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2018 Ranked Season 3 Improvements

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Blizzard outlined changes coming to the game in Ranked Season 3.

  • Season 3's start date will be pushed to the week of July 9.
  • They're adding a third ban during draft, MMR and rank decay will be introduced for inactive Diamond, Master, and Grand Master players.
  • Players who enter ranked play for the first time can no longer be seeded into placement matches higher than Gold 5. 

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

With 2018 Ranked Season 3, we’re planning to implement a number of the changes and improvements we proposed in last month’s Development Updates blog. Before we do so, we’ll need some additional development and testing time to ensure these changes will work as intended once we release them.

  • As a result, we’re pushing back Season 3’s start date from the week of June 11 to the week of July 9.

We understand this may be inconvenient for those of you who are eager to snatch up your end-of-season rewards, but we’re hopeful the changes we’re making will be well worth the wait. Additionally, we’re going to push back future seasons by about one month, rather than shorten them, in order to compensate for the length of Season 3. Read on for more details about the ranked improvements, and check out the Development Updates blog if you’d like to get some background on the reasoning behind them.

Third Ban During Drafts

  • We’re going to add a third ban for each team during draft mode’s existing initial-ban phase. 

When we announced the addition of a third ban for draft mode last month, we initially proposed adding it to the mid-ban phase. A lot of players responded by saying they’d prefer to see it added to the initial ban phase, however. After considering your feedback, we’ve decided to move forward with this suggestion. We’d like to thank everyone who shared their thoughts with us; your feedback helped to shape this change, and we hope it’ll provide some additional strategic depth during your drafts!

MMR and Rank Decay

  • We’re introducing both matchmaking rating (MMR) and rank decay for inactive Diamond, Master, and Grand Master Hero League players. 

Diamond, Master, and Grand Master Hero League players who have placed in the current season but haven’t completed any games in a while will have both their Ranked Points and their MMRs slowly adjusted downward to compensate. This should help Hero League players who may need a few games to shake off the rust and get back into fighting shape after taking a lengthy break from ranked play.

Each league has its own inactivity rules before decay begins. Once a player becomes “inactive,” they will receive a small amount of rank and MMR decay each day until they complete one Hero League match. Players will also be able to earn additional “grace period” days by regularly playing Hero League matches during the current season. To be considered active and avoid decay, all a player needs to do is play a single match of Hero League to completion.

LEAGUE INACTIVE DAYS BEFORE DECAY EXTRA GRACE PERIOD DAYS
Diamond 20 10
Master 15 10
Grand Master 10 10

As an example, a Grand Master who has played very actively may be able to take a 20-day break from Hero League, for a vacation or otherwise, before suffering from decay. That player can still be passed by other active GMs in the interim, however.

We’ve mentioned this previously, but it’s very important to us that this decay rate is not overly punishing. We’d love to hear your feedback on the decay system once it’s in place so that we can make any necessary adjustments. All of the numbers in this system are easily tunable between seasons, so we’ll work to find the right spot for our community.

Placement Seeding and Re-seeding

  • Players who enter ranked play for the first time can no longer be seeded into placement matches higher than Gold 5. 

Currently, players who enter ranked play for the first time can place as high as Diamond 3 after completing their placements. We recognize that being placed so highly can lead to some negative experiences for the new ranked player as well as their teammates. To help address this, we’re making Gold 5 the maximum placement seeding for new players. Additionally, since players can no longer rise or fall more than one full league (or five Divisions) during placements, Platinum 5 is now the highest rank a new Hero League player can achieve as a result of their placement matches.

  • Players who return to Hero League after an extended break will no longer be re-seeded into placements based on their performance in other modes.

Previously, a player could skip the current Hero League season entirely and attempt to increase their MMR by playing in other game modes. By doing so, they could gain more favorable placement match re-seeding at the start of the next ranked season. We’d prefer to see players progress through the ranking system naturally by competing in Hero League rather than using Quick Match or Unranked Draft to give a boost to their rankings. As a result, all returning Hero League players will now be re-seeded based on their most recent Hero League performance data, instead of their skill in other game modes. For Diamond, Master, and GM players, this performance data will be adjusted for any MMR and rank decay received during Hero League breaks.

Ranked Matchmaking Improvements

  • We are hardening Hero League matchmaking rules to enforce higher-quality matches over reducing queue times.

Currently, the longer players wait in the Hero League queue, the looser our match quality restrictions become in order to get players into games as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, decreasing wait times can come at the expense of match quality. When this occurs, players can find themselves in games that include allies and enemies outside of their skill range, which is especially noticeable at the highest skill levels. Given the feedback we’ve read from many of you in the Heroes community, we believe we’ve been favoring shorter queue times a little too much. When Season 3 begins, we’re going to firm up these rules in Hero League in order to enforce higher-quality matches. As a result, higher-skilled players may see longer queue times in exchange for more evenly-matched games.

While these rule changes are specific to Hero League right now, the next set of matchmaking improvements we’re planning to implement will be targeted at Quick Match. While we aren’t ready to announce a date just yet, we’ll have more details to share with you later this summer.

We hope you’re as excited for these ranked play enhancements as we are! Since we’ve covered so much in this blog, we’d like to remind you that 2018 Ranked Season 3’s start date is moving to the week of July 9. Until then, we’ll see you in the Nexus!

Head to the official Heroes of the Storm forums to share your feedback with us and discuss this post with other players.

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I like these changes :) The decay in Diamond and above makes the ladder more alive with players doing more matches not to drop and the new players being placed in Gold makes then climb and actually play the game to get to their skill level. Dont know how its going to be for the Smurfs though

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I like how playing with a team or playing your top hero in QuickMatch doesn't now increase your rank in Hero League, a draft mode. Made no sense.

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If blizzard needs to push things back a month to properally implement these changes, then I’m totally fine with that. They will very likely be worth the wait.

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