MMR System Needs Work
Greetings. This is going to be a bit of a long post, but I feel it needs to be said. Your matchmaking system desperately needs work.
When I first began playing this game, I ramped to Mythic in about a week, with a Winrate of over 70%, even on the Draw. The upper-echelon ranks, such as Diamond and Mythic, were a bit tougher, but nothing significantly impeded me from my progress. I even got to top 1200 with it.
Imagine my surprise when, the next month, I was being matched with power metagame decks in Platinum with people who knew exactly how to pilot them. I came to this server along with GMaximus and others complaining loudly about the shuffler, insisting that it was rigged to "feed" wins to my opponent. I no longer think this is the case.
As a test for this most recent Season (which is an experiment I am not likely to repeat given its implications), I snap conceded about 1,000 games over the course of a week, just before the January Ranked Season began. As suspected, I once again ramped to Mythic with a winrate of over 60% in a week. I even got a HIGHER winrate on the Draw, even in Mythic, for which I have ample documentation. However, once I hit T1200, the guardrails appear to have been removed, and I am back to facing power decks piloted by extremely talented players. Well, more talented than I am at least. I fully suspect these tough matchups will remain with me as long as I continue to play this game.
As a result of this experiment, I believe Magic "soft-pedals" new users to the game to keep them from getting discouraged. It is not an "honest" ranking system as it is with ELO in Chess, because your MMR those first one or two months do not update with tougher opponents as rapidly as it should. It is also easily exploitable, as demonstrated by my rendering "rank" completely irrelevant with one afternoon of conceding matches. If I were to speculate on the simplest, most cost- and time-efficient way of accomplishing this goal, I would simply match players who have reached T1200 on one or two occasions with each other. No muss, no fuss, nothing requiring an actual matchmaking system.
Giving new users a break like this is understandable if you think in the short term, but long term it is not sustainable. By using this method, you give people a false impression that they are better at the game than they are, and that the game is worth investing in. The enthusiastic players will naturally invest good money into something they feel they have a natural ability at as I did.
So when you remove the illusions from their eyes, you wind up with influential personalities like CGB and others badmouthing the state of the game with shuffler complaints, which leads to toxic overflow on your forums and other official sources. I fear that you may ensure short term profitability with this method, but long term you will suffer as your reputation for fudging the numbers gets established.
If I were to suggest a solution, I would recommend a more adaptable, dynamic MMR system based on actual skill and collection strength, rather than absolute cake mode followed by total domination. At the very least, MMR should increase immediately based on winrate instead of a delay, and snap concedes should not function as such a simple method of "gaming" the system.
Unlike last time, I am willing to admit I may be biased or somehow incorrect, but it's difficult to prove that given Wizards' complete opacity on the nature of their matchmaking system, not to mention other calculations made by the game (hand smoothing, for example). ****, I can't even access the lead designers's posts on these subjects any longer, because those forums have been terminated. I have statistics for all this available upon request.
I'm salty agentbinky and thanks for coming to my TED talk.