Valve, the developer and publisher behind the Steam Platform and the Half Life and Counter Strike Franchises is finally overhauling its Free to Play DotA 2 Matchmaking experience to make it more friendly, enjoyable and less prone to abuse by unsavoury players.
First: to play Ranked matches, you now have to have a unique phone number registered to your account. The feature is added to prevent players from using multiple accounts since the team said that this just creates "a negative matchmaking experience at all skill brackets". You can remove a phone number from your account and replace it with a new one, but you can't use the old number on another account for three months.
While the new change is commendable, Valve knows that a mandatory requirement of a phone number will not completely eliminate the lucrative business of accounts being boosted by smurfs.
Ideally, the move would ensure that a single person can only have a single Dota 2 account, so highly skilled players couldn't pretend to be novices in a ranked match.
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The update also brings back the Solo Queue, so players in ranked matchmaking can opt to only be matched up with other solo players. The idea behind this is to stop people from playing Ranked games across multiple accounts, and while this is hardly a complete solution, Valve is hoping that it'll at least put a stop to people doing it casually. "Effectively, these players will search for a match as if their MMR were halfway between the Solo and Party MMR values". This will be in addition to the penalty amount of games they need to win in the Low Priority segment. The system targets intentional throwing and also implements stricter punishments such as the permanent ban to a number of bot accounts.
"Ranked Matchmaking will no longer be available in South Africa, India, and Dubai. We will update these servers as the unranked populations in these regions grow to the critical mass needed to be able to support splitting the user base into Ranked and Unranked queues".
With Dota 2, however, this won't be an optional service.
Valve will most likely release another blog post about this new change to the game.