Algorithmic Handicapping (MMR) is Wrong for Competitive Play

Well for example they could go with a full, long detailed answer on how the SR, PBSR and MMR works along with detailed answers on why they work like that.
Full official explanation on which stats matter for which heroes when it comes to PBSR.
Full coverage on what the matchmaker checks when it formulates a match, each stat explained, detailed and reasoned.

You know pretty much all the stuff what we need ingame in an easily checkable form to improve if we want to.

You know the saying “suspicious silence”? Nothing makes it easier to attack someone with various claims than refusing to answer back. All it would take Blizzard to shatter the theories is to release this data but they refuse to do that.

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EXACTLY. I stopped playing this game many seasons ago (after season 6) because I felt I was babysitting people in my SR. Common knowledge things (at least to me) people couldnt grasp. Like, positioning as soldier, when to ULT, which heros counter which heros. When to push. Season 6 I climbed to plat playing Zarya, Genji, Tracer, McCree, Genji, Anna. I feel like I can play a little bit of everything and I do. I played seasons 10, 11, 12, 14 as well but only for about 2-10 hours.

This season I am 60 hours in, and I am getting that babysitting feeling again. Some people say “stop telling me how to play the game”. I even hear some complain about being on a loss streak when the game starts, while I think to myself “oh sht, I just won 3-5 games in a row… This is a loss unless I can carry this”. And I’ve noticed when I am in a game, no matter how good my call outs are, no matter the picks I get, sometimes my team just cant capitalize. I like to look at your current win rate. Right now I am 159-146 (not bad) but the game I have been getting are bad. Really bad. So Bad I am scared to queue. I am only gold (2260, was 2318) but I understand a fair bit of the game. Enough to know when people are making mistakes. And in my SR rank it is RARE to find a good healer, so I usually heal. But when I do and My DPS arent doing well I will go DPS as well. Or if i am tanking and not getting healed I will go Hog, or Mei, or Reaper just to get some sort of self healing.

Reading this article was an eye opener and the fact that Im not the only one who realized this made me feel more sane. I tell my stream and my brothers my “excuses” all the team. But I now know my excuses arent “excuses” at all, it’s the truth. and idk how to break the system

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It’s been like that since the beginning. I’m honestly surprised people still complain about it. Enjoy it for what it is or move on, imo. They may overhaul it in the future or they may not. Good read, but I don’t mind babysitting or being babysat because the game is still fun. That may wear off after awhile, which is normal, imo.

People arent going to be happy with Blizzard saying the game is fairly balanced until they detail exactly how the hidden MMR works and is calculated. These people have a point to be fair, as if they are so sure of its balance and fairness, why is it hidden at all?

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still nothing from the blues, im not shocked

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Check the references section. Everything’s there, and it’s a lot. They’re not going to repeat themselves for a bunch of immature, self-entitled players as this forum has continued to prove themselves to be.

oh wow, im guessing you are dating a blue arent you, either that or you have stockholm syndrome

No, I’m an automated reply bot.

Check the references section. Everything’s there, and it’s a lot. They’re not going to repeat themselves for a bunch of immature, self-entitled players as this forum has continued to prove themselves to be.

Now check the bolded.

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Are you going to accuse them of being disinfo agents next?

You seem vexed. 2020

id say netlled but… vexed works also

MMR is rigged in terms of matchmaking.

I purposefully threw games just to get more of a losing streak in order to see how matchmaking would be (about 250 SR). Chances are, the remnants of losing teammates that I threw with are more likely to match up with me, whereas the remnants of enemy teams that won would always be matched against me. It is rigged because it is determining via losses that players should not be at their current MMRs and will try to match people based on that. SR is pointless when the MMR system is designed to make sure that losing players are continually matched with other losing players until they win, and the winning players are continually matched with other winning players until they lose. Having an MMR reveal would be pointless because the system is already present in practicality for us to see.

Reporting in. Another night of unwinnable games after hitting my season high previously. Not that i can’t hang. Just that… it was my turn to have idiot teammates vs. much more coodinated players.

Lost my Plat.

“Keep playing!” says Blizz. (buy some lootboxes?)

SO obviously rigged to keep people chasing that it’s ridiculous.

