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Ranked Mode Overhaul Matchmaking FAQ

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In the Year of the Pheonix post, we learned more about the Ranked mode overhaul in Hearthstone and Blizzard has now put together a general matchmaking FAQ which hopefully helps answer the most common questions.

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Rank Mode Changes

The existing ladder in Ranked Mode has been replaced with a new league system. The system has five leagues each made up of 10 ranks. You will start each season at Bronze 10 and slowly make your way to Bronze 1 before graduating to the Silver League and above. Each league also has rank floors at rank 10 and rank 5 where you won't go down in ranks when losing matches. New players will have their own league that runs from ranks 40-1. 

Stars & Bonuses

You need to gain 3 starts to be promoted from Gold 10 to Gold 9 for example. You will gain one star for each match you win and lose one for a loss.  Based on your performance in the previous season, you will be rewarded with a star bonus which acts as a multiplier on the starts you get from each win.

Ranked Rewards

They've also reworked rewards that you earn at the end of each season or Ranked Play. Reward chest can now contain card packs from the latest expansions, Rare, and even Epic cards based on the rank you achieve. There are also brand new first-time rewards to help new players.

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You can find more details here and check out the FAQ below for more information.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

Hey everyone! We put together a general matchmaking FAQ here for our new ranked system to help answer questions you may have.

For general description of this new system, please refer to our Year of the Phoenix blog.

If you want to learn some basic concepts of matchmaking, here is our previous blog about matchmaking in Battlegrounds.

Q: How does matchmaking work for each season?

A: There are two matchmaking pools: matchmaking by rating (aka. MMR) and by rank.

When your star bonus multiplier is bigger than 1, or you are in Legend rank, you are (generally) in the first matchmaking pool; when your star bonus drops to 1, you are in the second pool.

Q: Why are there two matchmaking pools?

A: Since each player starts at the bottom of the ladder at start, we want fair matches for everyone (aka. win-rate close to 50%). At that time, your progression on ladder is protected by your star bonus, thus your net expected gain will be positive through the ladder. Once other players run out of star bonuses, matching by rank will allow for good players, or players who want to push themselves a bit, to be able to progress to a higher rank.

In short, having two matchmaking pools helps players progress in the ladder without having to grind as much, while still making most matches fair.

Q: If I “tank” my MMR at certain rank floor, will I be matched with easier opponents next season because you are matchmaking by MMR at the start?

A: No, in general you won’t. At the start of the season we will recover your MMR to certain threshold if it is dropped below that value, which is based on what your rank is in the previous season. Therefore, there would be no benefits to intentionally tank your MMR.

Q: How many stars bonuses do I get at the start of the season?

A: It depends on your current MMR and the rank you reached from your previous season, whichever gives a higher value. Generally, the minimal initial star bonuses you get for each rank floor you reached are:

Best Rank Minimal Initial Star Bonuses
Bronze 10 2
Bronze 5 2
Silver 10 2
Silver 5 3
Gold 10 4
Gold 5 5
Platinum 10 6
Platinum 5 7
Diamond 10 8
Diamond 5 9
Legend 10

As you can see, every player starts with at least two stars bonuses.

Q: Do you reset MMR each season?

A: No, we do not.

Q: Will the value of my previous season’s MMR be exactly same as the new season?

A: Technically no, although the change will be very small and the “value order” will be kept (Player A whose MMR is larger than player B in the last season will still be ordered as such). Mathematically, a re-normalization process takes place at the start of each season to keep the distribution in a nice bell-shaped curve.

Q: If I missed one season, will I lose my star bonuses when I return?

A: No, you won’t.

Q: If I missed multiple seasons, will I lose star bonuses when I return?

A: Based on how long you are absent, there will be some small decay applied to your MMR. Therefore, you may (or may not) lose some star bonuses.

Q: Where do the win steak bonuses end?

A: Diamond 5.

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Nice system. Took me only several wins from Bronze 10 to Gold 5. I wish the packs and the cards were given immediately, rather than at the end of the season though. 

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