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eSports Pro hits out at Call of Duty skill based match making

cormack12

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Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/jgq...-losing-in-call-of-duty?utm_source=reddit.com

Two months ago, esports pro Seth "Scump" Abner logged into the Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War multiplayer alpha and found himself struggling. [...] because of the players Abner was being put up against: They were all good.

This, Abner felt, wasn't normal. He should know: he's a world champion, he spends dozens of hours every week playing against the best in the world, and dozens more streaming his "casual" play on Twitch. Why was he having to suddenly work so hard to win games?

"[Skill-based matchmaking] does not belong in Call of Duty. There should be a ranked playlist for people to sweat in," he tweeted as the alpha weekend was coming to a close. "I’m not trying to play Scuf wielding game fuel chugging demons with szn in their psn on Miami TDM."




Abner wasn't the only esports pro to take issue with this system. With the release of Cold War last week, a number of notable streamers have echoed Abner's criticisms. Skill-based matchmaking, they argue, takes their agency away, forcing them into a purgatory of having to play their "best" every single game.

"I truly believe it is imperative that Treyarch dials back the difficulty of lobbies. We’re gonna drive so many big creators away, these games have been no joke
. I’m dead after playing for 9 hours," 100 Thieves CEO and CoD pro Matthew "Nadeshot" Haag tweeted a day after release. " I don’t mind playing against people that are similar to me in skill, but at least tell me where I stand in comparison to others globally. Give me a rank that reflects my skill."

These critics point to a number of games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Halo 3 as examples games who have gotten multiplayer "right" by letting players choose between a "ranked" playlist and "unranked" playlist—offering the freedom to decide when they want to sweat and when they want to kick back and own some noobs.

"From day one in Halo 2, we had skill-based matchmaking," said Max Hoberman, the former Halo 2 multiplayer lead. "I knew that matchmaking and rankings were inherently competitive and a lot of people just did not want that in-your-face competitiveness," Hoberman said. "So I launched with ranked and unranked playlists so all the hyper-competitive people—and a lot of the assholes, to be blunt—end up going to the ranked playlist and the unranked can have a much more casual, friendly environment."

The thing about skill-based matchmaking is that it's not as perfect as its critics think it is. And that's by design. Hoberman explains that in order to strike a balance between ensuring that skill gaps between players were close while keeping matchmaking wait times low he allowed for a certain amount of "slop in the system."
Sometimes there were games where you had the upper hand and you felt like a badass, but you'd also have matches where you'd get your butt whooped" he said. "You kind of get your ego bashed a little bit, but you get exposed to better players and aspire to improve."

Josh Menke, who has worked on the matchmaking systems for just about every major multiplayer franchise from Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Starcraft II and now Halo, firmly believes that skill-based matchmaking actually increases player engagement, and keeps them coming back, rather than turn them away.

Someone's success always comes at the expense of someone else's failure. When players ask to be put into matches in which they can reliably chill and get 20 kills while only dying 10 times, this inevitably requires someone else to die 20 times. What they're asking for is special treatment. And that's just not fair.
 

STARSBarry

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So basically what he's saying is that because he can't steamroll inferior players, he's upset and might lose money for being exposed. These 'Pro' gamers are the real casuals and crybabies.

Hate to see it.

Imagine having to work hard at the job you do so that people will pay you... man must have been a struggle for him up to now where he didn't have to try to get paid for something.
 
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cormack12

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I think the problem is a lot of these streamers gain their credibility by being great at the game with those montages. But obviously those montages and pubstomping is done on really inferior players. So it doesn't look great when they are streaming and going 1.2KDR or 1.5KDR along with everyone else. I do think unranked playlists are a good idea.

In terms of SBMM then there needs to be a tolerance to have enougb players. If you are rank B, it might search for C players and A players if there aren't enough B for example. Surely SBMM rewards consistency of play though.
 
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So basically what he's saying is that because he can't steamroll inferior players, he's upset and might lose money for being exposed. These 'Pro' gamers are the real casuals and crybabies.

Hate to see it.

