Greedy Goblin

Friday, October 28, 2016

How my play was a problem in League of Legends

When I started playing League of Legends, I had a fundamentally wrong assumption: that I'll be behind in mechanics (measured as losing a fair 1v1 to most players) and have to compensate with strategic thinking. When I started excluding bad players from the team via queue-dodging, I still used this assumption and just wanted to remove a few "feeders". The opposite was true. In the silver league, where the median players are, I'm probably one of the most experienced and practiced players with my chosen champions Warwick and Nunu. I saw only a handful of players with 100+ games with a champion. I had surprisingly high 1v1 win chance. Most of my teammates - even after throwing out 70% of the games - have only a handful games with their chosen champion, therefore my plan to support them with dragon buffs was totally wrong.

While I called the matchmaking fundamentally flawed, I'm fully aware that it's designed this way to support the business model of the game: sell champions and skins. The objective truth is that if you pull a new champion in a ranked game, you'll be horrible and lose your lane. Riot's income depends on people doing this, so they made sure that buying a new champion doesn't mean series of defeats or formal demotion to bronze.

We saw how the matchmaker perpetuates the problem by punishing players who play only with a few champions. If you just play with your best champion X rating, you'll be facing a player whose average rating is X, while his actual play will be X+300 main or X-300 alt, providing no fun or challenging game. You are better off dunking your rating to X-300 by grabbing an X-600 alt and then you sometimes see challenging games.

But this doesn't explain how this culture first started. At fist people must have had only a few champions, so the first guy who pulled some random champion to see how it goes, he was hammered into the ground. To understand that, we must recognize a unique mechanic in LoL: the second item is stronger than the first. Every other game uses diminishing returns. Spending 2x more gold on gear in WoW or ships in EVE won't make you 2x stronger, just 10% stronger. In League, it makes you 2.5x stronger. This is why on the bottom lane one of the players doesn't lasthit minions and avoids lasthitting enemy champions: they are stronger if one of them gets all the gold than sharing equally.

The reason for that is to make one player of the five, the "carrier" the key of the victory. It doesn't really matter how good the others are. If there are 5 players, each with 10 kills and 5 deaths in one team, while on the second team there are four 0/12 baddies and one 25/0, the second team won. Ergo when the first idiot pulled a new champ without clue to see how it goes, he merely abandoned the chance that he will be this carrier. In his absence there was 4/9 chance that the carrier will be in his team. So he didn't pay dearly for his abysmal play.

No, him having no clue about his champion don't make him a feeder (someone who die repeatedly and make the enemy kill repeatedly). Being a feeder is not about being bad with champion mechanics, it's about being an idiot, like jumping on a more fed champion 1v1 or diving a tower without overwhelming force. An acceptable player with a bad champion won't be a feeder, he will be just low.

And that was me in practically every games. Since I didn't even attempted to carry, nor I supported a carrier specifically, I've given up the chance to be good. It didn't matter that I didn't feed, it didn't matter that I got dragons, it didn't matter that I had positive kill/assist : death. All that mattered is that I wasn't the carrier.

How did my queue-dodging worked: by adding chance to have the carrier in our team. A player with experience can become the carrier, while the player with none can't. By dropping games with 0-1 possible carriers, I greatly increased our chance. But only with 200 MMR. After that my own non-carrier play stopped me from advancing.

I will have to change my gameplay to become or boost the carrier. It's not about getting better mechanically. I'm already better mechanically than most players with their average champion. It's about actually going for ganks, trying to outgrow teammates. If someone else already outgrew the team, go and support him with more ganks and letting him lasthit. Hell, maybe even dive the tower for him so he can feed more.

League of Legends - until the World Championship - is not a team game. It's a fundamentally solo game and you must shed all your "teamplay" thinking. Ignore the "team". Be the best, or support the best player!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

ELO hell: how the bad LoL matchmaking promotes bad play

The goal of the matchmaker is to create a game where the player is neither stomped, nor stomps. To provide a challenging game where his personal decisions and execution determines the outcome. This is usually done by ELO-rating, adding to the rating if the player wins and subtracting when loses until he reaches his optimum point. Since his opponent and teammates are at the same rating, challenging play is guaranteed.

League of Legends matchmaker does that, but ignores champions. Let our example be Joe, who is great with Katarina and would have 2000 rating if he'd play with Katarina only. He sucks with everything else and would have 1000 rating with everything else. His average MMR is 1500, so he is drafted to games with 1500 rating. No doubt that he pwns with Kat and feeds with everything else. I'd like to emphasize that over 200 champion selections, I've found that majority of the players play with champions with less than 10 games under his belt. So Joe isn't an extreme straw-man. He is the ordinary player.

