Why Handicapping (MMR) is Wrong for Competitive Play

Transparency on MMR would be good. Overwatch, with its heroes of varied difficulty and its accessibility, should be way easier to understand how players are matched.


I agree with this, 100%. It’s hard to enjoy Comp when it feels like the game’s punishing you for trying to claw out of Bronze. :frowning:


Yes there is way too much information hidden from players in Competitive.


I’m just letting you know I’ve found this thread again and I’m still working on my little experiment.

I’m not sure if I like the new set up for the Forums.


I really hoped that this thread wont appear here again.

1.Please search in Google Elo Rating.
2.MMR is the Elo Rating.
3.The MMR number could be enormously big and can have a lot of digits and a lot of zecimals.
4.SR is a “digestible” REPRESENTATION of that number as it was stated in a blue post in the old forums.
So, for example, instead of seeing 33344556,23443 as your Rank you see 2515. That’s the SR. A program takes the MMR number and transforms it in something a human can wrap his head around. Again, that’s the SR.
5. The SR and MMR, as a result are direct proportional. You are matched based on your MMR solely.
6. The Devs shouldn’t , in any way, tell the exact algorithm and formula which calculates your MMR because people would be looking to rig the system just to rank up. A lack of transpparency is a must here.

Can you now stop with this conspiracy? I think you refuse to understand how it works and can’t accept that maybe you are to be blamed for a loss.

Stop with this conspiracy. It makes no sense.


Cuthbert still does not understand what MMR (match-making-rating) is. It is not handicapping. It is not rigging.

MMR is a (hidden) number that goes up when you win, and down when you lose. How much it goes up and down is a complicated formula, based on many factors, but the essential truth of wins are good and losses are bad is certain (4).

That MMR is then used to match people with and against people of similar MMR, in an attempt to create a 50% match (32). Here is the key part:

If a player’s MMR is wrong and too low, then the odds to win will be greater than 50%, and the player will win more games than he loses, which will cause his MMR to rise over many games played. He will then be placed with stronger and stronger opponents (and stronger and stronger allies) until his MMR is correct, and his win percentage approaches 50% (with some random oscillation around 50%) (7).

Once a player finds himself trapped in a rating range, the only way to break out is to improve as a player and play enough games to overcome any random factors.

What is SR then? SR is a visible and friendlier approximation of MMR (23). It has no more meaning with respect to matchmaking than tier icons. However, except for top players who have decayed, MMR and SR are closely linked, so inspecting SR typically gives a reasonable estimate of a player’s MMR (23).

(4) Overwatch Forums “In Overwatch, whether your MMR goes up or down is contingent on winning or losing. But there are a number of factors that determine how much that rating goes up or down.” – Jeff Kaplan
(7) Overwatch Forums
(23) Overwatch Forums
(32) Overwatch Forums

See How Competitive Skill Rating Works (Season 9) for a much more thorough exposition.



True, but in the case of sub Diamond, they also use personal performance factor. That is from the TrueSkill rating system developed by Microsoft, that is based on Elo.

Completely irrelevant. Even though this is known for Overwatch, that number would still roughly translate to certain 4 digit rating.

Skill rating or otherwise current rating is not representation of your MMR.
MMR is your potential. You may or may not reach it.
In a game like WoW, where you can see your MMR, you can have MMR of 2.5K. You can create a team, play 10 games and get to 1100 rating. Points exchange is (or should I say was, I haven’t played in a while) between 0 and 22 points. You get 100+, because you get bonus points due to the big disparity between your rating and your MMR.

Does that mean your MMR is 1100?


And this is where the BS begins. Sub Diamond you have a personal performance factor. You don’t know the exact metrics.
Say you do your best each and every game, but you change something in your play without even realizing. Something that the matchmaking considers bad, even though it isn’t necessarily.

You do your best, but your MMR starts to lower. You get matched with lower people. Your rating takes a dip and you don’t even know what you did wrong to cause this.
If anything, the personal performance factor needs to be removed for all divisions.


They themselves stated that in a blue post.
You cant have gold level MMR and master level SR.


I don’t care what they have written. I know the basics of how the system is supposed to work. Your SR is not a representation of your MMR.

I also very much doubt, that there can be that big of a disparity, but that still doesn’t mean, that your SR=MMR.

