Diablo 3: Banwaves Cause Dramatic Changes to the Leaderboards

Read our report on how the recent banwaves completely changed the Diablo 3 competitive field.

Three banwaves took place last week, with quite a few high-profile players finding their accounts suspended. As a result, the Diablo 3 leaderboards have dramatically changed.

The banhammer seems to have hit the Diablo 3 rankings pretty hard. The first two banwaves targeted mainly botters; the third banwave targeted players that used a program called Turbo-Hud (Thud), as well as keyboard and mouse macro users. Obviously, all of these are strictly forbidden and we do not encourage their use.

The banwaves hit all regions: in fact, in China and Taiwan there was even a wall of shame containing the battletags and the emails of all people that got banned. One of the most prominent bans in this region was that of a Chinese player who held the Solo Softcore record for Wizard. This allowed Blatty, one of the few high-profile player who wasn't cheating, to grab the first spot in the overall and Wizard Solo Softcore leaderboard with his Greater Rift level 98 clear:

Let's take the situation from the beginning. The first banwave actually happened two weeks ago, on March 29 (the Taiwan banwave happened at this date, too). One of the most famous streamers who got banned - on stream actually - was Gabynator. In general, the SoS clan had most of its members banned throughout all three banwaves. Redditor Garfm made a report of the aftermath of this first banwave in the NA servers, which can be summarised in the following picture:

The second banwave took place on April 6, hitting mostly the Americas and China. Avoid from Zero Empathy (ZE) was the biggest name in the ban list this time. Garfm again had some statistics about the state of the NA leaderboards before and after this second banwave. An example of how much the rankings were affected is the overall Demon Hunter Solo Softcore leaderboard: 6 players out of the then top 10 were banned. This allowed Wudijo to snatch the first place with his widely publicised GRift 92 record.

However, merely a day afterwards (on April 10), the bomb dropped: Wudijo, who also held multiple fist spots in various categories in both Softcore and Hardcore, fell victim to the third banwave. Wudijo had stated in the video of his Demon Hunter record that he is done with Season 5 and after the ban it is highly unlikely that he can catch up and beat his own record. On balance, you can see the results of the third banwave in the NA (again by Garfm) and in Europe (by Redditor Alexander110).

The third banwave was the most controversial. As we've already said, the targets were mainly users of hud software or macros (for example, by using a Razer mouse). Even though there were no complaints for the first two banwaves, a lot of threads popped up in the official forums, social media and various other sites with complaints about wrongful suspensions. Some people have theorised that the banwaves might have been retroactive, meaning that they punished people for cheating in previous Seasons.

As the official and third-party leadeboards by sites, like DiabloProgress and DiabloRank, are trying to update their rankings, it's difficult to estimate the actual extent of the effect the banwaves. The biggest amount of cheating seemed to have happened in the group rankings - especially the 4-man groups. Currently, almost all 4-man teams in the respective leaderboard seem to have only one member - in most regions! The question is raised of whether all team members should be banned; you can find a relevant conversation on Reddit. The most telling statistic for the whole situation is that half of the top 10 players across all NA leaderboards got banned.

Thus, the rankings have had a complete overhaul and it was quite a smart move to conduct these banwaves near the end of the Season. This is the only thing Blizzard had to say about the whole incident via its Diablo 3 Community Manager Kauza:

Do you think the situation with cheating/botting in Diablo 3 has gotten out of control? Are you happy with how Blizzard dealt with the situation? Or is botting the Lernaean Hydra of Diablo 3: you cut one head and multiple ones regrow?

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