The launch of the new Ranked Play system in Hearthstone has been painful. On the surface, the change was minor:
- All ranks consist of 5 stars (previously from 2 to 5 stars)
- At the end of each season, all players are demoted exactly four ranks (previously bonus stars giving starting rank from 25 to 16)
- Win streaks remain in effect until Rank 5
- Ranked floors at 20, 15, 10, 5, and Legend remain in effect
The March 2018 season is the first season where this new system is in action, but rank resets did not go quite as planned, and Ranked Play was unavailable for two days while Blizzard fixed the problems. After the fixes, players found themselves on fairly random ranks, including many Legend players resetting to Rank 1, 5 stars, only one win away from Legend again – whereas they were supposed to go down to Rank 4, 0 stars. Oh well, it happens, at least we were able to play again.
Update (3-6-18 – 7:15am PST)
Blizzard implemented a hotfix last night that has hopefully fixed the issue:
We recently identified an issue where some Legend ranked players were being matched with players of a lower ranking than intended. A hotfix has gone out to remedy this issue. Legend ranked players should now experience intended matchmaking in Ranked Play. Thank you for your patience.
Update (3-5-18 – 12:12pm PST)
Blizzard posted an update that they are monitoring the issues surrounding Legend rank:
The team has been monitoring Ranked Play since coming back online last week. We are currently looking into potential issues surrounding Legend rank. We will update as more information becomes available.
Concerns Over Legend Ladder Matchmaking
Over the past couple of days, however, there have been increasing concerns over Legend ladder matchmaking. For some reason, Legend rank players are mostly getting matched up against players from lower ranks.
Tyler, a top-level Legend player, documented his games in Legend ladder – to which he had to climb from Rank 11 despite finishing in top Legend.
The above is a small sample of his log. After hitting Legend, he did not queue into any other Legend players, but instead first queued into a Rank 3 player, and despite winning most of his games kept slowly falling down, getting matched with Rank 4 players, and then Rank 5 players, and so on.
Other top players, such as Gyong, have also posted their recent stats that show the same behavior: losing ranks and getting matched with lower and lower ranked players even while maintaining over 70% win rates. Some players have reported going as far down as facing Rank 10 players even while maintaining reasonable win rates.
We know from previous experiments that Legend players have always been able to face even Rank 25 players. What is different is that it used to take hours of conceding games to get that low – and was only really done for science a few times – and typically Legend players could only go down to facing around Rank 3 players even if they had a terrible losing streak. Now, going down seems inevitable.
Don’t Panic if You Meet Legend players
Right now, you may face Legend players on large parts of the ladder. What’s worse, they are probably playing seriously with good decks, it is not the result of intentional losses. This can be frustrating, but you’re not alone, it happens to everyone right now.
Other than the occasional Legend opponent, matchmaking on ranks below Legend seems to be working normally.
Is Hearthstone Ladder Broken?
We do not know whether the ladder is broken or not. Remember, this is the first season where people enter Legend after only a few games.
We know that Hearthstone ladder has always used two different matchmaking systems: before Legend, you get paired based on your rank and number of stars, and in Legend, you get paired based on your hidden matchmaking rating (MMR) that is gained from wins and lost from losses. The Legend matchmaking has never before been used with players who have played so few games, as the typical legend grind even for top players used to be between 100 and 200 games from Rank 16.
Maybe the current matchmaking is a side effect of the short Legend grind. Maybe the bug that prevented Ranked Play from working properly or the fix that placed people on random ranks at the start of the season messed things up. Or maybe Legend matchmaking was indeed broken when the ladder changes were made.
During the weekend, Dean “Iksar” Ayala from the Hearthstone development team discussed the issue with players on Twitter and confirmed that Blizzard is looking into it.
What to do if You’re Already in Legend
Over the short term at least, playing while in Legend seems to inevitably cause you to fall down in rank. How much this matters is another matter: Hearthstone ladder is fairly kind for climbing and top legend players can fall down several thousand ranks and climb back up in a couple of days.
If you’re really worried about your rank, don’t play while in Legend. Otherwise, just play and have fun, matchmaking will be sorted out eventually.