For the past few weeks, Hearthstone players have been struggling to climb the competitive Legend ladder. As previously reported (opens in new tab), since around the middle of June, Legend players have regularly been queuing into matches against players well below their rank, including players who haven't hit Legend themselves. For Legend players, this has made improving their rank nearly impossible: winning a match gets them a paltry 10 ranks or so, while losing one can lose them 100 rank or more. Under these circumstances, players need to maintain a ludicrous win rate to climb, and even then it's slow going.
This slowdown is especially pronounced at lower Legend ranks. In some extreme cases, players were even losing ranks when they win. This problem seemed to come out of nowhere, so some players speculated that Hearthstone's matchmaking system had been quietly changed.
In a statement released today (opens in new tab), Blizzard affirmed that it has not changed Hearthstone's matchmaking since February's ranked update (opens in new tab). Among other changes, the February update made it so that Legend players start new seasons at rank four. Blizzard says the recent matchmaking woes are an unintended byproduct of the update and the influx of Legend players that it brought.
Now for the solution: Blizzard says there's a fix in store for the July season which will drastically decrease how frequently Legend players match up against non-Legend players.
Here's Blizzard's full statement:
Some players have raised concerns that matchmaking at Legend ranks isn’t working properly. Please rest assured that we have not changed the matchmaking calculations since our 10.2 Update. However, the Ranked Play update from 10.2 resulted in an increased number of people reaching Legend, and their matchmaking values are much closer together.
With a tighter distribution of matchmaking ratings, losing games at lower Legend ranks can result in a matchmaking rating significantly worse than non-Legend players. Once a Legend player has a low matchmaking rating, it can become difficult to gain ranks.
Ranked Play is very important to us, and we’ve been watching this situation very closely as it has evolved since March. To help improve the Legend rank experience, we are changing how Legend players get matched against non-Legend players starting with our July Ranked Play Season. With that change, Legend players will have to lose significantly more games before matching against a non-Legend player.
Additional changes to Ranked Play will be coming later this year, and those should also improve the experience. We’ll provide more details when those features are closer to release.
Thanks for your continued support of Hearthstone, and we’ll see you in the Tavern.