Self Experiment: Dota 2 MMR Recalibration Done… Right?
WePlay's Arseny Kuzminsky conducted an experiment to calibrate the rating in Dota 2
For some reason that no one understands, after a series of defeats, burnout, and accumulated fatigue, people still click on the "Start" button to find a ranked game in Dota. Moreover, you don't always get positive emotions. There are some matches after which you feel empty even if you won or it’s only a sigh of relief that you managed to avoid defeat. Nevertheless, the eternal pursuit of cherished numbers motivates people, including the author of the article, to play more and more. Play, suffer, or enjoy — it depends on how lucky you are. But let's leave philosophy and the attempts to understand the human mind aside.
Once upon a time, in those days when all beginners were given exactly 3000 MMR at the start and had to fight up to the coveted figure of ~5000, I began my journey. Not going to lie, I’m not the strongest player, I’ve never been, and I haven’t made a hyper-concentrated effort to become that. I didn’t set goals, but rather simply bought Gaben Industries lottery tickets over and over again — which, by the way, is one of the reasons for MMR decrease in many players. Stuck in my ~2000s, I gave up a long time ago, not trying anymore to change a thing.
But finally, Valve has allowed us to update our rating, giving people, like me, a chance to prove that all is not that lost. Of course, as a curious and experiment-loving person, this idea seemed like an excellent reason to change the state of affairs.
Assessment, planning, preparation
So, before pressing the coveted ‘Recalibration’ button, I did some research: I evaluated the current meta, objectively assessed my strengths and weaknesses, read guides, even wrote one myself.
Starting Kit: position 4 and 5 experience and knowledge, my best character is Mirana, having the tendency to feed and be distracted from the game. After some 300 IQ researching, I made a plan of action.
I decided not to go solo, but to have a friend with me. My comrade mainly plays carry, his rating is the same as mine. Well, as Peter "ppd" Dager said in his column on our website, there should always be a wingman you can rely on.
First of all, I formed a pool of heroes that are not just interesting for me to play, they are also in the meta (strong), and can combine well with my partner’s preferences. Then we singled out the best carries in the patch, decided which combo would be perfect, and concluded: Drow Ranger + Vengeful Spirit. Okay, although Venge is not my best character, she is useful and impactful, she can cause trouble for the enemy, save teammates and throw herself to sacrifice for the greater good. I know her gameplay basics, and before the recalibration, we tested the combo successfully and everything turned out well. As a reserved character, I chose Disruptor: he is very unpleasant to play against in the lane, and he also has control and AoE silence.
Then I set a few personal rules for myself:
- Don't die
- Get only team-oriented artifacts
- Don't rage
I bought a Dota Plus subscription and selected guides from ImmortalFaith. Since the overall quality of the game on my rating is not very high, this, in my opinion, was quite enough for success.
Starting rating: 2170 MMR, Crusader 5
To clarify: I have a 10,000 Conduct Rating.
We have lost 4 matches:
When I changed the role, I took Mirana at pos4, and immediately the whole game did not go according to our script.
A fair and equal 50-minute battle.
Drow was banned in one game and we had to adjust to the setup: Disruptor + Spectre. Didn’t go well.
The tenth game, due to fatigue, poor communication, and me picking Venge while my friend chose WK. I ended up completely out of the game due to the bad chemistry of the heroes.
As you can see, everything is simple: as soon as we deviated from the plan, we immediately got hit on the head and lost (with the exception of one match).
The other six games followed similar scenarios: exchanging HP with enemy heroes in the lane, covering my core, stacking the woods, setting up vision so as not to get ganked. If everything is fine in the lane, by 8-9 minutes I left to help either offlane or mid. If everything is bad, we leave the lane together, the core goes to farm the jungle, and I help on the other lanes. And then just follow the match. The main tasks for me were to put wards on the river, stack the forest so both carries can overfarm, and try not to die for any reason.
Final Rating: 2600 MMR, Anchor 2
Outcome: +430 MMR
Features that helped me
Believe it or not, I want to separately thank Dota Plus. It is much more convenient to stack forests with it (especially to do double stacks at once), and it will tell you about warding. Not much, but as a fifth position, it helped me a lot.
Also, I used the stuff I took from the pro-players. For example, sometimes I pulled the second wave of my opponent's creeps so that the lane would first push in their direction, and then in ours, and never return to the balance. I also pulled the mini-camp using Puppey’s method (pull on the 19th second so only one melee and one range creep will follow) and tried to give a little experience to the carry in the lane so that he could get to sixth level earlier.
A very important thing I did was an instant buyback to create an advantage in teamfights. In almost every calibration match, I bought back in early or mid-game fights in order to create an advantage in the battle after death if the outcome was not completely clear. Venge can stun and debuff/save, and if the enemy core focused me and I quickly died, I immediately spent the accumulated money and ran back into the fight. In this way, I feel like I have provided meaningful support to my team.
I also tried to constantly communicate with my teammates: I tried to jam their rages and screams with a peaceful and calm dialogue, initiated lurks to the Roshpit with a smoke when we had the advantage (did not let the team go just farm), and negotiated which artifacts would be more useful in that or another moment on specific characters.
I kept these things in my head all the time. I reminded myself of them tirelessly so that they could sit there.
The most important thing that I learned over these ten games is, probably, rather trivial things for any situation in life: you need to set a goal, prepare a plan, and then everything will turn out better than you think. Surely, different ratings require different approaches, and there may also be inadequate teammates or, worse, boosters.
I understood that playing several matches a day in a tense state and with full concentration is quite difficult. This has once again confirmed the complexity of a professional esports player’s job. No one doubted it, but experiencing this from personal practice is interesting.
I'm also not sure if I could have raised MMR as successfully if I played solo because we initially built a plan, chose heroes, and followed our own guidelines. Although, on the other hand, Dota is a team game, right?
It was a wonderful experience that showed me that first of all, if you want to raise MMR, you need to play at full capacity. You can't just pick Pudge and hook for fun. Progress in MMR is about self-improvement, phenomenal patience when no stable chances of success exist, and a good partner.
It's funny that according to the results of the calibration they gave me 100 more rating points than my friend. Why? No one knows.