Original Post — Direct link

I have always had a drive of helping friends improve and helping them get to the next level in terms of skill/rank. Over the course of last act I have seen an uptick in different "myths" about how climbing in solo queue is impossible, requires you to drop 40k/game, lock duelist, etc etc.
From reading u/EvrMoar's responses on twitter about how ranked works, I decided to exclusively solo queue to see if any of these myths had actual proof behind them.

Background on me as a player if needed:

  • Peak WAS Diamond 2, but from exclusive solo queue it is now Diamond 3
  • Total Playtime 611 hours per Tracker.gg playing since beta , Profile Here: https://tracker.gg/valorant/profile/riot/Wendler%23NA1/overview
  • VALORANT is my 2nd committed MnK game. Previous to VAL I had most of my playtime in Destiny 2, rare hours on Apex Legends (blended Controller before full switch). less then 100 hours in CS, if that.
  • I main Initiators with Controllers/Chamber as a flex role

Data Points I tracked are as follows:

  • Map Played, Agent, KD/KDA, AFK/DCs, W/L, Team MVP, Match MVP, "Mentals", Workday, Scoreline, Games Played

"Mentals" was a simplified 3 tier system that I would evaluate post match, regardless of W/L.

  • "Positive" = Good Coms, Good Mentals, Good Vibes.
  • "Indifferent" = Nothing really impactful to the match, forgettable
  • "Negative" = Bad/No Coms, Toxicity, Bad Vibes

DATA

-Data I collected to this point-

I started the current act placing Plat 1 - 50rr. I had one double skip on Plat 2 promo to Dia 1. I essentially have climbed 5 tiers exclusively Solo Queue. There were less then 10 games you'll see on my tracker where I Duo Queued, most of those were unironically losses, lol. (S/O my duo so far CaptainGambit).

Conclusions To Date

  • MYTH 1-YOU HAVE TO TOP FRAG/DROP 40K TO CLIMB: I have a 54% Win Rate, but only 27% (11/41) of those wins were as a result of Team MVP'ing, and 15% (6/41) were a result of Match MVP'ing. Climbing 5 sub-tiers IMO busts this myth that you need to top frag every single game to climb. Your individual Impact is not defined by your KDA.
  • MYTH 2-EVERYONE DC's/AFKs: Only 4% of my matches contained someone who went AFK/DC'd. This is prob more props on VAL's team for working on this. AFKs/DC's are not why you cant climb.
  • MYTH 3- DUELIST IS THE EASIEST/ONLY WAY TO CLIMB: I main Initiators with Controller flex and (2) games of Chamber. I Climbed 5 sub-tiers over 76 games. You can climb with any agent.
  1. I'd honestly recommend finding 1-2 agents/per map that you are REALLY good at and understand. Filling an agent you dont know how to play is worse 99% of the time vs playing an agent you know.
  2. Your Omen is at Plat Level, but you fill Killjoy instead which is at a Silver Level. The significance of this matters if your playing against a team where all 5 players are on agents they understand in their given rank. This doesnt mean auto-lock, but have options that are effective for you.
  • POSITIVE MENTAL WINS GAMES: Notice how W/L for "Positive" is 77%/21% respectively. Compare this to "Negative" its 24%/76%, and "Indifferent" its 25%/75%. Most of these Negative games were related to people giving up/quitting/having a meltdown with a 5 round deficit. There is 100% a reason the W/L looks this way and its probably correlated.
  • COMMUNICATION WINS GAMES: The games under "indifferent" were games with mostly zero communication, which is absolute hell as an initiator to try and assume what everyone's objectives are. IMP TO CLARIFY, you do NOT HAVE TO FULL IGL and middle manage every moment. Just be clear/concise with what your goals are. "ok ill flash for you here" "ok ill smoke this and this". type in text chat the damage done. You'll be surprised how many more rounds you will win because of this.

Things like Duo-Queuing can be "easier" as you can lessen Variance, but your individual impact can still matter. I dont aim train a ton, or have crazy aim. I think a lot of this climb was due to game sense. I maybe warm-up for 10 minutes in-game and do 1 DM before I queue.

