The Match Making Rating (MMR) Change - How It Works Now

by Archive // November 14, 2011

Hello Skill Capped!  Today I wanted to fill you guys in on something I picked up floating around the internet.  A great guy by the name of Diziet who has helped us out in the past described how the new MMR system works really well, and I wanted to share.  He has given me permission to re post it for all to enjoy and learn from!

In this article, I will explain:

  1. how the new system in place works
  2. Why it had such a terrible effect on Season 10
  3. What I believe it’s impact will be on Season 11

The New MMR System

The following is a direct quote from Diziet:

Let’s talk about what the new MMR system. Imagine three players make a new 3v3 team: one with 1500 MMR, one with 1800 MMR and one with 2600 MMR. Their average MMR is 1967. Although before queuing they might each have individual MMR, after a SINGLE game played together every one of them will INSTANTLY have 1967 MMR, win or lose. The 1500 and 1800 players would both shoot up to 1967 MMR. So suddenly the 2600 player instantly loses over 600 MMR. So when the previously 2600 MMR player goes back to his previous 2600 MMR partners, his team will have a much lower MMR but their skill and ability to play the game at a high level would not have changed. Although this prevents any kind of MMR exploiting, this is terrible for the game and the community’s reaction to this has been extremely negative. People with high MMR have nowhere else to go but down, because MMR distribution follows some sort of bell curve, and any player above 1500 rating is more likely to play with lower MMR players than not. Any time players remake teams, MMR tends to drop and dilute. This of course has a cumulative effect, as lower overall MMR affects players who aren’t making new teams. Rating and MMR gain depend on playing people of similar MMR and skill, but there is an imbalance of MMR and Skill because other teams whose ability to play the game did not diminish have had their MMR go down. Active teams whose partners tend to play often find themselves at lower MMR. At the end, we have a situation where majority of active player’s MMR is a lot lower than their skill and ability to play would indicate.

This issue, while vastly discouraging to arena players, could be fixed with relative ease. For instance, if an individual player’s MMR is more than 400 points above the team’s average MMR, then the higher MMR player should not gain MMR, and excess MMR should be divided between the other players. This kind of check would completely prevent players from being able to gain MMR by exploiting, while once again causing individual MMR to be a valid metric of player skill.

Arena rating will always be deflated this way, because any time people teamhop individual MMR goes down. If you imagine a standard distribution bell curve, it becomes squished.
Ratings won’t re-inflate, and being 2400 will be a hard achievement at some point, much harder than RBG rating.
MMR is and will continue to be “squished” like this:

*Image by
*This is an estimate of individual MMR distribution, not team rating
**The distribution might be closer to this if it was Gaussian. In reality it is a bit more complex with people remaking teams, new characters playing and going inactive, etc but this is a good way of showing it anyway.

Okay, so why was Season 10 so problematic?

Though overall I am really happy with the new system in place, and believe it will combat the rampant boosting that’s going on, as well as the massive inflation problem, Blizzard overlooked a very important problem when they put this system in place.

In the past, there have always been teams that pull ahead of the pack very early in the season.  Their already high MMR from previous seasons, mixed with the fact that they are just really good players, means that a lot of Gladiators can get back up to their previous ratings in only days of queueing.  This means that after a few weeks, there were already a significant number of Gladiator qualifying teams at 2600+ ratings, all the way up to 3k+.

When Blizzard implemented these changes, these teams that were already on top saw it, and a huge majority of them simply decided to stop playing on those teams.  A lot of these players have access to alts, and even other accounts.  This wasn’t a huge deal to them.  Others simply care enough about getting the title to not risk playing once they were safe.  And safe they were.

All of the other teams who all of a sudden had a huge hit to their MMR found it virtually impossible to climb up the ladders to the previously massively inflated ratings that were on top.  This not only discouraged top players, but now there are multi-season, even Rank 1 Gladiators playing at 2200 ratings.

For people who play at 2200 normally, they are suddenly being pounded down to lower ratings by these other top Gladiators.  Those previously 2200 players are now playing at significantly lower ratings… I think you know where I’m going with this.  These abrupt changes had a huge ripple effect from the top of the brackets all the way down, and no one was happy about it.

Why they did not simply reset team ratings along with the MMR change totally baffles me.  I will stay away from making this too opinionated though.

I See The Light!

Though this season had some of the most despair and frustration of any in the past, I believe we have a reason to be extremely excited about the next season.  I for one am very optimistic to see how it goes.

Because of this change, there will be much less paid boosts happening (I think).  It also seems that it will be very hard to see a pack of teams pull so far away from the rest of the pack that they are virtually impossible to catch.  As Diziet pointed out, they created a “squished” bell curve distribution of teams, which means more % of teams towards the medians, and less % of teams being outliers!

