The Bronze 5 problem

Let’s block the automatic forum troll response right off the bat shall we.

I’m a bronze player, and don’t claim to be anything else. I’m a casual player. I play hard when I do play but I don’t try to create new, innovative builds and combos. I work on mechanics, know the meta basics, run with the team, and help win the best I can. Nothing more, nothing less. Bronze[beard] to the core.

TL;DR - Bronze 5 is horrible. It’s draining all the joy out of playing HotS. It needs to be fixed.

If Blizzard’s goal is to get people to stop playing HotS, then congrats. Job well done. Bronze 5 makes me hate playing HotS.

Problem 1:
RP - I mostly play with my friends, who rank from bronze to gold. It pisses me off when I hear them get 150-400+ RP for a hard fought win and I get… 37. Playing with friends in a full team is when I should be getting good points, but you can’t when you’re in the black hole league (Bronze 5).

Problem 2:
Solo trolls - So I decided to try and rank up playing solo ranked for the first time as a bronze 5. This is where I discovered the troll problem I hear people talk about.

Some days you don’t get trolls and you win more games than lose. Other days you get all the trolls and you lose most of them. By troll I mean someone who plays bad on purpose (not talking inexperienced), fights with the team, is AFK for parts or most of the game, constantly disconnecting and you get stuck with an AI, or AFK during draft and you miss all/most of your bans. It’s epidemic in B5.

Problem 3
Escape velocity - I honestly don’t see a reasonable way to escape Bronze 5. I’ve had runs of 6 wins wiped out by runs of 6 losses. Now you might say “well then, that’s where you belong.” Not entirely true. I do belong in Bronze, but when you play 5 out of 6 games with at least one AFK/disconnected player it gets really hard to win. With active teammates I can win more often than I lose. Without… good luck.

But that’s only part of the escape problem. At 500 RP left to rank up I need to win 15 games in a row. 15 games… in … a … row. That mean no trolls, no AFK/disconnected players, good teammate. 15 times. In a row. It’s just not feasible without getting 4 friends to create 4 smurf account to bust you out. It feels like escaping a black hole once you pass the event horizon to get out bronze 5.

The end result: It’s stupid hard to escape Bronze 5.

Which puts Bronze 5 players is a nasty predicament: you need to get out of Bronze 5 to rank properly, but you can’t get out.

My response to “Storm League Bronze 5 Update” is that you don’t understand the frustration nor the negative impact. And you probably don’t care either or you would have fixed it by now.

Here’s my suggestion. Get rid of point pools and bell curves. This isn’t a high school math class. Bell curves don’t solve real world problems. It is a mathematical phenomenon that can occur, not something you should use to enforce scale unless you run a high school math class.

Each player should have an RP slider. A humble int will do. Add RP properly to all players based on the difficulty of the match (other team’s MMR or whatever). Subtract RP, move the slider towards 0, for a loss. Easy.

Add a cap so when I play with my bronze/silver/gold team I don’t end up with a stupid amount of points. Let people who try to win actually rank, no matter where they are.

Statistically, everyone will end up exactly where they belong. And players, as they improve, can actually rank. And if I still end up in B5, then so be it. Just fix the damn RP points.

You may even end up with a pretty bell curve in the end, but not because it was forced. But because it’s a mathematical phenomenon.

How does rank work? Exactly how it does now. Players with 1-1000 RP go to B5, 1001-2000 in B4, and so on. This will even work for masters because the RP slider would need to be over 25000 points to enter Masters league. That’s a lot of work and a lot of wins.

GMs stays the same. The top X number of masters player (highest RP + MMR) get into GM.

Those are my thoughts. They’ll probably be ignored, but I feel better having said something. So whatever. Back to the troll lottery for me.


I hear you. I was there, got out, got sucked back down into the black hole, got out again – probably went through it 5 or 6 times.

Bad news first: You can get all the way up to Silver 5 and still have Bronze 5 trolls in your matches, due to the madness of the matchmaking system. It takes a lot more than 15 matches and a Bronze 4 rank to escape them.

There are major problems with Bronze in general and Bronze 5 in specific, and a bunch of different ways to solve them. The core problem that Blizzard has with system design is that they don’t account for motivated trolls. There are at least 10, maybe 20 people who have many alt accounts that they troll B5 with. There has to be a Discord for them somewhere.

