The Greatest Matchmaking Complaint Ever

In the brief period before TI3 begins, I thought this would be a good opportunity to interject some levity in the form of a cautionary tale.

About two weeks ago on the Dev forums, a thread was posted:

Just deleted dota2.

Today I’ve played 8 games, all have been reported in the One-sided match making.

We just played a game in which we were a stack or 4 players

2x 1200 + 1400 + 1500 wins
The MM decided to give us a 5th player with 500 wins, who fed an anti-mage and gave him a 12 min battle furry
( unwinnable game )

That was the last straw, I can’t continue to play a broken game, I get zero enjoyment from playing it cuz of the MM.

Really incapable developers … really really braindead people. Even a simple “learning algorithm” would do a much better job than what is currently implemented.

Praise the lord every day that you’ve been born in the US, cuz I can assure you that with this quality of product in eastern Europe you would get fired in the 2nd week.

2 years you can’t produce a working solution … 2 years …

Of course there are calls for the OP to provide the match ID of the game so that everyone can see this trainwreck of a game that finally caused him to break down and give up on Dota2 forever.  And he, of course, does not.  Everything would have ended there if it were not for one intrepid forum poster who dug up the OP’s Dotabuff profile using his post history.  As it turns out, the actual match replay had a very different story to tell.

It’s this Match:

http://dotabuff.com/matches/247326904

The OP is WD
The solo guy is Clinkz

A brief summary:

-1:00 Clinkz goes solo offlane. Buys his own pull camp wards.
0:30 Clinkz is up against AM, Distro and Dazzle
0:36 Clinkz’s pull camp ward is dewarded immediately
1:12 Clinkz’s anti-gank ward is dewarded.
2:10 AM takes FB from Clinkz. It was avoidable, but unfortunate. He went toe-to-toe with Dazzle to try to get into the XP zone, but didn’t manage to Skeleton Walk in time, before AM Blinked on him for the last hit.
4:59 After being zoned out, then chased from his tower lvl 3 Clinkz manages to deny his offlane tower. No one came to help defend.
8:15 Lvl 4 Clinkz dies to Glimpse, Kinetic Field, Sentry + AM ult.
9:01 WD, SD and SF come to help with offlane.
9:31 SD Kills AM
13:20 AM gets BF
16:15 WD gets isolated from his team on 30% HP and low mana. Seems AFK. AM tps on him and kills him.
17:18 WD gets isolated, Shackled and killed by the entire enemy team apart from AM.
22:05 WD rages in all chat with the same complaints as in the OP
22:40 WD rage quits on a 12-9 score.

and here’s the best bit

34:46 WD’s team wins 4v5, without him!

Score 33-12

Clinkz 6/3/4
AM 2/5/3
WD 0/2/5

Clinkz has the 2nd highest hero damage, on the winning team, higher than the DK, the farming carry who was protected by the trilane. 2nd only to SF, the mid hero.

It’s a must watch. Very entertaining and deeply ironic.

I’m pleased that I went to the trouble to find it and it’s a great lesson about rage quitting and the irrelevance of win counts.

I get that matchmaking might be a little frustrating right now.  It’s entirely possible that problems that went unnoticed during beta are suddenly much more prominent as thousands of brand new accounts are being added to the system daily with the staggered official release.  But if the breaking point for your ability to put up with matchmaking is a game so lopsided in your favor that your teammates can win it 4v5 without you, what conceivable set of matches would you actually find acceptable?

Among the many possible morals for this story, my favorite is this: if you find yourself in games that tend to be stomps one way or the other, perhaps the culprit is you.  You could actually be right that matchmaking is giving matches that are below your mechanical skill level because you so regularly throw winnable games at the first sign of adversity that you actively lower your MMR from where it would be otherwise.  After all, it’s not matchmaking’s responsibility to determine that you’re a giant baby and coddle you accordingly.  It just sees you as a terrible player who happens to get lucky, and maybe that’s not really too far from the truth.

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36 Responses to The Greatest Matchmaking Complaint Ever

  1. Fidelius says:

    The OP just played a game two hours before my posting this LOL.

  2. jimmydorry says:

    There are going to be false positives as that thread revealed… but I don’t think your assertions at the end of the article are warranted.

    If you played any kind of matchmaking (I can only testify for normal games) since the matchmaking patch went live… you would easily be able to tell that the quality of game has drastically dropped.

