Overwatch season 2 has arrived, and with it comes some pretty major changes to competitive play. With the addition of a 0 - 5000 point tiered ranking system, ranging from Bronze to Grand Master. We also saw the addition of party skill caps, golden guns, and an exciting new map.
With the change in the ranking system we see what resembles the familiar ELO system that we have all grown to “love,” but this one feels a bit different. The amount of Skill Rank (SR) you get for winning and losing seems to slide based on where you are ranked at the time and how skilled the team you just played was. This is extremely nice for higher ranked and lower ranked players, but has cause a bit of frustration in the middle brackets due to the fact they are so closely ranked losing a single match can offset nearly two wins.
Although the ranking system is one of the larger changes in this season, it is not the only. In order to keep players from “smurfing” or carrying others to ranks where they do not belong. Blizzard has enabled a party SR limit, meaning if you and your friend want to play together competitively you must be within 1000 SR (basically one rank) in order to queue together. Unless, of course, you or your friend is in the Grand Master tier where the gap has to be a bit smaller, at a max of 500 SR between players. This has had both upsides and downsides, for those of us that are more casual players and want to queue competitively with more serious players, well, you’re out of luck. There is a casual game mode, but we all know it’s not the same by any means.
Along with all the changes we saw to the ranking system, we also got a glimpse of how Blizzard will be launching new maps with the launch of Eichenwalde, the decimated home town of Bastion. Unlike many other games, where the map is released into quick play rotation for a season and then added to the competitive queue the following season, Blizzard took another approach. Instead they launched the new map as a brawl mode using competitive rules. This allowed competitive player to have some useful practice on the map for about a week, then it was promptly launched into full rotation. I love the idea of giving a true practice round before launch and not having to wait an entire season to play the new map, which will then be stale next season. On the other hand, there was little to no time for Blizzard to work out balancing issues and really gauge if the map was balanced and ready for competitive play. So currently it leans a bit to the defensive side, especially for the first capture point, but seems to balance out a bit as you clear the gates and make your way across the bridge.
Overall this was a much need and well delivered season 2 update by the Blizzard team. The changes to the ranking system as well as the glimpse into how new content will be launched got me excited once more for a title that was collecting virtual dust in my library for the last few weeks. So if you have not logged on in a while, or gave up on competitive play last season, I encourage you to give it another shot as I think you will be as pleasantly surprised.
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