Although Season 3 was our shortest season yet, it had by far the most consistent activity this server has seen; over the last 6 months, there were more than 5400 players who participated in at least one event, and there were over 36000 events played overall. For comparison, during Season 2 there were around 22500 matches played over the course of nearly a year; this means that the server was around three times as active on average as Season 2. This large increase in activity is not without its problems, however, with several, very obvious issues arising in many different areas. To start off this season, we've attempted to fix several of these problems to provide a more competitive experience for all players.
The most obvious problem that needed to be addressed was inflation; even though we increased the MMR ranges for Season 3, there is still not nearly enough MMR in the system to accommodate the full range of skill in the server. A lot of this may be attributed to the large amount of newer players joining the server during this season with no prior competitive experience who immediately fell to 0 MMR. For an example of how bad this problem was getting, check out Season 3's MMR Distribution graph:
A large number of players at 0 MMR doesn't just affect the lower tiers of the server, however. In an ideal world, all MMR tables have a sum of zero, meaning that there is no net MMR being added to the system. For example, if you added up the MMR gains and losses in this Tier S table, you would get a sum of zero:
In Tier E and F, however, this rarely turns out to be the case. Whenever 0 MMR players lose an event, they lose no MMR, but the gains and losses are still the same for the other players. Take these two Tier F tables for example (names cropped out to protect the innocent):
The first table has a net MMR gain of 361, and the second table has a net MMR gain of 383. Now, considering the fact that Tier E/F easily play over 100 matches per day, it's understandable how this can start to become a problem. The huge amount of MMR that gets added into the system from these matches eventually trickles up to the higher tiers, making it easier to reach certain milestones as the season goes on, therefore making things more unbalanced than initially intended.
To counteract this problem and prevent it from happening during Season 4, all players will be receiving +1750 MMR between Season 3 and 4. Additionally, the thresholds for all ranks above Iron will be increased by 2000 MMR to slightly correct the unintended inflation that happened during Season 3. With this expanded MMR range, we will be splitting Iron into Iron 1 and Iron 2. The differences between these ranks will be explained a little bit later, but first, here is what the Season 4 ranking system will look like:
Iron 1: 0-1999 MMR (Placement: Demotion only)
Iron 2: 2000-3999 MMR (Placement: 3000)
Bronze: 4000-5499 MMR (Placement: 4500)
Silver: 5500-6999 MMR (Placement: 6000)
Gold: 7000-8499 MMR
Platinum: 8500-9999 MMR
Sapphire: 10000-11499 MMR
Diamond: 11500-12999 MMR
Master: 13000-14499 MMR
Grandmaster: 14500+ MMR
As the server began to grow in size and the number of people in each tier began to increase, a method of gaining MMR known as "farming" started to become more and more viable. Most low-to-mid ranks in Season 3 generally had access to two tiers: one tier with their own rank and the rank(s) above them, and one tier with their own rank and the rank below them. Many players resorted to exclusively playing the lower of these two tiers; for example, Gold players could farm Silver players in Tier C to reach Platinum, or Platinum players could farm Gold players in Tier B to reach Sapphire. Doing this proved to be more and more effective as the season went on, and caused problems in higher tiers whenever these players would reach a rank through farming, and then play in a higher tier that they probably weren't ready for, causing unbalanced matches.
Starting in Season 4, the middle tiers will only have one rank with access to them in order to hopefully create more balanced events overall and prevent any unintended side effects. Here is what the tiers for Season 4 look like:
Tier F: Iron 1 + Iron 2
Tier E: Iron 2 + Bronze + Placement
Tier D: Bronze
Tier C: Silver
Tier B: Gold
Tier A: Platinum + Sapphire + Diamond + Master
Tier S: Sapphire + Diamond + Master
Tier X: Diamond + Master
Another thing you might notice is that Iron 1 only has access to Tier F, while Iron 2 has access to both Tier E and F. From observing Tier E in Season 3, the skill gap between higher Bronze players and lower Iron players was so large that results could be decided once teams were made. This is the main reason for splitting up Iron, so that this issue hopefully doesn't happen later on in the season. We aren't entirely sure of the effects that splitting Iron in two will have on Tier E yet, so we're neglecting to apply the "one rank per tier" rule to Tier E for now. Additionally, due to the low amount of players at the top and the MMR reset, we will not be changing Tier A for now, however it's on our radar if we think that removing higher ranks wouldn't hurt activity for players in Sapphire and higher. We will be paying close attention to every tier's activity as the season goes on, so we won't hesitate to change any of these ranges if we think that activity is too low.
As it's a new season, we've moved all players closer to the median MMR in addition to the +1750 adjustment. Players in the lower end of their rank can expect to be demoted to the next lowest rank. Starting MMRs will be capped at 11500 for players who would normally start with higher than that amount (11500 is the exact amount needed to be Diamond).
About the Leaderboard
Some time early on in this season, we will be moving off of a Google Sheet leaderboard to a more reliable website solution. This was originally planned to launch with Season 4, however, as often happens with projects like this, there were some unexpected delays along the way. In the meantime we'll be using a Google Sheet like we normally do. There may be a small amount of downtime (a few hours at most) whenever we're ready to make the move, so we'll announce whenever that's going to happen. More details about this project will be revealed at a later time.
Starting in Season 4, it is now required for reporters to submit tables using MK8DX bot. You will find that it's no longer possible to send images in the results chat, so sending a .png image is no longer an option. Only in unexpected situations (such as the bot being offline) will it be permitted to report tables the old way. Attempts to circumvent using the bot may get you Reporter Restricted.
If you haven't learned how to use the bot yet, read here.
We're also adding a support channel inside the Reporters category, so if you have any problem figuring out correct leaderboard names or don't understand anything about the bot, feel free to make a ticket there. We may create a Bot Support role that can see these tickets in the future for those who understand the ins and outs of the bot.
Important Rule Changes
Hitting the strike limit for the 3rd time will no longer result in a server ban; instead, players who hit their 3rd strike limit will be muted for 28 days and will be muted for 28 days each time they continue to hit the strike limit.
Reduced MMR losses for partners of teammates that miss more than 4 races will be scaled according to the number of races the teammate missed; For example, if a player misses 5 races, their teammates will get 7/12 of their normal MMR loss. Instead of a blanket -100 penalty, the opposite effect is applied to the teammate that missed over 4 races; a teammate that misses 5 races would receive 17/12 of their normal MMR loss, capped at 20/12 at the highest. Additionally, if a player misses 6 races or more, they'll receive a strike on top of their increased loss.
Repicks in FFA are now -50 MMR instead of a -10 point penalty. Repicking at least twice in any format now results in a strike.
All players must use their Lounge nicknames (or a legible shortened version) in FFA format from now on; failure to follow this rule will result in -50 + a strike. For the first week of the season, failing to abide by this rule will not result in an MMR penalty, but just a strike.
For Tier B and higher, the late penalty for joining room is now 5 minutes instead of 10 minutes. Like the above rule, for the first week of the season failing to join within 5 minutes will just result in a strike.