LOL Review: Dominion Is a Slot Machine

Author: MMOsite Writer Alexander Hinkley

Dominion is one of the most fun game types in League of Legends due to its fast-paced, action-packed, and teamwork-heavy gameplay. But wins in regular matchmade Dominion games are not really earned – they are pretty much random. This factor of randomness and luck does not apply to games where teams of five pre-mades are facing another team of five pre-mades (for example, the Dominate Dominion tournaments). The better team will end up winning the game in those matches because you already know your teammates beforehand. When you go into matchmaking by yourself or with a friend, whether or not you win the game is as random as winning a slot machine at a casino.

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Dominion Win Rates Mean Nothing

Pretty much everybody has a win rate of around 50 percent in Dominion. This was easier to see back when lolking.net showed total player losses as well as total wins but even the players at the highest levels of ELO still only win around half their games. Some of these players may actually be +100 or +200 in terms of total wins to losses, but when you consider they literally have thousands of games played, that ultimately equates out to be something like 53 percent to 55 percent. For example, a player with 2,000 wins and 1,700 losses may point to his +300 ratio but that is actually only a 54 percent win rate. An “average” Dominion player will win around 50 percent while ones that don’t really know what they are doing at all could even be several percentage points below half.

This small win rate disparity really doesn’t mean anything, though. The difference between a 55 percent win rate of a top ELO player and a 50 percent win rate of your Average Joe is like the difference between an NFL team posting a 9-7 record and one posting an 8-8 record. Potential playoff implications aside, a team going 9-7 isn’t really all that much more impressive than one going 8-8. You wouldn’t necessarily say one is hands down better than the other. All they did was win one more game.

If you were to consistently look at the match history of the top ELO Dominion players on lolking, you will see that even right now many of them only win around half their matchmade games. There are of course some exceptions to this due to people entering matchmaking as pre-made parties of three, four, or even five players. The more players in your group, the less you will be affected by the randomness of matchmaking.

You Can’t Help Your Team Win

No matter what you do in a Dominion game, you can’t individually help your team win. This doesn’t mean you should troll because you can actually still cause your team to lose, but no matter how good you do, your actions alone won’t determine the outcome. You could be the Adrian Peterson of Dominion but it wouldn’t matter. You would still lose half your games.

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This might sound like nonsense at first but consider the screenshot above. In that game, Vayne (played by yours truly) led the game in kills and had the fewest deaths in the game as well. The objective of Dominion is to capture and hold command points so admittedly total kills don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things but look at Vayne’s captures in that game. 18 captures and 10 neutralizations! This is by far the most in the game.

Vayne wasn’t the sole star on the team, either. Vayne’s team had 51 captures compared to just 34 captures from the opposing team. Vayne’s team had 68 kills compared to just 44 from the other team, so they spent less time dead and more on the field of battle. Vayne’s team even had better overall teamwork with 56 assists compared to 48 assists on the other team. So how did Vayne’s team lose if their team performed better across the board? Because wins and losses in Dominion are all luck.

This isn’t an unusual occurrence. It happens all the time. Take a look at another screen where going 17/2/13 with 12 captures as Teemo wasn’t enough to get a win.

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Like in the previous game, my team had more kills (46 to 37), more assists (44 to 38), and more captures (39 to 24). We even had more neutralization in this one with 21 neuts to 19. So how did we lose? Luck. What makes it worse is that this game wasn’t even close. We lost by over 200 points.

The losing Teemo went 17/2/13 with 12 captures while the Gangplank on the other team went 5/10/6 with just 3 captures. Gangplank doesn’t deserve that win, he played very poorly. Teemo deserved to win based on his performance, and yet lost anyway. Even if you compare his performance with the other team’s Teemo, who had the highest score on the winning team, he went 10/11/7 with 5 captures. What’s better, 17/2/13 with 12 caps or 10/11/7 with 5 caps? Which Teemo deserved the win? The answer is it doesn’t matter which Teemo deserved the win because wins are not earned in Dominion matchmaking games. They are random.

Speaking of score, one commonality among the above three screenshots is that the player who scored the most points in the game was on the losing team. If nothing else this should show you that the points system in Dominion is completely bogus.

Need further proof? Take a look at this 10 game match history showing a streak of games in which I died a total of zero times. Despite never dying at all, my team still only ended up winning four out of the ten games.

Wins May Feel Earned – But Aren’t

A series of scientific studies recently conducted by psychologists at the University of Berkeley showed that even when a game is rigged and you are destined to win, players still feel like they somehow earned the win due to their own prowess. In one of the experiments, scientists rigged a game of Monopoly so that a certain player would undoubtedly win the game. The benefitting player, which I’ll refer to as Player A started with $2,000 vs. Player B’s $1,000 and got to roll two dice while the other player got to roll only one. Not only did this allow Player A to move faster and further around the board, it also gave him the chance to roll doubles and take an extra turn whereas Player B never had that opportunity. One other advantage that player A had is that when he passed “Go!” he got to collect $200 while Player B only got to collect a mere $100. It was literally impossible for Player A to lose the game.


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