The Current State of Matchmaking

Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work on a game system that has been the subject of much feedback and discussion within the Heroes of the Storm community: matchmaking. In that time, we’ve completely rebuilt the matchmaker and rolled out a number of improvements for our new version of the system. While we’re still hard at work on further improvements for matchmaking, we’re already seeing very encouraging results from our efforts.

Today, we’d like to take a look at some of the adjustments we’ve made since BlizzCon 2015, as well as the impact those changes have had on matchmaking in Heroes of the Storm. Before we dig in, it’s important to note that many of the restrictions and rules that we’ve put into place can be relaxed under certain conditions, such as very long queue times. This means that there will almost always be a few exceptions to each rule, as you’ll see below.

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Improvements So Far

Priority #1: Fair Matches

Last December, we rolled out phase one of our improvements for matchmaking, which featured an entirely new matchmaker built specifically to suit Heroes of the Storm. This new system primarily focuses on providing players with close games, in which each team has a 45% – 55% chance to win. Since the new matchmaker was implemented, we’ve seen great improvements in overall match quality and fairness. Take a look at stats from before the new matchmaker went live, and after:

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As you can see in the charts above, the likelihood that you will receive a match within our target range of 45% – 55% win probability has been dramatically increased, from 66% of games before the new system went live, to 97% of games after.

New Players vs. Veterans

Along with the rebuilt matchmaker, we also decreased the likelihood that inexperienced players will be matched up against those with a lot of games, and game knowledge, under their belts. Prior to phase one, about 500 games out of every 10,000 pit new players against veterans. After phase one, this has dropped to roughly 5 games in 10,000 —which we feel is a significant reduction.

Team Composition Rules

Our December 15 patch brought a new rule to Quick Match that prevents teams with one or more Warriors in their compositions from matching against teams without one. While we’re still working to bring further improvements to team compositions in Quick Match, this “Warrior” rule, along with a similar rule for Supports, has dropped the number of matches featuring a Warrior or Support on one team, but not the other, to roughly 3 in 10,000 games.

We’d like to mention once again that, while we want all games to be as fair as possible, Quick Match was designed as a game mode where almost anything can happen. If you’re hoping for a specific hero lineup in your games, then you might prefer to step into Hero League, or even queue for Quick Match with a party, which both offer players the ability to tailor team compositions to their liking.

Party Size Restrictions

Full parties were playing against solo players a little too often prior to our first phase of matchmaking improvements. After rolling out phase one of matchmaking changes, we heard feedback that playing against parties as a group of solos was still a source of frustration for some players and, after investigation, implemented a new rule that greatly reduced the chance that this could occur.

Now that this rule has been live for a few weeks, we’re happy to share that the number of games in which five-player parties are matched against teams of solo players has dropped to just 29 of every 10,000 matches.

Ranked Match Consistency

Our most recent release brought a new rule for Hero League matchmaking, which greatly reduces the likelihood that Rank 1 players will be matched with or against others below Rank 4. This change also resolved an edge-case scenario, in which players with extremely high skill ratings could occasionally be matched with or against one or more low-ranked players.

We’re still actively collecting and reviewing data after making this change, so it’s a little too early to share statistics at this point. In the meantime, we’d like to encourage those of you at the top of the ranking system to jump back into Hero League and let us know how your games feel. Going forward, we’ll continue to keep an eye on Hero League data, as well as player feedback, and will make further adjustments as needed.

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Reviewing Further Feedback

Distinctive Heroes in Quick Match

Update: Feb 24, 2016 — The Quick Match rule detailed below has been implemented into the live version of the game. Read our recent forum post on this topic for additional details and exceptions to this restriction.

Our rules for Supports and Warriors in Quick Match have helped level the playing field in terms of team composition, but we’ve also seen feedback from the community indicating that receiving several heroes who have limited lane presence, or fill unique roles, on one Quick Match team can make for a challenging experience.

We’d like to limit cases like these, and we’re currently planning to implement a new rule for Quick Match that will prevent more than one of the heroes listed below from being placed on the same team:

  • Abathur
  • Cho’gall
  • Lt. Morales
  • Murky
  • Nova
  • The Lost Vikings

As with all of the team composition restrictions we’ve implemented so far, parties can still bend this rule. This means that you may still see heroes like Abathur and Cho’gall on the same team if those players entered the queue as a party.

Additionally, we’re working to resolve a rare bug that can occasionally cause players to receive a different hero than the one they selected after entering a match.

Queue Times

We’ve seen players mention that queue times feel longer now that the rebuilt matchmaking system has been implemented. We knew that this was a strong possibility, due to the system’s prioritization of match fairness over quick game creation, but also because the more rules we add to matchmaking, the higher wait times will rise. Between November 2015 and today, we’ve seen Quick Match wait times increase from about 80 to 130 seconds on average. While we wouldn’t prefer to see queues get any longer, we’re okay with this time gain if it means we’re creating high-quality games.

Looking Ahead

We’ve mentioned this time and again, but we’d like to emphasize once more that we aren’t finished making improvements for matchmaking in Heroes of the Storm. While we aren’t ready to share details about what those changes are just yet, we would like to thank everyone who continues to provide us with their thoughts on the current state of matchmaking. We’re still investigating your reports and reviewing internal data as we work toward further improvements, and your feedback is a great sounding board as we make changes over time.

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Stay tuned to the official Heroes website to catch all the latest news as it is announced. Until next time, we’ll see you in the Nexus!

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