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Holy wall of text, that took a while to read. Now its time for my own wall of text lol

I have seen alot of these posts, and honestly maybe there is a small issue with the current system, namely how the system reacts when a player needs to flex to a role they are not comfortable on, or refuses to flex for the good of the team, skewing the competitiveness of a match. This happens because the matchmaker does not know what you play, only what your skill level is, and makes teams based on this alone. Hopefully some sort of role queue with role based SR in the future will help with this in the future, although even then there are still characters in each role with such wildly different skillsets that the matchmaker still wont be able to account for this (think Doomfist vs Widow, or Hammond vs Rein).

In terms of MMR being shown, yeah you could do that, although most of the time you would see that it is extremely close to your SR, unless you have just gone on a huge win or loss streak, or are a decayed GM - And in this case the system works fairly well to assure that players who do not play for a while do not lose some of their ability over the break, and gives large SR gains if they are still competeing at the level that their MMR expects them to.

In saying all this however, you may have hit some interesting points in all of this, but I absolutely cannot believe your reasoning for the changes. You are complaining that your matches are too fair?? That’s laughable. If the matchmaker already knows that one team is far superior to the other before it even begins, what was the point of that match exactly? The losing team just got crushed and is pissed off at the matchmaker, while the winning team just got a steamroll that feels too easy and is unrewarding. Never mind the fact that lopsided matches have literally no show on where a players skill actually lies. By creating balanced matches, the games are typically much more interesting for the players (which really is whats most important in a video game), and you can actually prove the matchmaker wrong by outpreforming whats expected from you. By doing this, you prove you can climb, and are rewarded with SR as a result. If you underpreform, then obviously dont deserve the SR you currently sit at. By creating 50-50 matches, the game is decided by the best players, and allows them to climb by outpreforming the other team. If you are on the lower end of the players, then you will be carried, and if you are so bad that your team cannot compensate for it, then you obviously deserve the loss of SR. It sucks for those that lose the match because of this, but it is equally likely to happen to either side because the matchmaker has made a match that on theory should be even. This is also why SR fluctuates like it does, and is completely natural. No change to the system will change this, all you can do is improve as a player so you can be the reason your team wins in more matches, increasing your own SR. And in the cases where it is not perfectly even, the matchmaker gives lower changes to SR if the match goes as expected, and higher changes if the underdogs win. Because clearly if the underdogs win, the ranking of the players are off and need to be changed more drastically. Also, these matches are not made of a bunch of diamonds and a bunch of golds, unless grouping throws off the matchmaker (which is a legitimate issue). They are made of similarly skilled players from the same rank, which are sorted into 2 teams to create the fairest possible match, allowing those who should be climbing to prove their skills. If you want to climb out of Gold for instance, then you should be the best player in all of your games in Gold, otherwise you clearly are ranked correctly.

A final note, albeit one that is a little off topic. You may be spending time improving your play, but can still stay in the same rank. This is because the ranking system is a spectrum of where all players fall, and amazingly everyone who plays this game is improving as they play it! Players now are a whole lot more skilled and knowledgeable than they were in S1. This means that to rank up, you need to improve at a faster rate than the average rate of the community as a whole, which takes effort to do

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Lots of people assume this, but it makes no sense. SR and MMR exist for different purposes. They probably do not even resemble each other numerically. For all we know, MMR is not even a single number but a set of numbers.

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It actually does make sense. The numbers can be extremely different in form and with the information they represent, but if they are reducible to the same end result, they can easily be treated as the same when referencing it in short hand.

Some real-world equivalents of this would be comparing vehicles to VIN numbers or products to serial numbers or barcodes. The identifiers used on the manufacturer’s side mean very little to the consumer, but it contains a variety of detailed information that is important in the grand scheme of things.

MMR could be a ridiculously complex sequence of numbers and characters that looks nothing like the 4-digit SR number we see on our ends that would make absolutely no sense to us if we weren’t given a way to decode it, but if that complex sequence is still reducible to roughly the same number more often than not, it doesn’t matter if the separate number exists in a different format.

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Okay you’re right about that; MMR doesn’t have to be represented exactly the same way that SR does, to correspond with it. But calculating SR is a long-term operation that happens across the entire career of each player, and it depends mainly on the win/lose result of the player’s matches. Calculating MMR is a shorter term operation that takes place across X number of matches, and does not depend on the win/lose result of the player’s matches.

