Ladder players: Be sure to vote!

There are two polls going on right now that will affect players participating in either of the WarLight ladders. Please vote if you’re a WarLight member playing in or interested in the ladders. Vote even if you don’t care about the outcome (there’s a “I don’t care” option.) I want to ensure everyone has a voice!

Poll 1: Should the blockade card be added into the 1 v 1 ladder?
Poll 2: Should the ladders switch to a traditional ELO model?

Blockade Card

The first poll is about whether or not the blockade card should be added to the 1v1 ladder. This poll ends on March 23rd, so there’s not much time left. Vote now if you haven’t!

Note that, as a general rule, any changes to the ladder game settings will be announced on this blog at least one week before the changes take effect. This gives you time to practice with the new settings.

Ladder Rating System

The second poll deals with the ladder rating system. This one is a bit more involved – you can read all about it on the poll page. However, I do want to touch on one problem that some players have noticed.

A couple skilled ladder players have been able to exit the provisional period at a very high rank, such as #1 or near #1. This happens if they go 10-0 or 9-1 in their first ten games, since the Bayesian ELO system rates players based on their record / opponents and 10-0 or 9-1 is a very good win rate.

First, let me establish one fact. If a player goes 10-0 (ten wins, zero losses), that does not guarantee that they’ll be ranked in the top 10. This only guarantees that they’ll be placed above the ten players they defeated. If their ten opponents all have low ratings, they’re not going to be ranked very highly even though they’re undefeated. This is a good thing, as it ensures that players must earn high ranks by defeating tough players.

Now, some players figured out that the easiest way to get to #1 is to have 9 wins against low rated players and one win against a high-ranking player (such as the top 5). The 9 low-ranking wins are easy for a skilled player, and they just have to be good enough to defeat a single high-ranking player to claim the #1 spot.

This is a problem, as it rewards manipulating the ladder. However, what really made this strategy possible was the old matchmaking algorithm. The old matchmaking algorithm would prefer to match provisional players with other provisional players, while simultaneously allowing a match between any two players under the right conditions.

This old algorithm made it possible to achieve a #1 rank with only a few wins against very good players. The matchmaking algorithm that exists today works very differently, which makes rising to the #1 spot much more difficult (as it should be!)

In the new algorithm, you’re always matched with other players near your rating even when you’re in the provisional period. Further, you’re only matched with players within 20% of the ladder from you. This means that new players joining the ladder won’t get matched with players in the top 5 right away – they have to defeat some lower players first in order to earn the right to face the higher players. Simultaneously, skilled players won’t have a cakewalk during the provisional period anymore. Once they start winning, they’re going to get matched against tough players before exiting the provisional period.

The bottom line is that, today, it’s much more difficult to emerge from the provisional period at a high rank than it used to be.

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