Banned Skins in the LCS and League of Legends Tournaments

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When hosting a League of Legends tournament, it’s important to make sure you implement the correct rules that would ensure fair play. One of these rules would include ensuring that the correct skins are banned to prevent players from having an unfair advantage.

So that leaves the question of what skins does the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) ban from their play. And how about in other tournaments?

It’s unfortunate, but the LCS does not release the list of banned champion skins in professional play to the public. What we do know is that skins with bugs that are not performing as intended are banned from play until the issue is resolved.

Most tournament organizers do not ban champion skins. The ones that do have varying lists from each other. Let’s determine why skins are banned in the first place, what skins are banned and how you can create your own skin ban list.

Why Are Skins Banned in the LCS?

Upon doing research and going through several discussions with redditors from r/LeagueofLegends, it seemed clear that no one had a definite answer on why skins are banned. However, there were several reasons presumed by players on why that may be the case.

Bugs Affecting the Skin

One reason that is actually confirmed to be accurate by the official LCS rulebook itself is due to bugs affecting the skins. These skins do not react the way they were intended and as such will negatively impact the gameplay and viewing experience. This could include mismatching particle effects, missing particle effects, incorrect hitboxes, incorrect sound effects, etc. Currently as this article is being published, all Syndra skins excluding the base skin and SKT Syndra are banned due to a bug with her Q, Dark Sphere.

Limited Accessibility for Purchase

I cannot verify the accuracy of this information but it makes perfect sense – Riot Games does not want to promote skins that are not able to be purchased therefore those skins are banned. For example skins on the Victorious skin line may only be obtained during post-season rewards depending on reaching a certain rank, those skins cannot be purchased and therefore according to the source are banned from professional play.

Difficult to be Identified by Casters

Another major reason that I heard commonly and believe is valid is that some abilities are difficult to be identified by casters during fights. Lux, prior to her visual effects update in patch 9.24, seemed to have very similar Q and E abilities, especially on specific skins like Steel Legion Lux and arguably Elementalist Lux. That would have made it difficult for the casters and viewers to identify which ability was used during a team fight; This would make play-by-play casting difficult when those skins were in play.

This is a visual comparison between the current Lux Q and E on her base skin post-update. Everything including the particle effects, flying animation, throwing animation and sound are all different. This is much easier to cast versus what her previous Q and E used to be, especially on other skins (I don’t have photos of that 🙁 )

Yet people still hate that skin. My own friends who play competitively and many redditors over the many Reddit posts about banned skin include Steel Legion Lux as a disliked skin.

Provides Unfair Advantages to Players

Another theory is that skins provide unfair advantages to the players themselves. This could be an argument to be made by skins from Riot Games in previous seasons, but League of Legends in its current state seems to be able to produce skins that put ease to play against as a priority.

Nowadays, many newly released skins have solid visual effects or have modified visual effects a few patches after release to ensure those skins are easy to play as, watch and play against. Many of the skins that were confirmed banned in prior years have received visual effect updates (specifically over season 8 and season 9) to meet high standards.

Why Does the LCS Not Share Their Banned Skins List?

I couldn’t find a confirmed statement by Riot Games on why they no longer share their banned skins list and by asking the League of Legends Reddit community I could see that others didn’t have a confirmed answer either. We can however speculate why that is.

Viewed as Pay-to-Win Skins

Some players made a valid argument that by showing the list of banned skins, those skins would be viewed as pay-to-win. As a result, players who want to climb would go out of their way and overvalue skins they don’t like in hopes of gaining an unfair advantage. This would create a pay-to-win mentality that Riot Games has strived to stay away from ever since they released their game as free-to-play.

Complaining About Playing Against Those Skins

Similarly, when players compete against those skins, they would likely complain about the game being pay-to-win and how those skins were the reason for their loss. Even if those skins were banned for other reasons such as for commentary ease, players may assume its due to an unfair advantage and accuse the skin as unfair to play against.

Intentional Abuse of Those Skins

Another reason made by the league of legends community is by exposing which skins may have an advantage in the eyes of Riot Games, players would abuse those skins specifically to climb and to gain an unfair advantage. This argument is predicated upon the assumption that some skins do indeed provide an unfair advantage to players and therefore Riot does not want players to know about it, so players aren’t able to intentionally abuse them.

Regardless of the reason, it seems evident that Riot Games will not be releasing that information any time soon nor would they be releasing the banned skins list itself. Hopefully in the future we would learn the criteria Riot Games looks for to determine their own banned skins.

Do League of Legends Tournaments Ban Skins?

From my research, most League of Legends tournaments, specifically smaller ones, do not have banned skins. I also personally, as a tournament organizer who has ran many League of Legends tournaments, have not banned skins in my own tournaments.

That being said, some tournaments do have banned skins which are likely determined through their own judgement. Lan ETS in Montreal, Canada is an example of a tournament with a banned skin list. They claim to be the biggest lan party in Canada, so it is presumable that they want to ensure the highest competitive integrity for players as they likely have some of the best players attending.

But tournaments like EGLX [rules], League of Legends Canadian Nationals – Grey Cup Festival [rules] and the High School Esports League [rules] (back when they were allowed to host League of Legends tournaments in High Schools) all have no skins banned excluding in relation to bugs.

Small tournaments on websites like battlefy.com and smash.gg almost all have no skins banned. From my experience, some players prefer having a banned skin list in a tournament, especially more experienced and skilled players, but its almost always okay to do without.

Should you ban skins in your tournament: You most likely don’t need to as it is more beneficial to more competitively oriented tournaments. However, if it would better the experience for your commentators or you can confidently find skins that seem like valuable bans, that would only add value to your tournament and show a level of professionalism and additional effort to control tournament integrity on your part.

What Skins Should I Ban?

I can’t say for certain which skins you should ban as personally I avoid banning skins as a whole, but I can inform you of the bans made by other tournaments and League of Legends community members.

If you know more skins that should be banned, please leave them in the comment box below (with your reason if you can include it) and I will implement them into the list if they seem valid.

Lan ETS 2020

  • Steel Legion Lux
  • Blackfrost Anivia
  • Underworld Twisted Fate
  • Dark Valkyrie Diana
  • Blackthorn Morgana
  • Arcade Sona.
  • Mecha Aatrox
  • Ashen Lord Aurelion Sol
  • Arclight Varus
  • Justicar Syndra
  • Santa Gragas
  • iBlitzcrank
  • Project Ashe
  • Forsaken Jayce
  • Elementalist Lux
  • Nunu Bot
  • Frostfire Annie

Unranked Smurfs' Article in 2018

Note, many of skins have been updated, take with caution [reference]:

  • Arcade Sona
  • Mecha Aatrox (pre-rework)
  • Ashen Lord Aurelion Sol
  • Justicar Syndra
  • Santa Gragas
  • IBlitzcrank
  • Project Ashe
  • Forsaken Jayce
  • Elementalist Lux
  • Steel Legion Lux

Skin Ban Recommendations by Redditors

  • Mecha Aatrox (“due to his deceptive hotboxes with his q” – u/overicexd on April 2019)
  • True Damage Ekko (from u/MayManZ101 on April 2019)

Skin Ban Recommendations by Commentators

Currently none, leave your suggestions in the comments below