Guild Wars 2: sPvP Leaderboard Failings
I wrote recently about my thoughts on Guild Wars 2’s new PvP system. Although ArenaNet have made some improvements, certainly in the area of attempting to deal with AFK players, the new Leaderboard is what is particularly concerning at the moment. I still have significant issues with the fact your MMR is hidden as well as solo and team queues having been merged, but the Leaderboard is inevitably the attraction for many with long term PvP ambitions.
When the new PvP update went live, I played for several days with friends. I managed to reach rank 70 on the Leaderboard and with Christmas fast approaching, decided to take a break away from the game, like most people, to visit family. When I returned I was out of the top 1000 and back onto percentages. Although I expected to have dropped in the rankings, I wasn’t expecting it to be to that degree and unlike in the previous system, climbing back into the top 1000 has proved very difficult.
I’m a big believer in the fact that players shouldn’t have to spend every waking moment to compete in PvP. While I would always recommend players to practice as much as possible to improve their play, I don’t believe that a core component of being the best on any Leaderboard, irrespective of game, should boil down to time played. In its current form the Point accrual system for ranking now directly rewards those who play the most, irrespective of whether they’re a good or bad player.If you play infrequently or miss several days of play, you won’t necessary drop down the rankings because your win percentage ratio has changed but instead simply because those around you have played more, and secured more points. Those individuals could have a worse win percentage than you and yet they’d still pass you by due to your absence. As a result, you’re forced to play almost daily to retain your rating and secure Points.
The ladder ranking system attempts to place emphasis on your teams chances of winning when a match is found and reward you based on your success, not necessarily your outcome. If you’ve a 0-19% chance of winning and your team manages to secure 300 points or more, you’ll obtain 1 point. If you were to win a match when your probability of success is so low, you’d secure 3 points. Unsurprisingly, there’s quite a few problems with this system. The first is that you’ve no idea what your chances of winning are when you join a match. In most cases it quickly becomes apparent, especially if you’re getting crushed or dominating the opponent: sadly there’s too few games when it’s an even pairing. In addition, at the end of a match you’ve no idea how many Points you were awarded or if you should have even beaten your opponent. This leaves you never knowing until the clunky browser based Leaderboard updates.
Technically and because of this system, you could lose every single match but if your team secures enough score based on the mysterious odds of winning, you’ll still obtain Points. If you play often and even if your win percentage is poor, you’ll still surpass someone on the Leaderboard who wins regularly but plays little. What I found when my Rank deteriorated was that it was purely because I’d played fewer games, not that those surpassing me had higher win percentages. The short break I took from the game has taken me days upon days of play just to get back to rank 400 and I’m still hundreds of Points behind those in the top 50. It’s near impossible for me to ever catch them unless I were to disregard the need to eat, sleep and use the toilet.
It’s without question the biggest flaw in the Leaderboard design and while I suspect it’s intended to ensure players continue to login, it completely undermines competitive play. Players shouldn’t have to flog themselves silly to reach the top in terms of raw games played. Instead they should want to ensure each game they play is a win and importantly, meaningful. As it currently stands you shrug off a loss, requeue and know that it’s about Points rather than your win percentage. That seems backwards to me but fortunately for ArenaNet, it's a test season.
a possible Solution
If we’re to stick with the Points system, what I’d like to see is for the Leaderboard to be split into two. The first and continuous Leaderboard would be renamed “Ranked Leaderboard” and would simply keep track of players as it does now, based on Points gained. The second Leaderboard would be active only when a PvP Season starts. Similarly to a Football or Soccer league, there would be a set number of games that you can play during the Season. Let’s call it 100 matches. During a PvP Season every Ranked match that you play, until the 100 are complete, will contribute towards your “Season Leaderboard” position. Once those 100 have been played, your Season is complete and the result locked in. Future played matches would only contribute towards your “Ranked Leaderboard” position. If the Season ends without you having completed 100 matches, you would be ranked based on what you had completed.
By doing this it would ensure that players participating in PvP during a Season don’t feel pressured to play every single day to keep up, while it would add emphasis to matches played. Rewards would be based on the Season leaderboard while the Ranked Leaderboard would act solely as a barometer for a personal record of continued play.
Without a change such as this the Leaderboard is forever going to be nothing more than a time sink as opposed to one that truly represents a players skill in structured PvP. Currently at Rank 400, for me to reach the top spot I would need to obtain 308 points. Even if I won every game, to the point where it was +3 per win, it would still take 102 additional games or 25 hours of solid play. Worse, that’s also on the basis that those around me don’t play and/or win.
A Leaderboard should represent player skill over a set period of time and as it currently stands, the Guild Wars 2 Leaderboard is failing pretty miserably.
What is your opinion on the current Leaderboard? Is it working? Does it need changing? What do you think of our suggestion? Let us know!