If the matchmaking would be random, an 1500 rated player would sometime get a 2000 rated or an 1000 rated opponent. But he'd also be matched against 1400-1600 rated ones he can learn from and can outplay. But with Joe - and the current matchmaking - he never gets that. He either farms non-Katarina-Joe without effort and without learning anything or hopelessly gets farmed (or sits under tower all laning phase) by Katarina-Joe - again without learning anything. So if you play like a reasonable person who only plays a few champions he is good with, you're stuck into ELO-Hell, a place where your lane opponent is either hilariously bad or oppressively good and you can't improve and can't really enjoy the game.

But if you follow the masses and just pull random champions without any clue what their buttons do, your games become more enjoyable. Why? Because next to your 1500 rated main, you grab a bunch of 900 rated alts. Your personal rating goes down to 1200 and you are longer drafted into 1500 rated games, but against other 1200 personal rating players. Since they do the same, 1/4 cases you both pull your good champs having a challenging game, half cases one of you pulls good, other bad and farming happens and 1/4 cases both of you pull bad ones and at least you learn the basics. Congratulations, you are now part of the problem: you are Joe for the 1200 rated players, you pwn them with your 1500 main and feed with your random picks.

As I explained yesterday, this makes the outcome of the games completely predictable before it started. While the two teams have equally combined MMR, this would only matter if they'd use an "average" champion but they don't. The team where more people pull his "good" champion will win. You can greatly increase your MMR by observing stats of teammates and dodge games where less than half of them uses champions they are good with.

Tomorrow we'll see why my play plan was bad, making me effectively someone who always picks a bad champion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

League of Legends matchmaking is fundamentally wrong

40 games ago I started to queue dodge in League of Legends. You can see my last 40 games, latest first (press "show more" at the bottom)!
The latest 20 games show normal 50% winrate. The previous 20 games show 90%!!! winrate. No it's not me being great, my personal statistics aren't good at all:

I was oscillating around 1150 MMR for weeks. Now I have 1350 and became the limiting factor for my team. On Friday you'll see why my play was completely wrong and I deserved to be at 1150. But how did I reach the 90% winrate? By understanding how the matchmaker works and playing it for my advantage.

On the surface, League of Legends uses ELO-rating, a hidden MMR raising when you win, sinking when you lose. Over long term it reaches the point when you win 50% of the games, and then it reflects your "true" ranking. So far so good. Let's imagine Joe who played 1000 games, won 500, lost 500. This should mean that his ranking is known and in the next game he has 50% chance to win. The problem comes if we look at his detailed champion data. Joe loves Katarina mid. He plays this whenever he can and he is pretty good at it. Out of the 1000 games he played 600 Katarina mid and won 400, that's 66.7% winrate. When he got another lane or Katarina was banned or picked by the other team, he pulls some other champ and sucks with it. He played 400 games without Katarina and won only 100, that's 25% winrate. The thing is that "Joe's MMR" is totally meaningless, as you never play with "Joe". You either play with the awesome Joe-Katarina or the horrible Joe-not-Katarina. Joe might also be a good runner, but it doesn't make him good swimmer or good football player. Drafting Joe in football after his Marathon results would be ridiculous and Riot does just that: drafts him as Leona support just because of his Katarina mid performance.

So my plan was to check my teammates on or lolking before the match started and clos the champion selection client if I found them playing with champions they are bad with. It's crucial to understand that I did not exclude bad players, sure both teams have lower ranked players, MMR takes care of that. I was looking for a bad champion in the stable of the player. If I saw Joe locking in Katarina, I kept playing. If I saw him with something else, I quit.

Well, that plan didn't last long. To my honest surprise - most players play a lot with champions they don't know, despite having a good champion for their role. Let me show an example:
We see 161 ranked games over 58 champions. While I would gladly team with this player playing Kha'zix or Lux, but in the rest of the cases (80% of the cases!!!) he'll play with something he probably doesn't even know what the buttons do. This isn't a rare example, I see this all the time. I finally got to the point that "10+ games and 40%+ winrate with that champion" = "good". Over the nearly two hundred champion selections I've been in since I've started this evaluation, I have seen one game where all four teammates were "good" by the above terribly low bar. Having three "good" teammates is Godsent. When we had two "good" ones, I took the game. And I'm taking about 30% of them. What kind of games I reject, if I accept a team where half of the people had ten games with their chosen champion?
Mostly the enemy has worse good:bad ratio than us, so I chainwon, until I reached the point where I became the limiting factor. From there, I simply counted as +1 bad player and as I couldn't exclude myself from teams, my "exclude baddies" plan couldn't work. More about that on Friday. Please understand that this doesn't contradict the point of the post: if someone would have evaluated both teams, he could predict the outcome of the games perfectly before they started, which counts for a totally bad matchmaking. Tomorrow we'll see why the matchmakers is worse than just randomly assigning players to teams without MMR.

