Today’s Dota 2 update comes with a few minor fixes, as well as some rather larger changes to the way matchmaking works.
Minor fixes first, most of which you’ve probably noticed on Reddit lately because that’s apparently the Dota 2 support forum. You can now edge-pan when dragging items; a Monkey King visibility exploit has been fixed (probably the one regarding Night Stalker’s ultimate); pregame purchases are now properly displayed in certain modes; Compendium predictions let you pick players from DC, Team Random, and Mouseports; and the Games Played prediction in the Compendium now has the correct values. Which is sad, because that was pretty much free points.
But changes to matchmaking make up the bulk of this Dota 2 patch – enough, in fact, that there’s a gargantuan blog post about them. Let’s go over them quickly.
First: to play Ranked matches, you now have to have a unique phone number registered to your account. The idea behind this is to stop people from playing Ranked games across multiple accounts, and while this is hardly a complete solution, Valve is hoping that it’ll at least put a stop to people doing it casually. Bit of a pain in the arse for those like me who don’t actually use a mobile phone, though.
You’ve got two weeks to register a number, but as of 4 May, accounts without a registered number cannot play Ranked matches. You can remove a phone number from your account and replace it with a new one, but you can’t use the old number on another account for three months. Oh, and online services that offer up phone numbers are banned. I’m kind of against this on principle (again: no phone) but I don’t really play Ranked, so…
Next up, Solo Queue is back in. If you’re queuing up for a Ranked game by yourself, you can opt to only be matched with other solo players, so you won’t run into a five-stack or wind up with a highly unfriendly party of three on your team.
As for parties, if your solo MMR is higher than your party MMR and you queue as a party, the matchmaking system will assign you a higher MMR to account for the difference. If you’re a 4K solo player and 3K party, then you’ll be apparently be queuing at around 3500 MMR. The intention behind this is to try to account for both skill within the party and individual player skill. It doesn’t necessarily mean that matches are guaranteed to be competitive, but it should hopefully reduce the occasions where a high MMR player completely dominates a game because of lower-tier party members.
Then there are changes made aiming to “remove undesirable behaviour from the matchmaking pool”, which elicits a response of “good luck with that” from my brain. In any case, being marked for low-priority matches now also gives you a duration-based ban from Ranked games as well as requiring you to play a certain number of low-priority games. These bans apparently start out with a threshold of just a few hours, while repeat offenders might find themselves locked out of Ranked for four days.
Valve have also added “better detection for clear cases of intentional feeding”, as well as unspecified “stricter punishments” for those who do this sort of thing. Finally for cleaning up the mean streets of matchmaking, Valve have added detection for botting, and perma-banned a load of bot accounts.
The actual final change is to regions, with Ranked matchmaking no longer available in the regions of South Africa, India, and Dubai. This doesn’t mean that players in those regions can’t play Ranked – just that they’ll have to queue for Ranked matches in a different region. This may be changed in the future as the server populations grow and can actually support the split between Ranked and Unranked queues, but for now, the low populations made them pretty desirable targets for those wanting to abuse various Ranked exploits (queueing on a low-population server at the same time as a lot of friends to ensure you’d get into a game together and could throw if needed, etc.)
So! Quite a lot of changes, depending on how you actually play Dota 2. If you’re a casual Unranked player, you probably don’t have much to think about except that intentional feeding will be punished more harshly and your solo MMR may impact your party MMR. Ranked players, on the other hand, now need to register phone numbers, have a Solo Queue option, are more troubled by low-priority status, and can’t play on three regional servers. Probably a step in the right direction, but it’s certainly not going to make certain elements of the game less toxic, and that phone number requirement is going to inconvenience a fair few people.