The Overwatch Competitive season is coming to an end in a few days. This is the fifth season of the game and has lasted for almost 90 days. The fifth season saw a lot of changes including new maps, new heroes and groundwork around the Overwatch league itself.
The next season starts on August 31st, only a few days after Season 5 ends. Jeff Kaplan in his developer video outlined the changes in Season 6. These changes are definitely going to affect you if you are reading this article. There were a lot of concerns around Matchmaking in Season 5. Are your concerns resolved with these changes?
Reduced Season Length
Competitive seasons in Overwatch will now be only two months long instead of previous three months length. A big concern among competitive players was the low quality of matches towards the end of the season. There are a lot more trolls towards the end of the seasons. Maybe it’s just that players do not care at the end of the season, or they are just bored due to the lengthy duration of the season. This is another way of saying that the toxicity in matches has been increasing over the duration of the season.
A two month season also allows the Developer team to initiate experimental changes and watch them unfold over the duration of the season. They have experimented with one month long seasons in the past, but one month felt too short from a competitive stand-point. With two months, we can have seasons determining the meta in many ways. Two months is an ideal time to judge the way the meta is shifting.
The two month duration seems a good choice since it will allow players to always look forth to the start / end of the season. It will go a long way in removing the “lull” period that we experience within the game.
Skill Rating Decay Changes
The game currently uses a decay system for skill ratings at the higher ranks. If a player has not played seven matches in seven days, his skill rating will start reducing. He loses 50 SR for each day that he has not played a match. The decay continues until the SR reaches 3000 in the current system. Obviously there are many who felt that this decay system is a harsh and excessive. From next Season, Blizzard will initiate a few changes in this system. Skill Ratings will now decay only if a player has not played 5 matches in seven days (down from Seven matches earlier). The rating decrease will be 25 SR instead of the previous 50 SR. This ensures you do not lose your SR too quickly and actually can play the game at a leisurely pace.
You might ask why have the SR Decay in the game at all? Skill rating decay is very important to curb a problem in higher Ranks of Overwatch. Without a decay, it was noticed that several high skilled players would play on alternate ID’s / Smurfs. They would reach an extremely high SR and then never play on that ID again. This would create a very skewed leaderboard, with a single player being able to hoard multiple ranks across the leaderboard. Skill rating ensured that a player would have to be active on his ID in order to maintain his rank. It provides an incentive for players to play the game at the higher ranks continuously.
Control Map Changes
Control Maps are one of the most balanced maps in Overwatch. They provide an equal opportunity to both the sides to take and retake the point. There are 4 control maps in the game. They are Nepal, Lijiang Tower, Ilios and Oasis. However there has been a disparity in the Overwatch esports matches and competitive matches. While Competitive matches are still using a BO5 Control map system, the esports side has already moved on to use a BO3 system.
Advantages of a BO3 system over a BO5 for Control Maps :
- A much quicker match outcome
- Less feeling of despair on playing a 5 map match and losing.
The duration of the matches was one of the principal reasons for this change. The 5 KOTH map would often go all the way to 5 maps. Not only would this take a lot of time , it would also lead to a feeling of frustration on losing after the end of everything. Since there are anyways 3 points in any control map, Matchmaking will now feature KOTH maps as BO3.
Changes to High SR Matches
There are also a few changes at higher rank matchmaking. Statistically there are always fewer number of players at the higher ranks. This is natural based on the way the SR system is structured with higher ranks being less populated.
However it also creates a logistical matchmaking problem ( in the old system). Very often, there are simply not enough players searching matches at higher ranks which can be matched together to create the semblance of a fair match. This would lead to long queue time.There were instances of players being matched way out of their skill group in order to compensate for the lack of high skilled players. It was not uncommon to see a Grandmaster in a Diamond Game.
In order to appease all players, high SR players will only match against each other. This might mean a slightly longer wait period, but the matches will be fair and more interesting to play. This feature has been long demanded by several players and it’s great to see Blizzard finally making changes to accommodate the community.
New Map: Junkertown
Blizzard have added a new Payload / Escort map in Overwatch after a long time. This new map called Junkertown is home to the nefarious duo : Junkrat and Roadhog.
This new map comes almost 4 months after the last map, Oasis was released. It is also the first Escort Map to be released after a long time. PlayOverwatch also released a quick overview of the map on Youtube. The map is open for the most part with a closed section towards the end. However even the street phase has very narrow streets and close range battles will be the theme of the map.
There is also a rotating platform feature in the new map which is unique to the map. It will definitely bring in some RNG into the map. With the Overwatch World Cup a few months away, it will be interesting to see how the teams adapt to this new map.
Your Skill Tier is not safe
From Season 6, even lower tier skill ratings will be allowed to fall even lower. This is only if the player fail to maintain their skill level at the same tier. After a loss, the game will check to see what a player’s current tier and skill rating are—if their skill rating has not exceeded the minimum for their current tier for the past five games, they will be demoted. (Players will never be demoted on a win.)
Changes to Performance Based SR
Remember all those posts about the one trick Mercy / Symmetra’s gaining entry into high levels of play? Blizzard has taken note of your concerns. Performance based SR has been tweaked in order to prevent people from abusing the SR system by playing heroes which are not popular in order to climb the SR Ladder.
While they have not specifically mentioned the changes that will be implemented, they assure us that it will solve a lot of the complaints that they have been receiving from the community.
Season 6 will be better, shorter and more competitive. The developers are constantly listening to the feedback and are working to improve the game. With rumours of a replay system to be introduced soon into the game, we are in for a wonderful few months in the upcoming season. Good Luck in your matches.