    While we could still see the number of wins on team mates (post MM “fix”), I noticed that there were many games where people on my team would have 10 or less wins (sometimes 0), versing teams with minimum 500wins. I don’t care about the whole spurious logic about smurfs and stacks… These “newbie” players did not have any grasp of any of the fundamentals of the game (i.e. solo roshing late game and walking back to base to sell items before walking back to pick up aegis… or complete lack of positioning… or diving MULTIPLE towers at lvl1… or tri-jungling where both supports just jungle and leave carry solo… or auto-attacking lane… or shadow blade & dagon lifestealer) and having them on my team was an unmitigated detriment.

    To make this issue go away, Valve decided to hide the number of wins. I was 20games up (above 50%) before the patch, and within a week or so of the patch I was 10games down (with an 80% instantaneous loss rate). I have since stopped playing by myself, and only play in stacks of 2 or more… and have yet to lose a game (as of writing). My MMR is obviously shitty after such a bad streak, but the quality of players is so obviously low that we are stomping each game (9 in a row as of writing).

    Before you tell me that I am getting carried by my stack, I am playing with more than 5 completely different stacks, ranging from 2 to 4 other people in all different skill levels, and playing all roles from hard carry to support.

    There are multiple values to consider and nothing should be taken at face value… but when you have played “enough dota”… you can tell when MM is just plain broken. I didn’t particularly complain about the old MM, where you would wait a few mins (up to 10) to find a game… most of which were reasonably close and fun… but waiting 30seconds for a shit game every time is obviously a step backwards.

    • jimmydorry says:

      And just because of the nay-sayers:

      http://i.imgur.com/WsDo2QK.png

      Look at the stuff I could get away with? Rapier warlock (yes I bought it)

    • phantasmal says:

      It’s entirely possible that there are significant issues right now. Based on what (admittedly little) I’ve seen, my guess is that smurf detection/aggressive placement has been tuned too aggressively and is systematically overestimating the skill level of many of the new accounts entering the system. As a result, if you’re of a reasonably high MMR, any players with less than 75 wins could be more likely have an inflated MMR, thus giving the impression that more wins = more skill. And yes, if this is happening it’s something that demands to be addressed in a relatively short time frame.

      What I take issue with is twofold. First, the player in question complained about matchmaking pairing them with a Clinkz that only has 500 wins, which is frankly an absurd level of entitlement, especially when you consider that this Clinkz has maintained a 54.5% win rate over 800 games. Second is no, no matter how much Dota you play you can’t always tell when MM is broken. No matter how experienced you are, some of your expectations for how players of your level ought to play are just plain inaccurate. That is not to say that they’re always inaccurate, just that sometimes you need to step back and ask yourself whether you’re being overly critical of that “newb” that goes 0-2 when he’s solo against an aggressive trilane.

      • jimmydorry says:

        Valid points, and while I can agree that it is nay impossible to tell if MM is broken if your sample of games to base decision off is small… but if you get more than a dozen shit games in a row, something has to give.

        I’m not talking about minor things that you would expect from people as they play more (optimal warding, pulling etc… ) we are talking about games made up of people with majorly different skill levels. Before the ELO/MM dev on the forums went quiet, some of the games he explained showed just how far the ELO of players could range (he blamed stacks)… and that was before MM went to shit. If I recall the ELO range was several hundred points in one of the games he explained… and that was meant to be an even game. It has been a few weeks since my last even game… so I shudder to think exactly what the ELOs currently are… and if they are that far off then they are worth nothing.

        In some of the games I played after the patch… people on my team were going 0/5/0 at 6mins in, or only cliff jungling with Nature’s Profit. The biggest vindicator of my observations is the fact that Valve decided to hide the number of wins.

        Hopefully the system eventually rights itself… but another major indicator of its flawed implementation is the fact that all of my stacks are stomping, and haven’t yet been beaten.

        Think about how many more players are getting effected by my severely underrated MMR, and how that would have a knock on effect.

        If the API hadn’t been neutered to prevent 3rd parties from making 3rd party ranking systems, we could probably quantify this phenomena. :(

      • phantasmal says:

        Stacks are a legitimate cause of matchmaking spread. The system simply doesn’t have a way to say, “No, you can’t group with your friend who has 1000 less rating than you,” so it’s obligated to create games like that.

        I’m also not convinced that we should be too worried about knock-on effects. There’s certainly no reason to believe they don’t exist, but if they’re being caused by an underlying issue like overestimating the placement position of a subset of new accounts then fixing the underlying issue should cause the knock-on effects to dissipate relatively quickly. And frankly, that underlying issue would be serious regardless of the knock-on effects.

      • jimmydorry says:

        Not to discuss match making design here… but stacks are a problem in all games with public MM… and other games have addressed those issues before with varying success. I would look to the StarCraft and World of Tanks MM as one of the better examples… but they are for different games so I won’t.

