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How does the rank system in heroes of the storm works?
I played few games in hero league and saw that I gain some points when win and lose nothing when lose. But blizzard claims that there are 2% of players at each rank, so system should be balanced somehow, one can't rank up infinitely just by random luck. Do I start to lose points at some rank?

What are exact conditions to earn and lose ranking points?

  • As already answered, Blizzard keeps their MMR formulas hidden. Let me describe what happens in Starcraft II, as a reference. SC2 also has a hidden MMR and a visible rating. Rating does behave similar to MMR, but is constantly inflating due to "bonus pool" aka "rested points" within a season. This is made to make people think that they are progressing somehow and competing in a race of sorts. The true MMR is unknown, but most probably stable. It is most likely that HotS ranking functions the same way - provide an impression of progress and only distantly related to skill level. – Orc JMR Apr 16 '15 at 12:25
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There are no exact conditions for gaining and losing ranking points (other than you only gain when you win and only lose when you, well, lose).

Behind the scenes, ranks aren't actually used for matchmaking. Instead, there's a hidden MMR (MatchMaking Rating) score, and the matchmaker aims to create matchups where both teams have MMR values that are broadly similar (although there is some debate as to how well it is achieving that goal). When you win, your MMR goes up, and when you lose it goes down - but you don't get to see this since the MMR is completely hidden.

When you win a ranked game, Blizzard looks at the two team's MMR scores and takes into account how likely you were to win that game. If it was very likely, since your team had a higher MMR score, you will receive less ranking points than if you were facing a team with a similar or even lower MMR. Similarly, if you lose to a team with a far higher MMR, you won't lose many ranking points since that was the expected result.

If you're losing a game and then not losing any ranking points, the likely reason is that you lost to a team with a far higher MMR than yours, to the point where Blizzard's algorithm decides it shouldn't have any impact whatsoever on your ranking score.

You do occasionally see people claiming that anybody can get to rank 1, since your ranking score goes up more for a win than it goes down for a loss. This is only true because they're starting out with the "default" MMR which assumes a lower skill level than their true level. Thus, they get matched with inferior opposition, win most of their games, and Blizzard hand them a lot of ranking points because their algorithm assumes they were unlikely to win. Once their MMR gets to the point where it reflects their real skill level, and their win rate comes down to roughly the 50% mark because they're now facing similar opponents, they'll find they're getting about the same for a win as they get for a loss. A lot of good-but-not-great players start out by getting a ton of points, assume rank 1 is easy, then get stuck at (for example) rank 8 because suddenly they're no longer getting far more for a win than for a loss.

  • Thanks for explanations, but I still hope to get an detailed answer with formulas. I wanted to ask - do you happen to know whether MMR depends on the hero you've chosen? Or if you played with your best hero and then decided to learn a new one you will drop in MMR very fast and when you switch back you will win a lot like at the beggining? – klm123 Apr 8 '15 at 13:42
  • I don't know whether the exact formula that Blizzard uses is public; I also don't know whether they base anything on which hero you pick (I doubt it). I do know that once you've played a lot of games, it's extremely unlikely that your MMR will rise or fall "very fast" - one of the variables used in nearly all of these formulas is how many games have been played, and once that number starts to get higher you'll only see relatively small changes in MMR for both wins and losses - the idea is that, by that point, your skill level is known and thus shouldn't be going through rapid changes. – Chris Apr 9 '15 at 7:41
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    You also don't seem to lose rank points below rank 40 regardless of MMR. – Troyen Apr 12 '15 at 6:14
  • @Troyen, yes, my first rank points lose happened at rank 40 exactly. – klm123 May 2 '15 at 13:17
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According to CLOSED BETA PATCH NOTES -- MARCH 24, 2015

  • Rank and Point Changes
    • The number of points earned from a ranked match will now vary more broadly based on skill difference between teams.

So, based on your experience, you lost a match against a team that consists of higher rank players than that of your team's, probably way higher.

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