Overwatch competitive season 8 begins New Year’s Eve
The seventh season of Overwatch‘s Competitive mode ended just a few days ago, but there’s a new season just around the corner. In addition to the fast-paced action we all know and love, season eight brings some matchmaking changes which should improve games for everyone.
In all brackets, the difference between the highest and lowest ranked players you’ll see in each match will get much smaller. Hopefully this will lead to more competitive matches overall. The allowable gap will get smaller the higher up the ladder you go. The official forum post by game designer Scott Mercer also added an in-depth explanation for a second point about performance-based skill ranking increases.
Previously, players would also get an adjustment to their skill ranking — abbreviated SR — based on their own performance. If you have the game of your life but still lose, you would lose less SR for a loss, while if your team wins in spite of your terrible play you’d gain less SR. The algorithmic hocus-pocus left something to be desired, however. After a lot of tinkering, the dev team has decided to eliminate performance-related SR changes for players in Diamond and above going forward in season eight.
The eighth Overwatch competitive season begins on December 31. Now you have an excuse to avoid that party where all you’ll do is watch Ryan Seacrest get first degree frostbite in Times Square.
You can read Mercer’s full post below.
With the debut of the new competitive season 8 in January we’re going to be making a few matchmaking changes to increase match quality. The first change is limiting the maximum Skill Rating (SR) difference between the highest SR player on a team and the lowest SR player on the same team. This will especially help players at both the lower and higher limits of SR, where there are typically fewer players available. If a player has an SR of 4500, there are not that many other players who have a similarly high SR. The matchmaker has previously assigned players who are of a much lower SR to the same team as 4500 SR player, and hasn’t always created the best match experience possible.
We implemented the technology for this change in the 126.96.36.199 patch at the end of November, but did not aggressively tune the SR value of the limit. During the month of December we will be quietly testing the effect of more restrictive SR limits to both match quality and queue times. With the data and player feedback from testing, we’ll then come back from our holiday break on January 2 and apply a finalized set of values for Season 8.
Note that the matchmaker will still allow you to group with other players according to the current SR limits at their skill tier, which is 1000 SR for Bronze through Diamond, 500 SR for Master, and 250 for Grandmaster. We recently restricted the SR grouping limit at Grandmaster with this new Season 8 change in mind.
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.
We look forward to everyone playing matches and giving us feedback about these changes in Season 8!
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