        Valve could easily inform stacks of the spread… they could simply refuse to MM stacks of such large spread… or make a disincentive for doing it (think battle point penalties, item drop penalties, skill penalties, different ladder, fill team with players at lowest MM rating and give enemy teams the advantage, etc.). Instead of trying anything in Beta, it has just festered and we have what we have now. :(

        There is a large difference between what we have and what we could have, and Valve simply refusing to implement anything is not a valid reason with why we should put up with it.

        Maybe if I hadn’t played so many one sided games since the patch, I would be able to be more objective about it… It wasn’t like this at all before the patch, which is where my beef comes from.

        If we had more info and feedback, then the whole situation would be better off… Instead we are losing more and more feedback mechanisms as we go forward. There are more posts than ever in the MM sucks threads, so there can’t be smoke where there is no fire.

        Either way, I’ll continue stacking so that I don’t have to worry about so many unknown variables on my team.

      • phantasmal says:

        At some level I both like and am a little worried about informing the stacks of the spread. It could lead to people trying to game the system, or alternatively feeling like Valve is explicitly punishing them for trying to play with their friends, and both of those situations are something you would like to avoid if at all possible.

        That being said, I think it would be a good thing if Valve could include average ping time information on the server selection screen. People might be less inclined to just mash all servers if half of the list is clearly dark red for them, so it might solve a lot of the “region lock” complaints in a very non-draconian manner.

      • the sweetest butt says:

        The biggest issue is the hidden MMR and how group-queueing interacts with it.

        It is much too easy right now to go into a match and know several times more about your opposition than they know about you, an advantage that trumps the size of the group-MMR-skew by far.

        Say I queue with 2 good players (~2400+ DBR) and 2 random friends from dumpstertown. Soon as the game starts, I can check console for pings and take a guess who is even grouped together on their side – worse yet, from starting items/picks (and in the past, win count) I can take a guess which one of them is the dedicated food for our team. Meanwhile, our weakest players already know they’re weakest and are being guided into being useful and our most aggressive positions are taken up by the players we know to be best.

        The result is almost every single time a 0-effort stomp. It even works if I’m the only high-rated player or the group isn’t even close to 5. I have all this information about my own team and even theirs (because MM will try to match mean MMRs) that it is completely and utterly unfair off the bat.

        This is before you get the groups that actually work well together and go up against non-5 stacks. Those are almost the entirety of dudes you see with ~60-75% winratios and stacks that you run into repeatedly – the only saving grace being that you can 0-minute disconnect because someone in their group will be recognizable by avatar/steam_id/name and you’ve run into the stack before.

        This is the stuff that is simply not acceptable, whether soloMM (which is a nice step, but the games are awful – very easy, but still awful) exists or not. Everyone has to know the approximate rating&uncertainty of everyone else and whether they are grouped. And then maybe we can start working on the joke that is 0-minute dodging.

  3. Literally Icefrog says:

    Ignoring stacks, I do find the matchmaking to be much worse off since the last patch. However I’m unsure if it’s the result of the flooding of new accounts or the shorter queue times. Most likely both, but to what extent is each a factor?

    At either rate, longer wait times for tighter games was much better than what we have now.

    I do agree with the initial message of this post though. You can’t just look at the scores of a game and judge a player. You have to watch his technical play. If that Clinkz had died 0-2 trying to dive an Antimage’s tower it would be very different than him going 0-2 while trying to pick up some exp against a trilane trying hard to zone him out.

    Watch their actual play and decision making before you judge another player, don’t just get mad because things aren’t going your way. It very easily could be you trying to take advantage of an opportunity but having it backfire. Even happens to the pros.

    • phantasmal says:

      It’s a bit silly, but the shorter queue times are another factor I wasn’t taking into account. I don’t really have a clue that change is interacting with everything, but it definitely could be having an impact.

  4. frostym288 says:

    So I’ve made my way into very high tier games both in solo queuing and in stacks of assorted sizes. My problem is that i still see what I feel is ridiculously bad playing even at these levels. True, it’s less common than in normal tier games but I don’t think I’m being too entitled in my expectations. Some examples are:

    5 carry teams with no stuns (I random first which is why I’m not filling in missing roles here)

    0 wards or courier

    Supports stealing waves of farm from hard carries

    No minimap awareness even when there are wards and ppl ping and chat

    Ridiculous skill build (faceless void not getting time walk until lvl 9)

    I’m not saying MMR should look at these things specifically when ranking nor do I think it’s even possible to quantify all of them…but there is something wrong when clear fundamentals are lacking in what’s supposed to be the highest skill tier.

