If you are anything like me you know just how aggravating lag can be in online games, especially highly competitive games such as League of Legends. I count myself as one of the fortunate few who can never blame lag for my mistakes, enjoying a constant low latency of 16ms is something I was recently reminded to never take for granted. In a recent trip to South Africa I attempted to play league with +200ms latency and whilst certainly doable, personally, it does strip much of the enjoyment from the game.
However, what is considerably worse than having high latency is having unstable latency. The last thing you want to do is queue for a ranked game expecting your usual latency only to have considerably more. This is an issue which has been plaguing many european players for the past few years. But recently League of Legend’s developer Riot has announced it has significant plans to reduce lag in Europe.
However, what makes latency such a difficult issue to tackle, is the multitude of possible causes for lag in online games, everything from whether a gamer is using wi-fi to ISP routing issues can cause higher or unstable ping.
However what is clear is that ISP don’t take latency as seriously as they should and in order to address this Riot Games is working directly with European Internet service providers to build its own dedicated network similar to their previously announced North American server plans. The aim is to improve connection speed and stability for all League of Legends players across the region.
In early 2104 Riot migrated their European servers to a new datacenter in Amsterdam, resolving many of the severe issues which hampered European players weekly, such as server crashes as well as lag. Along with the new data center came changes to its Frankfurt datacentre and Riot now boasts over 500 direct connections with ISPs throughout Europe and a high-speed private link between both data centers has been completed. However, the new datacenter has not been a perfect solution as many players in the region still suffer intermittent lag
In a recent blog post, Riot Europe has unveiled some insights into what European players can expect.
“Our goal is to extend Riot’s presence in regions affected by these limitations in order to improve the player experience and minimise connection difficulties,” reads the post. “Instead of middleman backbone providers getting ISP traffic to us, we will be building direct connections to the ISPs that LoL players use, and then announce to these ISPs: feel free to use Riot’s backbone for your customers playing LoL. Since our backbone is solely dedicated to League traffic, this should improve the experience for a vast majority of player traffic as it leaves an ISP on its way to Riot.”
Having purchased the necessary equipment and finalized discussions with long-haul circuit providers, Riot has begun designing and building physical infrastructure which ISP can connect to in order to off load League of Legends bandwidth onto.
It is fairly surprising that Riot is going so far as to build their own network, but it clear the company does not have confidence in European or American ISP capability to provide reliable low latency. Riot has stated that it is moving “as fast as possible” to get this project finished and will offer estimated dates for the first roll-out phase soon.