Overwatch Season 6 Competitive Mode Changes Explained

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2016-05-24
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Some changes are heading to Overwatch season 6. You ready? (c) Blizzard

In a recent Overwatch developer update, Game Director Jeff Kaplan discussed season 6 of competitive play, which starts Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. (Overwatch Season 5 comes to an end on Aug. 28 at 5 p.m.) There are some important changes coming to Overwatch Season 6, so pay attention.

First of all, the competitive season will now be two months rather than three. Kaplan explained the team had previously tried having the competitive season last one month, but players overwhelmingly felt that it was way too fast and there wasn’t enough time to earn the rank you deserved.

However, Kaplan noted that engagement is much higher at the season’s start as players try to earn their rank, but the frenzy eventually wears off. By making the season two months instead of three, Kaplan hopes the placement period will stay fun and exciting, especially since it will happen more frequently and players will also receive their competitive rewards more frequently as well.

“There’s also a perception that the games early on in the season are more competitive, people are trying a lot harder, and things feel a lot more fun,” Kaplan said.

Second of all, competitive points will receive an adjustment as well. Totals won’t be as big as before, but overall for the year, players will be receiving the same amount. Players will also receive more competitive points per win starting in Season 6.

Third of all, Kaplan addressed players unhappy with skill rating decay to Diamond and above. Rather than 7 games played per week, maintaining skill rating will require 5. Also, the new changes to Season 6 will only decay players by 25 SR a day rather than decay by 50.

At high levels of play, skill rating decay is “kind of required” because it “prevents undesirable behavior,” says Kaplan. The team has other ideas to fight against the need for skill decay, but this reduction should help lessen the sting of SR decay.

The fourth major change involve Control Maps, which will become best out of 3, just like in Quick Play, rather than best out of 5. Kaplan pointed out that Control matches, unlike Assault, Hybrid and Escort maps, don’t take nearly as long in terms of match time. By making Control maps best of 3 rather than best of 5, players can get into more matches sooner. It also makes losing a Control map “sting less,” said Kaplan.

Change number five affects how players are placed in their skill ranks. In Overwatch Season 4 and 5, the team placed folks lower than where their SR should have been, and allowed players to climb more earlier in the season “to make folks feel better about progressing.”

Instead of achieving this effect, players who achieved a higher skill rank at the end of season 4 felt disappointed at the start of season 5 when they were placed in a lower bracket, regardless of the expectation that they would eventually work their way up. Now, players are more likely to be placed accurately.

“It felt wrong, deflating you on purpose just so you would have a sense of progression later,” said Kaplan.

Sixth, higher-skilled players will experience longer waits in order to be matched with more appropriate opponents.

“This will actually benefit everybody,” said Kaplan. “What we really want to do is avoid putting you in matches that don’t have as close to a 50-50 chance of either team winning.”

Kaplan explained that this is why higher-skilled players will no longer be placed in matches where they stomp the other team for a minimal SR gain. He alsopromised that if wait times are crazy or matchmaking doesn’t work as intended, the team will make changes as they are “watching very closely.” Finally, Kaplan emphasized that the team is “very proactive” and is discussing changes to Season 7 and 8 in the future.

“We are never going to just let [competitive mode] stagnate. We are always going to keep trying changes and trying to make it better. We know that it’s an extremely important part of the game, if not the most important part of the game, where players feel like they can find the truest, most honest competitive matches, and we want to keep it evolving over time,” said Kaplan.

Community Manager Lylirra shared two more changes coming to Season 6 on the official forums.

First, "Players in Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond will now be moved into lower skill tiers if they cannot consistently maintain the minimum skill rating for that tier." After a loss, the game will check a player's current tier and skill rating. If skill rating has not exceeded the minimum for a player's current tier for the past five games, players will be demoted.

However, competitive points will still be based on your highest tier earned.

Second, the calculations that determine how much SR players gain after a win and lose after a loss have been adjusted and will continue to be tuned. "These changes should help address some of the anomalies players have been reporting, especially with heroes that have lower win-rates," said the post. The goal is to encourage players to "play the hero they feel gives their team the best chance to win a competitive match."

How do you feel about the adjustments to Season 6 of Overwatch competitive play? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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