A Dota 2 Matchmaking Tale

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  Dota 2 matchmaking is an all too recognizable and relatable experience. As such, what I’m about to show you is a guide of sorts, complete with my personal experience thrown in on how to climb the MMR (matchmaking ratings) hierarchies, starting from Crusader to a Archon.

  For the non Dota 2 fans out there, MMR is the skill level of each player in Dota 2. The system uses your MMR rating to determine who it will match you up against. The higher the MMR you have, the more you will be matched with higher skilled players. You will only be matched with players that are of the same or near your MMR. In a way, you can compare it to the trophy system in other games.

  As of the moment, MMR in Dota 2 can be further subdivided into two categories:

  Normal Dota 2 MMR — This is the MMR used by Dota 2’s internal calibration system. This will not show up on your individual player profile. It is only used by the system for normal match making, otherwise known as “normal” games.

  Ranked Dota 2 MMR — The second MMR that’s visible on your individual player profile. This is the unit of measure used in Dota 2 matchmaking.


  Post TI7, Valve decided to introduce the MMR medals, in conjunction with the seasons, to effectively replace the old MMR system. Players could still view their individual MMRs, but the system now groups them with like-skilled players via medals.

  Valve hasn’t exactly divulged the exact calculations on how the medals calculate which MMR are included, but it is widely believed that the minimum MMR requirement to achieve a certain medal changes as the season goes on.

  Currently there are 8 medals in Dota 2: Herald, Guardian, Crusader, Archon, Legend, Ancient, Divine, and Immortal. All, save for medal, is also subdivided into a star categorization of a maximum of up to five stars, where the more stars you have, the higher your skill is compared to other players of the similar medal and the closer you are to achieving the next medal.

  In Dota 2, climbing up the ranks is not easy. Because tougher opponents await in the next class, significant changes in strategy and approach is therefore required to progress. Otherwise, you’ll end up being caught in a never-ending cycle of being stuck in the same class. It’s worth noting that, even though your MMR will drop with each loss, you will not lose your medal. Rather, it will only be harder for you to climb up.

  Personally, when I was on my Dota 2 matchmaking journey from Crusader to Archon, I consulted some top-level Divine and Ancient players. I asked them what they thought I was doing wrong and how I could improve. Then, I went back to the drawing board and formulated a strategy based on what I had learned and been told.

  Below is a breakdown of my strategy.

  I always have a good chuckle when I reminisce about this.

  Back then, my aim was quite like any other player — make it to Immortal. This may sound easy, but it’s not. It requires an insane amount of time, effort, and dedication. It also meant accepting my flaws and working on my issues, as well as setting a realistic goal.

  Making it to 3K+ MMR is easy enough, but 6K? That’s going to take hundreds of hours of work, if not thousands.

  With that said, you will want to set a realistic goal first. Something like getting +300 MMR from where you area is a good start. It’s a small step, sure, but, you know what they say right? It’s all about the small victories.

  A lot of Dota 2 matchmaking woes start from the fact that Dota 2 has plenty of heroes to choose from, and it’s all available for free. Although it’s ideal that you try to learn how each hero works, it’s near-impossible to master all of them. Not even pros can do, so don’t even really try.

  What you can do, however, is to pick from a small pool of heroes and get really good with them. You can start with two. However, if you want to be versatile, start with at least four, with one hero that specializes in initiation, ganking, supporting, and pushing. Of course, Dota 2 is a complex game and each hero can technically be used for any purpose, but sticking with what a hero was “built” for can help you a lot in ranked matches.

  Once you’ve picked a hero, don’t go jumping in ranked. That’s just begging for a red mark and a -25 MMR on your match history. Rather, practice with it first. Play it in unranked, or better yet, play offline with bots.

  Grind, grind, grind. Learn to love the hero. Learn its weaknesses, its strengths, how it does in the lane, how fast it can farm, how much of an impact it can have on the game.

  After playing it for a couple (or dozens) of bot and unranked matches, play it in ranked and apply what you had just learned.

  Keep in mind, you’ll be playing with opponents that want to win just as much as you do so, so you’ll have to adjust your play a bit. But, if you stick with your habits and learn how to adjust correctly in-game, you’ll be able to make the right decisions most of the time and start winning more often than not.

  There’s plenty of reasons why you have to accept first that Dota 2 is just a game. But, the biggest reason is that so you don’t let every win, or more importantly, every loss, get to you.

  Ranked matches have much higher stakes to them because of the MMR. This tends to bring out the worst in everybody. You’ll get flamed A LOT, especially if you’re new to the game.

  So, while you’ll ideally want to learn from each game you play and from each mistake you make, the biggest lesson that you need to take to heart is that Dota 2 is just a game and whatever happens, don’t let it get to you. That way, it won’t affect your next game, or your mentality in real life.

  The reason why ranked matches bring the worst out in people is because everyone’s just trying hard to win. This means that most people are also more open to communication.

  During the “pick phase” at the start of the game, pay attention to what your teammates and opponents are picking. Try to suggest heroes that you think will act as a “counter” to enemy heroes, or heroes that will “combo” with what you’re going to pick. Even if your lineup doesn’t synergize all to well, communicating early and telling them about what you intend to do in the game, or how you want the lanes to turn out is very important.

  So many players in Dota 2 fall into the trap of thinking that the loss wasn’t their fault, but the truth is, it probably was.

  At some point of the game, you made a critical mistake or error that got punished by the enemy and lost you the game. It might not have been that dramatic, but heading into each game with the mindset of knowing that you’re accountable to your own mistakes and that you should strive hard to improve in each successive game is much healthier than, let’s say, blaming your teammates for your loss.

  If you can spare the time, watch videos of yourself playing.

  Be objective about it, and ask yourself, were you making the right rotations? Did you farm and push too deep when there was no vision around the map? Did you overextend and go in for the kill when you shouldn’t have?

  While I may not be in the best position to give out tips, I did, however, successfully make it out of the trenches, and to this day, my Dota 2 matchmaking rating continues. Although the climb can be daunting as it’s filled with so many good players, the fact is, the quality of the matches also get better and you get to enjoy playing the game more as you become more skilled and play with like-skilled players.

  So, what are you waiting for? Start your Dota 2 matchmaking journey today!

  What is your Dota 2 matchmaking journey like? What are other suggestions you’d like to add? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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