This will be long and disorganized because I like stream of consciousness vomiting my thoughts out so
tl;dr: I think the new matchmaking system is a step in the right direction, these are the best games I've experienced in mm, there are definitely problems, but hopefully they'll get fixed, and I'll be streaming as long as I enjoy playing said games. www.twitch.tv/aui_2000 ty
So I wanted to start by giving some context into my background. I used to play sc2 before I started playing Dota 2 at a fairly competitive level. It was a really fun game with a lot of depth and finesse, but I eventually lost interest for two main reasons: 1. I felt like the direction of the game balance was poor and 2. playing and practicing the game felt incredibly lonely. Number one is something I don't really have the credential's to evaluate, but number two was always more internally compelling for why I stopped liking Starcraft.
When ranked matchmaking was introduced, solo mmr quickly became the only metric that mattered to players. From my admittedly limited knowledge of game design, action-rts games are especially hard for players to self identify their progress in; improvement is incredibly complex and non linear as a process in Dota 2. There are no levels like an RPG and you can even feel a better sense in aim in fps games (fps games are also pretty complex to judge but I’d argue still easier). In Dota 2, you can learn something new, get a lot better at it, but then start to over focus on it and get worse at other things. Then hopefully you unconsciously integrate the improvement or settle on a better equilibrium for usage. At several points throughout this journey I'm sure the player became both better and worse before hopefully settling on better, but it seems hard to self-identify each point. So this is my way of saying self evaluation in Dota 2 is incredibly hard, and there aren't many available metrics, thus people fixate on the only thing they can reliably see: mmr.
I've talked about mmr before, but in essence my main thought about mmr is that mmr is a measure of how effective you are at winning the game of Dota 2. Not how good you are at Dota 2, just how good are you at winning matchmaking games. My example I always think of is Siractionslacks god, who I saw get 5k mmr clicking his items because he was very good at motivating his teammates to win the game. I think 5k was like top 1 percent back then. This guy got 5k clicking items. I don't know what his actually skill at Dota 2 was (I'd bet not equiv to other, but his skill at winning the game was 5k. My other takeaway from this thought is that the toxic pos at the same mmr as you is actually purely better at the game than your (hopefully not as toxic) self as they have the same influence in winning the game as you, in spite of their other team disadvantages. Furthermore, there are a ton of variables that sort of adjust what a players mmr means. For example, players have heroes and roles that they are better at. They also have external influences like not sleeping well or experiencing tilt from last game. It averages out a lot across the ten players given large samples of games, but there are just so many variables for a system that would actually try to determine player skill. Anyways, the problem I'm trying to denote from these things is that mmr is not a perfect system for evaluating player skill. I can't suggest a better system either and tbh it does a decent enough job of determining general skill, but I would contend that mmr has a fairly high range of deviation for any given player. Something I've been told is that players are generally terrible at judgement what their mmr "should be at" until the very top, which also brings me to my next point: people are insane about their mmr--especially given what it measures and how accurately--and what it means.
I regularly read about people going off on people who are legit like one or two hundred mmr lower than them. I'm pretty sure that amount is within a players fluctuation for skill level. Another problem with solo mmr is that certain skills are not valued at the same level in solo ranked; there are very few support players who have climbed mmr by only playing support to a truly high level. As a tangent, I don't think it is harder to climb mmr if game average mmr is close to your mmr as support. I think people are just terrible at support and there aren't that many ways to learn to be a better support. I do however think it is harder to positively influence a game where you are an mmr outlier as a support, which is why every booster and all the top mmrs have historically played cores. But I disagree with the notion that it's harder to improve mmr or slowly climb as a support player. So anyways, I like that they separated support and core mmr, as it reduces how many variables affect mmr valuation. I also feel that basing your entire self value of Dota skills on a single high variable metric inherently promotes toxicity within the game, so devaluing mmr as a sole measure of improvement seems good to me. My personal hope is that mmr retains some of its value in trying to empirically show skill level without being the sole focus of the majority of players. Don’t get me wrong mmr as a rating has a lot of upsides, but I just wanted to talk about some of the problems with over focusing on said single metric
Anyways if anyone is still reading this garbage, you're probably wondering what the hell does this have to do with the tl;dr I put at the start of this mess. Not much to be honest, but I do think the new system has multiple factors that make it superior to the old system. This will be heavily biased by my own experience as all things generally are. I want to note that this is the first iteration of the new system by Valve. I have faith that given time and data, the system will be changed for the better.
First of all, I think the new system can give a much better read of self improvement via the fact that you're playing with the same people more frequently (hopefully talking and having fun with them too). You will also probably play against similar stacks of players more often which also allows you to judge your improvement throughout time better. This is positive to me as I feel like more metrics than just mmr will be beneficial.
My personal experience with the new system has been overwhelming positive. I feel like the game quality is so much higher and a lot of the high skill games I find myself in now, I don't think I would have found in the old system. In addition, a lot of the previous high mmr games had imbalanced roles in the games and it was silly when there were five high mmr support players on the same team. Furthermore, I strive to be a player who takes in a lot of information about the game and then effectively communicates what they want for the game. This was almost impossible in old solo queue for me, whereas I find myself making a lot more team oriented calls now. Overall I just feel like the Dota I get to play in mm more resembles what I feel "real" Dota is like. Consequently, I watched and learned from pretty much all of my match making games after ti. I really enjoyed being able to do that. One last thing is that I've added, played with, and talked to dozens of other highskilled players about Dota which is something I really enjoy.