Dude cod open rooms have always been pretty chill and fun. Now every game for me is a sweat fest vs people trying to make montages. It sucks. I don't want to have to play fully serious every match. But now if I'm not 100% focused/playing properly I'm dropping horrendous scores. It gets boring after a while.

Cod - especially default open room rules, are inherently uncompetitive and broken. So it doesn't lend itself well to having a room full of equally skilled people. That's what ranked is for - where all the busted shit is banned.
 
D

Deleted member 801069

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Isn’t this how Overwatch works?

I never minded this system. It’s nice being paired up with competent teammates.
 
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cormack12

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Dude cod open rooms have always been pretty chill and fun. Now every game for me is a sweat fest vs people trying to make montages. It sucks. I don't want to have to play fully serious every match. But now if I'm not 100% focused/playing properly I'm dropping horrendous scores. It gets boring after a while.

Taking COD out the equation, I think this is just competitive multiplayer in general. Especially in the likes of sports games like 2K21 and Fifa 21. You reach a point where you are stuck in a division and playing no lifers or red bull guzzling teens who are 100% alert
 

Gloomnivore

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It’s weird that a so-called pro player would want to waste his time against ‘noobies’. As always, if you want that sense of no resistance, play against the bots. I’d rather be involved in a competitive match where the victory feels good.

The SBMM has made this one of the more enjoyable CODs for me so far but there’s just one problem. I’m lucky if 1 in 5 of my team mates has any intention of playing Domination properly. I’m not sure if my focus on the objective means I get put in a team that treats every mode like TDM but it’s very apparent when there’s no point in even trying to win that mode after the first minute or so.
 

GreatnessRD

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Dude cod open rooms have always been pretty chill and fun. Now every game for me is a sweat fest vs people trying to make montages. It sucks. I don't want to have to play fully serious every match. But now if I'm not 100% focused/playing properly I'm dropping horrendous scores. It gets boring after a while.

Cod - especially default open room rules, are inherently uncompetitive and broken. So it doesn't lend itself well to having a room full of equally skilled people. That's what ranked is for - where all the busted shit is banned.
All I heard in this paragraph was do better.
 
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Saber

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I won't be defeding him since its stupid for a pro player to demand fighting low experience players.

But I won't defend this stupid system either. This crap happens with League of Legends when I used to play and it was retarded annoying. I wasn't a pro player and neither a ultimate master rank player. I was just a casual having a few casuals here and there, as my time allowed. But the match making didn't care and put me against top rank players. I even face a pro player once and he wasn't acting casual, felt like he was 100% try hard. So I have no pity for matchmaking systems like that.
 
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VN1X

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I thought this theory was actually on point:

I wanna talk about how the match making actually works and why many of you are misinformed.
So, I've read into the patent that Activison filed in early 2019. While the matchmaking is definitely putting you against harder competition, it seems a majority of this community are misinformed how or why. I will try to explain what it seems to be doing the best i can and hopefully some one you can look at the patent and discuss this together. Please know I'm not claiming to be 100% correct about it, I'm just trying to translate what the patent says into what we're all experiencing. I will link the patent in the comments after I post. Also, to be clear, i am NOT talking about the patent Activision filed in 2015 that relates to games matchmaking you with easier lobbies if you buy MTX. I'm talking about the newer patent.

Now from what I've read in this patent, the matchmaking seems study everything about your playstyle and what you like/dislike. So that would include game modes, maps, guns, what you're good against, what you're bad against (playstyles, weapons, etc.) They it keeps this information about you in a database with everyone else information. This is their first step.

Next, it appears they try to "coach" you into improving by placing you against your weaknesses. Not necessarily people at your skill level. So for example, if you're great against SMGs and ARs, but struggle against snipers and LMGs, it seems to use the information collected to potentially place you in matches against other players that have snipers and LMGs as their strengths. So while it doesn't really mean those players are better than you skill wise, it still places you against your weaknesses. That's why it always feels like you're going against a sweaty team every single match. Those enemies are simply just good at what you struggle against.


