**TLDR: The core Ranked changes have been well-received and positional matchmaking is an improvement in several areas. However, reception of _position ranks_ hasn’t been as positive, and we’re investigating issues with Diamond+ matchmaking/ranks. We’re exploring fixes for these, but if they won’t yield significant improvements, we’re considering ending the position rank previews and partially resetting the top of the ladder.**
Hey everyone, Ed “SapMagic” Altorfer here on behalf of the Ranked team. We’re a month into Season 2019 and today I want to share an update on what issues players are still experiencing, our thoughts on fixing them, and a timeline for next steps.
#But First, the Good
So far, we’ve been happy with how some of our core changes were received, especially the placements rework which has led to a more transparent and less stressful experience. We’re also excited about the potential of splits and the ability to grant rewards that dynamically evolve with you as you rank up.
We’re happy with the impacts of positional matchmaking—not to be confused with position **ranks**—as well. Queue times have improved for many players and off-position win rates have gone up. On top of that, primary position rates have improved and autofill rates have gone down with a couple exceptions—we’re looking at you, Mid/Fill and Mid/Support players.
Positional matchmaking aside, we’ve seen a pretty mixed reception when it comes to position **ranks** in North America and Korea. Despite the work we did to address several key pieces of feedback before the feature was released, we’re still seeing frustration in these areas:
- **Too Grindy**—When we designed the feature, we were targeting players who feel stuck right now because they have to specialize in one position. Position ranks opens that up, but the feedback is it takes too long to pursue those different paths to mastery.
- **Doesn’t Feel Rewarding**—On top of slower progress for fill players, we’ve heard feedback that it doesn’t feel like there’s much payoff for ranking up in multiple positions. And—for specialists—it doesn’t feel like you make enough progress toward your main position when you win off-position games.
- **Lower Competitive Intent**—Some players feel negative splashing hasn’t proven to be strong enough of a punishment to dissuade others who are committed to ruining games when they play off-positions.
We’re investigating how we can solve these, including further changes to splashing and bigger bonuses to your main position. Based on the feedback and reception, **we’re also evaluating whether we should end the position rank previews and go back to a single rank.** If we do this, players in North America and Korea would retain their highest position rank and all progress toward split rewards. We'll detail the actions we’re taking here on **March 8**.
#High MMR Matchmaking/Ranks
Unrelated to position ranks, we’ve been seeing issues that **specifically affect players in Diamond and above**. These feel related, but the underlying issues are varied and don’t affect every region in the same ways.
- **Players in Master Who Shouldn’t Be**—We’ve seen reports about low win rate players managing to get into Master+. Most of this appears to be due to how we did the season reset in some regions and how we determine LP gains.
- **Incorrect LP Gains in Diamond and Above**—Several weeks ago we identified and corrected an issue that was allowing some Diamond+ players to get to higher ranks than they should’ve been able to. Some of those players feel stuck after our fixes since they’re losing more LP than they gain, and we’ve heard feedback that the top of the ladder feels less legitimate.
- **Master+ Players Matched with Low Diamond Players**—We identified an issue where Master+ players can sometimes be matched with lower-skill players even after short queue times. While this sometimes happened normally even prior to Season 2019, it’s occurring more frequently right now due to a bug that can result matchmaking for Master+ players prioritizing shorter queue times over tighter skill matches.
We have a lot of options for fixing issues like this, ranging from changing matchmaking configuration values to making decay more aggressive. In the worst case scenario, we could consider some form of partial reset aimed at Diamond+ players, but we wouldn’t do that unless we can prove there’s a widespread issue that can only be fixed through such drastic action.
We know this isn’t the most satisfying answer for players who are experiencing pain now, but we’ll provide another update on this **on or before March 8**. We want to be sure we pick a solution or set of solutions that help the most players without hurting others who have just been doing their thing and climbing the ladder.
#Meaning of Diamond and Above
Even after we resolve the high MMR matchmaking and rank issues, the ladder will look different from last season. This is because when we added Grandmaster, we recalibrated the top tiers, including Diamond, Master, Grandmaster, and Challenger.
Previously, Diamond represented an extremely broad skill range, meaning players in Diamond V and Diamond I looked totally different. Many Diamond players looked a lot more like Master players, and some Master players looked more like Challenger players in some regions.
Going forward, we’ve adjusted the number of spots in Master, Grandmaster, and Challenger to smooth progression, reflect actual player skill, and adapt to the size of the active Ranked player base in each region. We believe these changes more accurately reflect skill at Diamond+, but in practice it means it’s not super meaningful to compare Season 2018 and Season 2019 ranks.
It has been a bit of a whirlwind so far and we still have some pain points to fix. We’ll be back with another update on **March 8**. In that update, expect us to share:
- Specific solutions to the problems with position ranks and high MMR matchmaking
- Exact timing on when we’ll be making changes
- How the changes will affect you
Until then, if you’re seeing any other issues that aren’t captured here or you just have feedback about the system, let us know in the comments. Thanks for all your help and patience, and we’ll see you on the Rift.