But let’s talk specifics:
I play with a friend of mine. Same people, same accounts.
Season 6 we did placements together. He placed 2.4 gold and started losing rating. I placed Plat and started gaining rating.
Season 7 he placed almost in Diamond, I placed low Plat and over the course of the next 60 games we dropped, then gained rating till he hit Diamond and I got back to Plat.
This season he placed 3250 Diamond, I placed ~2.3 gold.
Theoretically I could be even holding him back and he could be a Master player for all I know. Does his SR represent his MMR? I don’t know! You don’t know.
If he goes to solo queue, he could do better and hit Masters, because he would play with better players than me… or it could turn out, that they don’t help him when needed as much as I do and he could drop to lower Diamond.

We always play our best and try to win. I’ve watched Overbuff and the only thing I noticed, that has changed is, my character rank has dropped from like 90 to like 60. The only visible representation is, that I get a lot less gold medals now, because my friend steals them as Moira, when I used to hold them as Zen.
The devs have repeatedly said, that medals are not considered a factor, and yet that’s what I see to be the visible change.

Explain the phenomenon.


I’m afraid that is the case. I really don’t mean to be like this, but I was charitable and I did try to explain some stuff to him, but he clearly refuses to swallow his pride and do some reading, because he still posts the original version of his post.

Another poster made waay more internally consistent and logical post about the match making system. What he wrote was much closer representation of the real experiences I’ve had with competitive. The post can still be found on reddit.
The basic idea was, that the post explains the phenomenon of losing streaks.
Players that are considered to be performing poorly according to the matchmaker are marked for deraking, and are bunched together, so that they feed rating to people, that according to the matchmaker need to be higher than they are.
You might be missing one of several hidden metrics (not talking about medals), and then you start getting unwinnable matches one after another, despite you doing your best.

I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I can definitely confirm, that it feels to be true.
Cuthbert’s posts on the other hand is full of inconsistencies. He continues to blame the “MMR handicapping”.

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Well, nice conspiracy theory then.
They need just a number to match people with each other. Anything else is secondary, as is SR number in this case as just a viewer friendly representation of the number used to match people with each other.

And i have never stated that MMR=SR, i said that they are direct proportional.


it is EXTREMELY clear that there is more to the system than what they are telling you.

that much i can confirm by observation. more than that i cant say.

but i do hope we get answers.


Maybe it’s not what you meant to say, but that’s what I understood when you wrote this:

Yes, that’s the MMR, which you do not see.

Which you don’t know, because you don’t see the MMR, not in this game anyways. WoW revealed it’s MMR during WotLK or Cata. I don’t see the problem in the number being visible.
The only problem would arise is if people were to spot irregularities.


blizzard only cares about OWL the wont do a thing to make are game play exp and better.


At least let me know if I have MMR higher than the current SR or not, at least that will give people some hope or realize they need to improve


This is informative, thank you :slight_smile: I bookmarked for reference.

I was wondering why is it that I can only rise or plateau as Pharah. If I do anything else, another DPS, a healer, a tank, I fall dramatically. It’s like the only way to stop the enemy team is for me to play Pharah, or else we get stomped.


umm okay I need at least 20 characters now.


I read somewhere that you can lose a match but rise in mmr or you can win a match and drop in mmr.

Also your mmr tries to follow your sr.

Now combine those 2 things and one can only come to the conclusion that the system will put you in games where it thinks you are bound to win/lose so that your mmr catches up with your sr if its bigger/smaller.

Now what complicates things is how is mmr altered.IF it is compared to averages of the league then we are all in trouble because the averages are screwed by the amount of smurfs/boosters that exist nowdays.

Also people get mad cause they feel they performed great when in fact they might have performed below average.

Problem is we dont know what the averages are.The site omnicmeta had some interesting statistics but those numbers seem outdated.

Also at some point i think the statistics were measured in comparison to time but that also didnt work because you could swap to tracer for the last minute to stall and die twice and your averages would show you are a bronze level player when that is not true.

What i propose is for blizzard to implement a new game ending screen.There it can show which character each person played followed by a simple arrow that indicates if it did better than average or worse.Up for better Down for worse simple as that.

It will solve a lot of the community problems and toxicity because i think people get mad because they dont realize that even when they have all golds they still perform below the league average.

Biggest issue is your performance is related to your team.Your averages can suffer either from extremely poor teammates but also from extremely good ones.I ve had games where i didnt do enough damage because my teammates spawn camped the enemy team simply because the enemy was extremely bad.I imagine my mmr went down on that win.

But the real question is why was the enemy team so bad?(or my team in other situations?).We have a roughly idea of what a platinum player is capable of.So why does it feel sometimes that our teammates/enemies are bronzies??

That is the most interesting question.


Not being able to downvote conspiracy theories is a real downside of the new forum…


Thank you! It’s nice having allies in this, and I like that people like you are using different methodologies to prove our point.