I have no information to actually back this next claim but I believe it to be mostly true. I've noticed that if you intentionally change your playstyle every single match, the matchmaking gets confused and you end up doing a whole lot better than you would if you just played the exact same way every time. I suggest we all try this out and see how it may affect your gameplay and experience. So far I've done about 100 matches and have done well in a vast majority of them. I've only lost 16 matches and have gone negative in 9. (K/D not ELIM/D)

Anyway, I just thought I'd throw this topic into the hat for discussion. I know everyone is getting fed up with every match feeling so much harder than the last. Maybe my method can help you guys.
I don't mind SBMM that much although I do wish, at the end of the day, they'd separate playlists and stop disbanding lobbies after every match.
 
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It's also completely simple to circumvent the system, which is why you see certain youtubers still posting 'amazing' gameplay. It's common knowledge how to do it and Scump definitely knows. Glad he chooses not to.

Ranked list and pub list based on connection is completely fair and reasonable. But Activision wants more money hence you have SBMM so new players don't get scared off.
 
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Moonjt9

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As a pretty middling competitive player(gold in overwatch and Starcraft 2 back in the day) I can kind of see where he’s coming from.

Playing ranked is rarely fun. It’s always stressful, because everything matters so much. Seeing your rank go down is so disheartening when you lose a close game.

On the other hand, when you win, goddamn it feels good.

But it was always stressful for me, and it got to the point where I wasn’t really having fun playing multiplayer games.

Having an option to have a casual game is a good thing I think. Or at least loosening the matchmaking similar to what the Halo guy said. Sometimes you’ll smash and it will feel good and sometimes you’ll get wrecked.

But either way, I think splitting ranked competitive and a more casual matchmaking only makes things better for all involved.
 
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Jibran#one

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Explain this shit to me
I had a 1.5kd in mw 2019 enjoyed it thoroughly had some good gamed had some bad ones, just like every other cod
Is this cry only from pro and YouTubers who can't do a nuke in every other game?
Do u feel good playing against absolute newbies , how is that fun ?
 
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I'm not up to speed with the situation but I agree with the sentiments.

Anecdotally my experience with ranked matchmaking would've been CSGO and PUBG I believe. This might be different because I'm looking at a team ranking. Basically I would be goofing off with friends, we would win a few close games and suddenly we're matched with very serious people in a match we're expected to lose. This is further aggravated when the skill variance on your team is very wide, the desire to win varies too. So you're always on this thin edge of goofing off to no fun allowed. "Might as well stop playing now cause it's only going to be serious for a few games".

There's a psychological component to this too. When you know the match matters, a win driven person is highly pushed to win and by large margins just because. The lightest form of this might be any kind of player stat tracking, like a k/d ratio. It really makes you play in a fashion that protects your own ego. I know because I do it.

There's a deep loss of experimentation. There are things you will never learn because of the serious nature of the match, the effects of which will vary by player. If I cheat a little in this comparison and define a "practice room" as the lightest possible match one can have you can see it. There needs to be a gradient from "practice room" to "full pro" style gameplay. Might I compare to football. The best academies for youths are European soccer were the ones who adopted a fun philosophy, where the goal was not about winning. For example the Dutch philosophy of "Total Football". They would do all sorts of things like not keeping scores of matches.

Might I compare how most of my learning of CS style gameplay, for what little I care, is almost entirely from mods, like zombies, surf, hosties. Again this is akin to my "practice room" example.

I'm blabbering here, but the point is there are consequences for skill based matchmaking that are not immediately apparent and will be invisible, they'll be almost entirely immeasurable. We really won't know the consequences, but being forced into having to be warmed and 100% competitive all the time is not my idea of fun. The competitive side comes after lots of casual stuff.
 

fourfourtwo

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Activision wouldn't dial up the SBMM if their analytics didn't show it created more revenue. They've probably got a team of statisticians with PhDs running the numbers.

Sadly, it's no longer fun to have to sweat it out in every single lobby. I was a slightly above-average player in CoD a few years ago, I'd have a nice mix of easier/evens/tough gunfights. Nowadays, all my gunfights are even, and anytime I do well, I find my next games I get matched with better players until my "hidden" ELO reverts back to the mean. I can't even play with my friends anymore, as we have different skill levels.