I know I’m not as bad a player as my SL rank suggests, so I started an alt account, leveled it up, placed in Silver 5 because I had Bronze trolls in two of my placement matches. Over the course of the next 10 matches I climbed almost to Silver 3. Once I hit Silver 4, the matches became ridiculously easy compared to Bronze because I’d finally outpaced the B5 troll army. Not that there aren’t trolls in all ranks, but the bulk of them are in B5, and you can’t play the game for real until you’re rid of them.

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(This is not my main Account)

I want to start by saying that “Trolls” are not just a Bronze problem. Trolls happen at every level all the way up to GM. A player can be having a bad game or day, and his teammates start trashing him, this motivates him to do worse. In some instances its troll to be playing distracted, poorly, grouped with bad friends, etc. To summarize, this is not something that you are going to see go away if you do climb out of your current rank. Maybe it will happen less often, but you will need to learn to overcome these challenges and focus on your own growth over wins/losses.

Also - 50% forced win-rate is sort of a thing, so sometimes you will have to go the extra mile to win a game you were designed to lose.

I am not trying to be mean, I generally would like to help since it sounds like you enjoy the game but are getting burnt out from the climb. The less players HOTS has, the less updates and competition that is out there.

Anyway I do not claim to be an amazing player, I make many mistakes and I still am doing all I can to learn from them and grow every time I play. That said, here is my background…
I began playing HOTS when it was in Alpha, I was never a top tier player, but a middle of the pack player. In-between then and now I have started and stopped playing for months to years at a time. I have also climbed to Master at points, and only made it to Plat other seasons. I recently decided that I wanted to get semi-serious about becoming a better player. I started watching GM streamers and I carefully watch every engagement, listen to advice, and ask questions.

I saw a few streamers doing a Bronze to Master challenge. I decided to create an account for just that purpose. The goal was to see how difficult it really is to climb, as at times it can feel like one players actions can have minimal impact in a game. To start I had to land Bronze on this account, that was a pretty difficult feat without looking intentional or seeming like a bot (Sorry to anyone harmed along this way). Anyway for now I have reached Gold 3 and have a 70+% win rate (70 games played - including losses to reach Bronze 5). I can say that only about 3 of these games were unwinnable due to teammates. I will continue to climb after the holidays, but here are some tips I can give you on what I believe you can do to help yourself climb:

The basic checklist to ensure you are setting yourself up for success:

  • Always know where all of the opponents are (Do this by glancing at the mini-map constantly either self timed or before you make any decision)
  • Get comfortable using hotkeys for everything (Ctrl + Number to choose a talent)
  • Get comfortable with Quick-Cast (Start with point and click talents like heals so you know you will not miss skill shots, transition to skill shots as you get better)
  • Do not play ranked while tilted or distracted
  • Watch replays of losses and wins to see how you could have done better in decision making, or what caused an advantage / disadvantage
  • Watch higher ranked streamers and ask questions
  • Learn what talents to pick (For example don’t choose block vs Zyra/Tychus as a tank because attack speed burns through charges, or don’t choose Spell Armor vs all physical damage)
  • Learn to communicate with your team the right way (Blaming rarely makes a positive impact, instead nicely suggest a solution to turn the game around)
  • Draft good heroes based on (Familiarity, Play-style, Synergy, Counters, Role)
  • Learn to make smart choices (Chasing for a kill in most situations early-mid game provide less value than soaking a wave and pushing)

The following is more detail on strategies to help you carry:

