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Matchmaking gets an update in the Summer Scrub

Dota 2 Cristy “Pandoradota2” Ramadani

Valve has responded to the complaints of their MMR system, making an overhaul to promote more teamplay and enjoyment. 

Through the year multiple pro and casual players have complained about the MMR experience. Overwhelmingly they criticized the amount of 'game ruiners' that would cause players to lose their rank and rating. 

A core problem was that MMR promoted individuals instead of teams. A person's individual rank only held value in the Dota 2 culture - as opposed to their rank within a group, or party. Therefore if a player wanted to grind up the ranks or boast about their level, they were forced to endure negative experiences alone. It didn't matter if you were rank 1 in your region in Party, your efforts went unrecognized or celebrated. 

Because of such, that left players fighting for specific roles and behaving in toxic ways if they were denied such role or hero, or forcing players into roles or heroes that they might not be as comfortable on in order to fill in any gaps. Playing under such circumstances not only affected how enjoyable the game was but created a false ranking not based on actual ability and created imbalance in the games. 

Now, Valve has decided to make a few changes to the overall game experience, starting now with adjustments to group/individual ranking and the value of MMR. 

There are two major aspects with this change: 1) the teamplay and social aspect and 2) the value and correctness of the MMR value.

For the teamplay aspect: We think it is really crucial for you to not have a disincentive to play with your friends. The game currently overly emphasizes playing solo and establishes a strong social reward mechanism for this, which causes many players to prefer playing alone than with friends. We believe that bias has over time caused more negativity and unhappiness when playing Dota. Furthermore, Dota is a very teamplay heavy game and we want to consider that aspect a bit more strongly in the hierarchy of matchmaking values. We’ve considered other approaches to the friend and teamplay incentives, but they tended to do a poor job at making it feel actually rewarding to play with friends and only papered over the issue.

For the correctness of the MMR aspect: (...)We are adding a new concept of Core and Support MMR numbers. In order to achieve this, we need to know what role you want to play in advance of the match being formed. So for this experimental update, we are moving the Ranked Roles feature to the base Ranked matchmaking and expanding on its capabilities. Now when you matchmake, you will have the option of selecting roles from position 1 through 5 (Safe Lane Core through Hard Support), including multiple selections. So if you like playing Mid or Offlane, you can select those two, or if you like playing Hard Support and Mid, you’ll be able to do that as well. You will be matched based on either your Core or Support MMR.

So what does that mean exactly?

Well for starters, players now have the option of selecting their role in advance so that they are paired up with complementing roles. That means everyone in the game is already set for their task and role, playing positions or heroes they are comfortable with. In addition, this gives individual players of certain roles a chance to gain exposure to those in teams by continuously playing the same role.  

Secondly, by removing the concept of solo and party, both manners of queuing will result in the same end MMR rank. This provides more incentive to playing with friends. Teams searching for a player to fill a specific role can all group up and test the pub field as they search for a new star to recruit. 

Last, each MMR type will also have its own leaderboard applied initially as Core and Support. Support players can play in their preferred role and still attain the higher ranks that seemed to apply mostly to those in core positions. 

The differences will only be effective until the end of the season, at which time Valve will seek out feedback based on player experience as well as from collected data. 

This change is just the beginning according to Valve. 

Over the next year, we’ll be spending more time focusing on various aspects of matchmaking such as intra-team balance, player conduct, new player experience, abusive behaviors, account buying, friend and teamplay aspects, high mmr matchmaking dynamics, and other issues in an effort to make the overall experience of playing Dota more fun for players of all levels.

The changes are already in place and Valve has voiced they do expect that there may be a few bugs, so be sure to report those promptly to get them fixed. 

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Cristy “Pandoradota2” Ramadani
Pandora is a behind the scenes Dota 2 professional Jack of All Trades. When not busy with Dota 2 work, she is out trying to save the world or baking cupcakes. Follow her on Twitter @pandoradota2

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