What is ProDraft and How to Use it

Introduction

There are many League of Legends tournaments that mandate or permit the use of ProDraft as a substitute for the traditional champion select built into the League client.

As someone who may be interested in participating in League of Legends tournaments or as someone who may host their own LoL tournament, it is important to understand what’s ProDraft, why you would use it and how to set it up.

What is ProDraft

ProDraft is a tool developed by Riot Games to allow participants of a custom game to simulate tournament draft mode using an online portal hosted on the official LoL website.

The primary reason for utilizing this drafting tool over the traditional built-in tournament draft on the client is to allow players to select champions they do not own during their turn for the purpose of trading with their allies.

For example, let’s pretend you are blue side (first pick) and your team wants to secure their mid lane champion first. If the first player on the roster is not the mid laner and the first player does not own the champion desired by the mid laner, this becomes problematic for the team. With ProDraft, every player slot owns all the champions, making this problem non-existent. This creates a more fair tournament draft, especially when certain players are missing a significant amount of characters on their account.

This is the champion-selection view directly on the website while the champion-select phase is active.

Another reason for using ProDraft is to have an engine that can simulate three initial bans for participants of a custom game to then pick champions in blind pick from the LoL client. This is occasionally used for 1v1 tournaments and for non-official game modes like Hide and Seek.

Note that ProDraft currently only supports simulations for tournament draft mode; Draft mode is not an applicable option.

How to Setup ProDraft

As a Participant

If you are enrolled in a tournament or competition where the rules indicate a mandatory or optional use of ProDraft, it is extremely quick and easy to setup. You will need a line of communication with the opposing team and to know prior which team will be setting up the ProDraft lobby. Setting up the lobby provides no additional benefits.

Step 1: Go to the Official ProDraft Website

If your team has to set it up, you will need to go to the official ProDraft website. To find the page, simply google “ProDraft” and it should be the first link to popup under the name “Pick Ban Tool” and under the URL of “prodraft.leagueoflegends.com”.

It’s helpful to keep the spectator link handy even if unused, as it may be later clicked on to see the outcome of the champion select in case of match disputes.

Step 2: Fill in the Text Boxes

Once there, you will need to fill out the name of the blue team (left in the lobby, with first ban and first pick), the name of the red team (right in the lobby, second ban and second/third pick) and the name for the match. Unless otherwise stated by the tournament organizer, the names filled in are irrelevant to the performance of the lobby and can be filled with gibberish if the name/s are unknown or non-existent.

Step 3: Send the Links to the Corresponding Team

Once that information has been submitted, 3 URLs will generate for the same address; One link intended for the use of red team, another intended for the use of blue team and the last one intended for spectators. Distribute the URLs to the appropriate individuals. The spectator link does not have to be used, but it is optional for tournament organizers or third parties to watch the champion select unfold live (the third parties should be approved by the tournament organizers).

As a Tournament Organizer

As a tournament organizer, you may want to make the use of ProDraft optional or mandatory depending on your specific situation (competitive/casual atmosphere, familiar community, etc).

Regardless of if you decide to allow ProDraft to be used in your tournament or not, be sure to specify in your rules. You will usually be asked about it by a team during the tournament, especially in community and less competitive tournaments.

This is a short excerpt from the Manitoba Esports League’s LoL 2020 rulebook. They clearly outline in a single bullet-point when teams may use ProDraft and what teams will need to do in order to use it (inform admins). They may want to include that both parties must be in favor of using it, if that is their ruling on the matter, but this is decently sufficient nonetheless.

If you decide to include it, you could leave it to the participants to setup as outlined above which will leave less work for you. However, having a database setup prior and distributing URLs to teams yourself can save a bit of time if your tournament is on a tight schedule and it is a nice quality of life for your participants.

Just a heads up, I’ve done the distribution method in the past and I would highly advise against it unless you are really in a crunch for time. It requires a lot of management and manpower during the event that could be allocated elsewhere unless you have setup an automatic system using your website or a Discord bot as a portal.

This is an example of some organizer or individual who at one point built a bot to generate and provide ProDraft URLs to players. Unfortunately this bot is out of commission, but it goes to show that it is possible.

In order to make your database, if that’s what you plan on doing, you will first need to manually generate all the codes. This can be done by following the procedure below:

  1. Go to the official ProDraft website
  2. Fill in the names for each team and the match name
  3. Click “CONFIRM”

You can determine how many codes you require simply by determining the maximum amount of games that could be played. I would recommend about 25% more rooms than required due to unexpected errors such as non-responsive rooms, incorrectly copied links and when some teams will make an error and require additional room URLs.

