Ranked games have come a long way since their entrance back in the 2010s. Ranked games back then were a lot more chaotic with every game using its own matchmaking mechanics. These mechanics were extremely unbalanced and it tormented players in both high and low ranks. Through continuous appeals and feedback from the playerbase, developers strived patch after patch to fix the problems concerning matchmaking and MMR. But to fully understand how MMR affects rank and matches as a whole we must take a deeper look at how and why MMR was made.
What is MMR?
Put simply, MMR is a numerical value or score that reflects how many ranked games you win and lose. The more games you win, the more MMR you get, which will get you players of the same level to ensure a healthy competitive environment. Back in the earliest stages of ranked games, developers were traversing online competitive gaming services in complete darkness. There were little to no references on how to balance simultaneous gaming and competitiveness. As an example, during the first few seasons of League of Legends, Silver ranked players can hop on a ranked game and be randomly matched with an enemy Challenger player. This was a complete disaster because Silver is just the second tier among the ranks. Players in this tier are only beginning to understand the game and are just about to find the champion that is right for their playstyle. Being matched with a Challenger player, the highest rank in the game, is obviously unpleasant, to say the least. It is and will inevitably result in a one-sided stomp that the poor silver-ranked players will have little to no chance of stopping. Back then, it is said that this happens because a Silver rank made a lobby with a Challenger rank. It wasn’t that hard to believe since rank boosting wasn’t a new concept, but having to face one of the best players when you barely know how the game works sucks. (Trust me, I still can’t forget how it felt.)
How does it work?
As mentioned above, MMR will match your win percentage with people who are at the same level to make sure the competition is balanced as much as possible. However, because of the problems with higher-ranked players being able to queue up with lower-ranked players, MMR would seem pointless. MMR in League of Legends back in its early days was close to pointless. But after a while, the developers started making changes using MMR as a guide to balance matchmaking. Riot Games started implementing ranked and MMR restrictions when queueing up. This meant that rank boosting would be harder because you can no longer play in the same game with Challenger players. Every once in a while, though, you might be able to play with a couple of players 2 divisions higher than you if you have a high enough MMR.
Video games, may they be competitive or casual, are constantly evolving to provide their players with the best experience. Game optimization has come a long way in the last decade. From time to time, some mechanics may look and feel like it’s broken or far from balanced, but we can always count on developers to make the necessary adjustments.