I personally found the matchmaking in the beta to be quite accurate, matching me to players of my fairly average skill level. The more matches you play, the more accurate the matchmaking system seems to become; my first match after placement was a cakewalk, while the next few matches were more edge-of-your-seat types of matches. If you want more in-depth information into the matchmaking system, the best place to look seems to be the Battle. There's also a thread on the TeamLiquid forums titled SC2 Ladder Analysis which has a fairly comprehensive write-up of bnet2.
For everyone involved, the game feels winnable but not trivial; challenging but not overwhelming. Maybe that means sometimes you get stomped, but sometimes you have easier games. And sometimes you have the really competitive games. Predicting outcomes is something that matchmaking systems do very well. This is how they fairly allocate points to winners and take them away from losers. Valve even trusts their system enough to enable promotions on tie games: But can we go a step further?
Philosophically, you could make a practical and utilitarian argument that skill and outcome are identical — what is skill if not the ability to win?
Git Gud: StarCraft II and CS:GO’s Matchmaking Systems
Do marine micro or proper smoke setups have a context outside of their respective games? Counter-Strike provides an interesting test case for this question. One of the first things I noticed as I ranked up the ladder were the immense skill differences between players of the same rank. At first I assumed it was smurfing, but the pattern was durable long after my entrance into Prime Matchmaking.
Some of this is attributable to gaming the system or having a bad day — but not all, and the problem lay in my definition of skill. Over time, I started to realize that this was inaccurate, and that there were lots of different ways to contribute to a win. What surprised me was that their individual performance, good or bad, was not always relevant.
A great fragger who alienates their entire team can still carry a match by themselves, whereas a good teamplayer depends heavily on having strong teammates. Does that difference in outcome also imply a difference in skill? Outcome is contrived — the relative value of fragging is determined solely by the ruleset. Imagine a hypothetical scenario where landing a specific smoke setup would automatically win a round.
Practically speaking, however, the difference in skill is very real. StarCraft and Counter-Strike take different approaches to this question.
Every skill gap will inevitably be punished because there are no teammates to compensate for it. This forces players to develop genuine breadth — good outcomes must, eventually, pair with real skill. As I argued in my video on Brood War and StarCraft II , misunderstanding this can be genuinely frustrating — cheesing your way up the ladder will only cause you to lose every macro game you play, which will make the game feel arbitrary and coin-flippy rather than fun.
For instance, if it were badly balanced, it would drive players to exploit the current meta rather than deeply study the game in its entirety. Balancing properly is a separate and very hard problem, but it needs to be done right in order to achieve skill-outcome convergence. They bought brand new copies of Global Offensive and played all of their placements together, with one player playing normally and the other merely acting as support. By the end, the normal player ranked a full two ranks higher than his supporting counterpart. Points are obtained by getting kills, getting assists, planting and defusing bombs, and a few other things.
Rewarding players for playing well is a good thing for the player experience, and it makes losing a lot less painful. I mention points because of their potential to create a spectrum of outcomes beyond the fixed win-lose paradigm.
The Ranked Ladder
But what I appreciate about Counter-Strike is the way it makes every game enjoyable, not just the victories — no matter how tough the match, you always get in a lot of great shots, a few good rounds, maybe even a clutch or an ace. I think you could theoretically expand this to the matchmaking system by enabling points-based victories.
There are a couple of interesting factors here. About a month or two ago I began recording the results of my Global Offensive matches and my rank within each game. Here were the results:.
Git Gud: StarCraft II and CS:GO’s Matchmaking Systems – Illiteracy Has Downsides
If I was at the top of the score board — i. If I was at the bottom — i. I was rewarded for playing well and punished for playing poorly.
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A larger conclusion I reached from this experience is that for every game lost due to bad teammates, there was a game that was won due to good teammates. I did not deserve to win many of the games where I ranked 5th, much the same way I carried worse players when I was the top scorer both based on my own subjective evaluation, of course.
The only variable that changes in the long-run is you. Is this simply the nature of team games? The Bonus Pool is the sum of all "bonus points" a player can get, which are added to the rating points a player earns after a victory or, in the case of a defeat, points are deducted from the bonus pool rather than the player's ladder points. The Bonus Pool serves two purposes: Players receive Bonus Pool points at a set rate per league. Before Season 3, all players received points at the Master league original rate.
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Season 3 introduced a separate accrual rate for leagues below Master. A player joining StarCraft freshly after the start of a season instantly receives the Bonus Pool as if he started at day 1 of the Season. This change was made in Patch 1. Bonus pool accrual rates have been tuned for team matchmaking modes to make them more competitive: This rating decides which opponents a player will meet, and tries to quantify their skill level.
When a player's MMR climbs above a certain value, they will be promoted into the next league.
Each play-season the visible points will be reset, while the skill rating, MMR, stays intact. There also is a value " sigma " that measures how uncertain the system is of a player's MMR.
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This is usually high if a player has not played many games recently, or if they are on a winning or losing streak. Sigma is used to calculate how wide a player's search range should be, and by extension how much their MMR will change as a result of playing rating-distant opponents i. MMR is now visible for players, each ladder league below Grandmaster is split into three tiers, and the post-game screen now shows specific information about a player's current skill rating, how close they are to the next tier, and the upper and lower limits of their current ladder tier.
The MMR boundaries are based on a prior distribution from the previous season, and during each season roll, the values are recalculated for the upcoming season. In Heart of the Swarm, if a player did not play any matches for an extended period of time, their MMR would decay, or automatically decrease. The details of the system are unknown, but it appears to be a linear decay,  and Blizzard has confirmed that decay begins after 2 weeks of inactivity, and decay stops after 4 weeks of inactivity.
If a Seasonal Placement Match was not played last season, then MMR and uncertainty are both reset to their default values and the system effectively "forgets" about that player. A special note about this, though: MMR decay was removed in April Every arranged pair of 2v2 players is given a single rating. In 2v2 random match-ups, an average rating of the two players will be compared to their opponents rating. This rule presumably applies for 3v3 and 4v4 as well.
Starcraft II ladder is divided into several seasons per year, and the final results are generally recorded at the end of a season. Check out our developer job postings and work in esports! From Liquipedia StarCraft 2 Wiki.