Pick at minimum one of three ways

1. Control the map - Learning player/Knowledgeable player Recommended

  • Goal: Win by pushing.
  • Summarized: By grabbing camps at the right time as well as having a strong lane presence you will force your opponent to respond to your moves and be on the defensive. This allows uneven team fights or if the enemy prioritizes objective/team fights free structure kills for you. You will win by having higher XP as well as stronger lane pressure (Catapults/Camps) than your opponent.
  • Why: This method works mostly by adding constant pressure to force your opponent to make a choice before each objective. This also should put your team at a level advantage, and allow you to choose when to take fights.
  • How: By taking a camp right before an objective starts and applying pressure on that lane your opponents will need to either respond by sending someone to clear (At this point you group and your team hard engages 4v5 and should win fight and obj) or they allow you to take a free Fort/Keep, as well as an experience lead. You can do this by split pushing another lane, or pushing with the camp.
  • Growth: As you apply this method you should mentally note how timings matter on grabbing camps, and how your opponents respond to them. This should also You should also learn how to shot call better, as well as how to clear and gather xp better. The biggest advantage to this is short term wins and long term self growth.
  • Challenges: You will need to learn to communicate what you are doing to your team well or they may react poorly or make poor choices. Especially in lower ranks, people tend to take fights oblivious to their teammates status (Distance/Health/Mana/etc). Ensure early you let them know your plan, then as the game progresses ping (Danger, Movement, Your location, Help, etc).

2. Call the shots - Knowledgeable/Confident player

  • Goal: Win by controlling your team and making good choices.
  • Summarized: By communicating when and what to do to your team whether it be camp timings, times to focus pushes, times to focus objective, time to engage/disengage you can control the game.
  • Why: Knowing what to do and when to do it is not something players know even up to diamond level play. By learning these things and then making the right choices for your team you can give yourself an advantage.
  • How: This can be done with any role, but best with a tank as you control the directions of the team fights, as well as engagements. This needs to be done via pings, chat, voice, and in the draft. Focus on what will synergize well and counter the other team while drafting, as well as what your teammates know and want to play and recommend choices.
  • Growth: This will help you realize how other players respond to communication and encourage better communications skills. Eventually once you are confident in your calls your teammates will respond by being confident as well. You will also learn better map awareness by picking times to engage or disengage.
  • Challenges: Players who oppose what your directives are, as well as learning what is actually the correct call. This requires more focus during the draft inspecting teammates profiles and recommending the right hero choices nicely.

3. Secure kills -Mechanically skilled player

  • Goal: Win by securing kills on opponents during team-fights and providing ganks for laning phases.
  • Summarized: By picking a Roaming, heavy burst damage, or stun-lock hero you put your team at an advantage by eliminating opponents in the lane allowing pushes, as well as during fights winning objectives.
  • Why: Roaming from lane to lane at a low skill level you can easily pick off an unsuspecting opponent allowing you to take an XP lead or win a following objective. You will win by controlling a fight by securing kills at the right time and playing well mechanically
  • How: By being a more skilled mechanically player then your opponents you will notice players out of position or not landing skill shots and punish them for it. By landing a well timed stun on someone out of position or staying in the fight too long you allow your team to secure a kill, snowballing the fight. By rotating well on unsuspecting opponents and making your teammate aware of your action.
  • Growth: As you play this role you should focus on other players choices as well as your own. This should help you see when other players are out of position for easy picks and you will learn to avoid doing so yourself. Also will enhance map awareness in general.
  • Challenges: Even the most mechanically skilled players can still lose a fight if it is a 5v1. Just being a really good at a hero or multiple heroes is not enough, and it can lead to self toxicity as you feel you are playing well enough to win. This is more important at higher levels of play.

As I stated, I am not a professional, and some of these points can be debated, but hopefully I have provided some useful insight for you. Feel free to comment on these things and provide counterpoints and I will happily make changes or respond. Good luck climbing out of the bronze hole.


Thanks, Enraged! I appreciate the guide.

I understand people having a bad day. I really do. And the 50% win-rate thing, I understand that, too.

But it’s just so hard to grind this game solo in B5. Every game I’ve had in the past two days, with one exception, has had at least one AFK or disconnecting player.

And the toxicity level … just wow. I’ve muted and/or reported someone nearly every game.

It’s an epidemic problem.

I’ve won every game where I had a complete team the entire game, but one. I’ve lost every game, but one, I haven’t. The problem is that I’ve had two days of AFK and disconnected player games and only one day of stable teams.

Maybe other leagues have the same problem, too. I don’t know. But solo HotS is just not enjoyable and I feel no one is doing anything about it. Pile on the fact that I’m rewarded nearly nothing for a win… it starts to become not worth my time.

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It is the same in plat, you can not solo que in this game otherwise you are gonna get trolls, afkers and feeders. I have so many people that will not soak lanes, enemy team gets level 10 while your lvl 8 and then wanna force a team fight. Like wtf.

