How Overwatch Competitive Mode Works

Jul 10, 2020

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Overwatch’s Competitive Play is a more serious aspect of the game where players compete to rank above one another on a seasonal basis. If you’re used to playing Overwatch casually but are looking to dive into the game’s competitive play mode, there are a few things you’re going to want to take note of first:

Roles

The Role Lock system forces players into balanced teams of two Tanks, two Supports, and two Damage characters. Once a match starts, you’ll only be able to switch between characters of that same role during that match.

The Role Queue separates players playing Damage, Tank, and Support characters into different queues. Since Damage characters are the most popular in-game, players that want to play Damage heroes usually have to wait a long time in the queue between games.

Conversely, Tank and Support players find games more quickly and easily, as their roles are in higher demand.

How Overwatch Rankings Work

Once players reach level 25, they will unlock the game’s Competitive Play mode, but for players to get an initial rank, they’ll still need to complete five placement matches for whichever role they want to rank for. So, if you want to be able to rank as a Tank, Damage, and Support character, you’re going to need to finish fifteen placement matches total, five for each role.

Skill Ratings and Matchmaking Ratings

Depending on the number of games won and the role played, players are assigned Skill Ratings (SR) between 1 and 5,000, which represents their level of skill. 

Matchmaking Rating (MMR), by contrast, is a hidden mechanic, which doesn’t impact your Season rank; instead of being responsible for matching players with other players of similar MMR to ensure matches are fair and fun, and that both teams have an equal chance of winning.

Players can have up to three different SR’s and MMR’s, one for each role they play. SR and MMR are based on your wins/losses, and in-game performance, such as eliminations, deaths, assists, etc.

Ranks

Overwatch’s ranking system has seven ranks, which correspond to players’ SR scores. Remember, SR scores are differentiated by role, so like SR, players can similarly hold three distinct ranks simultaneously. Overwatch’s ranks and their corresponding SR’s are as follows:

  1. Bronze: 1,500 SR
  2. Silver: 1,500 SR – 1,999 SR
  3. Gold: 2,000 SR – 2,499 SR
  4. Platinum: 2,500 SR – 2,999 SR
  5. Diamond: 3,000 SR – 3,499 SR
  6. Masters: 3,500 SR – 3,999 SR
  7. Grandmaster: 4,000 SR+
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For a more accurate understanding of how to increase your rank in the fastest and most effective way, we advise you to read “what is overwatch boosting“. 

Seasons

Annually, Overwatch’s competition is divided into six seasons, with each season lasting two months, with a few days off-season in between each for players to receive rewards, which will depend on rank. Rank and SR reset after every season, so don’t get too comfy or attached to your high rank one season. On the other hand, players’ matchmaking ratings (MMR) do not reset. In this way, MMR prevents high and low SR players from previous seasons from matching with each other, which could lead to one-sided match-ups.

Competitive Maps and Game Modes

Serious competitive players would do well to familiarize themselves with the mechanics of the different competitive game modes, as well as the maps that each mode is played on.

Escort

In competitive Escort matches, player teams will switch between attacking and defending. The timer starts at 4 minutes instead of 5, while getting the payload to the first checkpoint adds 2 minutes and 30 seconds to the timer, and getting it to the second checkpoint, adds 1 minute and 30 seconds. Teams receive points for each checkpoint reached.

If the attacking team does not fully escort the payload, a marker will be placed, which, if reached by the opposing team while they are attacking the following round, will result in a win for the opposing team. If both teams are able to escort the payload to its final destination, the match will continue into the third and fourth rounds.

Escort Maps

  • Junkertown
  • Havana
  • Dorado
  • Route 66
  • Rialto
  • Watchpoint: Gibraltar

Assault

Assault matches in Competitive Play see teams of players switching between the roles of attackers and defenders until a winner is determined —with points being awarded for every control point captured while attacking.

Instead of 5 minutes, the timer starts at 4 minutes. Capturing the first point increases the attackers’ timer by 4 minutes.

Each control point has two “ticks” or thresholds on their capture progress meters —at 33% and at 66%. If the attacking team is unable to contest a point, the capture meter will not deplete below the last checkpoint reached. If both teams are able to capture both points, the match will continue into the third and fourth rounds.

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Assault Maps

  • Hanamura
  • Horizon Lunar Colony
  • Paris
  • Temple of Anubis
  • Volskaya Industries

Hybrid

Competitive Hybrid matches are similar to escort matches in that players are divided into teams of attackers and defenders, with the difference being that before the escort portion of the match can begin, players will first need to complete an assault portion, hence the name of the game mode.

In the assault section, there is only one point. Capturing the point unlocks the payload and adds 2 minutes and 30 seconds to the attackers’ timer; escorting the payload to the first checkpoint adds 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Hybrid Maps

  • Blizzard World
  • Eichenwalde
  • Hollywood
  • King’s Row
  • Numbani

Control

In Control matches, both teams are tasked with capturing a single control point. When captured by a team, the control point will raise that team’s control percentage by 1% per 1.2 seconds. If control of a control point is lost, the other team’s control percentage will begin to increase, while the control percentage of the team that lost the control point will pause.

The winner of a Control map is determined after a best-of-three.

Control Maps

  • Busan
  • Ilios
  • Lijiang Tower
  • Nepal
  • Oasis

For more info on game modes rules in Competitive Play, check here.

Rewards

What fun would playing competitively be without some rewards? Players that participate and excel in Competitive Play can look forward to the following rewards.

Golden Weapon Skins

The biggest incentive by far to participate in Overwatch’s Competitive Play is the eye-catching, awe-inspiring golden weapons. The best part is that players need not even rank within the Top 500 to qualify for these weapon skins, as they’re unlocked entirely via Competitive Points awarded for winning matches. Golden weapons are entirely aesthetic, however, and don’t provide any mechanical or statistical advantages.

Icons and Sprays

Simply by completing your placement matches, you can make yourself eligible for a special spray and player icon. These will be awarded at the end of the season. Players that rank in the Top 500 for a season can look forward to an additional, special icon for their efforts.

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