    Do you have any comments about this in general? It could just be confirmation bias on my part and I’m only remembering the really bad games or maybe it’s just that there hasn’t been enough time for the MMRs to settle? I hope it’s not cuz my expectations are too high because the things I listed are on the very low side of my expectations for competency. I didn’t even include stuff like tp reactions.

    • phantasmal says:

      I had a longer reply but wordpress ate it, so here’s the short.

      The early stuff could easily be attributable to spite (“No one else on this team cares about this game, so there’s no way I’m picking a support and buying a courier.”)

      The Faceless Void is just as likely to be an experienced player trolling as it’s a new player who somehow slipped in to high level matchmaking. Bad players usually have some kind of tortured, misevaluated logic to their skill build choices, so it’s pretty rare for them to completely skip a blink for 9 levels.

      It’s a bit of an inversion, but when it comes to dota matchmaking sometimes it’s best to not always attribute to stupidity what can be explained by malice.

      • Literally Icefrog says:

        I’ve noticed a tendency to level passives over actives among lower tier players. You’re the guy with the stats, so I could just be speaking from confirmation bias, but skipping timewalk in favour of passives just reeks of inexperience from my perspective.

      • phantasmal says:

        It’s possible that lower tier players are more likely to max stats first in odd scenarios, but there are exceptions like Crystal Maiden where aura max builds are actually the less popular in Normal than in High and Very High. But the one thing that lower tier players are definitely more likely to do in every hero I’ve seen is just split their skill points at random, as Split builds of all sorts are always far more popular in Normal.

        But honestly, statistical arguments are probably weak here. It’d be more productive to just look at the match history of the Void in question and determine if he was definitely out of his depth or if he has plenty of other Very High games where he performs adequately.

      • frostym288 says:

        That last bit makes sense but is also really depressing -_-

    • Vitor Bortoletto Junior says:

      Picks, wards, courier have nothing to do with skill. I play very high games and I mostly random and buy a courier or ward by myself, even if I random a hard carry. I do not expect someone to buy it.
      Also, as I random, I do not expect anyone to adapt the their picks around mine, so 5 men carry happens sometimes.
      My advice is: play your game, do not expect something amazing from your teammates, do not give a shit if someone flames you and have fun.

  5. AnonyMouse says:

    I posted this one reddit, figured I’d post it here too:

    I know I’m going to get hammered for saying this, but the issue is that this article was written about a match that took place two weeks ago; this was before a couple of pretty drastic changes were made to the matchmaking algorithm. You can’t deny that the number of complaints has spiked drastically upwards since the last patch.

    People had a similar reaction to the mute system… and in the end, after some investigation, it actually turned out that it was pretty heavily flawed (and Valve promptly fixed it). I don’t know if matchmaking is really worse or if people are just exaggerating, but it’s insensitive to write off people’s complaints because you personally have not noticed anything wrong.

    To me this seems like a case of “the boy who cried wolf.” People cried about the matchmaking being broken even though it wasn’t; now that it is, no one will believe them. :(

    • rubble bowser says:

      look thats nice and all but this whole entry is literally about a dude who was crying about how bad matchmaking is and it turns out that he was actually a shithead who quits when he doesnt get his way AND HIS TEAM STILL FUCKING WON. The guy is going on about how it is broken when I think the actual broke part is him. but its okay keep up the “Valve is actually lying to us and matchmaking is broke as shit and its not just confirmation bias” story thats cool

      • noname says:

        That, also, is nice and all. But there is also an opinion that is based on this cautionary tale. In fact, you just based an opinion on this example, which is that people who complain about matchmaking are simply deluded. This particular case is something I would tell my friends and laugh about it. It is not something I would take seriously.

  6. xdv says:

    The match search times are a LOT shorter after the patch, but I’ve also been getting matched with what seems like are poorer quality opponents – I used to wait 10-20 minutes for a Very High match, now it’s more like 3-4 minutes but the opponents are generally worse, which given the player distribution, doesn’t really surprise me.

    I prefer the current setup, FWIW, saves me about 10 minutes on average looking for a match.

  7. Am I really the only one who has a smurf account that I tank the MMR on so I can then play NP or Huskar and go 20-0. It’s a really relaxing way to take a break from higher skill brackets :D

  8. Marco says:

    Can anyone share a copy of the replay?

  9. appadama says:

    use tmm

  10. Beuneri says:

    I’ll post the same thing here I posted on reddit, just to give some counter-argument and food for the thought:

    After the new matchmaking system hit live the quality of games has just plummeted.

