1v1 mid – a tale of lost potential

As the day of releasing DotA 2:Reborn approaches I decided to write a short article about Valve’s long forgotten child: 1v1 mid matchmaking. I hope it (and hopefully the discussion that arises) gives a signal to Valve that out growing community would love to have a place to practice 1v1 mid and that the current system is not working as intended.

1. What went wrong?

As a mid player myself (some of you may know me from my advanced solo mid guide which I’m currently updating) I was really excited when Valve announced 1v1 mid matchmaking. “Finally a place to practice 1v1s with enemies of equal skill without having to use the guild system or going through random crowded channels and asking people to play me” – was my first thought. Unfortunately my excitement lasted only for a short while… which is until I tried playing it. Currently the concept of 1v1 mid is broken. In average player’s mind the point of the game is not to get better, but to win. At all cost. As obvious as it may sound people will play to win if you make it the primary objective of the gamemode. This includes using all kinds of “dirty” picks: be it broodmother or bane with maxed Enfeeble. What is the solution? First of all we have to force change in people’s approach to this mode. Playing to win is fine. Having “easy mode” heroes that completely ruin the purpose of 1v1s is not. Solution a) Limit hero pool to only heroes that are commonly played mid. This solution is the most restrictive as it will prevent people from being able to experiment with e.g. rubick mid – on the other hand it will create the best possible conditions for players that want to learn something that they can later use in a pub game. In my opinion it may encourage people that are not experienced with midlane heroes to queue this mode and practice without ruining a game for 4 other players. Solution b) Create a list of possible matchups that may be a subject to change every major update. Selecting matchup could be done in “reverse draft” manner where every player crosses matchups out until players are left with just one that they will play. Solution c) Let people pick any hero they want/hero from the “mid list” but after game ends the match is restarted with heroes swapped.

2. “Winning the match” criteria are not optimal. 

Everyone that has ever practiced 1v1 mid knows that it’s in fact the first 5 minutes when all the action happens. Creepblock, positioning, aggro tricks, lasthit timing – they all lose their meaning after both heroes are 7+ level and just spam out the wave with their nukes. It’s also the first few minutes where you can learn the most and when you can do the biggest mistakes. What does it have to do with the discussion about improving 1v1 mode? I think the gameplay should be way shorter as well as more outplay-oriented than it is now. My suggested solution is that – if there are no kills -the game should end automatically after 10 or max 15 mins and player with the highest cs+denies wins.

3. Lack of people playing this mode.

In my opinion this fact can be undoubtedly linked to problems that I mentioned earlier in this article. Who would like to requeue after being matched up against OD as storm spirit or against razor as invoker? Not many people I know. I’ve already addressed this issue though so let’s move on: The second major flaw about current 1v1 mid is that there’s no reward for playing it. If you can’t learn the matchup you’d like and have to wait 5 or more minutes just to get matched against another griefer then what’s the point of playing it? That’s right, there’s none. Players love getting rewarded for their efforts in-game. Just look at countless people buying chests to get one courier they’ve dreamt of, players grinding rankeds for 14 hours a day to get to 4/5/6/7k, people playing special events to have a cool badge in their profile. Why can’t we have it for 1v1 mid? Valve, please give us 1v1 mmr, W/L stats on the profile, achievements based on number of 1v1s won, 1v1 trophies, 1v1 leagues – any of these will do. If you look at how many people started playing only ranked after it got implemented the percentage would look something like 70-30. Players enjoy comparing themselves with others so giving them such an option in 1v1 mid would certainly boost its playerbase immensely. To sum up: current 1v1 mode is broken and easily abused so it serves no educational purpose. It’s pretty typical for Valve to create features and drop the support for them but I hope this time they will prove us all wrong. That’s it for today, as I said in the introduction by writing this short rant I just wanted to send a signal to Valve that a feature that is not working properly is almost equal to feature that does not exist. Thank you for reading and… discuss! 🙂


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