I won't even try to pretend that the new system is perfect. As aforementioned, this is the first iteration of the new system and I think it'll improve, but here are some things I found particularly rough with the new system.
Solo queue looks pretty rough right now. Cores can't find games and supports find super uneven games really quickly to help accommodate said cores queuing. I don't have a solution but I think they should start by separating mm into solos+duo and 5 stacks and have both of them matter for your rating. I think the solo/duo queue is what league uses and it makes a lot of sense to me. Taking out the three man queues will increase the amount of duos available for solo queue gamers (probably the least 3 stacks so not sure how much of an effect this would have). Tbh for pretty much all of these problems I don't have good solutions and I'm sure people much smarter than me are working on solving them so I'm just throwing stuff out for funsies. Another flaw is that while the quality of games for me has gone up, there are players who would also prefer to just spam games vs players like myself who don't mind playing fewer games and watching more replays in downtime. It is also pretty hard to find games or parties on off peak hours which sort of sucks and I play a lot of my games on eu at 180 ping as a result or smurf and play with friends.
I think the most consistent problem that I've been seeing brought up is smurfing. It's sort of weird, but at the top level of matchmaking right now, smurfing doesn't really affect the game quality. It messes with the accuracy of mmr a bit but in general you're going to play the same stacks just lose or gain a bit more or less points than you should have. However I can see smurfing as a huge issue for every other level. What I do want to say is that I know for a fact that there are systems being worked on to combat smurfing. I'm not at liberty to say what they are, but from my limited smooth brain perspective, they seem pretty next level and I have a good amount of faith that they will work.
I guess it's a bit of hypocritical for me to talk about smurfing as I smurf to play ranked with my friends a good amount. In my defense, I legit can't play with some of them on my main due to mmr difference, I play five, and the games are so incredibly hard (recently played some 90+ minute five position visage game on stream and lose like half the games), but it's probably not the best thing to do. I value being able to play with my friends pretty highly though. Again, I wish people cared about mmr less, as I feel like that would make playing with/against smurfs feel less bad--would still be a big problem--but I understand why it is the way it is. As a tangent: if you can't climb mmr please don't think it's because of smurfs or account buyers or toxic gamers. That shit affects everyone and I don't think it's healthy to assume you are an outlier. If you are good enough to be a certain mmr then you will get to that mmr given a large enough sample of games. From what I've been told, pretty much every a-rts player guesses their skill as a lot higher that what it actually is until you ask extremely high skill levels. So basically if you want to climb mmr focus on yourself and get good. Losing to smurfs and having account buyers or w.e sucks but it affects everyone just as much. People who think it affects them disproportionately are probably not good at judging whether an account is bought or a smurf or whatever weird external factors--some Dota players are both "smurfs" and "account buyers" given a different day or hero but they average out to the same mmr as you. Just remember, there are five idiots on the enemy team, but there are only also five idiots on your team because we all suck at Dota so yolo have fun. I know it sucks to win/lose games due to certain things but I truly believe focusing on yourself is the best way to climb as you are the only constant in every one of your matchmaking games. Anyways, I guess role stealing is also a pretty big problem but I haven't played any solo queue games so I don't know much. I know pretty much every NA player (the ones who don't party as much or just want to spam games) both smurf and role steal right now in order to play games and that's a pretty unfortunate reality.
Anyways, I'm pretty done talking about matchmaking and just wanted to talk about my own plans for the year. I used to stream Dota a lot and I'm looking at getting back into that consistently. I think how is works is that I like streaming when I'm enjoying playing the game. I lag a bit more but in these good party games (where I'm often on super high ping anyways--west coast to eu problems) I just don't really feel the lag. I think I didn't like streaming in recent years because to be honest I really don't like playing solo matchmaking in Dota 2. I don't know if I ever will consistently. Ive definitely enjoyed solo q at times and had some really fun games but at some point I just dont have fun alone--it just becomes so much about the mmr and not the game. So basically I'll be streaming regularly as long as I enjoy playing what I show on stream. The moment that's not true I will stop streaming.
As for myself, I'm sure some of you know, but for those who don't, I'll be playing five now alongside envy, bryle, moon, and sneyking (LF org btw). I'll be drafting and captaining on the team (honestly it'll be a joint effort). I think my past year I've spent coaching the most valuable things I've learnt are about who I want to be and how I want to function inside of a team dynamic. Uhh this is sort of a weird metaphor, but I've read about how heroin users are in constant search of a high equivalent to their first time using and how they can never quite get there. Uhh Dota right now is my heroin and I'm experiencing that first high again. Yeah maybe this isn't the best comparison to make, but I just want to say that right now, I'm just having a really good time playing. And at the end of the day, isn't that really what this is all about?
Edit: how to format on mobile oh my god