A lot of confusion and misunderstandings surround FUT seasons. We decided to put this article together to provide some real insight.
How FUT seasons picks your opponents
What does FUT seasons then take into consideration when picking your next opponent?
The first parameter is of course time. The game won’t let you sit idle for hours waiting for a suitable match, so it will have to pick out someone who is available within a reasonable time frame. FIFA has plenty of players available, though. To give you some impression, an infographic released by EA during FIFA 14 stated that some 460.000 matches are played every 90 minutes corresponding to 85 matches per second. During the first 16 days after FIFA 16 was released, 326 million matches were played. That’s 236 matches per second. We don’t know whether these numbers include all game modes, and we don’t know the exact distribution across time zones and consoles, but chances are that if you live in Europa or the USA and play on PS4, there should be plenty of opponents around when you are awake.
The second parameter is location. To avoid lag, i.e. data packets not arriving in time, EA attempts to determine your location and match you up with opponents in your vicinity. Presumably, the vicinity is measured in ping time rather than distance.
The third parameter is skill. Since EA’s community manager Robb Hodson and later Chu Boi confirmed that Seasons uses ELO matchmaking, people have been wanting to understand more about how ELO matchmaking works. We still don’t know the details, but we have data to confirm that stats, which are closely correlated with skill (win ratio, goal difference etc.), have an impact on how the game picks your opponents. The fact that game has a preference for opponents with similar skills doesn’t prevent that you eventually are matched up against opponents who are considerably worse or better than you. If the game doesn’t find a suitable match in time, it will broaden the search terms.
This brings us on to a couple of parameters which aren’t taken into consideration:
- Squad rating
- Your current division
A lot of people mistakenly think that FUT seasons picks out opponents from the same division or from the same “bracket” of divisions. Neither of these perceptions are true. In fact, there are examples of FUT seasons picking opponents several divisions away. There are not brackets and no limitations towards current division.
As for squad rating, EA has confirmed that FUT Seasons is about bringing your best squad to the pitch. Unlike H2H seasons, where the match making algorithm will match you against teams with a similar star rating, FUT seasons doesn’t equalize the advantage of having a better squad by matching you up against players with similar squads.
How divisions work
Unlike real football divisions, FUT’s divisions don’t divide players into “classes”, and seasons isn’t a tournament system, where a group of teams compete for promotion. If you start out in division 10, you will need to win 3 matches to gain promotion and 4 to win the title. Presuming that you win all 4 matches, all the opponents that you beat on your way may still get promoted together with you. Another noteworthy difference to a real tournament structure is that you don’t have to play the remaining matches when you win the title.
The biggest differences between FIFA’s divisions and real football divisions are however the season length and the promotion / relegation mechanism.
In real football, you need to finish ahead of someone else to gain promotion. In FIFA, you need to get a certain amount of points to get promotion. As for the season length, you only get to play a maximum of 10 matches. This naturally implies that your entire faith will depend on the results in 1 or 2 matches in nearly every season. Win one extra match and you are promoted. Lose on extra match and you are relegated.
The consequence of these two things put together is that a lot of average players will find themselves on a constant elevator ride between different divisions. Staying in division 5 10 seasons in a row is considerably more difficult to achieve than to get promoted into division 4. While this may sound absurd, thing about this:
You need between 10 and 15 points to stay in division 4. If you get 16 points, you get promoted. If you get 9 points, you get relegated. If we now cut those points up into individual matches, winning 2 and drawing three will get you relegated. Winning 5 and drawing 1 will get you promoted. Considering that the game has a strong preference for even match-ups, both these scenarios are likely to happen.
When you look at the actual win ratios of players participating in seasons, very few will be unable to get promoted from division 10. Gaining 9 points in 10 matches when the game systematically attempts to match you up against opponents with similar skills is definitely doable. With regards to making it all the way to division 1, we used a database containing the W/D/L stats for + 3,000 players to assess that nearly 90 % of all FUT players will make it to division 1 minimum once if they complete 100 seasons.