Apex Legends SBMM explained in Season 19

Apex Legends SBMM explained in Season 19
Images via Activision

Written by 

Alex Garton

Last updated 

17th Nov 2023 05:13


Apex Legends SBMM can be confusing as all of the matchmaking factors are hidden behind the scenes in places only Respawn can see. This can lead to frustration from fans, with it often feeling like their lobbies are more difficult than they should be.

Well, to give the community a peek behind the curtain, the devs have been a lot more transparent about SBMM and how it works in recent seasons. As a result, we now have a better understanding of how matchmaking operates, so let's break down all the details of Apex Legends SBMM.

How does SBMM work in Apex Legends?

SBMM or Skill-Based Matchmaking in Apex Legends is a process that attempts to sort competitors of a similar skill level against each other in lobbies. Every title that uses this system has a different way of calculating which players should go face-to-face and that's no different for Respawn.

Wraith skin Apex Legends next to portal
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Apex's sorting process revolves around a Skill Rating that is attached to every player's account. This number is "intentionally hidden" from players to avoid exploitation and is constantly changing based on your performance in-game.

From this Skill Rating, competitors are assigned into various buckets which SBMM can use to put together fair and well-balanced matches. Originally, there were only five buckets including one just for new players. However, after matchmaking improvements, there are now "many more buckets" that allow the "matching algorithm to make better decisions" and maximize match quality.

This "granular" system is significantly more refined and means your lobbies have a better chance of being balanced.

Why are high-skill players always in your matches?

Apex Legends Crypto holding device
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I know what you're thinking - why do all of my matches always have high-skilled players in them? Well, in response to this question, Respawn claims it does not "purposefully put you in harder matches to slow you down if you’re winning a lot, nor do we intentionally put you in easier matches because you’re on a losing streak."

It puts forward that SBMM will "try to put you into matches where you’ll have a fair chance of winning," but that doesn't always feel entirely true.

In an attempt to explain matches that feel unfair, Respawn makes it clear that your skill rating is always adjusting and you may just be on a hot streak of wins. The devs also put forward that you may be one of the lower-skilled players in a match that has been assembled from the buckets, something that can happen from time to time.

This may not alleviate the frustration of being placed against top-tier competitors, but it at least gives you slightly more clarity the next it happens.

Will Skill Based Matchmaking be removed from Apex Legends?

Apex Legends will not be removing SBMM anytime soon, as it's become the standard system used to create balanced lobbies in multiplayer games - even if sometimes it feels like it's broken.

Mirage pointing Apex Legends
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It's worth noting that the devs have pledged that they're always listening to community feedback and are constantly looking at ways to improve SBMM to form better-quality lobbies.

If you're curious about how well your favourite Legend is doing in the current meta, check out our pick rate tracker, or where we've ranked the Legends in the latest season. For more news, guides, and explainers, make sure to head to our Apex Legends homepage.

Alex is a Senior Writer at GGRecon. With a BA (Hons) in English, he has previously written for Dexerto & Gfinity. Specialising in Call of Duty & Apex Legends, he loves (attempting) to improve his aim in competitive shooters and will always make time for a single-player RPG.

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