AFKs and leavers are some of the most disruptive behaviors players face, so we're happy to be to tell you about an update around AFK and Leaver punishments, which Riot last talked about in April before temporarily tunneling in on Queue Dodging.
Up until now, Riot have penalized AFKing with Queue Delays. Queue Delays are a speed bump on an offending player’s way to their next few games: Upon clicking the play button, the queue blocks them behind a short timer. The purpose of this is to change behavior. If someone who goes AFK gets to experience what having their time wasted is like, they are less likely to perpetrate it in the future. For most folks Queue Delays work well, but about 9% of the players worldwide engage in consistent AFK behavior and don’t seem to be deterred by a few delays between their games.
For players who continue to AFK, Riot are introducing a new penalty: Queue Lockouts, which are basically like mega-delays. When a player experiences a Queue Lockout, they will have a popup displayed explaining their punishment and will be unable to start games in MOBA queues. When Riot issue a Queue Lockout, they aren't saying "hey, doesn't it suck to have your time wasted?"
They are, instead, taking a harder approach and removing the player from the population for a while so they can't continue to AFK in games. Once a queue lockout does expire, it's followed by the maximum-level queue delay so they can still maintain the benefits of behavior modification and players who take a break don’t get to sit out their entire punishment. Queue Lockouts apply to all MOBA queues.
An important note is that any player that is currently at a very high tier will be reset to Tier 3. They will get a chance to reform before the Queue Lockouts begin.
Tier level is not a time-based system. The best (and only) way to lower your penalty tier is to play games without going AFK—you can't just wait it out.