This post was initially in response to this thread -> https://en-forum.guildwars2.com/discussion/114995/matchmaking-completely-busted
But as usual I went in-depth on it, and felt it needed it's own thread.
I think responses that @Vaan.3160 is getting are not noticing the point he is making.
He mentions he is usually a p2-p3 player, which shows he already knows how to win a game in guild wars 2.
What he is referencing is something that many many people have been pointing out lately, which are matches that are actually impossible to win regardless of how good you are or what strategies you are using. He also mentions having streaks of such bad match making that can drop a normal p2/p3 player into gold division.
I've noticed this is as well, not just with my own account's patterns but also the patterns of other players whom I've known for years. This strange and suspicious algorithm activity is largely why I don't take ranked seriously anymore. So imagine if I were to list about 20 people's names from NA who had played p2+ consistently for about the past 2 or 3 years. Now if I were to evaluate those 20 people's performance within about the past 12 months, I'd notice that all of them have maintained their mechanical abilities over the years and they all feel just as difficult to face as they always have mechanically. In ATs they are still just as difficult to deal with as ever and they are still players who ball together to encompass the top 10 strongest teams in NA or even top 5. But for some reason, only about 50% of these 20 players being evaluated are actually playing at a rating of p2+. The other half are reporting exactly what @Vaan.3160 brought up, strange impossible to carry match making that limits them to gold 3 range, rarely allowing them to peak into bottom p1 play.
^ This is a true story, real example being used btw. I've been paying attention to it for quite a few seasons now. So even though those 20 players are nearly identical in peaked skill & knowledge of the game to encompass NA's clearly & visually best players, even historically, people we know so well that we wouldn't need to see a rating above their head to know their skill level, suddenly about half of those players have mysteriously been shoved down into this g3/p1 tribulation mode match making whereas the other half are easily and consistently maintaining p2/p3 standards. Something is wrong with that. Especially where those g3/p1 players are just as good as or better than the p2+ players in AT play. And don't give me that "ATs are so different than yolo/duo" garbage, because we all know that organized 5 man play is a lot harder to keep relevant in than yolo/duo. If a person can consistently win final rounds of ATs against the best players in the game for their region, surely they should be able to maintain a plat 1 level even solo queue. Yet I know many players who have up & left the game who were once amongst the best, claiming that "They can't win ranked games anymore. The match making is broken." So what is going on here?
Well let's get the usual accusations out of the way:
- Win Trading - It is very real in 2020 but only certain groups of people really have incentive enough to do this and lately they aren't online much or so it seems. Maybe they are on alts throwing, maybe not. But usually a win trade is obvious to those who are aware, by right click viewing the account names of those in the game, and by watching the flow of the match. Lately these bad matches don't feel like win trading to me. Something else is going on.
- General Alt Throwing - This is also very real in 2020. People play alts and they will throw games against the mains of people they don't like because well, it's a very funny thing to do. But usually this kind of vengeance & rivalry throwing is made obvious through slight trolling, just enough to let someone know what's going on without actually saying it, so that the thrower can benefit maximum QQ entertainment in the process. It's also pretty obvious as to who is purposely throwing, by watching the actions of a player mechanically and rotationally. Some things are too stupid for anyone to do, even if they were wood tier. Some things are so detrimentally stupid for a player to ever do, that a person would actually need to possess a p2+ understanding of the game to even be able to identify that the throw action would hurt the team that much. When you start seeing actions like that happening, you can tell that the person knows the game very well, to be making sure that everything they do is the wrong thing to do. But lately this isn't even happening. Lately it's just honest terrible unprecedented bad match making, where the teams clearly & visually are lopsided as all hell.
- Low population - Yeah yeah yeah, ok. It does cause problems. But that doesn't explain why out of 20 historically great players, 50% of them continue on with generally the same match quality, but the other 50% suddenly are thrown into the g3 tribulation, playing 200+ rating lower than the other p2/p3 guys who are in every way their equals no better no worse. Something else is going on that hasn't really been figured out or talked about yet.
Now for years we've had talk in the forum about some accounts being on the good list for match making and some accounts being on the bad list for match making. Lately I am beginning to wonder if something like this is actually happening. This is because of the sheer visibility of what is happening, due to low population. It definitely looks like some accounts are consistently being given the bad end of match making, regardless of if they are solo or duo. Then other accounts seem to be given otherwise balanced matches that are actually winnable, as if they were being allowed to have an algorithm that worked as intended. This is very visible if you look at what's happening from a macro standpoint of the community, rather than just your own subjective experience during queue. The real question here is: "Why is that happening?" Is it a bug? Is it being done to some players on purpose? Is it administrative? Is it just some players getting a lot of attention from throw alts?