Almost everyone in this thread doesn't understand, as pointed out by The Bloody-Nine.

Just imagine if CSGO casual lobbies had competitive matchmaking. It completely ruins the fun, there's no relaxation anymore.
 
Feb 9, 2018
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Explain this shit to me
I had a 1.5kd in mw 2019 enjoyed it thoroughly had some good gamed had some bad ones, just like every other cod
Is this cry only from pro and YouTubers who can't do a nuke in every other game?
Do u feel good playing against absolute newbies , how is that fun ?
No one who has a problem with SBMM has ever made the argument that they only want to play against noobs.
 
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All I heard in this paragraph was do better.

No the point is no matter how much better you do - you just get matched vs better people so it never feels like you're actually improving. As nadeshot stated - with sbmm this strong - they should 100% have a skill rank surfaced,. If I had a clear skill rank I'd happily sweat. But there is no actual sense of progression. Anyone who can't get their head around this being a bad concept is a fucking idiot. It's bad game design which purely exists to keep the shitters in a safe place. The only reason they won't surface your skill rank (which clearly exists due to how strong sbmm) is because all the bad people would quit because they realise just how dogshit they are and find it demoralising.

I'm comfortably in the top 3% on any competitive shooter I play. I don't play cod open rooms with bad rules to play against the sweatiest kids on earth non stop. The game doesn't lend itself to that unless you're playing CDL playlists.

Edit: as someone stated above - they clearly won't change it as SBMM clearly helps the greater good of the game. Which is keeping shitters (90% of the playerbase) happy. It just sucks for the minority of people who are good.
 
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I don’t get his problem.

If he’s kicking back, why is he worried about losing?
It's because you can't kick back and relax if you're good at the game because every lobby is full of sweats, and every game is the same. In a CASUAL play list. That's the point. Casual should mean casual because there's already a ranked play list if sweating it up is your thing.
 
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Spukc

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Explain this shit to me
I had a 1.5kd in mw 2019 enjoyed it thoroughly had some good gamed had some bad ones, just like every other cod
Is this cry only from pro and YouTubers who can't do a nuke in every other game?
Do u feel good playing against absolute newbies , how is that fun ?
well you have people wanting an easy mode in souls games for ages.
I guess this is the same.

people don't want to git gud.

FYI i have beaten and platinumed all souls games and i do not belong to this group,
i am such a great gamer
 
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It's because you can't kick back and relax if you're good at the game because every lobby is full of sweats, and every game is the same. In a CASUAL play list. That's the point. Casual should mean casual because there's already a ranked play list if sweating it up is your thing.

This 100%. It's fucking painful reading posts from people in this thread who clearly have no understanding of how competitive shooters work and how bad SBMM in casual is for people who do.
 
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The reward for gitting gud at COD for the longest time was to be able to chain together ridiculous killstreaks and completely wipe a team out. That's fundamentally at odds with the concept of SBMM and competitive play. By design COD has been one of the least 'competitive' FPS games out there. Even the pro scene is a total joke. Console kids playing on controllers with a ruleset desperately pared down from the full game to absurd levels.

So anyone who was good at the older games now just gets dumped into lobbies with their clones, all cucking each other out of that killstreak dopamine rush which was the whole draw to the game.

But, people who don't bother to get good, want to run around like complete idiots, and feel totally good about a 0.8k/d, or don't even pay attention to how many times to die, well those people are more plentiful and profitable.

On the bright side, even though COD base multiplayer is pretty much dead to me, Warzone even with its smearing of SBMM on top is still pretty fun. And Gunfight mode in MW2019 was a nice little competitive experience which I really enjoyed, and apparently Gunfight is coming to BOIIIIICW, so I should have something to do in this game other than grind out attachments in unfun modes for later use in Warzone.

Also 95% of scrub-tier casuals who Scump is used to kicking around in COD in real life would give him a wedgie and stuff his bitch-ass in a locker.
 
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diffusionx

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Im not going to cry for this guy because it’s harder for him to curb stomp nobodies and make money from montages on YouTube and Twitch streaming. Not to mention ruining the game for everyone else because he goes 59-1.

