The purpose of this manuscript is to develop a novel MAIRCA (Multi-Attribute Ideal-Real Comparative Analysis) method to solve the MCDM (Multiple Criteria Decision-Making) problems with completely unknown weights in the q-rung orthopair fuzzy (q-ROF) setting. Firstly, the new concepts of q-ROF Lance distance are defined and some related properties are discussed in this paper, from which we establish the maximizing deviation method (MDM) model for q-ROF numbers to determine the optimal criteria weight. Then, the Lance distance-based MAIRCA (MAIRCA-L) method is designed. In it, the preference, theoretical and real evaluation matrices are calculated considering the interaction relationship in q-ROF numbers, and the q-ROF Lance distance is applied to obtain the gap matrix. Finally, we manifest the effectiveness and advantage of the q-ROF MAIRCA-L method by two numerical examples.