This question is asked a lot and this case is allowed for (actually expected and predicted) in the algorithm so we thought we’d provide a separate FAQ to explain it.
We put a lot of research into the behavioural modelling of the algorithm and specifically pulled actual playing level data from the millions of results we have in the system to see what really happened in these cases. We got as far as plotting graphs and were able to study what happens as the level difference between players increases.
One of the interesting learnings from this is that the better player actually starts to hold back even when there’s not that much difference between the players. Probably subconsciously and actually unwise given how much we vary but that's’ what happens!
Our analysis covered player level ratios right up to 10:1 and showed remarkable consistency in the effort that the better players put in at all levels. Even the pros. We found a distinctive range of effort that we consider the ‘acceptable range’ for the better player. This allows us to put the result into one of four bands:
- The better player actually played better than expected. Clearly no leniency shown and normal results processing is applied. They go up as normal, their lesser opponent goes down.
- The better player played down as expected. Typical behaviour (as we have learned) and no change for either player.
- The better player played at a lower level than expected but within their acceptable range. No change for the better player but their opponent gets something for pushing them hard.
- The better player played below their ‘acceptable range’. Their level goes down a little (it’s still damped) and their opponent is rewarded with an increase.
In addition to all this there is more damping applied the further apart the players are so even the most generous of run-arounds shouldn't have too much effect if the players are very unevenly matched. We're talking 3:1+ here, mind. Just being 30% better doesn't count as all that one-sided!
What we’re hoping is that this will encourage the better players to give their opponent a good game but certainly not destroy them. They should also be aware that their level will go down if they just mess around but, even in those cases, it shouldn’t go down by much. These are verging on the exhibition matches but we didn’t want to exclude them altogether.