  • Notice I didn't track "smurfs". The reason for this is there's no way for me to realistically go back and look at who is/isnt. I think at the end of the day over-focusing on this hurts your mental more then it helps, Especially if its at a skill level you desire to be at. If its a Diamond Smurf in Plat would it really help you improve if you beat golds in plat instead? Pay attention to their actions and what is working for them and why. Its not all raw aim.
  • Per u/EvrMoar , only 35% of those that make smurf accounts end up at/above their main's rank. Keep this in mind as you notice someone pop off. Sometimes they do! its important to not let it affect the rest of the current game or the next one.
  • I am a firm believer "60/20/20" Theory. 20% of games you will win no matter what you do, 20% of games you will lose no matter what you do, and 60% of games YOU will have to be the decider in the outcome of the match. Again Decider/Impact is NOT defined by kills.

If you got this far, thank you for reading! If you see me in game just say hi, I mostly play East or Central. If you have any questions feel free to ask here or shoot me a DM on discord/twitter. My discord is just Wendler#4190 , Twitter is just twitter.com/wendler34 . I plan on continuing this data through end of act.

Hope this Helps! Good luck in Your Climb!

External link →
9 days ago - /u/EvrMoar - Direct link

This is super interesting data, and a lot of what you found "makes sense to me" in terms of doing better on days you don't work etc. I know this is just your experience and matches, which can really effect your results/info but it's still interesting and a fun experiment non the less.

I definitely can see attitude can go a long way. I mean, "flow state" is a thing and outside forces can pull you out of it or essentially make you overthink and play incorrectly. It's a meme, but really the moment you are toxic you are turning the game into a 4v6.

Thank you for all the conversations we've had about ranked and matchmaking, and I look forward to whatever you work on next!

9 days ago - /u/EvrMoar - Direct link

Originally posted by wakawakaslap

Awesome analysis. There are two things that I think are worth pointing out though.

Firstly, you placed at Plat so you are already in the upper percentile of the playerbase so your experience is significantly different that the vast majority of the population. So in reality this is breaking myths about how to climb when you've already climbed. You're already out of the trench, which is silver/gold in Valorant and Nova in CS. Once I got out of Nova in CS, I didn't stop climbing until I hit LE, the next big chokehold that had me for a while. But the experience difference between Nova and LE was so big, it was basically a different game. Same in Valorant, those in silver/gold and those in your rank are basically playing two different games.

Second, u/EvrMoar is completely and purposely full of it when it comes to the smurf account comment, which is his job - downplaying the game's glaring issues. Most smurf accounts never make it past their main rank because they are throw away accounts used to boost, either another player or the smurf's own ego. You can make a smurf account, boost your friend for 4-5 games and then throw away the login info and never bother with that account again. You just make a new one next time you want to smurf. It's unlikely that the majority of smurf accounts even get to double digit games, or they'd rank out and no longer be able to smurf.

I only say that to say this - anything that comes from Riot about smurfs should be taken with a million grains of salt because smurf accounts are a positive KPI from Riot's perspective. Imagine the cliff sized drop in player accounts if they actually enforced some sort of authentication to where you couldn't create infinite accounts at will. As far as they are concerned, each alt account is another user for their engagement KPI they can internally jerk off about each quarter, i.e. in Q2 we had 40k new accounts. In reality, you had 10k new accounts and 30k alt accounts, but that's a bad look, no business would ever go for that.

First, I really want to call out something that I think "humanizes" the shadowy people(me and other Rioters) that these posts seem to call out; often viewing dev's or employees as evil shadowy figures trying to manipulate their community. Most Rioters love games and play games all the time. Even if a Rioter doesn't play games, they are passionate about what they are working on and want to work on awesome things that make people happy. For example; I use to play in esports, I'm on discord every single night looking for that new exciting game for our group, I'm grinding aimlabs, raiding every Monday and Tuesday on FFXIV and this is just me - I have way too many discords full of Rioters playing games every night and hanging out. It's very rare to find someone who wants to work in a place to make a bad game, or something that is just not fun to play/manipulative because it's mentally draining to do so. We all have our opinions, but generally we know what feels bad in a game and we are also in the same groups complaining about bad features or practices in the games we love to play. This is true even of our own games, almost daily I get a ping about Rioter frustrated with ranked or wanting to know why we do things(or how we have potentially failed them). I say this because I've worked at studios where this isn't the case, or the devs won't even install the game they work on. I love working here because I am always surrounded by people who are super passionate and insanely talented, and it shows.

