In the last few weeks, Dota 2 Low Priority has been the name of the game. Scrubs like me and pro players alike have been perplexed by the sudden barrage of mutes, reports and Single Draft matches. The problem has been brought to light recently with many pros receiving huge streaks of low priority games.
Pros Receiving Low Priority
alright im in low priority im just reporting everyone on sight you’re all going down with me
— Artour Babaev (@Arteezy) January 16, 2017
never used all chat = 48 HR COMMUNICATION BAN OKI DOKI
— Sing (@Sing2X) January 15, 2017
SingSing is currently in his 4th bout of low priority in around 40 hours of games. He’s also muted for 72 hours and he doesn’t even call people gay for no reason, unlike many members of this community. According to his stream, pretty much every stack on his friends list is in low prio at the moment.
Inherent Problems in the Report System
The most critical problem with Dota 2’s Low Priority system is it’s entirely automated. Being shoved into Low Priority is entirely based on reports and not on actually breaking the rules. Anyone can report you for anything. To ease the pain, IceFrog reduced the amount of reports recently, but the essence of the automated system relies on humans to report other humans, and not humans to break the rules. At no point does the system check how many couriers you fed, your hero damage, your kills or deaths or any other metric: it just simply deals with player reports and commends. This is the first problem.
The second problem is the lack of clarity with players. You never know how far away you are from getting elbowed into low prio, and you never know what got you in. Toxic players usually know what brings them down, though, so this isn’t a very important point. The Conduct Summary has dealt with this situation a little bit, but all it does is still give you a rough idea and not specific points of improvement.
Take a look at EternalEnvy’s leaked Skype log with IceFrog, where he makes a suggestion regarding possible solutions. A counter or a bar in the post-game Conduct Summary would be an indicator to toxic players to tone down. Conversely, it could also lead to players just toeing the line of toxicity and simmering down right before the threshold. Still a net gain for the community.
Players Who Play More, Suffer More
For a long time I used to play 1 game a day. There have been stretches of over 10 games a day but they have been rare. Last week my stack ended up in Low Priority because one of our players was grinding Luna all day, everday. The system seems to punish players with more games because of the time based nature of Report resets: 3 reports per week. This means infrequent players have better access to reports, but all players have equal access to commends. Players who play a lot of games rarely have reports to spare, but can have more reports thrown against them.
The System Rewards Incorrect Reports
So many people report for reasons that have nothing to do with abandoning, being toxic or intentionally feeding. Stole a rune? Reported. Leeching XP? Reported. Didn’t give me “2 tango pls”? Reported. Annoying voice? Reported. Chose the hero I was going to pick? Reported. Missed a skillshot? Reported. Unconventional item build? Reported. Generally having a bad game? Reported. Might be a Peruvian/Russian/Pinoy? Definitely reported.
I’ve done all of these too. Because it’s just so easy to click a button during (and now at the end) of the game – hoping GabeN’s holy vengeance inflicts itself upon your victim. The system doesn’t know any better. However much you adjust the arithmetic, it will still be inherently unfair to players who are either really good or really bad. This is what’s been happening to pros like SingSing and Arteezy. They crush everyone in the game, and get 5 reports from the enemy team for 2-3 games. The frequency of their play means they’re perpetually stuck in Low Priority.
What About a CS:GO Overwatch Style System for Dota 2?
Here’s a few reasons why I think an Overwatch style system won’t work for Dota 2.
- Overwatch is a very useful tool to determine hacking in CS:GO, which is a much more prevalent problem in that game than in Dota 2. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player “hack”, as such.
- Telling if someone is griefing is a lot easier in CS:GO. Shooting a team mate in the head in spawn is easy to classify and a lot less subtle than pretending to dual mid even though you’re both fighting for the lane.
- Of course you have the Enemy Base Relocating Wisps and the Perma-Sleeping Banes, and if you’re especially unlucky, the Pudge who’s only interested in cliffing. But how do you know that Void’s 5 teammate Chrono was not a mistake? Overwatch’s system only shows a few rounds, and in Dota 2 would probably show similar highlights. The context of the game is lost on an outsider.
- Skill differences: A 7k MMR player watches a 2k game, and what appears to be griefing might just be typical 2k crap. CS:GO is a lot less intricate a game, as there aren’t as many in-game nuances and subtleties. Shooting teammates in the head is as easy to tell for a Silver as it is for a Global Elite.
Some Possible Solutions
The most simple solution to stop pro players from perpetually being in low priority is to stop enemies from reporting you. Even a soft cap or a threshold will work. Another thing that would help is if Reports didn’t count in Low Priority. This would help people climb out, but would be worse from a community stand point because it keeps toxic players contained in their snake pit of hell. But just from the sheer number of pro players receiving Low Priority at the moment, which in my opinion is unprecedented in the history of the game, it seems like reducing the sensitivity of the report system for high frequency players would solve the problem. For now.
These are all short term solutions. For most of us, the added restrictions and player pool of Low Priority veers us away from toxicity in game. This is why the automated system works for the majority – but there are always outliers. In this case, famous and prominent pro players. It’ll be up to Valve and IceFrog to figure out how to balance this to ensure the community reacts favourably towards changes in the system.