A new ranked season is here in Dota 2 and the game is receiving a significant shakeup as a result.
In a lengthy post on the official Dota 2 blog, Valve detailed the changes made to ranked matchmaking this season. The changes are numerous, ranging from how MMR is calculated to a more aggressive approach to punishing players.
Many of the changes revolve around role queuing in ranked matches and optimizing the experience of players within that framework.
One of the biggest changes made is an improvement in “role symmetry.” While ranked games can involve players with a wide range of MMRs, the difference in skill between players matched up in specific positions could hugely impact the game in some situations.
For example, a 500 MMR difference between mid-lane players would have a much more significant impact on the outcome of a game than a 500 MMR difference between hard supports. To remedy this, Dota 2 will put an increased focus on MMR parity on a role-by-role basis.
Additionally, changes are being made to ensure that players actually conform to the roles they queued for in ranked matchmaking. A new “draft role report” feature has been added to allow players to flag teammates that flake out of playing the role they queued for. These reports, coupled with “other detection mechanisms,” will allow the game to punish those who adversely impact the ranked matchmaking experience.
Those aren’t the only players that will be punished, though.
Valve discussed its efforts to improve the Dota 2 gameplay experience by banning an unspecified number of players for a variety of reasons. This includes consistently toxic players, but also takes aim at account sellers, MMR boosters, and smurfs.
“The first ban wave is to players with exceptionally low behavior scores…The second case where users will be banned today is for anyone detected of violating the Steam Service Agreement that prevents the purchase or sale of Steam accounts,” the update reads. “Buying accounts to get a higher or lower rank is not allowed and causes negative side effects for the play experience of others.”
Alongside toxic players and account sellers, players that repeatedly use exploits will also be banned. Dota 2 has long had various bugs that can result in games being prematurely ended or improperly flagged as having poor network conditions, with some players actively using this to avoid taking loss penalties. Valve is taking measures to ban these players, with punishments being delivered without further warning.
Valve is also implementing multiple measures to stop smurfing in Dota 2 after a marked uptick in complaints on this issue.
The first is adjusting who has access to ranked matchmaking. An exploit in the phone number verification process has been remedied, which will hinder players that attempt to juggle multiple accounts. Additionally, the requirements for ranked matchmaking have been increased, with accounts now requiring 100 hours of play before they can participate in anything other than casual modes.
The second is the removal of some of the limits that have been placed around MMR. The initial ranked ceiling has been increased, allowing high-level players to not be forced into a longer climb up the ladder at the expense of weaker players. Interestingly, MMR adjustments will be potentially greater than the standing +/-25 that has long been the standard, which will allow MMR to more quickly reflect the actual abilities of a player.
These changes will be part of an ongoing process on Valve’s end, so fans can expect some small adjustments to arrive over the coming weeks and months.