Now, I do believe healthy skepticism is appropriate. I understand, Riot is a huge studio and has a lot of money and resources to enact whatever they see fit to make their games succeed. I'm no stranger to the awful things that big companies can do, the horror stories that come from them, and even Riot has had some pretty rough patches that required hard looks at their culture and internal workings. I'm not saying that "just because we are passionate devs we can do no wrong" - that being said I have to point out that Riot makes good games because they enable passionate people to be creative and make these games. Hopefully, the track record of Riots games has earned them a little respect in knowing how make a fun game; regardless of how you feel about systematic features or monetization. The reason I came to Riot is because they gave me creative control over the things I work on, and lets our team do what we think is best to make a good competitive experience. Do we always get it right? No, absolutely not. But we learn, and we try our best to make an experience that we want to go home and play. I know there is no way for me to prove this to you, but I never have once been in a conversation where the goal has been "Make an addictive mechanic or a mechanic that will push players to monetize". Again, another big reason I came to Riot, is because the core goal is to make a fun game first. If you don't have a fun game, you don't have players, and in the PvP space if you don't have players your game is done.

Circling back to address your comment directly, it isn't my "job" to downplay glaring issues. Riot actually does not ask us, or force us, to interact with the community in any way. I actually do not have anyone "watching" my tweets or reddit responses, and I do this on my free time. Why? Because I know that's how I would want to be treated in any game that I play and I'm super passionate about. I could remain completely anonymous, not do any live streams, or even have a twitter, how much I engage is my choice. Reddit and social media is not reliable metric to measure game health, just as you pointed out later in the comment we would probably use KPI's, so then why do I need to hide any glaring issues? Also what issues am I hiding? I often times try to inform why we do things, or how something is working because hand waving something away doesn't help. I don't get better pay, the game doesn't look better, and I get nothing from "downplaying glaring issues" so why would I waste my time lying about them? For example, if I were to lie about our matchmaker or ranked the moment a Rioter leaves the company, or an intern works for us during the summer, or any employee just doesn't like that we are not telling the truth, it would only take one of those people to whistleblow or talk about how we deceive our players. I know because this happens a lot, and it has happened at previous studios I've worked at. So not only would I be setting us up for a potential "kotaku article", I would be doing so on my own time for no gain, and hurting my career in the game industry. On top of all this, it's exhausting. I don't want to work on a game where I can't make it better, or have creativity to improve it, all the while making decisions I know would upset our players. Why did I spend my entire career working to get into one of the most difficult studios to get hired at, just to not be able to be creative and design things that I'm passionate about?(especially when the big money in tech is not in games, there are people at google that make 3x as much as me)

I understand that all of this will never make up for what you believe to be true, or the groups that you agree with that say we are lying or for some reason "make decisions just for money" - which, by the way, I don't benefit in anyway from by having more players playing the game or making Riot more money; again leading to a why would I care if it doesn't benefit me and it isn't my job to worry about those things. I care about a fun ranked experience, not monetization.

Now, I'm going to be using a lot of my experience at prior studios because I'm so detached from this at Riot. Studios I've worked at don't care about new account creation, generally. From my experience, if a studio cares about player count, it's concurrent players, peak concurrent players, or some form of "active users" which usually is like a player who plays for multiple weeks in a row without leaving the game. Now the studios I've worked at do care about new users, but it's not a success/failure point. In fact, player population isn't something that is laid down to the devs like "HIT X NUMBER OF PLAYERS CONCURRENT OR YOU FAIL" - In fact the only thing that has ever determined a bonus I've gotten at prior studios was total number of sales and they didn't even care about player population. I think smaller studios need to worry about player population more because they need to figure out how much money they are bringing in and the cost of keeping the servers up. Anyone can call out any stat and say "Oh they are just doing it for X KPI, because that means they are successful" - but games generally are not like the tech industry in that regard, and like I said my reviews aren't tied to any measured success of Valorant.