When I played Competitive Overwatch, my rank ranged wildly from Bronze to Platinum. And I ranked lowest in my career towards the end, when I was finding myself surrounded in every game with less experienced players. The inconsistency suggests to me that SR is not an accurate representation of skill, and that MMR guarantees unpredictable results in every match no matter how skilled a player is, and high or low that player is ranked. That is the purpose of MMR, as Overwatch developers describe it, and exactly what I made this thread to argue against.

SR is not a permenant value for the skill of a player though, otherwise you would never see it drop. It is in fact a spectrum of the range that players are able to play at. Everyone is improving at this game every time they play it, and it makes sense that a gold player (to use a general rank) now is a whole lot more skilled than a gold player back in season 1. To climb, you must not only improve, but you must improve at a faster rate than the average person at your skill rank. Likewise, if you do not improve at the average rate of a person in your skill ranking, you will fall.

The matchmaker is not perfect, and yes, sometimes it creates horribly uneven matches, and even less often it will unknowingly put someone on a loss streak they can do nothing about. However, if you truely belong at that rank, then you will climb back into it with ease. This happened to me numerous times when i first hit gold, as at an SR close to the edge of a rank, your rank becomes very volatile due to the imperfect nature of the matchmaker. However, you cant really change that imperfection as many people think by removing MMR, the only way to improve it would be to change the way SR works, and make it role or character based in order to get a more accurate reading of each players skill depending on what they are going to play. And the way that hero switching currently (is supposed to, one tricks notwithstanding) work, that is very difficult to do.

Anyways, what im trying to say is, you are the only person who can truely affect your rank, and I would fancy a guess that when you dropped near your end of time playing comp, you were not playing as often, and thus the average player in your rank became better than you, causing a drop in your rank

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Permanent might have been the wrong word.

Is MMR a mere ‘imperfection’ of the competitive play system? I tend to think it is a complete subversion of the competitive system. There really is no saying which of us is correct, because Blizzard has never disclosed the details of how MMR and SR actually work.

That is my main concern about MMR. It undermines the fairness of competition just to keep people grinding.

I don’t think that most players are able to perceive the handicapping system. Keeping it hidden seems to keep us from thinking about it. That’s why I argue that Blizzard should be legally obligated to disclose it, not buried in the game’s terms of use but also prominently somewhere in the user-interface for all to see.

This is a great reply, sorry I missed it! You’re describing the same experience that I had with competitive play. It really is reassuring to know that other people go through it the same way, despite the Blizzard executives and fanboys who try to gaslight us and convince us that right is left and up is down…that handicapping is appropriate for “competitive play.” It really is a cruel joke.

Your position is understandable, on the assumption that a system like this does no harm to players. But I think it really does harm them, by wasting their time and warping their idea of fair competition.

Exactly! Great post.

In today’s state of corporate oligarchy, I think we are all feeling some degree of Stockholm syndrome. It is tempting to pretend that the interests of private, corporate enterprise are not diametrically opposed to the public good. And yet…

I’m not sure what you mean by this? What points of reference were given?

My post opens with a direct quotation from Overwatch’s principal designer. References don’t get much more definitive than that.

Nettled! I like that :slight_smile:

This is a good and accurate summary of what the system does! I still think that players should be allowed to see MMR, because not everyone is aware of it, especially new players. And there are many experienced players, and the developers themselves, who refuse to admit that it is a handicapping system.

That is the pattern, pretty much. And generation after generation of Overwatch players get to go through this cycle, over and over!

(References section at the bottom, you have to expand it by clicking on the arrow to the left of the word References)

Somehow, I get the feeling that you intentionally ignore Kaawumba’s topic that’s compiled every single statement Blizzard reps have ever given about matchmaking.

SR and MMR don’t exist for different purposes. However, you are correct that they don’t resemble each other numerically.

Firstly, SR is meant to be read as a human-readable approximation of your MMR, and that with the sole exception of decay, your SR and MMR are close to each other.


I know you’ve made the statement in other topics that two players can have the same SR but one player has a much higher MMR than the other player so that they could be paired together for “handicapping” purposes, but then those two Jeff Kaplan statements would have to be incorrect.

Second point, which makes a lot of sense when you check with the first point, SR isn’t used in matchmaking at all, only MMR (which is basically translated to your SR) is used.

So basically, if you consider a primetime game with 12 solo-queue players in, say, around SR 2600 (so no one 50 above or below 2600), as far as the matchmaker is concerned, all 12 players are as good as each other.