I like to think I am very vocal about my opinions when it comes to Eternal. Most times I’ll show up on the subreddit and make a few comments here or there, while once every few months I like to write an article in an attempt to reach a wider audience on subjects that I believe warrant a genuine discussion. The current state of Eternal’s ladder system is one of those topics: It’s broken.
On October 29th I decided to attempt the grind into the Expedition ladder’s top 100 players. I hadn’t been able to play much, as school work, finding time to spend time with friends, and The Outer Worlds has taken most of my free time this past month. However, after playing my last two games in Diamond I, I graduated to the Masters leaderboard at an expected rank of about 352. I had a lot of work ahead of me, but my determination could be wavered… at least, not until over nine hours later when I was still close to the same rank where I started.
Perhaps the reason this happened is because I’m a horrible player, in which case the rest of this article is meaningless and I’d advise you all to stop reading here so you can save five minutes of your life. Be that as it may, I like to think that I’m not a horrible player and my winrate would agree with me on the matter. As I continuously played games I began to notice a trend in which I’d lose equal or more ranks from one loss than I would gain from three or four wins. Considering at one point I was playing between 1 and 4 am est time, I don’t believe the huge drops in rank were due to a large amount of players online at the same time trying to climb the leaderboard. Besides, if there were a large amount of players on at or around my rank competing with each other, then I would have certainly matched with them more than I matched with players in the top 100 bracket, as that should, in theory, be the ideal matchmaking.
There is only a handful of logical conclusions I can make about why I was not gaining many ranks for my wins while subsequently losing more for a loss, each of them having a notable contradiction with my current experience:
- Solution 1: My (hidden) MMR is correct and I am at the rank I deserve to be, thus justifying my slow grind.
- Problem: After being consistently matched with players at the top of the ladder, and winning a majority of these games, I should have expected to see larger gains in rank from these matchups as well as smaller losses, while subsequently seeing equal gains/losses from those around my own rank. Afterall, I would be defeating players that are at a much higher MMR than I am and should be compensated accordingly (and those players should be losing ranks accordingly as well).
- Solution 2: I was placed in the wrong starting rank and I have a higher (hidden) MMR.
- Problem: If my MMR was high enough that I have larger losses than gains, then I should realistically gain more than 1-2 points per win in an attempt to “catch up” to where I belong, especially when playing against those that are higher in the leaderboard. While this does explain the larger losses than gains when I lost to people at my own rank (if this was their deserved rank, of course) it doesn’t explain the lack of any forward progress in the leaderboard.
- Solution 3: There is a hidden point system for the Masters ladder and players are simply too far apart for individual games to have any meaningful impact on their standings.
- Problem: While I think this is the most likely answer to the problem from my own perspective (afterall, I stated earlier that I hadn’t been able to play much this month), this doesn’t explain why the top of the leaderboards are also seemingly at a standstill despite all of them, most likely, having very similar “points” and play time. Similarly, players at my own rank should also be at a similar amount of “points,” thus the growth and decay of our ranks should be more drastic than one or two point increments. Another issue with this is that, if there were a hidden points system, this system should absolutely not be hidden from the players. Since the leaderboards now matter for Quarterly Championship Points (also known as QCP) players should have such information known to them so they can gauge how secure or insecure they are at their current standings and encourage competition.
Of course, while all of these theories are just speculation based on my own experience the other night, I’d like to bring everyone’s attention back to the last problem I mentioned, which is also the main reason I decided to write this article: I do not believe it is okay for the leaderboards to be based on an invisible system if QCP is at stake. Sure, invisible points and hidden MMR was fine when it came to the ladder in the off season since, afterall, ranks were only meaningful for bragging rights at this time. However, now something is at stake. These points can make or break appearances and byes in the Quarterly Championship. A player such as MonoJ, who has been sitting at the #2 spot on the leaderboard and who was playing just as long as I was the other night, if not longer, should know exactly what he needs to do to catch up to the current #1 player, while any player outside of the top 100 should also know what they have to do to have a fighting chance at some QCP. We truly need some clarity on the ladder experience if we want to encourage as healthy of a competitive environment as we possibly can.
Like always, thank you everyone for taking the time out of your day to read my content, and I highly encourage you all to share your opinions on this matter. Has your ladder experience been the same as mine? Do you agree that the ladder experience should be more transparent or do you prefer the system that we have now?
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