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The Math Behind Climbing In Ranked Play

by - 3 months ago

A common lament among Heroes of the Storm players is that they are stuck at a certain point on the ladder and their Hero League Rank isn’t indicative of their actual skill. Often referred to as MMR Hell, this phenomenon isn’t limited to one specific point on the ladder. For every person who complains that they are stuck in Bronze, there is someone else who claims to be trapped in Gold, and yet another player who can’t make their way out of Diamond. These players often cite their Quick Match MMR as proof that they deserve to be ranked higher in Hero League but they overlook a key difference: games played.

Most players have played significantly more QM games than they have HL or TL games so it only stands to reason that their QM rating would be a more accurate reflection of their skill level. Anytime you are talking about averages, which is essentially what MMR is, the more data available the more accurate the result. If a player wants their Hero League MMR and Rank to improve they are going to have to play more games. There is no way around it. Unfortunately, most players drastically underestimate the number of games required to climb the ladder.

To help put the number of games it takes to rank up into perspective I would like to direct your attention to the aptly named Depression Calculator created by Beau Schwartz of Core Podcast fame. This tool allows players to enter their current Rank, their current win rate, and their desired Rank to calculate the approximate number of games required to reach that goal.

In the example image, we have a player who is currently Bronze 3 who would like to make it to Gold 1. Assuming a healthy 60% win rate, it will take this player roughly 300 games to reach that goal. Dial the win rate back to a more reasonable 55% and the number of required games jumps up to 600. Keep in mind this is just an estimate and there are many variables the sheet doesn’t take into account, some examples of which are listed at the bottom, but it does give us a reasonable point of reference.

The reason I wanted to share this spreadsheet is to help players set realistic goals for themselves. I think a lot of the frustration that players feel towards Ranked Play stems from unrealistic expectations. You may very well have Gold 1 skills but if you are currently at Bronze 3 and play 30 games a season you probably need to temper your expectations. The same goes for the Gold 5 player who thinks he should be in Platinum. As long as you have a positive win rate you will work your way up the ladder, it just may not happen as quickly as you would like. Climbing the ladder takes hard work and that hard work comes in the form of games played.

To use the Depression Calculator for yourself simply click this link and then select File > Download as > and save the file to your hard drive as an XLS file.

Once you complete your Placement Matches you can use the spreadsheet to determine a realistic goal for the season. Just enter your Current League and Division, your win rate over the last 100 or so HL games, and come up with a reasonable estimate of how many games you are going to play this season. You can then adjust the Target League and Division until the estimated games required equals the number of games you expect to play. Whatever that League and Division ends up being is your new goal for the season.

Don’t get discouraged if your goal ends up being lower than what you think your Rank should be. If there is a large disparity between your current Rank and where you think your Rank should be it may take more than one Season to get there. It is better to set a lower goal and achieve it than to set an unachievable one and end up giving up.

Good luck and good grinding!


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Lee Vaughn

Lee has been playing Blizzard games since the 90's and Heroes of the Storm since the Tech Alpha. If he isn't playing a Blizzard game he is probably tweeting about one.