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This only started happening when I was about a 3rd of the way through the first prestige level. All of a sudden I'm getting matched with players who are in their 5th, 6th ,7th prestige. When I first entered prestige, I was getting matched with level 40-55 and 1st prestige; now I'm at level 36 of the first prestige and am getting dominated by masters and higher prestige players. What's the deal? How does matching work and what can I do to prevent getting matched with players well above my skill level?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Dependent on the Game-Mode, Prestige levels do not make a difference. CoD creates matches based on the players and not their level - Teams are then 'equally' split to make the game fairer; this is based on prestige and your ratios.

Lobbies are generated at random once you reach a Prestige level and above, thus enhancing gameplay and giving you a more 'realistic' feel...

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Adding to @EfcSeany, CoD selects your opponents this way :

  1. Players who chose the same playlist (Core, Hardcore, Bonus, etc.)
  2. Players who chose the same game mode as you (TDM, KC, etc.)
  3. Players who own the same maps as you (that's why owning a DLC map pack can increase matchmaking time)
  4. Players who live close to you (not a connection test, a "real" location test)
  5. Broad skill range: this step takes the proximity-filtered list and narrows it further to the set of games that fall roughly in the same broad skill range. This is what you're talking about. What you should remember about this step is that it's very loose.
  6. Players who have the best connection to the host

So matchmaking does not only select players that are the same level as you.

But, as @EfcSeany said, teams are built to give you the most disputed game. From experience, I would say this works out half the time. I play a lot of kill confirmed, and I'd say most of my games end at 100 to less than 85 confirms. I wouldn't call that a close game, but I've also experienced 100-20 games.

I believe that if you really want to play with people on the same level as you, you should try League Play. In League Play, you're placed into leagues, and winning/losing games make you go up/down in leagues. That way, you'll more probably be matched with players on a similar level as yours:

When playing in League Play, the player is placed in a Division. Depending on the player's performance, they can be promoted or demoted to different divisions.

Note :

Just before hitting "post", I found this website, from which the description of "step 5" comes from. It was pretty much what I wrote, but it's more understandable. I don't know the reliability of this link, but the article says exactly what I already had heard of.

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+1 - Well said. It would appear that the location test is a bit hit and miss. Just adding to what you have explained: Lobbies are also generated with a list of people who have decent connection to keep the game flow. – Sean May 10 '13 at 8:30

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