A few things I've noticed, and keep in mind that a player with nearly 20,000 games played knows the game well. If you are a player of similar experience, you would know that you are able to tell the difference between when you are performing well or poorly, when your partner is carrying you or holding you down, and when a match is just suspiciously lopsided and in no way winnable even for a top 5 duo, whom you know their capabilities well because you are against them in ATs all of the time.
- I'm bottom plat 1 on my main account that is approaching 20,000 games played. I'm bottom plat 1 and most of my games are so incredibly ball busting difficult and full of randoms, regardless of if I am solo or duo, that I will need to consistently win 1v2s the entire game to have any chance at all of pulling a win. And if I don't have a kill ratio of like straight downing & finishing 2 players per about 60s, there will be no way to win the match. Yet when I log into my alt that has only about 500 or 600 ranked games played, I can be around 1620 rating and much more often than not my matches are less than half as difficult as the main. They are so much easier even at +100 rating or higher, that in some of these matches I could actually AFK for a good 60s and come back, and still have no problem winning the game. Under no circumstances does the main account EVER get granted games that are that easy, even if it drops into g3 tribulation. <- Some of you probably remember me writing a thread that followed this with screenshots of the main vs alt rating for a few seasons in a row, to prove that I was not joking around about this. The main account clearly is being given much much more difficult match making, even if it's in g3 and the alt is in p2. It's also important to note that the alt is seemingly allowed to stay within 1620 - 1580 rating the entire season with no strange streaks applied to it. But the main CONSISTENTLY will bounce back and forth from bottom 1600 to bottom 1400 range, over and over and over and over. Every time the main touches 1600, it's like an automated forced lose streak occurs, and it will be made to go and nearly touch g2 before the bad match avalanche stops. That never happens on the alt. Not once has it happened to the alt.
- There are some players that I queue with who are p2 standard, that we can't lose a match until we get up around 1600+. When this happens, it is not that the person is carrying so hard or I am carrying so hard. No, it's that the games just feel normal and approachable and not janky. But then other p2 standard players I will queue with, literally every time I try to queue with particular people, we cannot win a game at all and will go down to g3 margins if we continue to queue together. And this isn't because he is bad or I am bad or our duo is just not good together. No, the games we are being put in are all clearly lopsided. Our pugs will always be super random accounts that we've never seen before and will never see again, they perform atrociously bad, and yet we are being put against some p2+ duo or better who has actual players on their teams that everyone knows and recognizes. The matches are clearly lopsided as all hell, every time. These patterns I am noticing are no embellishment. There are certain players that it would seem within the algorithm, I am not allowed to queue with. Why would that happen? I have no idea but it does.
- I'll go into an AT with a p2 team or sometimes a p2/p1 team, sometimes even just a bottom p1 team. We'll get to the final round and lose to some MAT worthy team of top p3+ players only 500 to 350+, other times we in the final round. We'll take that same plat team and earlier in the AT we'll crunch the other plat teams like 500 to 200. Sometimes our plat teams will beat other plat teams like 500 to 100 or less. And then that moment occurs, when you look at the leaderboards and wonder how in the kitten is it even possible that those players that you just beat and always beat in ATs 500 to 100 or less, are somehow all at the same ranked ratings as the players on your team. You wonder after facing them several times in ATs, and seeing how they are rotationally & combat mechanically ill, how is it even possible for these players to be anywhere near 1600+ margins in ranked. And then you start wondering other things like how is it even possible that I know a few guys right now, who could very seriously 1v2 any of the players on their team, but somehow those guys are stuck in the g3/bottom plat tribulation. And it occurs to you, something is wrong here.
Over the years I have harped on and on endlessly about this game's match making and the leaderboard manipulation therein. In the earlier years when population was high and things were more difficult to notice, many people if not most people, cried conspiracy and said I was wrong. But when population got low and things became more visible, guess what, I was right, about everything. There was even one time in the old forum that I had noticed a small mechanical error in the match making and harped on about it for nearly a year, having players tell me I was wrong, until an arenanet dev came in and stated that they did find an error doing exactly what I had noticed and that it would soon be patched. This probably sounds egotistical to most reading this, but I don't know how else to say it. I am good at noticing patterns, always have been. Literally everything I have ever noticed and pointed out in this forum pertaining to match making, has in time revealed itself to be true. Literally every single thing. I urge you to find and quote something from me that didn't.
