Valve releases massive matchmaking update and bans Smurfs, Boosters and Scripters

Valve releases massive matchmaking update and bans Smurfs, Boosters and Scripters

Vignesh Raghuram
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The bi-annual MMR Reset is finally here. And with it, Valve is taking massive strides to fix a lot of matchmaking issues plaguing the Dota 2 servers and hints at implementing a one-time cost to access the ranked games, similar to CS:GO Prime.

MMR Recalibration

The MMR Reset will come into effect on 19th September 2019. The recalibration will take place for both Support/Core MMRs. However, changes to the Support/Core MMR will no longer be exclusive from each other.

“When you win or lose a game queued as one type of role, we’ll also update the MMR of the other type by a percentage of that game’s gains or losses”.

Matchmaking changes to Ranked Roles

Previously, the Ranked Matchmaking algorithm only took ‘the average MMR between two teams’ into account. According to Valve, “This tended to cause games to be really volatile and not enjoyable.”

Following this patch, the ranked matchmaking algorithm will look now to match players based on each player’s role MMR. For example, it will no longer match a stack of a 6k Mid + 4k Support against a 4k Mid + 6k Support. Rather it will match the 6k Mid + 4k Support against another 6k Mid + 4k Support, and the 4k Mid + 6k Support against a 4k Mid + 6k Support.

“In the past we used to prioritize rank spread between the two teams as one of the main criteria for the matchmaker to judge success, however as part of this update we are changing its priorities. It will now put a big emphasis on making sure that the roles are more symmetric rather than other criteria.”

Bans to Scripters, Griefers and Boosters

Valve is also tackling Scripters/Hackers, Griefers and Boosters with this account. It has already issued a ban wave, banning players with “exceptionally low behavior scores” (Griefers), “players who’ve been detected using exploits to gain an advantage over other players” (Scripters/Hackers) and “anyone detected of violating the Steam Service Agreement that prevents the purchase or sale of Steam accounts” (Boosted accounts).

Valve has also added that: “Accounts that we ban will now also have the associated phone number permanently blacklisted from being able to have access to ranked matchmaking.” making it harder for these game ruiners to return to the game.

Tackling Smurfs

To tackle smurfs, Valve has stated that they’re aware of this issue and have already started implementing some fixes to deter the practice.

First off, they stated that they’ve fixed a bug that allowed players to queue Ranked games without linking a phone number to their steam account.

Additionally, they’re also changing the mechanism of unlocking Ranked Matchmaking. Following this patch, players are not required to play at least 100 games to unlock it. Rather, a fixed amount of 100 hours of playtime is the minimum requirement to unlock it. This is most likely implemented, to stop players abusing Turbo Games to unlock Ranked Games.

Furthermore, players who consistently overperform in Ranked Games will gain MMR faster (ie they will receive more than +/- 25) and hence reach their correct rank faster ruining fewer games in the process.

The process of assigning the initial Ranked MMR to a new account has also been changed. Valve stated:

“Leveraging the new hours played gate we are adding for ranked access, we will be using your account’s historical performance more aggressively to place you into a more accurate initial rank. In the past we introduced a really low cap on initial rank, we think that was a mistake on our part, because it caused smurfs to unnecessarily impact a large volume of games before arriving at a closer-to-accurate rank.”

In addition to all these changes, Valve also states that it has a few other general problems that it intends to fix in future updates, under its radar. These include:

  • High MMR Games

Valve states that it is aware of the queue time problem that very high MMR players are facing. It says 

“While we have some changes here that directly and indirectly improve matchmaking quality for the extremely high end bracket, we will be closely monitoring this to see if other changes are needed."

  • Hard Support Queue Times

  • Role Queue Abuse

  • Smurfing

Valve states that they’re thinking about different ways to discourage smurfs in a free-to-play game. They state that they’re even considering adding a one-time fee to unlock ranked access.

"One option we have thought about is having Ranked access have a one-time entry cost, and that access can be lost for players who regularly ruin games. We may also grandfather in users that we have enough data on, but we haven’t gone too deep in assessing the details here."

You can read the full patch updates HERE.

Vignesh has been covering the esports industry for nearly 5 years starting with the early days of the DPC. His industry expertise includes experience in Dota 2, CS:GO and Mobile Esports coverage.