I can't play for a week for RL reasons, but after that I practice with new playstyle and up I go to Platinum combining playing well and being elitist in champion selection. "Elitist" meaning to demand that 3 teammates have 10+ games with their champ. Tomorrow you'll see why the matchmaker is responsible for this atrocious behavior of bringing zero-experience champions to rated games.

What will Riot do about my results? They will either increase the penalty for queue-dodging or make it impossible to learn past performance of teammates. Of course, neither is a fix, the outcome of the battle is still luck-determined, you are just forced to play 20 mins before the inevitable or can't foresee the outcome before 5 mins into the game. Just like you can't predict the winner of the coinflip championship, but you can't do anything about being the winner. That's how Ghostcrawler reacted when I chain-won Wintergrasp battles in WoW by the same method: he made it impossible to choose my teammates.

What could Riot do to make the battles skill-determined instead of coinflip? Removing player MMR and introducing individual player-champion MMR. So you'd have a separate Katarina mid MMR, Singed top MMR, Warwick Jungle MMR and so on for every champion/role combination you play. This way the matchmaker could create teams of equal MMR by drafting you into one of your roles. You would queue up listing all the champion/role combinations you want to play and the game will draft you into one of them. For example into a 2000 MMR game as Katarina mid. If you win, you increase your Katarina mid MMR, but your 800 LeBlanc mid rating would stay. Next game you might play LeBlanc against other 800 MMR champions. Players would also pre-select bans, so the matchmaker don't give you opponents with your banned champion. This way the pre-game would be instant, if the matchmaker finds the teams, the game can start instantly.

Will Riot do that? No way: "a champion’s win rate tends to drop during the free-to-play rotation, due to an influx of inexperienced players." So they are fully aware that the guy who plays Syndra first time in his life on a ranked game will suck like hell, but they allow it, because that's what makes the money for them: people buying champions and skins. With my suggestion playing a new champion would throw you back to the bottom of Bronze and you'd have to climb your MMR with that champ, putting a high tax on new champ buying. With my suggestion, non-pro players would have a handful of champions only, bankrupting Riot. So they'll keep up with the bad matchmaking that gives you easy wins half time and impossible losses the other half.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why nation-building fails?

There were multiple attempts by the USA and its European allies to change dictatorships into democracies. After trillions of dollars and nearly a million lives spent, these countries are worse than before and Western people look puzzled.

I can easily explain why it was a hopeless move from the start by a bizarre example: Europe going nation building to the USA. So, we're outraged by the very high gun violence rate of the USA and decided to save them. How could we stop gun violence? By collecting the guns silly! In European countries where only police, military and secret agency officers can hold a gun, gun violence is practically unknown and other violence is low too. So all we have to do is going door to door and collect the guns of the gun-nuts.

Anyone who lives in the USA can predict how this campaign would end, even with sufficient military force. Exactly as the US campaign in the Middle East: lots of dead and worse situation than before. Why? Because gun ownership is deeply integrated to the American culture. The gun owners see it as an important part of their freedom. It doesn't matter if it's objectively wrong (in a sense that if research proves that gun ownership correlates with violent deaths), they will fight for it. Sure, with enough force they can be defeated, but every death makes their friends and relatives hate the invaders more. Since the people are connected many ways, even if the European army is perfectly free of collateral damage (good luck with that) and only kills gun nuts who open fire first, soon everyone would have a friend or family member killed by it. The point is that even if he personally agree with the end goal, he is upset about the cost: "Uncle Tom was a loud, racist gun nut, and I wish he wasn't, but he didn't deserve to be shot in his own home".

Now replace "gun nut" with "Vahabite", "Kurdish nationalist", "Shia fundamentalist" or "Pastu tribe-member" and you just got Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.

I would suggest to American politicians the "gun nut" rule. If they want to change something in the World using some method, they should ask the question "would the same method work on gun nuts". If not, it won't work on any other group who strongly identifies with something "we" see dumb. The only things that work are education and protecting the non-X-nut people from the X-nuts. Just like as you can't bring a gun to a privately owned business if the owner doesn't allow it, you can plant shopping malls in the friendly Middle Eastern countries where burkas are not allowed and guards protect women from abuse.