You can see this from game studios in general, usually, a studio has a failed release and then collapses. It's very rare(I've never heard of this) for them to fire people outside of funding issues due to "not hitting KPI's". This is just my opinion but I think it's because games are like the movie industry and more focused on entertainment. You don't know if someone's idea is bad until it has provenly failed or succeeded in front of the audience and by that point you are very invested. How Riot has found success so far has been pretty simple, make a good game that people want to play and then those players will want to spend money on it. Why risk any of that, or the reputation, by manipulating players when they are already willing to play our games and spend money?(also as a side note, alt accounts does not = more concurrent players because they cannot be logged in at the same time and that's usually the MOST important KPI prior studios I've worked at have used to measure game population health)

Anyways, that's a long way of saying that KPI's don't really mean anything to my job nor benefit me or my team in any way. I've never worked at a studio where my review, or my success, was measured by population growth, monetization rates, or any types of KPI's. Which I'm lucky, I've been enabled to be creative and make things I believe are correct for the game. I know that the mobile industry can 100% be a different experience and can employ predatory tactics for engagement; because it's a very different audience. This is a personal take, but I encounter more designers that made a bad design they "thought" would be fun but ended up being bad. Then people make up reasons why they made this design, like blaming predatory tactics when in reality it was just a designer who missed the mark(again not always the case, but I see this more then purposefully predatory tactics in the studios I've been at).

9 days ago - /u/EvrMoar - Direct link

Originally posted by EvrMoar

First, I really want to call out something that I think "humanizes" the shadowy people(me and other Rioters) that these posts seem to call out; often viewing dev's or employees as evil shadowy figures trying to manipulate their community. Most Rioters love games and play games all the time. Even if a Rioter doesn't play games, they are passionate about what they are working on and want to work on awesome things that make people happy. For example; I use to play in esports, I'm on discord every single night looking for that new exciting game for our group, I'm grinding aimlabs, raiding every Monday and Tuesday on FFXIV and this is just me - I have way too many discords full of Rioters playing games every night and hanging out. It's very rare to find someone who wants to work in a place to make a bad game, or something that is just not fun to play/manipulative because it's mentally draining to do so. We all have our opinions, but generally we know what feels bad in a game and we are also in the same groups complaining about bad features or practices in the games we love to play. This is true even of our own games, almost daily I get a ping about Rioter frustrated with ranked or wanting to know why we do things(or how we have potentially failed them). I say this because I've worked at studios where this isn't the case, or the devs won't even install the game they work on. I love working here because I am always surrounded by people who are super passionate and insanely talented, and it shows.

Now, I do believe healthy skepticism is appropriate. I understand, Riot is a huge studio and has a lot of money and resources to enact whatever they see fit to make their games succeed. I'm no stranger to the awful things that big companies can do, the horror stories that come from them, and even Riot has had some pretty rough patches that required hard looks at their culture and internal workings. I'm not saying that "just because we are passionate devs we can do no wrong" - that being said I have to point out that Riot makes good games because they enable passionate people to be creative and make these games. Hopefully, the track record of Riots games has earned them a little respect in knowing how make a fun game; regardless of how you feel about systematic features or monetization. The reason I came to Riot is because they gave me creative control over the things I work on, and lets our team do what we think is best to make a good competitive experience. Do we always get it right? No, absolutely not. But we learn, and we try our to make an experience that we want to go home and play. I know there is no way for me to prove this to you, but I never have once been in a conversation where the goal has been "Make an addictive mechanic or a mechanic that will push players to monetize". Again, another big reason I came to Riot, is because the core goal is to make a fun game first. If you don't have a fun game, you don't have players, and in the PvP space if you don't have players your game is done.

