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What Is MMR In Gaming?

What is MMR in gaming? And why do players get overly sensitive all of a sudden when you ask them about their MMR? Unless you’re only playing normal games, or unranked games, the MMR system is something every competitive player should know about.

But what exactly is it about? And why is this ranking system so important for some players?

Is The MMR A Skill Rating of Sorts?

League of Legends Rank Tiers What Is MMR In Gaming

MMR stands for Matchmaking Rating, or the rating at which your rank is determined in any particular competitive online game, like League of Legends, Dota, or CS:GO.

MMR or matchmaking rating is a discrete number, or estimate, that tells you your current in-game skill rating or skill level. In a competitive scene, you are matched with other players who more or less have the same MMR values as you.

For the most of the popular games, their ELO rating system has players categorized into different rankings. Their rankings would differ based on the player’s MMR.

For example, in League of Legends, you have Iron as the lower rank and Challenger as the highest rank. The seriously skilled players and the professional players are found within the two highest ranks, namely Challenger and Master.

How Is MMR or ELO Determined In Competitive Game Modes?

This system, regardless of the competitive games played, allows you to increase your ELO or MMR by winning ranked game modes or matches. Losing decreases your ELO or MMR. The term matchmaking rating is used at great liberty to just refer to a player’s own skill.

Many games are pretty much following the same ELO system, but with just different takes on the rankings. But for most games, there are certain ways that MMR levels are determined for players who want to get started with ranked games.

Competitive Placement

For a lot of games, you don’t exactly get a rank the moment you start your first ranked game. At the start of a ranked season, you and all the other players will start at the lowest MMR possible for them.

If you haven’t joined a previous ranked season, your MMR is more or less set at 0 points. Other players who did participate in ranked games will start off at a lower rank. For example in League of Legends, if you ended the previous season in Platinum rank, you will start the next season in Gold or Silver, depending on how your MMR was for the previous season.

Once the new season starts, all players will need to play through competitive placement. You’ll need to play a set number of matches to determine which rank you’ll end up with. For League of Legends and Overwatch, there are 10 competitive matches that you need to play through before you get an MMR or rank assigned to you.

After you go through these competitive matches, different MMR levels are assigned to win-loss ratios. As winning increases, your WL ratio becomes higher. But in contrast, losing also brings down your WL ratio.

MMR works through competitive placement depending on what your WL or Win Loss ratio was after the matches. There’s no way to really get specific ranks for MMR, (i.e. you have to win X number of games to guarantee this rank) because it takes into consideration a lot of things like other players’ MMR, WL ratios from other players, and so on.

The downside to playing competitive placement matches is that there is no MMR checker of sorts in place. You might be matched with players who have above average MMR from last season. In worst cases, you get paired up against professional players. This is why a lot of ranked players often wait a few days after season starts to go through placement.

How Do You Climb The Rankings?

To increase your match making ranking, you simply need to play and win more games. You get assigned points for winning as a team or in solo matches. Majority of games will have different ratings for ranked solo matches and ranked team games. Professional MOBA players in games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends often get both the highest rankings for ranked team and ranked solo. In contrast, you also go down the rankings when you lose games.

It’s also worth knowing that your movement within the ladder is a mixture of horizontal and vertical rankings. Using League of Legends as an example, you’ll have to hover a particular rank and play through there until you get promoted. If you’re in Platinum rank, you have to play your way from Platinum 4 to Platinum 1.

Your LP or League Points will affect your current ranking. As soon as you get 100LP, you get into competitive placement once more before you can move up a tier. If you’re about to be promoted to Platinum 3, you’ll need to win two games out of your three placement matches.

But as you move up a tier, like from Platinum 1 to Diamond 4, the number of matches in competitive placement will increase from 3 to 5. You’ll need to win 3 games to guarantee yourself a promotion.

What Is MMR Decay?

MMR decay is commonly associated with competitive online multiplayer games. MMR decay happens when you have not played any ranked game for a particular period of time, or have not logged into the game.

Your MMR rating will drop by a few points every now and then after you’ve breached the period of inactivity allowed to you. Again, this is not set in stone but the higher your rank is, the lower your period of inactivity is allotted to you.

For competitive games such as Hearthstone and MTG Arena, MMR Decay allows others players to move up in rankings that were held by inactive players. This usually prevents any form of gatekeeping, which is a huge problem during competitive season.

What Is ELO Hell or MMR Hell?

We’d like to believe that League of Legends players were the first to come up with ELO hell, but sadly they weren’t.

ELO Hell or MMR Hell refers to a specific rank that’s considered the most difficult to get out of. Match making in ELO hell or MMR hell, has you playing with the worst players and against the best players.

Riot Games’ League of Legends is one of many games with players actively calling out this so-called faulty system within the games’ structure, but in reality, this is just how the ELO rating system actually works.

The Smurf Problem

Smurfing Problem What Is MMR In Gaming

You might be wondering from the previous paragraph: how are players who’re on a professionally higher skill level than casual players matched up against one another in competitive modes?

The answer to that is SMURFING. And no, we’re not referring to the blue cartoon characters from a particular TV Show.

Smurfing is when a player from a higher ranking would make new accounts and go through the process once again of getting ranked. He or she will start off in a lower rank than his main account, and then go on from there.

But the point of a Smurf is not to play against players with the same level as you. Rather, Smurfing is an act of trolling where you’re intentionally competing against people who don’t have similar skill levels as you. This is a form of gatekeeping and usually forces players to experience ELO hell in certain tiers.

We say gatekeeping because you’re preventing the other player from having the intended competitive experience they were meant to have. A ranked game for these players who’re being smurfed often ends up being a bad experience and these players will no longer play competitive.

Wrap Up

Now you know what MMR means and how you can use it to determine if that someone is a higher skilled player than you or not. Knowing what MMR is can be an advantage to you, whether it’s playing League of Legends or some other game that has ranked matches.

James Stephenson

james stephenson profile picJames is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as a Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.