Please don't start an argument over USA gun laws! The point is exactly that a non-American can't understand what guns means to an American, so he shouldn't interfere. "Gun nut" is not my opinion, it's the opinion of the theoretical "Save America from Violence" military operation, a term gun-opposers use in the same sense as "Islamic radical" used by the democracy advocates.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Only yes means yes

On March 27th 1977, after a bunch of confusion and delay caused by a minor terrorist attack, Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten, famous top pilot of KLM airways was at the helm of his trusted Boeing 747 at the end of the runway. The plane was refilled, the weather was foggy, but this would all be over soon and they'll be out of this small airport not really suitable for the greatest airplane of that time. He finally heard what he wanted to hear:
"KLM eight seven zero five uh you are cleared to the Papa Beacon climb to and maintain flight level nine zero right turn after take-off proceed with heading zero four zero until intercepting the three two five radial from Las Palmas VOR."
- We're going! - he replied and set the engines full throttle.
- OK! - was the response from the tower.
There was some garbled transmission covered by interference on the radio, but he didn't care. The nose of the plane cut into the dense fog as they accelerated to takeoff speed.

Suddenly the fog revealed another Boeing 747 airliner, coming right at his. He tried to pull the plane up, but couldn't get enough altitude. Few seconds later 583 people, including the captain were dead. The reason? The tower operator told him a lot of positive things that he wanted to hear. Things that encouraged him to do what he wanted: take off. But the tower did not tell him that he is cleared for takeoff. Actually the recording of the tower contained "Stand by for take-off, I will call you.", but the captain couldn't hear it, since the other 747 pilot talked at the same time, causing garbled noise on the radio.

To prevent this ever happening again, the "only yes means yes" rule was introduced in air control. "Departure" must be used for various activities needed for a plane leaving an airport. "Takeoff" must only be used for the actual act of "engines to full, nose up". Unless a pilot loudly and clearly gets "you are cleared for takeoff", he must not take off, no matter how many "OK", "fine", "roger" or cleared flight information he gets. Only a clear yes means yes, to prevent misunderstandings in something that can cause permanent damage to people.

I think it's a good rule.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The (EVE) media is poor, so cheap

I read Riverini in disbelief, that "A good portion of the isk came from the five advertisers we had on the site, each paying a sum of about 3 ~ 5 bil/mo each, rounding it to about 20 – 30 bil of income per month." Then I read the Goon propaganda site - which is finally renamed to "Imperium News", acknowledging that they are the Goon propaganda site - that they offer "Write something related to Eve Online and receive 300m isk." Assuming 1 posts per day, that's 9B/month. Even with 3 posts it's just 27.

Jesus, these people are dirt poor. No wonder IWI could buy his narrative with pennies. If I had any idea how cheap these people are, I'd throw 1/4 of my GRR money to EN24 and no one would question that it was me who brought Goons down.

And I mean it literally. Media has huge power to influence socials (if it's written by "relevant people", it must be true) and this influence is on sale. Lenny often linked articles as evidence of his exploits - articles he bought, instead of any original sources. Lenny never had - or even claimed to have - any evidence that he did anything. He was merely credited by "everyone".

So I made a mistake not even checking the prices of EN24, assuming they are - like a blogger who writes for his own passion - not for sale, at least not for trivial sums. I could reach much more people by buying articles there. This reminds me of the "media conspiracies" that Trump assumes, while it's likely similar deals. The journalists, working for pennies will write anything the client wants. Instead of crying "rigged NYT working for Clintons", he could just buy it.

The media is nothing but a soapbox for the rich. And not in the sense of "rich as a government", but "top 0.1% earner." I could buy EN24 with less than half of my EVE income if I ever thought of buying it.

PS: some kids took League of Legends too seriously.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Oh look, Falcon's nazis are still here!

Since IWI is gone and casinos are banned, people are nagging me to come back to EVE. They are naive. CCP didn't ban these RMT-ers because they reformed. CCP issued bans because I threatened them with sending anti-gambling authorities after them. They are the same old corrupted mess. You want evidence of their continued wrongdoing? Here it is!

Two weeks ago, Reddit exploded that TISHU members used Nazi symbolism on their Alliance Tournament ships: they placed 1488 Gas canisters into them, referring to the neo-nazi code and the Holocaust. Due to the outrage, CCP Falcon jumped in:

Having long experience with that human garbage, I was instantly sure, that this is a coverup. He makes an angry statement to ensure people that they are handling this case, then sweep it below the carpet. And I was right, as usual with my EVE "conspiracies". Below you can see the AT ships of the neo-nazis and their latest killboard activity: Falcon's neo-Nazis didn't even got a temporary suspension. So much for "we're looking to it". They looked, they laughed, they probably bought some beers and that was it. Do you want to play a game, where open neo-Nazi propaganda is welcomed?!

PS: please link it on r/eve, let them know how much CCP values their concerns!