Circling back to address your comment directly, it isn't my "job" to downplay glaring issues. Riot actually does not ask us, or force us, to interact with the community in any way. I actually do not have anyone "watching" my tweets or reddit responses, and I do this on my free time. Why? Because I know that's how I would want to be treated in any game that I play and I'm super passionate about. I could remain completely anonymous, not do any live streams, or even have a twitter, how much I engage is my choice. Reddit and social media is not reliable metric to measure game health, just as you pointed out later in the comment we would probably use KPI's, so then why do I need to hide any glaring issues? Also what issues am I hiding? I often times try to inform why we do things, or how something is working because hand waving something away doesn't help. I don't get better pay, the game doesn't look better, and I get nothing from "downplaying glaring issues" so why would I waste my time lying about them? For example, if I were to lie about our matchmaker or ranked the moment a Rioter leaves the company, or an intern works for us during the summer, or any employee just doesn't like that we are not telling the truth, it would only take one of those people to whistleblow or talk about how we deceive our players. I know because this happens a lot, and it has happened at previous studios I've worked at. So not only would I be setting us up for a potential "kotaku article", I would be doing so on my own time for no gain, and hurting my career in the game industry. On top of all this, it's exhausting. I don't want to work on a game where I can't make it better, or have creativity to improve it, all the while making decisions I know would upset our players. Why did I spend my entire career working to get into one of the most difficult studios to get hired at, just to not be able to be creative and design things that I'm passionate about?(especially when the big money in tech is not in games, there are people at google that make 3x as much as me)

I understand that all of this will never make up for what you believe to be true, or the groups that you agree with that say we are lying or for some reason "make decisions just for money" - which, by the way, I don't benefit in anyway from by having more players playing the game or making Riot more money; again leading to a why would I care if it doesn't benefit me and it isn't my job to worry about those things. I care about a fun ranked experience, not monetization.

Now, I'm going to be using a lot of my experience at prior studios because I'm so detached from this at Riot. Studios I've worked at don't care about new account creation, generally. From my experience, if a studio cares about player count, it's concurrent players, peak concurrent players, or some form of "active users" which usually is like a player who plays for multiple weeks in a row without leaving the game. Now the studios I've worked at do care about new users, but it's not a success/failure point. In fact, player population isn't something that is laid down to the devs like "HIT X NUMBER OF PLAYERS CONCURRENT OR YOU FAIL" - In fact the only thing that has ever determined a bonus I've gotten at prior studios was total number of sales and they didn't even care about player population. I think smaller studios need to worry about player population more because they need to figure out how much money they are bringing in and the cost of keeping the servers up. Anyone can call out any stat and say "Oh they are just doing it for X KPI, because that means they are successful" - but games generally are not like the tech industry in that regard, and like I said my reviews aren't tied to any measured success of Valorant. You can see this from game studios in general, usually, a studio has a failed release and then collapses. It's very rare(I've never heard of this) for them to fire people outside of funding issues due to "not hitting KPI's". This is just my opinion but I think it's because games are like the movie industry and more focused on entertainment. You don't know if someone's idea is bad until it has provenly failed or succeeded in front of the audience and by that point you are very invested. How Riot has found success so far has been pretty simple, make a good game that people want to play and then those players will want to spend money on it. Why risk any of that, or the reputation, by manipulating players when they are already willing to play our games and spend money?(also as a side note, alt accounts does not = more concurrent players because they cannot be logged in at the same time and that's usually the MOST important KPI prior studios I've worked at have used to measure game population health)

Anyways, that's a long way of saying that KPI's don't really mean anything to my job nor benefit me or my team in any way. I've never worked at a studio where my review, or my success, was measured by population growth, monetization rates, or any types of KPI's. Which I'm lucky, I've been enabled to be creative and make things I believe are correct for the game. I know that the mobile industry can 100% be a different experience and can employ predatory tactics for engagement; because it's a very different audience. This is a personal take, but I encounter more designers that made a bad design they "thought" would be fun but ended up being bad. Then people make up reasons why they made this design, like blaming predatory tactics when in reality it was just a designer who missed the mark(again not always the case, but I see this more then purposefully predatory tactics in the studios I've been at).

