rank disparity within a team
While the average MMR for both teams will still be roughly the same, ensuring a fair match becomes more challenging if one team has five teammates of roughly equal skill and the other team has a mix of low and high ranked players. Thankfully, this rarely happens outside of premade teams in Flex queue.
That being said, the same phenomenon can happen in Solo/Duo queue when two players with a big rank gap (Bronze IV and Silver I, for instance) queue up together. But don't worry! You have one weapon your enemies may not—THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP.
...Seriously, though! Make sure you take advantage of your duo queue with better planning, coordinating, and communication to stack the odds in your favor.
If you've ever played a game and gotten a position you didn't select, you've been autofilled. This usually happens when a position is low in supply during matchmaking, and it can happen for any position. The goal of autofill is to keep queue times reasonable and matchmaking fair.
Before we move on, let's be clear: there's no way to completely avoid autofilling.
That's why we recommend every player familiarize themselves with at least one champion in each position. In fact, this is good advice in general—you might be less inclined to flame your jungler if you've spent a few games missing your own smites.
The second-best way to manage autofill is to take fate into your own hands and fill or select an autofill-protected position. Since position popularity varies by region and can shift over time, we can't definitively state which positions will be eligible for autofill. However! You can always check when you queue up by looking for the following messages below your preferred position selections:
A position you've selected is short on players, so you'll be guaranteed to get one of your top two choices. You're helping bring balance to the Rift!
The positions you've selected are in high demand, so you may be autofilled. Such is the price of popularity!
Remember, autofill only activates when at least one position desperately needs players. Each time you fill, you're lightening the burden on everyone and reducing their chances of being autofilled. It's a quiet heroism, but heroism nonetheless, and it may even prevent one of your teammates from getting autofilled into one of their weaker positions.
And if you do end up autofilled after queueing for a different position, hunker down and give it your best shot knowing that you'll be guaranteed your primary or secondary position in the next handful of games.
Some final notes:
- You will NOT autofill during your promotional series. Be at peace.
- If you or someone else dodges from an autofilled lobby, you will not be protected from autofill for the next game.
- /remake-ing a match will count against any autofill protection you may have stored up. We're sorry for the inconvenience.
Other Ranked Resources
Have questions about other aspects of Ranked? Find the answers in our Ranked FAQ!