Understanding MMR, SR and your progression

Competitive Discussion
MMR, as most are aware, is a representation of your skill level in Overwatch. The depressing truth is that the vast majority of player's MMR will not change much over their entire Overwatch tenure, but a game, or season, without much fluctuation or progression is boring for players, so Blizzard has SR (and XP on another front).

They can artificially push your SR all over the place, stretching out its relationship to MMR, in order to create the impression of drama, drive and progression over the course of a season (and your Overwatch tenure), but it maintains a relationship to your MMR and if you're consistent in your play, or improving, then your SR should eventually rubber band back to it's direct relation to your MMR.

They can do this by dropping everyone's SR between seasons, or they can do it by raising everyone's MMR (or adjusting the MMR/SR relationship) so that SR will rubber band higher to return to it's relation to the new MMR. They can also engineer manipulations in season, or allow uneven matches to engineer these offsets. All of this is done to create the impression of progression and keep things interesting.

The troubling part is that this MMR/SR smokescreen can make it difficult to ascertain whether you are actually improving or just being manipulated. If you're not actively working to improve your skill, and carefully observing your personal in game results (aside from wins/loss/SR), then comp will simply be an engineered grind. Even if you are working and improving you will eventually plateau at which point, again, comp will be reduced to an engineered grind.

Watch these videos. They don't mention Overwatch specifically, but are about Blizzard's and industry approaches to matchmaking, skill and ranking systems by someone who has worked, or works for? Blizzard. There's very little left to the imagination if you watch these through, also as little possible left to chance.

For me, understanding the reasoning behind this manipulation has allowed me to approach the game in a new light and helps me better ignore the SR clutter.

Josh Menke presents Blizzard's matchmaking and ranking system
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4TjH2SdDOQ

Skill, Matchmaking, and Ranking Systems Design
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pglxege-gU

Some items of interest,

https://youtu.be/y4TjH2SdDOQ?t=2989
"If a player is going to feel the imbalance of the match when he starts playing he better have felt the extra wait time. So tune the wait so that once you go past a minute, maybe two minutes you know that match is going to be harder or easier...or you could put that in reverse, if the match is going to be hard, you'd better have waited. So that's kind of how we tuned it, we made sure that if you got a fast match for sure it was going to be a very close match and if you're waiting a long time -- we chose 3 to 1 odds kinda as our point where, was kinda where you can tell a player's better than you, if he's got a 75% chance of beating you."

How skill relates to progression (MMR/SR)
https://youtu.be/y4TjH2SdDOQ?t=2510

https://youtu.be/y4TjH2SdDOQ?t=3466
"In Starcraft 2 we try to tweak it a little bit so that most players feel like they're progressing until the end of the season."
If you raise everyones mmr by the same value/ratio, there would actually be no effect on sr. Go read about deflation/inflation, a very relevant topic outside this little video game universe as well.
Blizzard doesn't have to artificially create a grind, the beauty of ranking systems is that the player base creates the grind themselves. People have the same goal of improving their sr, and it can be addicting to do so. This yields high engagement from the player base without blizzard having to do a single thing.
Take your conspiracy theories and go away thanks.
02/08/2018 07:11 AMPosted by aflyguy
If you raise everyones mmr by the same value/ratio, there would actually be no effect on sr. Go read about deflation/inflation, a very relevant topic outside this little video game universe as well.
Blizzard doesn't have to artificially create a grind, the beauty of ranking systems is that the player base creates the grind themselves. People have the same goal of improving their sr, and it can be addicting to do so. This yields high engagement from the player base without blizzard having to do a single thing.
Take your conspiracy theories and go away thanks.

Watch the presentations, it’s not theory, it’s industry practice, explained by someone who has implemented these systems for Blizzard.
OMG, why the conspiracy theory comments immediately? ))
HIDDEN MMR is official. There is no conspiracy, there are no theories - you do not know, what your skill level is and how it is measured.
Isn't that obvious?
02/08/2018 07:42 AMPosted by aflyguy
Nothing you gleaned from spending hours watching those videos is a true representation of how the system works. There is no engineered grind, the grind comes due to limits in individual performance. People plateau in any new skill they learn. That is not an artificially created phenomenon. There is no manipulation. And focusing on your own individual stats to stat pad is an inefficient and potentially detrimental approach to improving rank.

And idk why u included the matchmaking timer quote, all they are saying is thatgames are more likely to be balanced if matchmaking takes very little time. If it takes longer to find an evenly matched opponent, they loosen the 50/50 chances as determined by Elo based ranking.

Nothing blizzard does with matchmaking is unique. There is one single matchmaking paradigm in the entire industry. And that is the idea that if you win more than you lose, you are better than players at the artificially created skill rank at which you play. Over time, that artificial skill rank distribution becomes an extremely accurate measure of skill.

I included the matchmaking timer quote because it indicates that the system is designed to allow and account for uneven match-ups, even so far as to manage your perception of those uneven matches.

The manipulation is alluded to in the "tweak" quote. If you watch the presentations you can see that if they didn't manipulate anything then most players SR would be statically linked to MMR and not change much, making the experience quite boring. The only way to avoid this is to intentionally allow uneven match-ups or otherwise manipulate SR to give the impression of progression when in actuality most players skill does not change over time.
the annoying thing is that you can inflate your mmr as well, by playing certain heroes in a certain way...
Wow this post is awesome, in the video that guy pretty much explains how all of this works. Match Making in general seems to be accepted as such (by the players).

So i conclude:

In general the System seems to show anomalies because a Hero can be OP and is picked after Match Making.
Especially Single Tricks and OP Heros are rewarded by playing just that one very good.
Result seems to what we observe, Match Making is not working around a real players skill and especially not team skill.
So we have all sorts of skill distributed on the whole SR range? Players stop accepting their result as skill matches are not "close" enough.

But i also have an Idea:

Remove performance based SR.
Calculate average MMR on players best and recently played hero of each class.
So lets say i play McCree, Junkrat, DVA, Moira the most, build an average MMR out of that.
Also one should be able to specialize in on class, if someone plays DPS/TANK/SUP only take the average
of his four best in that class. Then simply dont allow him to play other classes in competitive until conditions are met.
Make this transperent to everyone! This does not mean revealing the hidden MMR of a Hero.
Competitive: "You have to have played at least one hero of each class or four within a single class for 5? hours each"

That way you can match players based on their class or their "based recent overall skill".
In which SR reflects the average SR of your four best Heros and even show them their worst and best "Hero SR". Maybe even SR on that Hero.
That way players will know how to improve and what they are good at.
Also may it help to allow better team play.

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