Changes to the competitive Heroes of the Storm "Ranked" mode are coming next week, according to the game's development team in a conversation with InvenGlobal.
"Storm League Season 1" is set to kick off on Tuesday, August 6 with numerous gameplay changes that have been in the works for quite some time going live as well.
The following revisions are scheduled to go live alongside Season 1 next week:
Ranked Points are now directly mapped to a player's Storm League MMR.
- Rank is no longer considered by the matchmaker.
- Leaving a Ranked Match Lobby or Game results in a 500 Rank Point penalty which can be slowly regained in future matches.
Placement Matches have been reduced from 10 to 3.
Promotion and Demotion games have been removed and players will seamlessly transition through Leagues and Divisions.
- The MMR range has been rebuilt and remapped to handle this.
A Team Leader (banning player in Ranked Draft) is selected on the highest Rank for placed players, or MMR for unplaced ones. In mixed teams, placed players have priority.
Rank Decay has been adjusted
- Only players that are Diamond 5 or higher and that have finished their Placement Matches are eligible for decay
- If a player's decay timer is less than 3 days, it resets to 3 days upon playing a Storm League game. If the timer is at or above 3 days, players will gain an additional grace day for each game played (up to a maximum of 30).
A Ranked Seasonal Questline is now available to players
- This Questline will be available each Season and must be completed in order to be eligible for both the Ranked Seasonal Rewards and the Grand Master Leaderboards.
Lead Live Designer, Brett Crawford, couldn't hold back his excitement when talking about how much the team is looking forward to putting the new competitive mode in player's hands.
These are pieces of feedback we've been receiving, for years in some cases, of some things that we have wanted to do with Storm League when it came out and we finally had the opportunity to actually get them in. So reducing the placement matches was really important to us because there are a lot of people that would play three or four games and they really want to see where their rank is at but they can't get there fast enough so with 10 games it felt like it took too long. We were able to bring those games down to three which is pretty exciting for us. You will be able to see your rank move a little quicker when you do start playing Storm League, which I think is super important to a lot of players.
For actually matching up MMR (Matchmaking rating) and your ranked points, that is something that has been requested pretty much since we started doing ranked play for the game and we finally remapped everything and have everything working out the way we want so players will actually be able to know exactly where their rank is compared to their skill level which is super exciting.
Everyone who has played Heroes of the Storm under the "Ranked" tab on the in-game client has experienced promotion and demotion games and the anxiety that comes with it.
Historically, when an individual is on the cusp of being bumped up or relegated to the next Ranked tier they have to play what is called a "Promotion" or "Demotion" game. The concept is as simple as the name suggests: If you win, you get promoted up a Rank. Lose, and drop down a tier. That stress-inducing moment is what the Heroes of the Storm development team is looking to alleviate with the upcoming patch, according to Senior Game Designer Kyle Dates.
A lot of players actually get quite a bit of ladder of anxiety when they are on one of those benchmarks, especially a demotion game, so they would stop playing because they, obviously, don't want to demote their rank. This was one of those things that made sense to not have those anymore so that people could more fluidly move between ranks and then their rank is very accurate to where they are.
Revamped Grandmaster experience
While the development team acknowledges that the upcoming gameplay changes will impact the vast majority of individuals who are not competing at the highest level, that's not to say that Master and Grandmaster players' playing experience will not change as well. Being added in the patch is a seasonal questline that players need to complete in order to even qualify for Grandmasters.
One of the changes that will impact Grandmasters is that you now have to complete the seasonal questline for you to appear on the leaderboards. I believe the seasonal questline you finish around 50 wins I think so that is [quite a few] games. Almost close to a hundred or maybe more. It depends, but that is the average, said Dates.
According to Dates, when a season began players would try and race to reach Grandmaster to have it show on their profiles then lose interest once they got there. With the proposed changes, high-level players will need to show a concerted effort before being rewarded with the title of Grandmaster and appear on the in-game leaderboard.
Another potential change coming in the future is one that the development team wants community feedback on before moving forward, according to Crawford.
I will give you a little bit of a future thought and we want feedback on this from the player base. We get a lot of feedback from the solo players that say 'There are teams of five that are stopping us and it doesn't feel fair'. So, in the future, we are looking at potentially limiting Master and Grandmaster players to being only Solo and Duo queues at that point. Again we have not pulled the trigger on that but we are talking about it would love feedback on it.
Moving attention to other game modes
In recent memory, the Heroes of the Storm development team has dedicated a large portion of their time overhauling the game's competitive mode. That's not to say it was not necessary in their eyes but it's a fact nonetheless. With the recent decision to fuse Team League and Hero League into one, among many other changes along the way, the team is finally ready to move on to improving other game modes.
I will say that we have spent a lot of time throughout the last few years working on the Ranked experience and I think we have finally got it to a place where both the player base and, I sense the development team, are happy with where it's at. So I would like to really focus a lot of our future endeavors onto other modes that are not Ranked. That does not mean we are not going to continue watching it or listening to feedback and changing things but I think we are pretty happy with where it's at. We are super excited for these changes to hit you guys. I think the player base is going to be ecstatic for it, said Crawford.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.