If anyone has a different perspective they’d like to share, or if any information in the post has been inaccurate, please let me know.  I am simply sharing the information that has been past on to me.

In conclusion

Season 10 was quite a discouraging time for anyone who was really trying to push their rating.  A lot of people finished lower rated than the season before, which is really frustrating, even with the knowledge that it was because of a rating change.  However, Season 11 looks very promising.  I for one can’t wait to see what new comps emerge with 4.3 on the horizon, and I think they are taking more steps forward in trying to create as much “balance” as a 10 class 3 spec MMO can have.

Thanks for the read, and good luck in Season 11!

Diziets original post:

  • 0
    35 months ago
    It seems quite weird, so i was playing 3s with my previous season team. So we all started with 2.3k mmr , we win 8 matches but out rating is about 480, then we win a further 4 and lose 3. After losing 3 in a row :'( are mmr is like 1.5k and our rating was 1096 so that's 12 wins and 3 losses why is the rating and mmr so low >?
  • 0
    36 months ago
    Well displayed article buddy.

    I really think that blizzard has in some minor way seen the light and are trying ever so lightly to hear the cries of a PVP player base.
    Coming so close to the new big expansion i really do think there getting there heads together to try and fix PVP when in all the new expansion is PVP based apon.

    As for the joke of a season 10 and i really do think it dated back to season 9. Before these two seasons our teams were able to make 2400 bracket without to much hassle. Since season 9, 10 came along too even break 2200 was like getting matched along side Neylio's crew nearly every match.
    Like give us a break, If teams trying to push a low T2 bracket have to verse Professional world class players i dont doubt people would be dropping there teams like wild fire.

    fingers crossed for season 11.

    P.s Cel Do you think they will ever squash the "flavor of the season" team composition debacle ?
    • 0
      36 months ago
      Thanks for the kind words!

      as for the Flavor comps, that's just part of the game. This is an MMORPG with 10 different classes, with specializations into each one. There will always be imbalance to a certain degree in the game, but I believe that Blizzard has done a good job from TBC to now with making strong efforts to bring as much balance as possible to the table.

      tl;dr - no, there will always be some imbalances.
  • 0
    36 months ago
    This article gives me so much hope for season 11 ^.^... Tier 2... YOU WILL BE MINEEE!
  • 0
    36 months ago
    Nice post, thanks for clearing the mess up a bit! It's been a shitty season indeed. Personally, this has been my first season of playing 3's, and the first time actually trying to push for higher ratings - but it's been sooo frustrating.
    I've been able to reach 2170 rating wearing mostly viscious gear - would this qualify for a gladiator title in a regular season? I find it very frustrating, going in to the next season, not knowing what kind of season I have ahead of me. Not knowing where I'm at "skill-wise" at all.. :-S
    I really hope this will make everything better! :(
  • 1
    36 months ago
    If the ratings remained "squished" next season, then they need to reevaluate the 2200 rating requirement for Tier 2 weapons. You should not have to get Duelist to earn a T2 weapon... I guarantee you that more than 3% of active raiders have a heroic pve weapon.
    • 1
      36 months ago
      Great point, Haides! I hadn't even thought about the gear requirements. That will be interesting to keep an eye on!
  • 0
    36 months ago
    Great article! Its nice to hear about some of the bizarre things going on with the MMR. Got a question for ya though - Does your MMR carry with you between brackets or are there separate MMRs for the 2v2, 3v3, and 5v5 brackets?
    • 0
      36 months ago
      In the past you had a separate MMR for each bracket. I don't see a reason to change that with the altered system, but I cannot say with 100% certainty they did not change that as well.

      If I were you, I would assume that you have a separate MMR for each bracket until you hear otherwise.
  • 0
    36 months ago
    I really hope this will be good in the next season, thanks for this:D It cleared some stuff up for me :D
  • 0
    36 months ago
    Hello. Gr8 Article!
    But i have question. I play ShatterPlay in 2k rating (best 2177 :/) and we meet so many 2400+ (even 2700 achi) ppl on our MMR. We dont have as that much skill to kill them. Sometimes we winn but still its only sometimes. U guys think it will be easier to reach 2200 just becouse they will reset MMR?
    • 0
      36 months ago
      Hey Horth,

      Thanks for the kind words! I believe the problem that you are facing doesn't have a lot to do with MMR... well at least not directly. Because of all the huge problems with this season, a lot of teams stopped regularly queueing as they saw no point (couldn't push ratings higher, especially the higher they got).

      So your problem is that not enough teams at your ratings were queueing, so the system matched you against the closest rated teams that were.

      Next season you should see a total 180 from the end of this one. I believe everyone will be queueing like crazy, if not for pushing rating than to obtain the new gear. You should have no shortage of teams at your ratings :).
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