DOTA 2 Ranked Matches To Require Linked Phone Number

Finally following the example set by Counter Strike Global Offensive, Valve will soon require Dota 2 players to register a phone number before they can play ranked matches.

The Matchmaking Update, released today, focuses on improving the matchmkaing experience. The first and most important change requires players to register a unique phone number to their account in order to queue for ranked matches. As Valve states in the official update post:

Players using multiple accounts create a negative matchmaking experience at all skill brackets, so our goal is to add just enough friction to this process that the number of players doing this will be noticeably reduced. Having more players using their primary accounts will have a positive effect on both Ranked and Unranked Matchmaking.

Valve is giving players a 2 week grace period to register an phone number. Starting on May 4th, accounts without a registered number will not be able to queue for Ranked matches. Thinking ahead, Valve has also taken steps to prevent phone number sharing among accounts:

If a phone number is removed from an account after registration, a new number can be added, but there will be a three-month waiting period before the removed number can be registered on a new account. This is to prevent using the same number on multiple accounts. Online services that provide phone numbers are not allowed.

Solo Queue

Today's update includes the return of Solo Queue. Just as the name sounds, players who queue for ranked matches alone will now have the option to only play with other solo players. It is not uncommon to be placed in matches with parties of 2 or more, even in ranked matches so I'm sure the return of Solo Queue mode will be much welcomed.

Party Changes

Party matchmaking will also sees changes. Starting today, players with higher solo MMR than party MMR will be assigned a higher MMR by the matchmaker. This change was likely made to make it more difficult for an extremely high MMR player to carry lower-ranked friends. As Valve states:

Effectively, these players will search for a match as if their MMR were halfway between the Solo and Party MMR values.

While the current Party MMR number generally reflects the likelihood that you’ll win a given match correctly, we’ve found that when a Solo MMR is dramatically higher than a Party MMR, the match becomes extremely volatile, resulting in an unpleasant and uncompetitive experience for both teams.

Matchmaking Behavior

More tweaks to Low Priority! Players marked for low-priority will now receive duration based bans from ranked in addition to the game-count-based low priority punishment. The duration based punishment starts at a few hours and increase to a maximum of 4 days. I've played Dota 2 long enough to see Valve swing between these two forms of LPQ punishment, and neither works. I don't see how they think combining the two will either. The fact that Valve can't or won't implement a similar system to the crowd-sourced Tribunal used by League of Legends is embarrassing.

On the bright side, Valve has finally decided to ban bot accounts!

Finally, we’ve also added detection for users that are botting, and with this update have issued a permanent ban to a large number of recently-detected bot accounts. This should help resolve several areas in which these bot accounts have a negative effect on the experience of the Dota community.

Regional Changes

In a related move to the bot-busting, Ranked Matchmaking will be removed from the South Africa, India, and Dubai servers. While I'm sure some people used these servers, they were largely prime targets for botters. This is far too little, too late in my view. Dota 2 has far too many servers. League of Legends, for example, has a single US server despite catering to a much larger audience.

Overall, the Matchmaking Update is good news and includes many clear steps in the right direction. The only problem is they are half measures that could have been done years ago. CSGO added similar features last year.

Further Reading: Dota 2 Matchmaking Update, Reddit Update Discussion