I call this one "Death Prophet Throws The Game"

I call this one “Death Prophet Throws The Game”

I’ve been playing a bit of Dota 2 recently, and when I say “playing a bit”, I mean I’ve played, on average, between five and six games per day for the last 30 days. That’s a decent amount of Dota.

It was enough that I didn’t even get a chance to dole out a Game of the Year award for last year, and enough that I haven’t played anything else for the latter half of 2013. My game backlog grows ever bigger, and all I can really be bothered playing is Dota. This must be what addiction feels like.

A recent-ish update introduced ranked matchmaking, which assigns you a real, visible rating of how good (or bad) you are at Dota. From the Dota 2 blog:

We actually track a total of four MMRs [match making ratings, a numerical representation of how good or bad you are at Dota] for each player:

  • Normal matchmaking, queuing solo
  • Normal matchmaking, queuing with a party
  • Ranked matchmaking, queuing solo
  • Ranked matchmaking, queuing with a party

The spread of MMRs for normal matchmaking looked a little like this, with various MMRs calculated according to percentiles (higher is better):

5% 1100
10% 1500
25% 2000
50% 2250
75% 2731
90% 3200
95% 3900
99% 4100

It’s also worth noting the following, pointed out by the same matchmaking post on the Dota 2 blog:

Note that this distribution is from normal matchmaking. We don’t know yet what the distribution will be in ranked matchmaking, but we expect it to be different. The players who participate in ranked matchmaking will be more skilled, more experienced players. We anticipate that any given player will have different expectations and play the game differently in ranked matchmaking compared to normal matchmaking.

I was reasonably happy with my solo MMR after I completed my 10 calibration matches. I ranked in at 2357, which, according to the percentile table above (i.e. if we’re assuming the percentile distribution is the same for ranked as it is for normal matchmaking), put me smack bang in the middle of the Dota 2 player distribution, slightly better than around 50% of players.

The idea behind ranked matchmaking is not only for plays to play in what is supposed to be a more competitive environment, a more “elite” subset of the Dota 2 players (only players who have played around 150 games online can participate in ranked matchmaking), and some of the time, that’s exactly what it is.

But then there’s the rest of the time, where ranked matchmaking is — and I put this in the nicest way possible — a festering cesspool of the worst Dota 2 players, ever.

The problem, as I see it, is that people in ranked matches take it way too seriously. Sure, it’s supposed to be more competitive, and sure, it really blows when one person on your team is letting the entire team down, but for some reason, ranked matchmaking attracts some truly unattractive individuals and personalities. I can understand not randoming in ranked, I can understand not playing heroes for the first time in ranked, but I can’t, for the life of me, understand why every other person in ranked is a complete douche.

Much abandon. Wow.

Much abandon. Wow.

Remember that Earthshaker from a couple of posts ago? Think people like that, only worse. I was playing a game today as Vengeful Spirit. We lost the early game pretty convincingly, and the Radiant were attacking our ancient when their Troll Warlord activated his BKB and started attacking our Kunkka, who was defending. I had just respawned after yet another death, and was making my way towards our ancient to defend when the Troll killed Kunkka. After that, Kunkka started shouting at me over voice, saying I could have swapped him out, could have done anything, should have done some, and I quote, “some bloody support”, but instead I just chose to turn tail and sit in the fountain. The game ended on a particularly sour note, not just because we lost, but because the Kunkka said he reported me1, and then pointed at my horrible K/D/A ratio (1-8-9, for the record).

What’s even sadder is that just a few minutes previously, he was thanking me for putting wards out — as I had been doing all game — but at the last second, he had died, and now chose to blame me. We had won a few teamfights during that game, but not nearly enough to make a difference. Even if I had swapped him out and died instead, the Radiant already had mega creeps that were banging on our ancient. It would have made exactly zero difference.

The worse part? I played a game with the same guy later on. I was Vengeful Spirit, he was Legion Commander. We won that game even more convincingly than we lost the previous one, and this time, he didn’t become a big green rage monster or abuse me over voice. If it wasn’t so tragic, it would almost be funny how Dota manages to bring out the worst in people.

Truth is, I’ve been wanting to write something about how horrible Dota is for a while now. It makes me so angry at times, like when a Necrophos deliberately teleports onto a tower where three enemy heroes are and dies2, then says his feeding is unintentional. Like, come on. The guy has 1,434 hours recorded in Dota according to his Steam profile, hundreds of commendations, and yet says that kind of move is unintentional? Get. Out. Of. Town.

Or when a Death Prophet deliberately throws the game by selling their Linken’s and spends all of their gold on Sentry Wards, and then proceeds to ward our fountain. Like, what? Why would you do that? I haven’t even seen that kind of next-gen tactic employed in normal matchmaking before, further confirmation that ranked matchmaking is a cesspool of the very worst Dota players. And what does it say about me that I’m in the same MMR bracket as these players? Actually, never mind. I don’t even want to know.

I’ve considered quitting Dota altogether. Everyone who has devastatingly lost a match they could have won has, and anyone that tells you otherwise is a liar. But as much as I recognise Dota can be bad, it can also be really great, too. I’ll never forget the time two other players on our team left early after feeding, then myself and two other players went on to win the game, three versus five. Or what about the time we came back from a game where we had no kills and the other team had nine kills early game? And the countless times we’ve won games despite being behind on kills (a few good pushes after a successful defence, or losing teamfights at the expense of one person getting very farmed [Weaver, in that last one]).

If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that you’ve got to take the bad in with the good. Savour every victory, but don’t be a dick about it. Use your defeats as learning opportunities, but don’t make the same mistakes.

Or, you could save yourself a lot of stress and just not play ranked. But where’s the fun in that?

  1. Honestly, the fact he reported me doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Due to the way the reporting system works (or so I’ve read), occasional reports don’t count. Everyone in the match could report you, and if you have no prior reports, it’s extremely likely nothing will happen. Consistently getting reported for feeding, comms abuse, or ability abuse are what will get you banned. But in all likelihood, with the way everyone treats reports (i.e. reporting for every little thing: died once whilst tower diving, “reported”, giving up first blood within the first 60 seconds, “reported”, failing to swap out a carry that was going to die anyway, “reported”) I highly doubt he had any reports to use, anyway. 
  2. If you’ve got Dota installed on your system and want to see his utter stupidity (seriously, I was evening pinging on his teleport and telling him not to teleport there in chat) where he doesn’t even attempt to attack, just blindly runs into the three-strong group of enemy heroes and dies straight away, open this link in IE or Firefox and get ready to witness some serious facepalm. 

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