Matchmaking has long been a dream for Trackmania players. We take a look at how the ranked system got together and what you need to know about it.
Photo Credit: Trackmania
Matchmaking is a core component for many games that offer a competitive environment. Trackmania is no exception to this rule. Players can fight for the right to call themselves the best in 3v3 team-orientated mode. But how did it start, and how does it work?
The hot new thing
Believe it or not, Trackmania never actually had a matchmaking system in place until February 2021. Before that, competitive players struggled to keep playing past the campaign maps. It was hard to tell how good you were at the game, so the demand for something like a ranked ladder was massive.
A few community solutions like a free-for-all mode were created by Erwin Weber before ranked was officially introduced. Despite some good attempts, it never connected with the casual fanbase and into the game.
To fight dwindling numbers and increase player engagement the introduction of ranked was done undertaken. Since then, lots of new players and streamers have taken on the task of climbing the ranks.
The nitty gritty of TM ranked
The current iteration of matchmaking has little to do with what the community did themselves previously. While it was basically 1v1v1v1v1 in the mode Erwin Weber made, the new official ranked is a 3v3 mode, where you go up against your opponents in teams. The rest is simple. You play one map, and the first team to reach five rounds wins the match.
If you are on the winning side, you gain elo, and if you end up losing, you will see your elo fall a bit. But there is the possibility of winning the MVP award for the match. If you were exceptionally good and carried your team, you can get rewarded as the most valuable player. This exempts you from elo-loss and lets you gain some instead, even if if you were on the losing team.
Road to glory
Elo is a system that is frequently used in games to assess the skill level in competitive matchmaking. It originated from the ranking system used in chess tournaments and is based on maths. You beat someone better than you; you gain more elo. If you lose against someone with a lower rating, it has an even more damaging effect.
The naked numbers make it a little hard to assess one’s actual skill, and as such developers mask it by doing a format where you rank up and down from certain leagues. The same goes for Trackmania.
There are five leagues and three tiers in each of the first four. Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Master make up the casual leagues, and then the pinnacle above that all is called ‘Trackmaster’. A different animal represents each tier in the leagues up until Master, at which point it’s just different colors of car.
Why does this work so well?
The question is: why did Trackmania even need ranked and why did this mode perhaps change the fate of the game?
First of all, there is the community. In the years prior, there already was a cry for matchmaking. It just never seemed to be a priority. This time after the release of the latest Trackmania, the community voices began to get louder than before. Even the longest-standing supporters like Eirik Holdal “thought about quitting”. You can read everything about that in our recent interview with him.
This was part of what forced Ubisoft Nadeo’s hand in this situation. Besides that, there was a lot of initial hype around Trackmania that started to deteriorate after streamers played through the initial stages of the game.
So, after the changes and the matchmaking system, Trackmania did a 180-degree turn in terms of playability. Now you can set long-term goals and fulfill your dream of boasting to your friends about being in Owl-Gold. So both animal lovers and Trackmaniacs were happy with this decision.
What do you think about the addition of matchmaking, and do you play it? Tell us on Twitter at @overtake_gg or in the comments down below!