Sat Sep 12

Ranked Season – How it Works and How it Will Evolve

    Matchmaking , Season 1

Ranked Season – How it Works and How it Will Evolve Image

Now that we’re a few days into Season 1 and we’ve had the chance to watch its performance in the real-world more closely, it’s a great time to make this post so that you all have a better idea of how the system “officially” works and for us to let you know what we think we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. This is a possible TLDR, so get ready!

How Preseason Worked and Didn’t Work

Our goal for Season 1’s ranking system was to eliminate the common problems we saw with Preseason. We used raw skill ranking (MMR) in Preseason to determine your division and leaderboard standings:

  1. Our skill system is similar to other modern games and tracks a “Skill” and “Uncertainty” for each player.
  2. Your skill value goes up or down based on wins, losses, and match difficulty
  3. Over time, your uncertainty decreases as the system becomes more confident about your skill

This worked great for matchmaking, but it performed poorly for seasonal player ranking because it becomes harder and harder for you to change your skill over time (and the leaderboards become stagnant).

How Season 1 Works Differently

For Season, we are continuing the approach of taking methods used by other popular competitive games by introducing a “Points” system that sits on top of a “hidden” Skill Rating/ MMR, from which the points get its influence. At a high level, this smooths away the Preseason problems as “Rank Points” (RP) follow a few key rules:

  1. You gain or lose points that are proportional to the difficulty of the match you played (based on MMR, not RP)
  2. Your RP should “trend” towards your MMR. So, if for example, you’re “Bronze III” by RP but your MMR is matching you against “Silver II” players, you should gain extra RP via wins and lose less RP with losses until you end up near the “Silver II” division
  3. RP is actually not involved in matchmaking at all, it is still controlled entirely by your hidden MMR

What We’ve Learned From the Real World

Based on your feedback and our own experiences in Season 1, it has become obvious that our system wasn’t quite working the way we intended. But why?

Problem 1: When we reset the Preseason standings, we reset everyone’s MMR “uncertainty” to allow player skills to move around more freely with the new season. It turns out this was a mistake because it made matchmaking less accurate AND it caused problems with the RP algorithm that was supposed to “trend” you towards your MMR. Those two issues combined created a climate where players see small gains but significant losses when they shouldn’t have

Problem 2: We didn’t seed Ranked divisions as well as we wanted to. Specifically, anyone from 0-499 MMR was placed into Bronze I, 500-999 MMR in Silver I, and 1000+ into Gold I. This is particularly troublesome for players in the Bronze rank, where a 100 MMR player and a 499 MMR player are vastly different but started with the same RP.

What We’re Doing to Address Real-World Problems

A couple of things, actually:

  1. We plan on implementing placement matches in the near future (most likely in Season 2)
  2. We are restoring your hidden MMR Skills and Uncertainties to Preseason values, but with a minimum uncertainty (your skill never completely stagnates). This will improve matchmaking quality AND fix problems with your RP incorrectly “trending” towards your MMR. In other words, you’ll see fewer small RP gains and fewer large RP losses (We are doing this very SOON).
  3. We are actively investigating re-seeding players into more accurate divisions. A 499 Preseason MMR player could instead be placed into Bronze III instead of Bronze I, for example. We will also be careful not to reduce anyone’s RP who has already climbed past where they would have been re-seeded (We are also doing this SOON).

Parting Words

We will be keeping an eye on system behavior and player feedback with our immediate and larger-scale reworks prior to- and for Season 2.After all, our primary goal is to ensure that Ranked play is both competitive AND fun, so that’s what we’re going to work towards accomplishing.

Thanks to all of you for helping us find our way there. We’re definitely in this together!