It seems Dota 2’s challenge token system has earned the ire of several players. The reaction comes from the system’s inclusion in The International 2018 Battle Pass. These are seasonal offerings from Valve which provide new offerings from players who would like to spend. New content such as skins, custom game modes, soundbites, effects, and challenges await those who partake.
There’s just one problem — it seems the challenge token system is a little broken.
MMR Boosting and Pay-to-win Accusations
When you buy Dota 2’s Battle Pass, you get a number of challenge tokens. Buy extra levels and you’ll have some more. You can choose to use them when facing a tougher team for a higher MMR reward. It started out innocently enough with players looking to find others to queue up with as a group.
The problem is this — the Party MMR you get from winning is insanely high compared to the amount deducted when losing. You could have a +300 to +800 boost from a victory when a token is used. Conversely, you might lose only around -10 MMR from a defeat. Some have even cited there was a bug wherein you literally would not lose any amount.
According to several users on Reddit, Steam, and various forums, it was not uncommon to see new players suddenly reaching Legend and Archon ranks in the span of a few hours of playing. Some have even mentioned that attaining Divine was possible with a bit of boosting. The outcry has reached a fever pitch, especially considering how MMR tends to be a measure of skill and cohesion among a team. Instead, what some players end up getting is an assortment of newbies or Average Joes floundering in higher ranks.
This made MMR look like a complete joke. Some have even accused Valve of turning Dota 2’s offering into a pay-to-win mechanic. After all, the challenge tokens are obtained from the Battle Pass (retailing at a base price of $9.99). It became a normal practice in the past couple of weeks to get someone with a token in your group, use it, and throw the game for the opposing team. Your opponents would then just happily reciprocated the deed afterward. Some have even gone to public Dota 2 Facebook groups to try and look for players to help increase their ranks.
It also meant that players who are solo queueing can end up with really bad teammates. You know, the guys who went from Archon to Ancient in a few days. This is contrasted by the same player’s experience taking months to even get to that point.
Since you gained more for each win than you lost for each defeat, MMR suddenly became inflated. Imagine an expert in one of the higher tiers, practicing and honing his craft for months. He suddenly faces off against newly-boosted randoms. There’s nowhere to go but up, and the higher they climb, the slimmer the pickings. This is an unfortunate predicament especially for those who are unprepared for the stiff competition. It also creates a wide skill gap. This is not something you’d want in ranked play especially at higher tiers.
We have yet to receive any word from Valve if they’ll make any changes to the system. However, it’s worth noting that some players are reporting a bug wherein they aren’t gaining MMR anymore after wins. Can this be related to any form of recalibration going on?