    Before I used to meet pretty much the same faces in my games and the games were usually very tight, I often met some pro players in my games and sometimes even hit the first page in live games.

    Now it seems like the pool of players is much more random, and thus the games more often end up being a huge one-sided stomp. Two days ago I had a player in my team with 3 victories in his profile, bear in mind that I have over 2000 games played with over 1100 victories.

    AND, not to only make it sound like I want to jump the “matchmaking sucks” bandwagon, even my DotaStyle profile suggests that something has happened: http://imageshack.us/a/img690/4133/2lp3.jpg

    In just one (or maybe two) week my rating has gone from the constant 190-200 down to 154.

    Have I just suddenly gotten a lot worse in this game after playing it for several hours every day? Maybe. Or just maybe there might be something wrong in the current system.

    Peace out.

  11. Pap Lok says:

    Winning 4v5 is not good play or fun, you win simply because the gold you get from the guy that left is normally better for the team than a farming shitty player.

    • DeathBot says:

      Nah it’s usually the opposite. If someone leaves early then you can dominate them in lanes because they won’t be able to respond as quickly, if someone leaves mid then you can kill, push, and zone their team and prevent them from farming to catch up to you in the late game, and if someone leaves late game then it’s almost always a massive dip in their ability to teamfight, either through losing a source of damage or losing some kind of disable.

      Also consider that if you have a farming shitty player then not having them in game often leaves you with 4 farming shitty players against 5 farming shitty players, which doesn’t suddenly turn that game around.

  12. Koma says:

    Anyway after update with matching i face alot of 40+ lvl profiles when im 12.

    game is really one sided then, they just having fun and our team cannot get single kill, before update we have alot of equal games(maybe low quality, while we sux but at lease there was alot more of fun and equal fight)

    ps. i will not delete anything ;)

  13. Marlow says:

    All I know is that ever since the last patch my winrate increased sharply. I have no idea why

  14. Dzoom says:

    I think the biggest indicator of something being wrong with the matchmaking system is that basically every match is a thorough stomp. No matter if it’s a win or lose, the game is very rarely a close, good game. A 50-50 win ration on the majority of players is worth nothing when the games them selves are rarely balanced. I’d rather lose 80% of my games as close battles than stomp 99%.

  15. mertol says:

    bullcrap MM sucks and that is obvious to anyone with half a brain

  16. 51234124124133333333333333 says:

    Maybe it’s the mm or my 0% intolerance to any kind of noob and in general stupid behavior but i can’t stand these kind of games one after another, even those when i win because of MY fucking skill it’s 70% my and my alone doing, And of course the games i lose are rarely my own fault, like 5 in a 100, shit happens, mostly it’s just newb trash that downloaded dota 2 weeks ago playing with 2000 games played crowd.

  17. Dota says:

    I don’t consider myself a great dota player, but I know I’m not terrible either. I’ve played about 500 games of Dota 2 with a 48% win rate and a ranked MMR of 2800.

    From my experience with Dota 2, most games aren’t lost to skill, but raw stupidity. We have idiots walking straight into ganks even when wards clearly show the enemy lurking there. In my last game, we were pushing bot t2 tower and we were out of mana, and I asked my team to b. The enemy heroes had re-spawned. I saw a glimpse of one of them in the trees near the secret shop. Despite this, our brain dead invoker makes a bee-line for their secret shop, gets torn apart, and loses the gem. In other instances, teammates will recklessly abandon the defensive position of their towers and chase the enemy only to get wiped.

    I remember my second last game where I soloed mid (as sniper) against SF. By level 6 I had about 18 denies and SF was consistently one level behind me during laning. I also called mia. Guess what? He gets fed by my team and then carriers his team to victory. I really tried that game and what did I get for my efforts? Defeat.

    I seem to get people like these every single game. I’ve never had this issue with Dota 1. In Dota 1, strategic mistakes like bad builds and not pushing at the opportune moment would cost us a game; and that’s fair. In dota 2 the player base just seems to possess low IQs. I just don’t understand it. And this brings us to another question: Can matchmaking really account for sheer player stupidity? I don’t mind losing if the game was evenly balanced along lines of skill but that seldom happens in Dota 2. Either my team totally stomps them or vice versa. Anyhow I’ve quit dota 2 and deleted it of my HD. I’m going back to dota 1 for now.

    Is there a way valve can customize matchmaking so that a solo queued player can customize his mm preferences? For example I can specify that I only want to play with people within a specific MMR/elo Bracket and with a specific K/D ratio. Right now people QQ about match making because they feel helpless against a system that they feel is broken.

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