An Introduction to Skill Ratings and Match-Making in Competitive Games

Any game that has a competitive element will face the problem of how to select the right opponent for a player. This does not only apply to video games. Chess, Tennis, Champions League etc. all apply varying methods of measuring the “skill” of a player or team and aim to provide a good match.

The goals can be different. In tennis, for example, it is more exciting to see a final match of Federer against Nadal rather than seeing them face off in the first round. In chess, a game of pure skill, you want to have a worthy opponent for an interesting match. The alternative would be a match in which you beat your opponent in 10 moves – or vice versa.

The problem then is: how do I measure the skill of a player? There are a variety of systems that aim to do so.

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