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Improving the Arena Ranking System

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Please be sure to support this discussion on /r/Halo as well! Thank you!


So I want to start this off by thanking Josh Menke for his work on the system in Halo 5. About two and a half years ago, I put in some work in designing a ranking system that I wanted to see implemented, growing frustrated with the complete lack there of in Halo 4. Originally posted on The Halo Council forums back in April 2013 (the original thread is lost now), it got a ton of support. Gandhi talked about it on his live show at the time, and Josh even took time out to read over it. Eventually, I ended up remaking it on the Beyond Entertainment forums and giving it a face lift. Rather than draw from pool play elements that exist in StarCraft 2 and League of Legends, the system was entirely ELO based, featured divisions (Bronze through Onyx) and a Spartan tier that would rank the top 200 in the world. I'm very glad to see that a lot of my suggestions/hopes did make it into the final product and, from a mathematical and design view, the Halo 5 system is probably the most accurate and least susceptible to abuse since Halo 2.


But it's not perfect, and neither was my original suggestion. I'm not a designer, I can't test these things, but after seeing it in action now, I realize some faults that need to be addressed in the near future to ensure an accurate and enjoyable experience for everyone, especially since all Arena playlist use this ranking system at this time.


To start off, less address the root cause: placement matches. However, before we tackle this problem, I need to give a quick lesson about ELO - I swear, I'll be brief.


Basically, when ELO does its math (and trust you me, the formula is no joke), it really factors in three things: Your rating, your opponent's rating, and the weighting of the match. Those first two should be self-explanatory, so let me explain the weighting aspect. ELO weighting is a number factored into the equation that defines growth rate - the larger the weighting, the more you move up/down. It's a choke on the system that allows you to say "This match means more (or less) than the others." Weighting is typically done (in chess, where ELO is most commonly used) in three tiers for new players, average players, and advanced players. New players move up and down quicker until X amount of games are played, average players are your regular games, and advanced weighting is to ensure that high level players REALLY have to work to move up or down. With that understanding, let's move forward.


Placement Matches:


Problem: People in placement matches are getting put into high level (Diamond and Onyx) games, and are under performing.

Possible Cause #1: I see two major reasons this is happening. The first is that Halo 5 doesn't use a percentile system like League of Legends and instead uses a bell curve. This was a mistake I made when creating my version and now realize was a bad choice. What this would mean is that from Day 1, the system wants to put you in Gold/Platinum. Say you go there, you get carried. The weighting is so high for you that the game now assumes you can hang with Diamond and Onyx players, but you can't, so you lose, but you also spoil the game for those players.

Possible Cause #2: The other option is that maybe there is a percentile system in place, but there is no restriction on where you can end up in placement matches. I've heard people coming out of placement matches in Onyx, which troubles me. So, how do we solve these problems?


Solution: The easiest solution is to ensure that Halo 5 is using a percentile system. If it's not, I would recommend implementing this with a patch at the start of Season 2 of Arena, using the numbers from Season 1 to determine what percentile should be which by looking at the min/max ELOs. So say Norbert Nothumbs is the absolute worst player in Arena with an ELO of 200. Meanwhile, Ninja is #1 with an ELO of 2800. There's your min and max, define the percentiles from that. From then on, placement matches should not start someone at the middle but rather at the bottom and give them a large weighting so that they can move up faster if they don't deserve to be there. Perhaps keep the 10 placement matches at 2x the normal weighting, show the rank, but maintain that 2x weighting for a total of 25 games before choking it down to a normal rate of growth.  Also, place a cap on the max ELO someone can get from placement matches, or anything with a higher weighting. This keeps players from going too far, too quickly, before the system can accurately pinpoint their real rank.


Originally, I intended this post to cover my problems but after reviewing just this, I've determined that it's really the root cause of the issues people are having with the system: placement matches occurring at too high a level, people being placed at too high a level, etc. So to conclude this post, as I've done in the past, here is my suggestion for the Arena Ranking System, which should be implemented as early as Season 1 of The Arena.


Google Doc Spreadsheet


I'm a big fan of Excel lately and this was much easier to show as a spreadsheet than to format as a reddit post so sorry for me lazily sending you to another window. What this does is assume that the highest rank achieved so far would be 2800. If this isn't the case, all it is is a matter of changing the highest value at the conclusion of a season and rebuilding the ranges based on the percentages. With this spreadsheet, I change one cell and the entire chart changes to reflect it.


Utilizing this distribution and method of placement achieves the following goals:

1. A better/clearer understanding of what your rank actually means.

2. Easily understood goals, especially if your actual ELO is visible on Waypoint.

3. Ensures that the integrity of upper levels of play are free of those lost in the placement system.

4. Creates linear progression rather than "10 and done" of the current system.

5. Ensures that higher level play (Diamond and above) has a higher difficulty to move up or down.


Thank you! Please be sure to direct any questions, comments, or concerns to me via the Beyond Entertainment thread, comment on Reddit, or tweet me @KennGame.

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Maybe you can address this for me:


Does the current placement system take into factor personal performance? 

My take is that the match is ranking all eight players 1-8. 1-4 are on the winning team and 5-8 on the losing team. The "weight" of your win or loss is dependent on which of these positions you actually sit in.  I noticed that the game will often tell me (Waypoint I think?) that i placed 3rd or 2nd and marks it as a win. This would lineup with FFA as well, where 1-4 go up and 5-8 go down. This also explains how even though a player might win every game, they still only sit in plat. I for one notice that even if I don't win every game, I always have ended up Diamond or Onyx.


I also notice that my first game is always CAKE and they get more increasingly more difficult, which would mean that my CSR is increasing in massive numbers as I place. I imagine the weight of the placement matches is going down as I play them, so match 2 would 'weigh' more than match 8 and so on.


Is this correct to assume?

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