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Felidae_

The ELO Matchmaking System

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Felidae_

Introduction

 

 

 

This thread is aimed towards new players, who are often puzzled by the matchmaking system. We'll take a look at the ELO System, how it is applied on the PTCGO software and why this system can sometimes lead to frustration amongst new players.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: As of this date the developers never officially revealed how the match-making works on the client. Hence we don't know the exact algorithm and we'll probably never do, however we can say with about 99% certainty, that the ELO rating is the major culprit for the match-making system. Evidence to proof this will be in the thread as well.

 

Also note that all of the ELO ratings used in this are purely there to help visualize the concept.

 

 

 

The ELO System – What is it and how does it work ?

 

 

 

The ELO rating system has been invented by Arpad Elo, in order to measure the strength of an individual in a competitive game. Upon entering the system, a new player is given a fixed number of points, which represent the average skill level of players in the game. Playing matches will then either increase or decrease the number of points, based on the performance and the difference in ELO points between the two combatant. Although originally invented for chess, the system is nowadays used in a vast amount of different sports and probably in almost every competitive online game.

 

 

 

To give a practical example: Lets say upon creating your PTCGO account you are given the initial rating of 1500 points. In a tournament scenario, without matchmaking, you'd now be able to face any kind of opponents. In your first game you play against someone with a ranking of 2200. The difference of 700 points indicates that, out of 100 games, your chances to win are about 2%. After your inevitable loss you'll lose lose some points of your ranking. However, since the difference in skill was so huge, you'll only lose about 5-10 points, nothing to worry about. Your opponent gains even less, probably a mere 5 points, because the system does not deem you a worthy opponent.

 

 

 

The Match-making in action

 

 

 

Luckily in versus mode we have solid match-making, that prevents such scenarios as the one mentioned above. Upon searching for an opponent, the game will find someone of roughly equal ELO, probably about 100-200 points above, or below your own ranking. The higher ELO is represented by the advantage symbol in the loading screen. This has lead to some confusion, especially when playing with Theme Decks, when the basic fire deck gets the advantage over its water counterpart.

 

Sometimes the match-making will find players with a large difference in ELO rating, due to a lack of other potential candidates, which is likely to happened in less played modi, such as Legacy. Those games are falling out of the raster and have lead to speculations, whether there is any match-making system in the first place, however, with a relatively small sample size, its sufficient to say that those games are an insignificant appearance and not the norm.

 

 

 

Why do I keep playing against people with EX Pokemon, when I just started out ?

 

 

 

One of the biggest advantages for the ELO system is also on of its biggest flaws: The system doesn't care for the amount of games you played. Let's say you played 500 games and have an average win percentage of roughly 48%. After those 500 games, your ELO rating hasn't changed that much, because you are most likely still within the 1300-1600 range of the “average player”, which is a good thing, because playing much, without improving your performance, shouldn't be rewarded.

 

At the same time we are playing a TCG and in the span of 500 games one is likely to ******* hands on some pretty decent cards and therein lies the dilemma, because now we have our 500 games veteran, with his ELO of 1598 and our young blood, with his ELO of 1500, who are able to be paired against each other.

 

Unfortunately, there is no solution for this dilemma. If you start out in a constructive format and you lack the cards, the deck building skill, or the experience as a player, you are likely to loose a good amount of games, as it takes some time to get to a “below average” ranking, where you are likely faced against other new players.

 

 

 

The bigger the sample size, the better the result

 

 

 

The ELO rating works best, when the system has enough data to evaluate your skill. Lets take our 500 game player as an example. With such a large sample size of games, it is safe to say that he is exactly at the ranking he deserves. On the contrast, you might lose your first 10 games, due to a string of bad draws, and initially loose some points, but in the end those 10 games will be meaningless, because it will take you hundreds upon hundreds of games, in order to safely establish where you are in the competitive landscape. Don't lose heart, because the system is, above all, fair and honest.

 

 

 

 

 

FAQ

 

 

 

The following FAQ should answer important questions, based on the observations of me and other users. Feel free to share your own experience, as it gets easier to separate mere speculations from certain facts that way. This should hence be viewed as work in progress :).

 

 

 

Q: Do I only have one ELO rating for the entire client, or a separate rating for each versus mode (Theme, Standard, Expanded, Legacy) ?