I’ve been playing MW2019 the past week or two and I think the setup they have works pretty well, and there are about 5 million of me to 1 of that guy, so that’s how it goes.
 
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Musky_Cheese

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It’s not fun for you because you play against good players? How much fun do you think shit players have playing against a pro player?

I thought this was also in MW. I still played with pistol and throwing knives and had fun. 🤷‍♂️
 
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wipeout364

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I love it, the game is so much more enjoyable. This argument pops up all the time but they never have a valid reason for it. It’s always I don’t get to steamroll the game and have 40 kills. Well now they have to suck it up like the rest of us “losers” and have low K/D ratios and lose some rounds.

I hope they never remove it as the last two COD games have been great from my POV.
 

Fbh

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I guess I get both arguments.

On the one side this dude just sounds like a pro whining that he can't steamroll noobs and being afraid his image will suffer because he isn't that amazing when put next to similarly skilled players.
On the other side though I do agree casual modes should be, well, more casual and sort of mix and match people from multiple skills levels. And then when you want to go play with people of your same skill level you go to ranked.
 

SupremeHoodie

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It’s not fun for you because you play against good players? How much fun do you think shot players have playing against a pro player?

I thought this was also in MW. I still played with pistol and throwing knives and had fun. 🤷‍♂️
I think for most of these high skilled players it’s just a nostalgia thing. Because during the early years of cod you could have like 10 games in a row of 40-50 kill games but now that’s not as common anymore.

Skill based match making has gotten better and better at dividing the community based on skill.
 
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Activision wouldn't dial up the SBMM if their analytics didn't show it created more revenue. They've probably got a team of statisticians with PhDs running the numbers.

Sadly, it's no longer fun to have to sweat it out in every single lobby. I was a slightly above-average player in CoD a few years ago, I'd have a nice mix of easier/evens/tough gunfights. Nowadays, all my gunfights are even, and anytime I do well, I find my next games I get matched with better players until my "hidden" ELO reverts back to the mean. I can't even play with my friends anymore, as we have different skill levels.

Almost everyone in this thread doesn't understand, as pointed out by The Bloody-Nine.

Just imagine if CSGO casual lobbies had competitive matchmaking. It completely ruins the fun, there's no relaxation anymore.

I'm in the same boat as you. I consider myself above average but its typically because I have good map awareness and knowledge. I usually get matched up with what I consider the sweats, the people who play at max sensitivity constantly jumping around corners and act like they just snorted a line of Adderall while downing 5 monster energy drinks. I will then struggle to even stay positive against these clowns and after a few of these games the matchmaking takes pity on me and places me with players who seem to be using the controller with their feet. I then make mince meat and will pull a 2-3 k/d on them and then the cycle continues. It's not fun to do well this way and frustrating to lose like this.

The older system was fine where lobbies didn't disband after every game and it felt more like a mix of skills. If you didn't like the lobby or thought it was too sweaty you would just leave and find a different one. Doing it this new way also takes a lot of the social aspect of online play out. In the old system you could kinda develop small rivalries with some of the players after playing against them for a few games or you could make friends with good teammates you keep playing with. That's all pretty much gone now.
 
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DaleinCalgary

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So basically what he's saying is that because he can't steamroll inferior players, he's upset and might lose money for being exposed. These 'Pro' gamers are the real casuals and crybabies.

Hate to see it.

So true, stop complaining about sbmm and just play and enjoy. I have games where I suck that I still have fun.
 
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On the bright side, even though COD base multiplayer is pretty much dead to me, Warzone even with its smearing of SBMM on top is still pretty fun.
Yeah, that is the nice thing about Warzone and I guess battle royale in general. You can be the best player on the planet, but if the worst player on the planet happens to accidentally stumble upon you at a bad time the worst player could easily win. That level of randomness, plus the fact that there are so many players meaning so many skill levels can be represented, makes most Warzone matches fun.

Though don't get me wrong, sometimes you end up in firefights against teams that wipe you instantly, but that is just how things are. Only time it pisses me off is when it's early from cheating.