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Summary of Panel:

Blizzard intends to share information from the developers, pro-gamers and high profile community members to help enhance the gameplay of players between the Bronze and Platinum level skill. They do so by use of explaining the system which you compete in, information specifically about the ladder's future, sharing tidbits of thought from pro-players, examining the facets of certain maps, showing examples of combat unit control and providing some initial strats for mid-level success.


Explaining the Ladder System:

Greg Canessa, title, was able to share some good thoughts regarding how battle.net considers your skill and why you are being placed against the opponents that you are being placed again.


As anyone knows from playing in the Automatic Matchmaking System, you play 5 placement matches to place you in a league of skill. While it may be difficult to understand much about a player's skill from five games, it's a good start, trying to place you accurately in a league to play against likewise players. But with this came a lot of questions among the community. Some would be as simple as wanting to understand how matchmaking works generically while others seek to know the intricate details of how it runs internally as a system. Today Greg Canessa wanted to help alleviate some confusion while providing insight never before spoken about by Blizzard representatives.

Going further into the understanding, it's important to know that Battle.net matchmaking for StarCraft II is an adaptive learning system. This means that as you play more games, the more accurate it gets in placing you against opponents of your own skill. The system tracks wins and losses specifically and does not perform a deep analysis of how you won, but just that you won. It then takes this information and considers the difficulty of your opponent.

A core tenet of the system is if you play someone of higher skill, you will be placed in future matches with opponents of increasingly better skill. If you keep losing you will play easier opponents until you find a competitive level for you. As you fight people that are significantly more difficult or obviously weaker than you, will will speed you to the skill level you are destined for faster. This means that the system identifies those wins and losses and compares the difficulty for each opponent based on a comparison of their individual skills. This is how it determines how to increase or decrease your perceived skill level. This begged the question in many people's mind on how the system quantifies a person's skill for comparison.

The level of skill that a person is judged by when being matched is not based specifically on leagues or ladder points. While you may be aware of your ladder points, you may not be aware of a set of numbers that are hidden from your view regarding your account. These numbers, or hidden skill ratings, judge your skill overall between an average of them and is the true way that Battle.net selects your opponents. As you win games, these numbers increase, adversely, as you lose games those numbers will decrease. It's not a linear relation though as the skill between two opponents determine the shift of skill based on the results of a match. The greater the distance between the two skills will net a greater gain or loss of rating based on the results of the match. If you play someone significantly better than you, your rating will increase much more than besting a person beneath your skill. This also works in terms of losing against opponents of greater or less skill than yourself.

As they progress with Battle.net they plan to introduce seasons which will wipe the ladder points of each individual, providing a clean slate for new competition. Greg Canessa made it a very important point to say that your internal numbers will not be reset between seasons, ensuring that your skill level will stay the same. This will allow you to jump into competitive, satisfying matches against like-skilled peers right from the start of each season.

These internal ratings are different for every matchmaking team you are a part of. From being alone on 1v1, 2v2 Randoms or every arranged 4v4 team you have created, each one has it's own specific rating, ensuring that there is no reason to shy away from playing against anyone because of their lack of skill, they don't bleed into other ladder arrangements you have a competitive passion for. When placing in a new team, they do use previous ratings as a judgement to help with the initial placement of the team, but is quickly overwritten based on how well you do.

The bonus pool is turned off at a certain point in the season. Tweaks have already been made to prevent exploiting and to keep things fair and a great experience for everybody.

Improvements based on feedback:
Improving league icons to denote league rank (higher rank results in better/different graphic)
League detail page improved to give prestige to high ranks
They will announce Season 2 ahead of time, resetting ladder + placement. Can still view Season 1 stats, preserving matchmaking record. 1 placement match
Master league - top 1-2% will be put in master league (top 5% of diamond)
Grand master league - top 200 players
Featured replays inside SC2

Advice from Pros:
david kim is dayvie
they do play 12 hours a day, practice helps
play custom games with people around your skill level to try things out (sparring partner)
focus on one race


SeleCT - no pain no gain
matchmaking is designed to be 50/50, you WILL lose. Focus on the psychological aspects.
huk - be a fan of the game and enjoy it. and watch day9.
qxc - if youre not attacking, youre probably losing.
keep watching and focus on your mistakes.

what can you do specifically to improve your game:
always build workers
poverty - saving is not good! keep money low
keep in mind what you can do as well as what your opponents can do
steppes of war - small map, so rushes are popular. even if you arent a rushing player, keep in mind that your opponent may be

scrap station - long ground distance, but short air distance
choke points: various points on the map, not just at ramps. Utilize them to your advantage If you have marines and he has lings, stay close to the chokes

expansions - keep chokes in mind and plan where you will expand to
using terrain can let you be a much larger army



marine vs zealot battle, marines not using terrain they lose
same battle, marines use the ramp as a choke and win the fight
flank to take out key units or to swarm faster

marine vs ling army without flanking, marines won
maring vs ling with a 3 way flank from lings, lings won
army size changes counters, small groups of marines are different than large groups of marines

unit control
8 stalker vs 8 stalker army with no micro, 50/50 fight
8 stalker vs 8 stalker fight with 1 person microing, red loses no units

soft counters and hard counters
2 banshee vs 10 marines no micro, marines win
2 banshee vs 10 marines with micro, banshee wins to overcome a hard counter


responses to cannon rush/proxy rush:
use your workers. if the rush fails then the rusher is behind

remember to use the choke points to defend rushes
if protoss, use force field
the more time you buy, the better your chances as your economy is stronger so you produce more units

to do 2 pronged attack: just drop the units then ignore them and focus on the main push


Q&A:

  • no plan to reveal hidden rating, as it is actually several numbers
  • going to look at rating for each individual race in the future
  • chat channels before end of the year, are done and in QA department
  • try to focus balance in esports, but they do look at other formats, in reapers case reaper/speedling 2v2 is the reason for the change
  • 1v1 t had too many options early game
  • web team still improving web battle.net page, nothing to announce yet though
  • queen was put in to make the game more difficult, simply adding another hatchery will help with larvae
  • learning when to make drones and when to make units is one of the difficulties in playing zerg, making a lot of spine crawlers early on enables you to make up to 40 drones early on
  • replay sharing is planned and will be out some time next year
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