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What Are LoL MMR and ELO? Exploring the Differences Between the Ranking Systems

In the world of competitive online gaming, the concepts of MMR (Matchmaking Rating) and ELO (a rating system originally designed for chess) are fundamental to understanding how players are matched with each other. MMR is a behind-the-scenes number that games use to match players of similar skill levels against each other. It changes with each game played, going up when a player wins and down when they lose, ensuring that each match is fair and competitive.

ELO, on the other hand, is a more traditional rating system that has been adapted for use in various multiplayer games. Like MMR, it's used to represent a player's skill level. However, the way it's calculated and adjusted is different and is often more transparent, giving players a clear idea of where they stand in the competitive ladder.

The difference between MMR and ELO lies in their design philosophy and their application in gaming. MMR is often hidden from the player, offering a behind-the-scenes look at matchmaking mechanics, while ELO provides a straightforward, numerical representation of a player's skill level. Both systems serve to create balanced matches, but their implementations and the player's perception of them can vary significantly.

Basics of Competitive Gaming

In competitive gaming, ranking systems, such as ELO and MMR, are crucial for matching players with similar skill levels, ensuring a fair and balanced gameplay experience.

Understanding ELO

ELO — a rating system initially developed for chess — quantifies a player's skill in games that translate it to a competitive gaming environment. A player's ELO score increases with wins and decreases with losses, and the amount by which it changes depends on the ELO rating of their opponents. Essentially, if a player beats someone with a higher ELO, they earn more points than if they defeat someone with a lower ELO.

Essentials of MMR

While MMR, or Matchmaking Rating, is closely related to ELO, it often incorporates additional factors beyond simple win/loss outcomes. MMR is a hidden numerical score in most games. Various factors can include:

  • Performance metrics: Kills, assists, objective control, etc.
  • Team contributions: How a player's action contributes to the overall team's success.
  • Consistency of play: The reliability of a player's performance over time.

History and Evolution

ELO and MMR are distinct systems developed to measure player skill in competitive games. The ELO system has its roots in chess, while MMR was created for online gaming environments.

Origins of ELO

ELO was originally conceived by Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor and chess master. It is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in zero-sum games such as chess. Introduced in the 1960s, the ELO rating system was adopted by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) to replace the earlier system of national chess championships.

Elo's system took into account both the skill level of the player and the players' competition, providing a numerical rating that changed depending on the outcome of competitive matches. This system offered a statistic that could predict the expected outcome of future games based on historical performance.

Development of MMR

Matchmaking Rating (MMR) evolved with the advent of online multiplayer games. Its primary goal was to enable a balanced gaming experience by matching players of similar skill levels, ensuring fair and competitive gameplay.

MMR usually remains hidden from the player and is utilized by the game's matchmaking algorithm to connect players in competitive modes. It provides a dynamic assessment of a player's capability that adjusts after each game. Unlike ELO, which was public and transparent, MMR takes on a more complex and secretive calculation, often unique to each game's requirements.

The development of MMR included factors such as the rate of player improvement and learning curves in the context of real-time strategy games and MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas). This adaptation acknowledges the diverse nature of player skills and tendencies in various gaming titles.

ELO in Gaming

ELO, a rating system originally designed for chess, is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in various games, including multilayer online battles.

Role of ELO in Matchmaking

In gaming, ELO plays a crucial role in matchmaking systems. It ensures that players are paired with or against others of similar skill levels. A player's ELO score increases with wins and decreases with losses. The score adjusts based on the ELO rating of the opponent, meaning that beating a higher-rated player results in a larger gain than defeating a lower-rated one.

Impact on Player Progression

ELO significantly affects player progression within a game. Players often view their ELO rating as a reflection of their skill and improvement in the game. Higher ELO scores can also lead to matches with higher stakes and more skilled opponents, providing a tangible progression path for players. Promotions or rewards are sometimes linked to reaching certain ELO thresholds, further incentivizing players to improve their rating.

MMR in Gaming

The term "MMR" stands for Matchmaking Rating, a system used in online games to match players of similar skill levels against one another. It is a hidden score that can influence gameplay and competition.

Function of MMR in Matchmaking

In most competitive games, MMR serves as the backbone of the matchmaking process. It assesses a player's skill level using their performance in games and then pairs them with or against players with similar ratings. These are the steps typically involved in MMR-based matchmaking:

  1. Calculate individual MMR: Each player has an MMR based on game performance.
  2. Match players: The matchmaking system then attempts to create balanced teams with comparable collective MMRs.
  3. Adjust MMR post-match: After a game is finished, the system updates each player's MMR based on the match outcome and individual performance.