My point in bringing all of that up ^ is that I am once again pointing out that something is definitely very wrong with the match making. Some accounts are consistently being given worse match making than others. The real question is why. This time around, it isn't simply luck or win trading or throwing. Whatever is going on here, is happening through some kind of algorithm function or possibly something administrative. If we want to continue seeing playable games, I urge everyone to pitch it, begin paying attention, and try to narrow down what exactly is going on here.
Here are my first thoughts:
- Total games played - It has been stated in past patch notes that total games played does indeed inflate an account's base MMR which is invisible and under seasonal rating. It has also been stated that actual MMR does indeed effect match making. But to what degree it effects match making has never been stated. This would explain a lot actually, but not everything. Nonetheless, this function may have worked 4+ years ago, but as the years move on heading into year 9, this is just simply unfair. A new player can catch up and peak in skill & knowledge to a vet by the time they are around 2000 games played. But the vet they are equal to is being punished in this match making for having 20,000 games played. This function needs to be removed completely.
- A straight up bug - I've often felt that my match making on my main account was bugged. For the older players out there, we know what it feels like, the difference, between a g3 match, a p1 match, a p2 match, a p3+ match. There are distinct shifts in how the matches feel and work. So keeping that in mind, understand that sometimes when my main would go on those very strange epic lose streaks down into g3 and then continue to lose until it was kitten near g2, it would very distinctly feel like every match even in bottom g3, it was placing me as if I were still p2+. I mean seriously, every game down in bottom g3 would be so unusually and unnecessarily difficult for absolutely no reason other than if you stop and think about it and it occurs to you that: "This level of difficulty would make sense if I was trying to yolo and were still 1600+, like this is EXACTLY what a 1600+ game feels like" yet I am nearly in g2 and it is still happening. The games don't feel win trade, they don't feel throw, they feel like it is still placing me as if I were 1600+. So I wonder if there is a bug that happens sometimes, where the algorithm is somehow not updating the player's shift in actual rating/MMR for some elongated amount of time, and indeed is placing a player with some previous rating/MMR. Obviously the leaderboards reflect rating gain/loss, but is the algorithm a different system than leaderboard updates? Could the algorithm hiccup and somehow the numbers inside the algorithm get stuck like this? It would honestly explain a lot. It would explain unholy lose streaks from p2/p3 down to nearly g2, and then suddenly all in 1 game, it flips and then the matches are so easy for the next 10-15 games all super easy, and the player shoots right back up to 1600+, and then it happens again. It would also explain occurrences where I know for a fact that I was losing A LOT more rating for losses mid season than I should have for being so low, and I was gaining half of what I should have for the rating I was at. <- This has definitely happened to me on a couple different occasions. Remember, I have nearly 20,000 games played here, I'm not ignorant. When it's mid season and I'm 90 games deep in g3 and I yolo queue beat a p2+ duo and only gain +9 but lose -17 if they beat me, something is wrong with that.
- A new form of flat out cheating - Yes, I've wondered. Without without much explanation I'll say that some of these matches no longer look win trade or throw. Like there is visually not anyone on your team or the other team who appear to be purposely throwing at all, but rather it feels exactly like in an inhouse when too many strong players get stacked on one team. Some of these games are so ridiculously lopsided that even while viewing the leaderboards you ask yourself: "How did the algorithm even put me into this match? The other team is clearly stacked with much stronger players." Some of these matches lately feel like someone has administrative access to tinker with the match making, similar to custom arenas where the owner can just put people on whatever team he wants. So yeah, I wonder what's going on here.
Anyway, maybe someone inside the arenanet office cares, maybe not, but I feel like the game mode is dying out here for all of the wrong reasons, and ridiculously busted match making in the ranked mode is at the top of the list, right under it being ranked mode solo/duo which is too easy to match manipulate. I know that arenanet can see the same patterns that I can see, if they wanted to look at it at all. I just wish they'd care enough to sort it out. I feel like these problems are simply not difficult to resolve, whether it's updating/patching/fixing the algorithm for a low population community, or simply removing ranked, shuffling ranked rewards to unranked, and putting rating/badge icon into shorter 1 month long seasons tied to MATs, whatever. I just want the game to make sense again and have a firewall against such easy & casual match manipulations.