Originally Posted by Simon493
You have the same problem really. When someone loses you really only gain the information that their team were worse than whoever they played against and given the relatively high variance in performance given a certain skill level 1 win or loss doesn't actually contain that much useful information about a players skill level. Assuming skill is normally distributed(or any really) as you move away from the mean it will take longer and longer for people to hit their "true" rating.
But rating systems like in HON do have the advantage that you can have unequally skilled teams and weight points won/lost accordingly. Either way there is no way to get around the fact they are only asymptotically efficient.
You can do things like have points scale faster when you first start playing, have consistently high kdr or many wins in a row but your sort of trading off the efficiency with the speed of convergence. (SC2 uses a similar system with their placement system and use your 5 games to do a rough estimate of your skill level. But estimating skill is FAR FAR easier in a game like sc2 where its 1v1).
It seems that you've caught on that my main experience is in Starcraft 2, where team game balance is terrible and expected to be terrible =P
You are definitely correct that it is far easier to balance a 1v1 game, and even then it can take a frustratingly long time for the skill level to converge. Something important to note is that 5 games to place a new player is nowhere near enough. While a large portion of the community is placed correctly, there are still, many, many, players who end up in a much higher or lower league than they should be in.
It seems like no one has really figured out a good way to balance a 5v5 matchmaking system. I have not played HoN, and am not familiar with the system used there, but from what you describe maybe something like that would work. Adding additional stats into the pool of things considered would also probably help, but then you still might end up with some of the problems you see in Starcraft.
In general it seems like you know a lot more than I do on the subject. My expertise unfortunately only covers Starcraft 2.