 

A: It's likely that you have a separate rating for each mode. However it's also likely that you'll gain points at a faster rate, if you already have a high ranking in another constructed mode. The Theme deck rating is entirely separate from the constructed rating.

 

 

 

Q: Does each deck have a separate ELO ?

 

A: No. Your rating isn't bound to a specific deck, but rather to the overall game mode. People could otherwise just create a new deck, in order to farm lower rated players.

 

 

 

Q: Is there a way to see my ELO rating ?

 

A: The ELO rating is hidden within the game and sadly we are unable to view our own ranking, unlike many other online games. A broader method to determine your overall ELO rating is the following: Look at your game stats. The important numbers are: Total games played – Total Game Points – Total Upset wins

 

Total games played is self explanatory. Total game points will increase based on the following: Win with advantage: +3, Win without advantage: +6, Lose with Advantage: +0, Lose without Advantage: +1. Total upset wins determine the amount of games you won where your opponent had the advantage (i.e. higher ELO).

 

With these informations you can now roughly calculate your overall win percentage, as well as the amount of games where your opponent had the advantage (based upon the correlation between Upset Wins, Total Games played and Game Points).

 

 

 

Q: Is my ranking on the versus rewards ladder are factored in towards the match-making ?

 

A: No, the reward ladder just keeps track of your own progress and does not determine your ELO rating, or your match-making.

 

 

 

Q: Are there soft and hard resets of the rating once in a while ?

 

A: There is currently no indicators that would hint towards a reset of the ELO rating.

 

 

 

Q: What purpose does a high rating have ?

 

A: In other online games, different ratings are often represented as ranks, such as Bronze – Silver- Gold- Platinum – Diamond – Master – Grandmaster, which eventually give the players some sort of visual gimmick, to showcase their achievements. In PTCGO a high ELO rating isn't worth much, except to help you find people of equal skill calibre.

 

 

 

Q: Do the game points correlate with the ELO rating:

 

A: No, or at least not really. They can help you determine your ELO rating (see above), but unlike the ELO rating you cannot lose points here and even loosing a match can give you up to 1 point.

 

 

 

Q: If the developers never published there match-making algorithm, how do I know that anything stated above is not simply a matter of pure fiction ?

 

A: We'll likely never know 100% how the match-making works, however there are is an overwhelming amount of support for the ELO system. It's the most well known system to project an individuals skill in a competitive game, it is used in almost every competitive online game, it explains the difficulty curve for new players, it explains why you are likely to face the same opponents at a certain rating, it explains the advantage symbol, it more or less explains everything you'd ever wanted to ask about the match-making system.

 

 

 

 

 

To be continued.

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graywh

Q: Do I only have one ELO rating for the entire client, or a separate rating for each versus mode (Theme, Standard, Expanded, Legacy) ?

 

A: It's likely that you have a separate rating for each mode. However it's also likely that you'll gain points at a faster rate, if you already have a high ranking in another constructed mode. The Theme deck rating is entirely separate from the constructed rating.

 

I remember one of the mods saying there were 2 ratings: one for theme mode and one for everything else.

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dMm

Really good read +1. The one thing that gets me everytime is when they give me the advantage when I have a clear weakness to my opponent but it's always a fun challenge.

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graywh

Really good read +1. The one thing that gets me everytime is when they give me the advantage when I have a clear weakness to my opponent but it's always a fun challenge.

 

Advantage is when one player has a "much higher" ELO than the other player and has nothing to do with the decks.

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awesome_guy

Advantage is when one player has a "much higher" ELO than the other player and has nothing to do with the decks.

This. Since type advantage can get very complicated with multi type decks (for example if I have lightning and weakness to psychic and my opponent has psychic (with weakness to dark) and normal (Weak to lightning) it's nearly impossible to keep a guess without regularly monitoring meta decks.

 

I'd say take a look at the advantage symbol and then the types of your opponent and then come to a conclusion on how hard you feel the match would be

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the_sqveel

brilliant read, well compiled.

 

after my recent foray into theme decks i'm glad to see others are confirming it has it's own ELO. I could certainly feel the difference in the players i was pitted against VS the expanded i usually play in

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STRATOS99KINGZ

I think that your mmr goes across the formats I barely had played expanded, only standard most of the time and then made a trevenant deck for expanded and I've never seen a non complete full deck only high tier same thing I see every time I play standard

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