Short version: The way Storm League works is completely broken for very low MMRs. It is harming the game for many players and must change.
Long version is going to be quite long – apologies – but I need to make sure I cover everything. Before you rush to the comments and respond, could I please ask that if you're a player who has either never been in Bronze or is able to climb out very rapidly that you recognise this issue is not about you. It's about quality of game experience for a large group of players you have never been in. (I'm in Gold, before someone asks.)
The Problem: I've played many, many games from Platinum to Bronze levels and at every level there are badly misranked players. The reasons why are well known and I won't repeat them here. However, Bronze 5 has a much worse and more complicated version of this problem. The level of both micro play and game knowledge at every MMR has changed over time and the composition of the playerbase has shifted such that Bronze 5 now represents far too wide a range of ability levels. This not only affects matchmaking quality, it also makes it impossible for many players to ever climb out of Bronze 5, meaning that they receive no sense of progression even when they improve.
Multiple Accounts – I don't have access to all the data, but one factor which clearly contributes to players being pushed down into Bronze 5 is the prevalence of players with second (third, fourth etc.) accounts ("smurfs"). There are valid reasons to create such accounts, but their use contributes to downward pressure on all ranks below the player's true (ie. stable) rank. Also, some players appear – in contravention of the rules – to deliberately lose games in order to obtain a low ranked account with which to dominate games and/or boost teammates. This is bad for genuine Bronze players for two reasons. First, they lose to these players. Second, they are often in the games these players are throwing.
Variable Points for Victory – Players frequently report getting extremely low MMR rewards for victories in Bronze 5. Whatever the algorithm underlying this, the practical result is to make it much harder to rise from Bronze 5 to Bronze 4 than if this were not in place.
Questionable MatchMaking – Blizzard are quite coy about what their matchmaking algorithm does, but I have frequently seen matches in which the five players on one team are on average at higher MMR than their opponents and simple swaps of pairs of players could improve the matchup. This suggests to me that ten players are formed into a match and then assigned randomly to teams. This is arguably bad at any MMR, but it particularly bad for very low MMR players, who will less often get a "fair" match (MMR-wise) because there are few players below them in rating.
I'm mainly making this thread in order to get some discussion of what solution would be best. I'm not an expert. That said, here are a few possible starting points…
Guaranteed +200 for a Win – Players in Bronze 5 (and only there) could have their points for a win automatically raised to +200 if they would otherwise receive fewer. This would mean that all you need to do to climb out is to have a 50%+WR.
Limit Distance of Descent – If an account loses a lot of MMR, stop the loss of rank artificially before Bronze 5. This way all the chaos and misery caused by players abusing the system will not be dumped onto the least skilled players while they're trying to learn the game.
Matchmaking by Highest Party MMR – Probably too controversial to implement, but this would end boosting instantly and improve the game for everyone except parties with widely spread MMRs.
Balance Teams Within Matches – Divide players between teams such that the total MMR of each team is as balanced as possible.
EDIT: Whoever it was who downvoted this from 1 to 0, at least have the courage to post a comment explaining why I'm wrong!
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© Post "Blizzard – Please Change Bronze 5" for game Heroes of the Storm.
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