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OverwatchDec 12, 2017 10:00 am CT

Competitive matchmaking changes coming to Overwatch in season 8

pharah and mercy

With season 8 of competitive play in Overwatch kicking off in January, the developers will be tweaking elements of its Skill Rating system — particularly in high-end play. First up, the developers will be narrowing the gap in Skill Rating between players who can be placed in a match together. Previously, if a player with high SR were waiting in a queue too long while the system searched for players with an equal SR, the system would place them in a match with significantly lower (or higher) SR players. While that system got players into matches quickly, the matches weren’t necessarily fair or fun.

In the new season, there will be less of an SR gap between players who are matched together. However, it’s currently unknown to what degree the gap will be closed. In his blog post on the subject, Principal Designer Scott Mercer says they’ll be testing these restrictions throughout the month. They’ll be keeping an eye on both match quality, and queue times.

Second, the developers will be removing personal performance as a factor in losing or gaining Skill Rating in high-end play.

Originally Posted by Scott Mercer (Official Post)

Removing Personal Performance Skill Rating Adjustments for Diamond tier players and above
Ok, this explanation is going to be pretty lengthy, so everyone grab some popcorn and buckle up.

When you win a competitive match of Overwatch, you gain Skill Rating, and when you lose a match you also lose Skill Rating. The amount that you gain or lose is calculated based on many different factors, and here’s a quick list of some of the most important ones:

• If you have a higher than 50% chance to win a match, you gain less for a win and lose more for a defeat. Conversely, if you were an underdog in a match than you gain more SR when you win and lose less SR when defeated.
• New players experience both higher gains and higher losses than players who have completed a lot of matches.
• You gain less SR for a win than you lose for a defeat as you more closely approach the system’s mathematical upper limit 5000 SR. (So at very high SRs you do need a greater than 50% win rate to keep your SR stable.)

There is also another factor in determining the SR change after completing a match, and that’s a measurement of how well you personally performed during the match. If you perform well than you gain more SR when you win, and lose less SR when defeated. The reverse is also true, so if you perform very poorly you gain less SR for a win and lose additional SR when defeated. The personal performance adjustments have been controversial amongst the community for quite some time, especially since the calculations for these adjustments are not at all transparent.

The adjustment does create a lot of positive system wide effects including rewarding players who make the effort to play well, punishing inactive players, and more quickly providing fairer matches for new players or those who decide to play a new hero or role. So we spent quite a lot of time examining data over multiple seasons, checking a lot of math, reading a LOT of community feedback, and then doing some deep soul searching about this. Especially at the higher levels of online competition where every point of SR matters, we want players to not be distracted and worry about how to optimize around the personal performance adjustment. They should just be trying to WIN. So after we get back from the holidays on January 2nd we’re going to turn off the personal performance SR adjustments for players in the Diamond skill tier and above.

The removal of personal SR adjustments is fascinating considering Heroes of the Storm will introduce its own Performance-based Matchmaking system in its patch later this week. The Heroes of the Storm system is similar, if not identical. You’ll still gain or lose rating based on wins or losses, but those gains will be greater (or lesser) depending on your own performance in a match. While Heroes players are eager for the system’s implementation, Overwatch is beginning to view the system as a distraction more than anything else. Admittedly, Overwatch is only removing personal adjustments at the highest levels of play. Heroes of the Storm might eventually take the same route if necessary.

At the time of writing, a start date for season 8 has not been formally announced beyond placing it sometime in January. However, speculation suggests season 8 will begin shortly after the new year. If these SR changes will be tested throughout December, it seems likely season 8 will begin fairly early in the month.

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