Then the moment a player decides to type in chat, everyone starts arguing, game gets toxic and then you have lost at that point, it never fails. Not including all the people that wanna afk or game throw cause they did not get their way or are mad at you for something.

I just do not understand how these players never get punished, i always block these people and check every random i am matched with when i party up with 2 or so people and I am always finding people on my block list who refuse to work with the team, feed kills on purpose.

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The big thing to keep in mind is players rarely queue up to intentionally lose games. At times there are truly trolls that will do this, but the odds are that most aren’t trying to lose. Again, they may be playing poorly, or they don’t actually understand the value of communication in a team game.

I can 100% say that I have seen players in bronze/silver with better mechanics than myself. I have taken 1v1 fights confidently and been surprised when I lost because I was out played. We still win these games of course, because of the other things going on in the game to ensure the win in the long run. Point is that they have that potential in them to be really good, but they are only focusing on what they are good at, and ignoring the other aspects of the game to help them win.

I guess just keep in mind the same player may perform differently from game to game. We have all had game where we go 10+ KDA, and we have had games with a 0. I have gone hard carries like Greymane, and one game I can play as aggressively as I want and kill the entire enemy team, another game the other teams healer and tank may respond better and I am ineffective (this doesn’t mean I am playing poorly just because I’m ineffective). The synergy of the team matters a lot, even if you get matched with a player you think was just trolling give them another shot or try to politely request they play another role if they did not perform well the previous game. Also, many players will mute team chat or ignore each other, but most will still respond to pings unless you spam ping them.

There is a lot of riding the struggle bus and it can be demoralizing when you see a player on your team that you think is bad, but realize they are the same rank or in the same game as you for a reason.

Players do in fact to game throw, its just a stupid trend nowadays in this game. You mix that with blizzards more than clear bad MMR system where players in silver and gold are getting plat and clearly are not even ready to handle that, let alone higher ranked matching and game play.

If you dive 1v3 or more or engage before lvl 10 when they have lvl 10, that is teh same as feeding cause you are almost certain to die, the fact player do this stuff shows they clearly do not want to win.

As for giving players another chance, the match history shows it all, when someone has 9 games in a row lost and they are the reason your team is losing, its pretty safe to assume they are the common link in all of this mess.

Blizzard just refuses to actually punish players cause they are afraid of losing any more players than they already have.

I certainly agree that it can happen, players do intentionally throw, and yes there should be stricter punishment for this. I also still think that it is rare, and as far as MMR goes, the system could use some work.

The goal of blizzard is to make the matches as equal as possible without too long of a queue. The unfortunate truth is sometimes people get placed in the wrong league. They will eventually fall but the other players suffer on the way down.

My biggest issue overall is that your MMR can be much higher than your rank, and on top of that the 50% forced win rate mechanic makes climbing unfair for some players. I believe even if your at a +60% win rate and your say- gold 2 you should be playing other gold 2. Not with gold 4 teammates against plats expected to hard carry.

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If you win 6 games and than loose 6 games for whatever reason than you staying in bronze 5 works as intended. You have to make sure that in the long run(100 or so games) you win more than you loose. Not knowing you but seeing your profile picture i can give you an easy advice how to climb out of bronze quickly. First of all start playing only tanks. Get good with them by practicing them in unranked or QM. This way you can let people play their beloved assassins and the chances will be much higher that you end up with a propper team comp of at least 1 tank and 1 heal. Also playing a role like tank good, gives your team an insanely advantage since the enemy team would probably force someone into playing tank who is not even good at this role. Second tipp: pick Johanna whenever you can! Johanna is insanely good at carrying games especially in lower ranks. She can E-W-Q a minion wave in seconds and double soak lanes without any problems. She is almost comletely resistant to ganks, so you wont feed the enemy team while soaking crazy amounts of exp. Learn to rotate and leave lane even during fight(after you pinged back) just to go and soak a lane. Really learn how to soak properly, every enemy minion duying to your towers without you picking up the exp should concern you. Build is 3 -3 - 3(or 2 if they have lots of AA) -2 -1 (all of 13 talents are good, pick the one you like most) - 1 - 2 (if you dont die much or at all take 3 to help your teammates). the level 4 talent will make minions take more dmg, so just use your E than W than Q and the minion wave is almost dead. Thats my advice from Dia 2 Johanna main, hope you can make use of it.

