Ranking System Overview
Oct 31, 2022
🧮 Interested in the math behind the system? Check out the white paper!
We've made some big changes to the Skyweaver ranking system in an effort to make it more accurate, more intuitive, and, above all else, more fun! The new MMR system will also bring a host of improvements—mostly in terms of accurate player pairings. So keep on reading to learn everything you need!
Hi! I’m Robert, a data scientist at Skyweaver. We want to give you a quick breakdown of the new ranking system and some of the improvements that it brings! This is a bit of a complex topic with a lot of built in tuning, so please reach out and let us know what you think and how it feels as you climb in the coming seasons. Let's dive right into it!
UPDATE: July 3rd 2023
With the release of Starter decks, we opted to make some further changes to the ranking system—specifically in the early stages of the game to improve the onboarding experience. Please reference the Ranking Up section for details.
UPDATE: December 14th 2022
We implemented more changes to the ranking system we hope corrects most of the issues players have been facing lately, which has largely been the high RP gains and losses when matched with seemingly equal opponents.
The inclusion of the new MMR system, which aims to track your "true" skill level, has been behind those unexpected RP outcomes. Since players don't have visibility on opponents' MMR, nor their own, it isn't possible to predict how much RP you stand to gain/lose.
In order to be more consistent with player expectations, we've tweaked the system accordingly so that your RP and Rank reflects your skill level and expected outcomes more closely. Below are the changes (for math enthusiasts).
We will continue to monitor this change.
Matchmaking Rating (MMR) VS Personal Ranking (RP)
Right now, we do not distinguish between a matchmaking rating (MMR) and a personal ranking (RP). These things should obviously be closely related, but having them be identical limits our design space pretty heavily, so we are separating them. You will still have a matchmaking rating similar to an ELO score, but it won’t be as important for your overall rank, or your end of season rewards.
The new MMR system will bring a host of improvements, mostly in terms of accurate player pairings. For those of you familiar with rating systems, it is a Glicko-derived system that will do a much better job of finding players closer to your skill level. The specifics of this system are complicated, but the big addition is that, in addition to having a rating for each player, we will also have a rating certainty for each player. This means that, whenever you play a game against an opponent, if we are very certain that your opponent is ranked accurately and you win against them, we can be reasonably certain that your ‘true’ rank is higher than your opponents. This lets MMR behave the way we want it to: when we don't know much about you (because you haven't played very many games) we are going to be more careful with the information we extrapolate from that.
Defining and tracking certainty lets us do some very helpful things: one huge characteristic of the new MMR is that in minimizes the impact of smurf accounts on other people on the ladder. Smurf accounts are hard to deal with primarily because we don't know anything about the accounts until it is too late to ‘fix’ the problems they create. Now that MMR changes for players, are based in part, on the rating certainty of their opponent, a loss to an account with very low certainty will have a much smaller impact to both MMR and ranking. The flip side of this is also true: now, smurf accounts will climb out of low MMRs much faster, since we are willing to give larger MMR swings to accounts with lower certainty.
The new MMR will also allow us to perform the weekly and monthly resets to the ladder without completely resetting your MMR by partially resetting certainty scores. Most competitive matchmaking is an effort in extrapolating information about your skill from your past game results. The ability to not force ourselves to ‘forget’ the previous results of players during a season reset is a massive improvement across the board, but we can ‘devalue’ these scores by injecting uncertainty into the system. This means that, at the start of each season, the quality of our matching will not go down as we reset and players should get more fun, competitive matches throughout the lifetime of the game. As thrilling as it is, the ‘wild west’ nature of the early days in a ranked season can be isolating so we are leaving players with more ability to climb at the start of the season, but not matching players quite so freely as we were in the past.
But enough about the statistics of MMR, the new ranking system is the fun part! We’re really focused on keeping the leaderboard competitive, especially in higher ranks, and ensuring that all players have an easy way to compare their results to one another. We’re moving to a point-based system that rewards players for playing games; instead of an ELO you will have Rank Points. Every 100 points, you will move up a tier; there are three (3) tiers to each rank (with the exception of the final rank).
New players begin "unranked". The first rank Wanderer requires 200 XP (1 level) and starts everyone off with 0 RP. We want this system to feel a little generous and forgiving; there is no RP loss until Apprentice and no demotion between larger milestone ranks, so earning a promotion from Apprentice III to Expert I is a permanent achievement for the season, however Expert I to Expert II is not. All of this will require some tuning on our end as we see how players get distributed. The goal is to make ranking up fair and fun.
It's a very intuitive path from the bottom to the top of the leaderboard: winning games will always reward you with RP and beating a better opponent will always reward you with more. There is even bonus RP for winning matches at lower ranks which slowly degrades over time (but never completely goes away). If you are one of the skilled, dedicated players who make it to Master in a season, you are still competing for Grandweaver but now we are scoring the top 100 players by their RP instead of their ELO (though the difference between your RP and your MMR are not likely to be very different after about 30 matches).
All the way at the top of the ladder, players who are competing for Grandweaver will not be able to retain their place through spurious results; since our new system emphasizes certainty in your rank, players who play matches continuously at the same skill level will find themselves ranked higher than players who get a few quick wins and stop playing. This will help to reward players who improve their play, and prove their rank over the course of the season.
Losses will happen to everyone eventually. Now that we are using a more informative metric, we can determine your rank with the understanding that sometimes you just get a bad draw. For example, if you maintain a 50% win rate at Expert III over 100 games, you should no longer be scared of losing a single match and being demoted. Now that we track a certainty score, earning that high certainty means that we can easily say that, this time, it was probably just an unfortunate game. This should make the ladder much less stressful, and a lot more rewarding at the end of the season. Read this post to learn more about the progression system.
Just like it always has been, we are doing four-week long seasons, with one-week long splits. At the end of each split we are performing a Soft Reset to keep the next split competitive. This soft reset will have some small behind-the-scene changes to everyone's MMR, but the big impact will be a ‘squish’ of RP at the top of the ladder. Grandweavers will retain their position, but they will all be set to the same ranked value. Masters will be capped at 1200 RP to give a small amount of space to Grandweavers at the start of the week, but will still find themselves within a good distance to usurp their title.
But the best news of all: season changes no longer mean erasing all of your progress! We are now going to start players off at a rank befitting their previous seasons' accomplishments. Players will still drop ranks in this Hard Reset, but not all the way to bottom any more. Everyone will still have to re-earn their spot, but the distance to the top is shorter for those who have been there before. Trainee I is the new permanent ‘resting rank’ for anyone who has achieved it. Once you get to this rank, you will never be a Wanderer again.
Hopefully, this has everyone very excited for the upcoming ranked seasons! These changes are very technical, and it will take a few seasons for us to get all of the parameters dialed in the way we want them to be, but the new system means that every player on the ladder will have more fun, more intuitive progression, and a direct shot to competing for Master every week!
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