Hi, I am a regular Heroes of the Storm player who spends most of their time in Ranked. I have found that I enjoy Heroes of the Storm tremendously. The attention to detail in character models as well as map development and mechanics, these all live up to the Blizzard name and exceed my expectations of a free game. I say this to express my views of the game and my desire to see it go further.
Through experience, frustration, and research, I have found that Ranked in Heroes of the Storm has had long-standing issues. The purpose of this topic is to address those issues and propose solutions. Some of the solutions I will propose do not come from me, but instead from a variety of sources to which I was exposed when exploring the community’s thoughts on ranked in Heroes of the Storm.
What does the Community Expect?
I believe it is a fair assumption that when a player choses Ranked over Quick Match or Brawl they are looking for a Competitive Environment in which they can play their best with teammates whom are also playing their best against opponents of similar skill who are also doing their best.
What is perceived best in ranked?
The perceived best is known as the “meta”. This is an unspoken “rule” which character development, character tuning, and player morale revolve around. The issue being that there is the general consensus that a ranked match needs to have at bare minimum the following three things: A Tank, a Healer, and a Ranged Assassin. It extends further into expectations that certain heroes are banned, and others are always locked. If this unspoken rule is broken, It has tremendous consequences on team morale.
What is an individual’s best?
A player looking for a ranked match wants to play their best. Some players perceive themselves as only being able to play their best in certain roles. This creates an imbalance which can be seen as selfish (and therefor harmful) to other players. If everyone wants to play an assassin and no one is comfortable playing a tank the game will often fall apart before it begins. This is because the “Individual’s Best” does not always line up with the “Perceived Best”.
What if a player compromises?
This is the current solution to the dilemma, and it is an insufficient one. A player compromising and switching to another hero, while considerate of them and better for the team, is also problematic. The reason being that this generally forces that player out of their “best” and into “okay” territory, while It also reinforces “greedy picks” and other players taking advantage of that player’s good intentions. This creates an environment where the person unwilling to compromise will be able to play their “best” more often while the one willing to compromise will be forced into uncomfortable (and often different) roles, each game. Giving the uncompromising player an advantage to ranking up and the compromising one a disadvantage.
Following this trail of logic, it shows that the current expectation of player compromising is insufficient, and even detrimental to the Heroes of the Storm gameplay/community. As it rewards those who engage in damaging behavior and leaves those who willingly compromise unrewarded.
What if the individual’s best, really is their worst?
We have all seen it, a player decides to bring a hero they win less than 3 in 10 games with in ranked. In this case the player’s focus is not playing what they are best at but playing what they enjoy the most. The emphasis is not on winning but on gameplay. There are two issues with this, the first being that we have access to view those statistics during draft. If a player tends to lose more often than they win with a hero it is best that other teammates can not know it, as it has an impact on morale. The second being that it is reasonable to go into a game with the expectation that other players will pick to win (both teammates and opponents), choosing a hero you win 3/10 games with, even if it is the best possible hero to pick, is questionable in a ranked environment.
What is player morale?
Player morale refers to player mentality during gameplay. During a ranked game it is their perceived QoL. It has effects on gameplay, and if player morale is low enough, can result in a throw.
What are Trolls?
Trolls in Heroes of the Storm Ranked are people who view the ranked system in a way that differs from base player pool. These individuals understand that ranked is an environment where other players want to win, and they understand that skewing the environment to favor a loss will cause frustration (especially in ranked). They can be seen as predators who have a sadistic drive to cause as much frustration to other players as possible and are the worst element of the ranked system by far. These players have developed countermeasures to the current report system and often take advantage of that system to cause further harm to other players. These players do not hold themselves accountable for their actions, they will not stop, and they are a plague. With the current system, Blizzard gives these individuals absolute control over your time and punishes you for depriving them of that control. Their control extends so far, that they can force you to quit playing the game even when you want to continue playing. The reason being because when you requeue, there is the chance that you will end up with that player again, experiencing the same thing, for 20 minutes, and if you leave the troll is not punished. You are.
What are Throws?
Throwing in the towel, this happens when a player’s morale is done, their frustration is maxed, and they perceive the game as a loss. These individuals generally view the game as lost when they throw in the towel and justify it by saying why. These players are generally in the wrong, they have been playing too long or have too short a fuse. This is not to say that throwing is always bad. Giving up when you have a troll on your team is honestly the best solution.
How can we fix these issues?
Blacklist + Reporting
Instead of putting the report system into overdrive, which Blizzard has done and I suspect has mostly automated. There should be a blacklist system working with a dialed back report system. The fact is that the games are 20 minutes long and Blizzard employees unlikely have adequate resources to give fair judgement. This is especially true when trolls are using countermeasures. So let the players themselves decide who they absolutely do not want to play with again.
20 Games 50% W/L
Blizzard has taken multiple approaches when making requirements for Ranked. Some strict and some lax. Right now the Heroes of the storm population is a mixed bag long-time players, new-players, and smurfs. Patches are constantly being released (thank you Blizzard Devs, you are awesome!) We need a ranked judgement system that adheres to all of these individuals while also being dynamic and maximizing chances of success without being too restricting. It is my belief that if a player can show a 50% W/L over 20 Quick Match/Unranked/Ranked games, they be allowed to play that hero in ranked.
This will encourage players to rethink heroes they may not understand (or make have changed without them knowing). While not making it too difficult for them to return to ranked once implemented. It works for all player types and can be implemented using the current statistics system.
Right now draft has a major issue, and that issue is that control lies with the individual and not the team.
Draft has 5 people per side, this is a special number specifically because it Is uneven and perfect for vote system.
The way I envision a draft rework would be similar to how it is already made, with minor adjustments. First, hovers. Instead of an individual hovering one hero it would be best if they can hover their choice 3 heroes. It would also be ideal if those top 3 heroes were required to be different roles. The slots would be changed with 1-2-3 on the keyboard.
Order is decided by draft (like it used to be)
For each player, under each hover, will be a check or x to vote for that hero. Each player automatically checks his own heroes and is required to check at least one hero for each other player.
Bans will be handled with each player proposing a ban, (icons placed in center of screen) and then voting. Most votes win, ties result in random selection from tied heroes.
To encourage participation, players who do not show their heroes before 10s remaining receive a nonparticipation penalty (similar to leaver’s) players who do not meet voting requirements receive same.
This encourages communication, requires participation, and completely nullifies greedy picks.
At the beginning of each season, each player looking to join ranked should be required to read through and accept an accountability notice that they will always:
Participate during draft, Try their best in every ranked match, Not give up until a core has been conquered, Keep communication positive and focused on the match.
They should then have to take a small (very simple) quiz with questions like “In the event my core is still standing but I feel I have lost I should…: A. Abandon all hope. B. Do my best to emerge victorious! C. LEEERRROOOY!” Where they must get all answers correct to continue, incorrect answers result in quiz restarting.
After completing these, the expectations should be slapped right there on the ranked page in a way that they can not be missed.