They will be ignored, but not necessarily for disagreeing with you. The ranking system in the game has completely lost its legitimacy at some point year and a half ago when random players got promoted to Master on basis of simply completing placement games. They pretended to have fixed it, but the problem simply carried over to the next season. Rank decay also messed up matchmaking beyond repair by forcing relatively high skilled players to play with drastically lower players, on the basis of rank tier separation alone.

The only difference between Bronze+Master and everyone else in the game is that at the top and bottom of you get to play somewhat consistent matches. For everyone else the experience is even worse when you mix drastically different levels of player mechanical skill and knowledge.

Every season rollover introduces even more issues rather than fixing the existing ones. Worth mentioning that one season where they made solo+team league into one single game mode. This season they completely prevented Master players from playing with those at Diamond level (together in a party). Playing with skilled friends is a big nono and creates bad matchmaking, but when the game automatically assigns Silvers into a Diamond game then we are to pretend like everything is fine.

This is spot on. The ranking system has never been able to accurately determine skill. In my opinion you quite often will have players in your match that are no where close to where they should be.

Only way to play ranked is to remove the blizzard MM from the equation…make your own team.


I honestly think they should just remove MMR and have everyone start at bronze 5, you win more gamesin a row and get more points and maybe even skip ranks based on how many you win.


It’s three weeks too late for that, now that the player base have already redistributed themselves on the ladder. If they decided to go for it, the fresh start would be very rough and much more frustrating pretty much for everyone, but eventually it would fix itself. However you’d always have the problem of returning veteran players causing a complete mess with matchmaking.

This is the opposite of what a lot of people have been asking for, which is to remove SR and just show MMR. There’s no reason to have two numerical systems, especially when they’re only loosely related.

That was changed a few months ago. Rank is directly mapped to MMR now, you can’t be higher MMR than your rank is anymore (such as a high MMR diamond 4 banning over Diamond 2 players like in the past).


I mean read the first point “Rank is no longer considered by the matchmaker”.

This is my biggest issue with matchmaking at the moment. The situation you described shouldn’t happen, and this direct mapping is just wording, doesn’t mean anything.

Rank not being considered by matchmaker means rank is worthless. I have legit seen a game where it was 5 Diamond players vs 5 Masters players. This indicates that somehow the masters players are lower MMR then the diamond players.

Again, I would like to ignore MMR and go by rank, since that is the visual indicator people like to see rise. It makes no sense for someone who is Diamond to have to work harder for a win than someone who is Master.

Anyway yes the highest rank will always ban in the game, and just like you said a higher MMR D4 player, who is the better player, will have to accept that and try that much harder to climb while carrying a D2 player.

You can’t be D4 and have higher MMR than D2 anymore. The system has been changed for SL season 1.

Where are you getting that information? I see the patch notes you linked, which all they say is what I described above.

Also if you read the second bullet point you will see that -500 point reduction is an exact example of how it could happen. 2 diamond 3 players. One at 250 points, one at 50. If the 250 point player dodges draft, now he is a lower rank than the other player, but that didn’t impact his MMR 500. And if they get queued together the D3 will draft over him.

The system ignores rank when putting a team together and uses mmr (which is why you can have a team of lower ranked players vs higher ranked and stomp them). Once you get in the draft mmr is ignored and the highest rank is the banner.

Unfortunately I do not have a screenshot to show an example from this season. But I am sure I will get in this situation again at some point once I resume playing after the holidays.

From here.

Also if you read the second bullet point you will see that -500 point reduction is an exact example of how it could happen. 2 diamond 3 players. One at 250 points, one at 50. If the 250 point player dodges draft, now he is a lower rank than the other player, but that didn’t impact his MMR 500. And if they get queued together the D3 will draft over him.

No he wont, only your rank points determine who gets to ban now.

As of the July patch, rank points = MMR.

Ranked Points are now directly mapped to a player’s Storm League MMR.

Even if you left 40 games and dropped to Gold, you wouldn’t be banning over someone who has numerically more rank points (for example you have 11200, a Gold 4 who has 11300 will get to ban).
1 league is 5000 points.

What you describe was possible, before the July 2019 patch.

I got 6 wins in a row in bronze 5, only getting 25 pts per win. Like WTH

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