Matchmaking Design in Heroes of the Storm

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen several conversations pop up within the Heroes community in which some players seemed a little mystified by how the matchmaker is intended to work, and how it interacts with the regional game servers around the world. We’d like to shed a bit more light on matchmaking in Heroes of the Storm, and hopefully clear up some of the questions you may have.

Skill-Based Matchmaking

Our primary goal with Heroes of the Storm matchmaking is very similar to the one we had with StarCraft II: To provide skill-based matchmaking that offers very even games in which players win around 50% of the time. We learned a lot while we continued to build and develop the StarCraft II matchmaker, and we’ve been pretty happy with that system’s ability to provide very even matches overall throughout the years.

Unlike StarCraft II, which is largely focused on 1v1 play, Heroes of the Storm is a team-based game. Having to account for 5v5 play, as well as the variety of roles a player can fill in Heroes posed a whole new set of challenges for us in terms of matchmaking. We’ve taken the lessons we learned from StarCraft II and are improving upon our work there so that we can bring that same level of quality in matchmaking to Heroes. We aren’t finished, though, and throughout each testing phase we’ll continue to improve on the work we’ve already done in order to bring you the best matchmaking experience possible in Heroes of the Storm.

Team Compositions

It’s no fun when your favorite Hero gets snatched up by someone else in a game lobby before you have a chance to make a selection yourself, which is why we allow you to select your Hero before you even enter unranked matchmaking queues. Once you’ve made your selection and entered the queue, the matchmaker will then create a balanced team for you by finding other players of similar skill who have selected Heroes in complementing roles. In addition to this, we’ve also added a number of rules to the matchmaker in order to help further encourage the creation of well-rounded team compositions.

  • No more than 3 Warriors.
  • No more than 4 Assassins.
  • No more than 2 Support.
  • No more than 2 Specialists.
  • No more than 3 Melee heroes.

However, there are also a number of ways you can override these restrictions.

  • If you’re in a full party, the rules no longer apply to your team and you can use any composition you like.
  • If you’re in a partial party, you can still create team compositions that fall outside of the matchmaking rules.
    • For example: A three person party that enters the queue as three Support Heroes is allowed. The matchmaker will do its best to round out your team, but your party will not be grouped with any more Supports.
  • Getting into a game quickly can often times be more important than waiting a long time for the perfect composition. So, if a party has spent six minutes or more in the matchmaking queue, the rules may be broken in order to find a match. We’ll be keeping an eye on this rule to get a feel for how it impacts matchmaking, and may make adjustments to it in the future.

We’ll keep improving on this aspect of the Heroes matchmaker so that you’ll continue to receive well-balanced team compositions as often as possible whenever you queue for unranked matchmaking.

Arranged Team vs. Random Team

Arranged teams, or a group of players who enter matchmaking as a full party, are often able to better coordinate, communicate, and execute strategies than opposing random teams, which are teams made up of individual players grouped together via matchmaking. Though random teams can and do win against arranged teams, our win percentage data shows that arranged teams generally have a slight advantage over their random counterparts.

We feel that better games generally come from matching arranged teams with one another, and random teams with other random teams, and the Heroes matchmaker actually prefers to create games this way. Due to the relatively low Tech Alpha population, however, we’ve configured the matchmaker in such a way that it currently allows arranged and random teams to play against one another if an opposing team with a similar-sized party could not be found. We’ve done this in order to get you into games faster, rather than making you wait when a more suitable matchup isn’t readily available. As the pool of invited Heroes testers is increased, these situations will occur less often. Eventually, the matchmaker will be able to consistently match arranged teams against other arranged teams and random teams against other random teams.

Whether a team is made up of individual players, a group of five friends playing together, or any combination in between, you can rest assured that the matchmaker will always take the team’s overall skill into account in order to find even matchups.

Finding the Best Game Server for You

We want all of our players have the most epic Heroes experience possible, and we’ve begun adding game servers located in regions around the world to help make that possible. Our end goal for you as a player is that you’ll never need to worry about what server to connect to for unranked play, and we’ve implemented tech which allows the matchmaker to find the best game server for you automatically.

In order to make this process as seamless as possible, the Heroes client first determines your round-trip latency (a.k.a. “ping”) to all of the servers connected to the region you log into. Next, your ping information is used in combination with your individual skill rating to find and match you with other players of similar skill who also connect to your server. Making server selection automatic in this way allows us to easily add new game servers in the future, which will continue to improve responsiveness for players around the globe.

This system is already in place for unranked play, but due to the limited pool of Tech Alpha players and ongoing development work, you may occasionally find yourself in a game that’s not quite as responsive as others. Keep in mind, though, that those situations should become less frequent as we continue to make improvements and invite additional testers from each region to play Heroes. Additionally, as we continue to design and develop ranked play, we’ll likely consider other server selection options which make more sense for that aspect of the game. We’ll always strive to find a great match for you both in terms of player skill level, as well as game responsiveness.

Future Improvements

We’re constantly evaluating how our matchmaker is performing, and we’re always on the lookout for new ways to improve the quality of the games it finds for you. Stepping ahead just a bit, we’d like to give you a brief preview for some of the ideas we’re considering for Heroes matchmaking in the future.

  • We’re currently exploring ways to assess individual player performance with finer granularity than wins vs. losses, and adjust your skill rating accordingly.

  • We’re also thinking about how we’d like to find matches for players who frequently abandon in-progress games, and are considering matching so-called “leavers” with others who exhibit similar behaviors.

  • Finally, we’d like you to feel comfortable playing with all of your favorite heroes, even if you’re trying a hero out for the first time. We’re looking into ways in which we can potentially adjust your individual skill rating by allowing the matchmaker to take into account how much you’ve played using your selected hero thus far, and find even matches accordingly.

Hopefully, we’ve managed to help answer a few questions you may have had about matchmaking and regional play. If you’d like to share feedback on anything we’ve mentioned today, don’t forget to stop by the Technical Alpha forums to share your thoughts with us. Stay tuned right here on the official Heroes of the Storm site to keep up with the latest game news as it’s announced, and be sure to connect with us on Twitter by following @BlizzHeroes.

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