Hard switch on topics. I know that a lot of players view smurfing as a problem, and some view it as a bigger problem then others. Some people believe smurfing is more prevalent than we say it is, and others don't. Every decision we've made for ranked has always had the question "will this reduce smurfing" or "how can we change this to reduce smurfing" during the design phase. We've done things to make it easier for friends to group up together by reducing grouping restrictions or creating the 5 stack rule. We've improved our detection and MMR system to quickly move smurf accounts to their correct MMR, and are testing a new method right now in NA. We've made it harder to get into ranked, helping new players learn more about VALORANT and the maps before diving into the deep end, while also making it harder to make an alt-account just to smurf. We've done an investigation into smurf motivations, as well as how often it occurs. We aren't done, we have bigger ideas in the works but we have to decide how we work on these things while also working on other features for ranked(like the tournament system). If we truly didn't care about smurfs I would never admit they even exist, ignore questions on them, and not waste team resources in trying to reduce smurfing. Lastly, the idea that we want smurfs for some weird "they spend more money" isn't true. Generally, and there will always be exceptions, alt-accounts/smurfs actually don't monetize. If anything and I haven't even tried to research this data, I would bet that playing on an alt reduces the chance for you to monetize and would be worse for our game; would we rather have you on an alt that you feel is temporary, or on your main where you may see a skin you want so you buy it? There probably is also an idea that it doesn't matter what account you're on we can't change how much money you are able to spend on VALORANT; we can't change your 20$ to 40$ because you have two accounts, you still only are able to spend 20$. To top it all off, if we really wanted you to spend more in VALORANT it wouldn't be to push for more alt accounts, it would be to make content faster so that you had new things to spend on; but this only works for people who can spend more money. Again this is all hypothetical, I don't work in this space and only have experience in the studios I worked at prior to Riot for monetization stuff.

One huge reason why alt accounts are bad is just for people leaving the game. Some of the strongest data we have across the whole game industry, for why matchmakers should even have "skill-based matchmaking" is that people play the game more and quit less based on how fair matches are. So, by having more smurfs, we would have more unfair matches which increases players quitting our game. Why would we want to drive players away? We would slowly kill our game, and if we really did measure our "KPI's" as new players, there would also be a new player retention KPI, that would be awful due to smurfs and unfair matches. This is also why losers queue is an awful idea, because unfair matches leads to people quitting. There are tons of GDC talks on this, and if someone does not believe me I truly challenge them to show me data that shows the opposite, or give reasons why would would create unfair matchmaking or want smurfs.

I hope this helps, I spent my lunch typing it out lol. I got into games because I love them, I want to be creative and work on games and make awesome things that I get excited about to go home and play. Rioters spend so much time trying to do what they think is best, and I feel like sometimes the "corporate machine" skepticism can cloud the fact that we are just humans trying to be creative. We will get things wrong, we will make mistakes, sometimes a designer will push for something that ends up not being fun; hopefully we can fix those mistakes and eventually end up solving the problems that you and other people have with the game(we just can't solve things that don't exist like losers queue, but maybe we can figure out why people think it does exist). I hope you have a good week, and if you have questions or comments I would love to try and answer them!

9 days ago - /u/EvrMoar - Direct link

Originally posted by wakawakaslap

I appreciate the long and well thought out response and I am happy to hear that you are given the creative freedom and overall professional room for movement from Riot. I see what you're saying about KPIs, however one of two things is true. Either -

A) There is internal pressure at Riot not to address alt accounts screwing up the competitive experience for every rank below their main ranking.

or

B) There is a lack of interest at Riot in addressing alt accounts screwing up the competitive experience for every rank below their main ranking.

I've always been a huge Riot fan, even through the "hard times" so I refuse to believe it's B therefore it has to be A. There are too many simple stopgaps to alt accounts that are unutilized for it to be an inability issue. Something as simple as a multi-factor authentication would go a long way to at least thin the herd. As it is right now, players can create infinite accounts, using the same exact email, and never worry about bans, timeouts, throwing, trolling, whatever. Because there is always another account.

I like to think Riot is more competent than the current shitshow of a situation, which hilariously, is also the biggest issue in reaching a wider audience. The Valorant new player experience makes CS look like the Mona Lisa, and that's saying something because CS has no new player experience.

