At least "a dozen" alternatives were explored and "extensive research" carried out before the decision was made to carve the European League of Legends territory in half, Riot Games has told Eurogamer.
Riot Games defended its actions as necessary to stabilise and spread out the overcrowded European player base. But the community saw it as an axe crudely severing their pan-European friendship ties.
Riot Games admitted "this is not a perfect solution", but explained it was "by far the best way to offer a consistently stable service and a great player experience in a short time frame".
League of Legends Europe will now become EU West and EU Nordic & East. You will be automatically sorted into either platform depending on your location.
"Statistically, Scandinavian summoners have more friends in Eastern Europe."Mirko Gozzo, MD Riot Games Dublin
"Before making this decision we took a very hard look at how people were making friends playing League of Legends," Mirko Gozzo, managing director of Riot Games' Dublin office, told Eurogamer.
"From our research – and this was very surprising to us – statistically, Scandinavian summoners have more friends in Eastern Europe. We considered a wide variety of scenarios when planning for this split, and this was the solution that preserved the greatest number of friend connections in Europe.
"We know this is not a universal truth, which is why we decided to offer one free server transfer following the split," he added. "And of course, anyone will be able to join either platform as a new summoner."
Gozzo said "we absolutely empathise" with people whose pan-European friendship groups will be broken. "It’s simply the best possible compromise to do to ensure all players will have a better gaming experience and will have a faster access to their favourite game," he declared.
"Believe me – we understand the cultural intricacies involved here."Mirko Gozzo, MD Riot Games Dublin
"I’m Italian," added Gozzo, "and I’m in charge of Riot Games’ European office here in Dublin. Here we have people who hail from Germany, France, Italy, England, Poland, Spain and even Argentina! Back home in Riot’s headquarters in the US, there are even more countries and cultures represented.
"Believe me – we understand the cultural intricacies involved here.
"The facts – particularly where friend connections exist amongst our European player base – speak for themselves. And we are giving players the choice by offering a free transfer if they feel we put them on the wrong platform."
Another concern is having fewer countries per server cluster will promote more liberal use of different languages, leading to a breakdown in communication, which is a vital component of the game.
"Actually, if you’re having a look at the split, we have more than ten different countries in each platform," Gozzo pointed out. "There is no real reason for people to start speaking only their own language during matches from one day to the other if they’re playing with summoners from another country.
"We really believe the same existing pattern will apply after the split: players will ask what nationalities you’re from, and will adapt based on that. Of course, if you, as a Polish person, join a team with other Polish players, you’ll probably speak Polish!"
The League of Legends community also worries that a majority of European players will use the free transfer to migrate to EU West. Such a move could drain EU Nordic & East of its top players as well as overcrowd EU West.
But Gozzo said all this had been accounted for: "We actually took into account projected growth when planning our solution. Besides preserving the greatest number of friend connections, this allocation is intended to ensure the player populations on both platforms are roughly equal in size, both immediately and in terms of projected growth.
"The Nordic region continues to be one of our fastest growing areas in Europe, and this distribution is intended to keep growth even on both platforms."
League of Legends Europe will be broken into EU West and EU Nordic & East in the coming weeks. Server hardware will be housed "in a central location in Europe".
League of Legends is a free-to-play online action strategy game inspired by the iconic Defense of the Ancients Warcraft III mod.
Eurogamer's League of Legends review awarded 8/10.