Influence on Player Skill Assessment

MMR is directly linked to evaluating a player’s skill within a game. Players with a higher MMR are generally considered more skilled, as their rating is a result of winning games against similarly skilled or higher-rated players. The influence of MMR on skill assessment involves:

  • Performance Tracking: MMR increases with wins and decreases with losses, reflecting a player's competency over time.
  • Skill Bracket Placement: Players are often categorized into skill brackets or ranks based on their MMR, which offers a sense of progression and accomplishment.

Comparing ELO and MMR

ELO and MMR are systems used to rate players' skill levels in various games. Understanding their similarities and differences is key for appreciating how competitive gaming ranks and matches players.

Similarities and Differences

Similarity: Both ELO and MMR are designed to predict the outcome of matches based on perceived player skill.


  • Origin: ELO originated from chess and has been adapted for use in many other games. MMR, though inspired by ELO, is often used in online gaming, especially in MOBAs and team-based games.
  • Visibility: ELO is traditionally transparent, with players knowing their numerical rating. In contrast, MMR is often hidden in modern video games.
  • Calculation Complexity: ELO is relatively straightforward, commonly using a basic mathematical formula. MMR systems might involve more complex algorithms, taking into account a wider array of variables beyond win/loss, such as individual performance and the uncertainty of a player’s skill level.

Table: ELO vs. MMR Overview

AspectELOMMRAdaptabilityChess, individual-based gamesOnline multiplayer, team-based gamesTransparencyHigh, players see their ratingLow, often hidden or represented by tiersCalculationSimple formulaComplex algorithm with multiple factors

Practical Use Cases in Games

ELO System:

  • Used in games like chess to rank players.
  • Often used in 1v1 scenarios where individual performance is the sole focus of rating.

MMR System:

  • Common in popular online titles like League of Legends and Dota 2.
  • Suitable for team-based games where individual and team performance affects outcomes.

LOL: League of Legends

League of Legends (LOL) is a complex multiplayer online battle arena where player rankings are determined through systems known as MMR and ELO.

ELO and MMR Dynamics in LOL

Matchmaking Rating (MMR) is a hidden numerical score that represents a player's skill level in League of Legends. This value fluctuates with wins and losses, influencing the difficulty of opponents and the league points gained or lost in ranked play. Traditionally, ELO was a rating system used for calculating the relative skill levels of players. In League of Legends, the term ELO is often colloquially used to describe what is officially the MMR.

  • MMR System: Determines who you play against and is influenced by match outcomes.
  • ELO as a term: Often used by the community to refer to rank or MMR despite being a different rating system historically.

Player Experience in LOL Based on ELO and MMR

The player's experience in League of Legends can vary greatly based on their MMR or perceived ELO. Those with higher MMR tend to face more skilled opponents and teammates, leading to competitive and challenging matches. On the other side, players with lower MMR may encounter less experienced players, which can impact learning and gameplay experience.

  • Higher MMR: More challenge, competitive environment.
  • Lower MMR: Varied skill levels, diverse learning opportunities.

Implications of ELO and MMR

The approaches a player takes to improve their ELO and MMR can have far-reaching effects on their gameplay and matchmaking experiences. Understanding and addressing common misconceptions is equally crucial for accurate perception and strategic improvement.

Strategies to Improve ELO and MMR

Players looking to improve their ELO and MMR should focus on consistent gameplay and learning from each match. They can undertake specific actions such as:

  • Analyzing Personal Performance: Reviewing past games to identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • Learning from Higher ELO Players: Watching gameplay of skilled players and incorporating their strategies.
  • Coordinating with Teammates: Enhancing teamwork through better communication and coordinated strategies.

Common Misconceptions

Misunderstandings surrounding ELO and MMR can affect a player's approach to the game. Two main misconceptions are:

  1. Instant Results: Players often believe that they can see immediate improvements in their ratings, which is rarely the case given the complexity of the algorithms involved.
  2. Singular Focus on Wins: Wins are important, but so is personal performance, including kill/death ratios, objectives secured, and overall contribution to the team.

Future of ELO and MMR

ELO and MMR are integral components of the competitive gaming landscape, continually evolving to provide a more accurate reflection of player skills and ensure balanced matchmaking.

Trends in Player Ranking Systems

The world of competitive gaming has seen a consistent effort to refine player ranking systems like ELO and MMR. Trends have indicated a move towards more sophisticated algorithms that take into account a wider array of variables beyond simple win-loss ratios. Factors such as individual performance, the level of competition, and consistency of play are increasingly influential in determining a player’s rank.

Predictions for Matchmaking Algorithms

Looking ahead, it's anticipated that matchmaking algorithms will incorporate even more nuanced data analysis. Advances in machine learning could enable systems to predict player behavior and preferences, potentially leading to highly personalized matchmaking experiences. The emphasis will likely be on creating fair matches that are challenging yet enjoyable for all skill levels, optimizing player engagement and retention.

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