I think the issue is that we are doing things, but not the things that you think are valuable to reduce smurfs. Like I said, we've non-stop as a team tackled smurfs over and over again. In terms of specific types of solutions, I can also dive into those.

Two factor is a double-edged sword. When talking about smurfs, usually smurfs are higher engaged players that are familiar with VALORANT(which makes sense, they are good enough to smurf and make an impact). While two-factor can reduce smurfs, it's not a silver bullet, this is especially true for smurfs that are willing to spend money to smurf; which usually higher engaged players are willing to spend money so they fall into a group more likely to. It becomes a numbers game of what is acceptable and how much of an impact are players facing when encountering a smurf.

These numbers are made up, but lets say 1 in 10 games a player encounters a smurf between Iron to Silver and decreases as you climb ranks. Lets say with, after researching, we find out that two-factor authentication would probably reduce that to 1 in 15 games for these players, reducing smurfs by 50%. We would be reducing smurfs from 1% to 0.5% of concurrent users. In return, we also research and find out lower ranked players are less likely to have money, less likely to own their own cell phone, or happen to use a local PC Bang in order to play Valorant. By enabling two factor we figure that 3% of players would no longer be able to access ranked nor have the money to solve their access to ranked. We have to decide if that is worth the cost, when it won't stop a smurf who is willing to pay the money to get around the system. Then on top of this we have to add the work of upkeeping, monitoring for exploits, and fixing any issues with various service providers to upkeep the system. So we would essentially be letting a 1 in 10 game occurrence completely block access to a large group of players, and we'd have to ensure that we could effectively keep fighting work around to the SMS verification and that slowly overtime smurfs would build up more accounts(just like they have now) with access to ranked and slowly more and more smurfs would get around this system. When you put SMS verification up you aren't putting up a barrier to prevent smurfs, you are putting up a paywall essentially.

Now we view this as not solving the problem for what it is, and just creating a secondary solution that blocks people from playing the game because we can't solve the problem directly. This is a mitigation not a solution. In reality, if we had a good match maker that could detect smurfs and correct their MMR, we wouldn't have to rely on secondary solutions that don't tackle the motivation or problem directly. SMS verification does not solve the reason why players are smurfing, nor does it correct a smurf account once it's been detected. It's an attempt to put up a wall and is just a barrier that smurfs can find a way around but ends up blocking more players then smurfs. Is there use cases for SMS, yes 100%. Would it be an effective mitigation, well yes there is a good chance that it would and it may even be worth it. Do we have the resources right now to implement it, know how it would impact the player base, and be able to upkeep it? Unfortunately no, and that's why we haven't gone this route. We just don't think we've exhausted all our attempts at solutions and need to fall back to mitigations yet.

I think a lot of it is also we don't want to be completely transparent with how we are tackling smurfing. We don't want smurfs to know how we have changed our MMR detection, how we are getting better at tracking them, and how they may be able to get around our systems. We do let the community know when we've made changes to tackle smurfs, but we don't exactly say what those are. In a perfect world it takes a long time to get an account rank ready(which it does now), then if you go into rank and start "playing like a smurf" you're MMR gets fixed very quickly. In fact, if you talk to smurfs(which we have), they are very aware that we do move their MMR very quick when they start to play like a smurf. Again this is reinforced by our research that shows smurfs are less common then players think, and remember we can ban off hardware ID which means we have a good idea of each PC and how many accounts that PC has.

All this means is that we have implemented the obvious solutions, which is tackling the motivations of why players smurf most often "I want to play ranked with my friend" - which we agree our ranked system isn't good for that; this led to the 5 stack solution. After making sure we tried to help reduce the motivations players had to smurf, now we are trying to tackle how fast we can get a smurf to their correct MMR so they don't disrupt games below their skill level. Unfortunately this isn't a super fast process and we won't make decisions to block players from ranked without it being a last resort. It's not because we want players to smurf, or it's good for our game, we are doing things it's just not always 100% obvious what we are doing to prevent and combat smurfs. I hope this paints a better picture of how we approach it!

(I also want to point out we just started testing new smurf detection systems in North America that are looking very promising and is 1 of a few new solutions we've been working on but again these all take a lot of time and validation that we don't break match making)