In Valorant patch 3.10, Riot Games announced the reintroduction of the five-stack back into competitive ranked matchmaking

After a long hiatus from competitive matchmaking, Riot Games has announced that the five-stack will be making a return in season three. The move is a welcomed change, but community members have questions regarding its implementation

“Starting with patch 3.10, the 5-stack is back for anyone of any rank–with a tradeoff of earning slightly less Ranked Rating–while the 4-stack gets the boot in the competitive queue.”

In a developer post, Riot laid out the foundation for the new competitive matchmaking, stating that this will not impact the ranked leaderboard. The change coincides with all tiers, but is focused on helping players at the top level avoid the lack of communication among teammates in ranked games.

Tyson “TenZ” Ngo has been outspoken about Riot needing to implement changes to make ranked more appealing to pros. He called out the lack of five-stacks actively discouraging players from queuing in ranked. He called for “10 man hubs” that would guarantee top-level players get matched with others that communicate. TenZ went on to say that competitive games tend to be lopsided and not conducive to improving.

Riot banishes the four-stack 

For instance, one of the main concerns shared by the community is matching with five-stacks when in solo queue or duos. In response, Riot has put an end to the 4-stack and any player ranked Diamond 3 or above can only get matched with a five-stack if they also queue with five players. The change won’t affect lower-level ranks, but does raise the question about boosting.

Circling back to the “ranked rating,” Riot is significantly reducing the reward for winning with a five-stack. Riot developer, John “EvrMoar” Walker, said the reduction will be “extremely harsh” to those in a five-stack. Riot is looking to keep competitive integrity on the leaderboards. In theory, worsening the reward will lessen potential boosting and smurfing. Riot confirmed that none of these changes are set and adjustments will be made based on the new data.

How these new changes play out for players across all skill levels will be the determining factor if they stick. Pro players have constantly asked for readjustments around ranked. Considering how important communication and general game knowledge are at that level, it was important. The reintroduction of five-stacks could coerce pro players back into Valorant ranked and make the system more appealing as a whole.

The change should help with overall queue times and make it so there’s less waiting in the lobby. Five-stacks will now make finding games quicker. Players queuing in solo, duos, or trios, while avoiding five-stacks that have an inherent competitive advantage, will have a better experience.

High-level competitive environment

Full-stacks are conducive to a better competitive environment. The change will mainly address two things: smurfing and bad teammates. Eliminating, or at the very least, limiting these types of players in-game will improve the competitive quality for all.

Moreover, Sean Gares addressed the idea of queuing against larger stacks of teams and how this isn’t an issue. “It’s a team-based game,” said Gares back on a Shroud restream during VCT Reykjavik. He went on to say the mentality around five-stacks misses the point of trying to improve in a game like Valorant that requires constant teamwork.

Riot made it clear that it’s a work in progress. The change serves as a step in the right direction. It’s Riot working towards a goal of players being able to play at the highest level of competition possible. Addressing the issue directly will give Riot plenty of information on how to proceed moving forward. It should make the experience more worthwhile for players.

However, the decision is not a uniformly agreed-upon change. Hunter “SicK” Mims of Sentinels believes the opposite. He sees the reintroduction as hurting the competitive integrity of the game.

Above all, it’s about finding the right balance for all levels of players. There’s a downside to both arguments and it’s up to Riot to find a happy medium.