The ProDraft lobby codes (URLs) will not expire after being generated and unused for a long period of time. Similarly to the tournament codes for the LoL client, these URLs can be stored for a long period of time, although be mindful that they could expire at any time.

This became evident to me not through an official source, but rather from my own experimentation. I created this link on April 1st, and it is still functioning for more than 3 months. I cannot advocate that they last infinitely, but clearly you can be confident if you setup codes a few weeks in advance that they will last.

Room URLs Storage System

With the generation of all these codes, you will need to setup some sort of database. Depending on the specific context of your tournament, certain methods would make more sense to store codes. A simple possibility for small events that will be distributing codes manually would be creating a Google Sheets with all the URL links.

This is an example of a Google Sheet I used for an online LoL 1v1 tournament I hosted. We manually distributed the codes, two individuals were responsible for distributing the codes, so one person was handing the codes on white (odd row number) rows for bracket 1 and the other person was distributing the codes on blue (even row number) rows for bracket 2. 

After the code was distributed for use, we would mark it off as ‘Y’ in column A. With the conditional format rule we incorporated (image to the left), it would automatically turn that corresponding row red. This makes it visually evident which codes were already distributed to avoid confusion.

Another tool would be an SQL database. Although this would be extreme for someone with a small tournament that is planning to distribute URLs manually, this could be ideal for large tournaments that intend to use an automated web portal to distribute these codes. These databases can also store information long term and can provide tournament organizers organized finger-tip intel on all the URLs and conclusion information of each room.

How Do Teams Use ProDraft

Quick Overview

  1. Have at least 1 player from each team access their team’s link
  2. Click “READY CHECK” once ready
  3. Once both teams have completed step 2, the tournament draft mode will commence

Expanded Explanation

Once both teams have access to their respective team URL, they will need to decide who will access the link and control the champion select page. Although each team is composed of at least 5 players, not all 5 need to access the link at the same time.

In fact, its recommended to only have 1 selected individual to do all the selecting. This is because if everyone has the link open, everyone can select a champion at any point in time. This may likely breed confusion and make it difficult to tell who performed what act.

Once that is all sorted out, each team will need to click the “READY CHECK” button in the lower middle section of the window. Both teams will need to click the button prior to starting, and once the button is clicked, it cannot be undone (even by refreshing the page).

After that, both teams will commence in tournament draft mode. This will be the same as it is in the League of Legends client with the exception of everyone having every champion to select from and anyone with the link open can choose a champion at any time.

Keep in mind, just like in the standard built-in tournament draft mode, failure to select a champion to lock in will automatically auto select a champion for that player.

What are ProDraft Alternatives?

ProDraft is a tool hosted on the Riot Games domain and an accurate and trustworthy tournament draft champion select simulation tool. However, this is not the only option out there.

An alternative to ProDraft is PentaQ’s Ban&Pick tool. This tool is selected over ProDraft in some instances due to the fact that there are no time restrictions or champion auto-selecting like in ProDraft.

Admittedly, PentaQ’s Ban&Pick tool has a nicer user-interface than ProDraft!

This tool includes some text only in Chinese, although most of the important text for the function of Ban&Pick is in both Chinese and English.

Once the champion select starts, you will notice a timer increasing in seconds at the top of the screen. This timer has no impact on the champion select and can be restarted by the viewer by refreshing his window or rejoining the link at a later time (although this does not restart the timer for other viewers). The timer will hit 99 seconds, where it will stop counting without impacting the champion select in any way.

A few select players prefer this over ProDraft for the fact of a lack of timers. As a tournament organizer, I dislike this tool and avoid its use in my tournaments for 3 main reasons:

  1. By removing timers from champion select, it removes the tension from selecting a champion and becomes less enjoyable for a stream.
  2. It deviates from the League of Legends tournament and game standards, which may make your tournament less preferable to most players.
  3. (most important reason) Without time restrictions, the champion select’s duration becomes less predictable and could make the tournament longer (or shorter) than expected. With ProDraft, I know definitively worst case (excluding external issues and delays) that it will take 10 mins (30 seconds per pick and 30 seconds per ban; 5 mins max for picks and 5 mins max for bans).

Conclusion

Regardless of if you are a League of Legends player or tournament organizer, ProDraft is a common tool utilized in community-oriented and low-tier LoL tournaments. ProDraft has its pros and cons to its use, but its generally up to the tournament organizers and the two teams if the tool should be used.

At least now if someone asks if they can use ProDraft, you know exactly what they mean and can make an informed decision (both as a player and as an organizer).