Season 2 finally ended today. Most of the changes they've been talking about recently haven't gone in yet, and they have yet to give out the free Janna, but one thing that has happened is the Elo ratings were hit with a soft reset.
It isn't clear exactly how the compression worked. Apparently it's pretty close to bringing you halfway closer to the starting point, which is 1200. I've been looking up some people on ELOBuff to see if I can figure it out but it's not a simple linear formula. One of the random dudes on my friend list actually didn't change at all. He was 1265 and he stayed at 1265. I went from 1512 to 1396. Another friend went from 1210 to 1234.
If it was a simple 'go halfway to 1200' conversion then the ratings should have become...
1265 -> 1233
1512 -> 1356
1210 -> 1205
I saw a video today which claimed everyone was getting a free 25 points after the conversion in an attempt to deal with overall rating deflation. The idea being there are people who tanked their ratings and then quit the game. The overall rating average should be 1200 but if you exclude those people the average will end up well below 1200. So give some free points across the board to help deal with that and make everyone feel better about themselves?
It doesn't look to be that simple, since I gained 40 free points while the other people I looked up gained 32 points and 29 points. It could be a proportional thing again. I was higher, so I get a bigger chunk of the free points? Alternatively it might be based on games played. Pretty sure I played many more ranked games than the other people I looked up.
At any rate the exact formula doesn't matter. What does matter is that ratings have all come closer together as a whole and that everyone has to go through placement matches again. This means the next few games are worth a lot compared to later games. At the start of season 2 I lost 8 of my first 10 games and destroyed my rating. I ended up in my own version of 'Elo Hell' and would really like to avoid that this time around if at all possible. But with games now likely worth 40 points each a 2-8 record would be down 240 points and put me at 1156. Which is awfully close to where I landed after the season 2 placement matches. *sigh*
A question I've been mulling over in my head is if it's better to play right away or to delay a while and play the placement matches after all the eager beavers have gotten their out of the way. I'd want to keep playing other games in order to not get rusty but I can play normal games or 3v3 games for that. The thing I want to consider is who I'm apt to play against today, and who I'm apt to play against in a couple weeks... And then decide if the difference between the two is enough to justify skipping out on ranked games.
So right now I'll be matched against other people around 1400. These will all be people who, yesterday, were over 1500. Or people who were a little under 1500 but already won today. Or people who were 1600 and lost their first game. (Losing a game for 40 post-adjustment points will cost you 80 pre-adjustment points!)
How confident am I that I can beat those people? I'd like to think 1500 was a reasonable place for me, so I'd expect to win around half the time against the first group. I should have a fair edge against the second group but very reasonably expect to lose against the third group. My concern is that third group, and that a full half of the old 1600 people will lose their first game and end up there. Of course there's a decent chance the real 1600 guy ends up on my team. 44% chance, assuming I don't queue with someone else. So still a likely net loss.
What about in a couple weeks? All the really active people will be out of their placement games by then for sure. Some people will have gotten swept away by their placement games and have ended up too high or too low, but many will have ended up back near where they should be. In order words, I'll be playing with true 1400 people. All of whom are weaker than any of the three groups I can face right now. Now, those three groups will still exist even 2 weeks from now. After all, I'll be one of them! But right now everyone is in them and in a couple weeks their numbers will be diminished.
Does it really matter? I think it does. The problem is the first games are worth so much. It takes a long time to recover from a disastrous set of placement matches. 1-9, which isn't that unreasonable if I get paired against true 1600s in the first couple, puts me right back into Elo Hell. I'll be able to get out of it eventually I'm sure, but it simply wasn't fun. I think it's worth going a little out of my way to reduce the odds of it happening.