Sharp eyed competitive player may have noticed that Season 5 is coming to a close on August 28 at 5PM PT, and after a short pause, Season 6 begins on August 31 at 5PM PT. These downtimes usually lead to changes to competitive queues to create a better experience, and Season 6 is no exception. Not only did we get a Developer Update from Jeff Kaplan, but Blizzard have shared some additional skill rating changes via Community Manager Lylirra.
The first change is the most dramatic. We’re going to see shorter competitive seasons, with the duration being shaved down to two months from three. Kaplan notes that the team originally tried one month seasons during Overwatch’s beta, but it seemed too fast and players were unable to feel like they had time to hit an accurate feeling rank and maintain it, let alone feel any sense of progression or achievement.
The dev team moved to three month seasons, but after watching community engagement, the early period of the season is considered to be more competitive and earns more playtime. Two month seasons should hopefully capture the best of both worlds. To help maintain this early season momentum, placement matches should lead to more accurate skill ratings—this should prevent early season ping ponging and weird discrepancies.
Speaking of shorter systems, Control maps are getting a very welcome change. The developers are noticing that Control maps often go into overtime, and the Best of 5 system means that Control maps were disproportionately long compared to other game modes. Control is now a Best of 3 contest, just like the quick play version.
Less games and shorter seasons mean that there are some changes to Competitive Points, the currency that earns golden weapons. Players will receive less Competitive Points in their season-end payout, but more from just playing the game.
Skill rating decay changes are also getting a change for Diamond+ players. These players are going to have their skill rating decay halved, and will need to play two less games a week. There will be long-term plans that may eventually replace skill rating decay.
The day after the Developer Update went live, Lylirra shared some additional skill rating changes currently in the works that will hit with Season 6.
Players in Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond can now drop into lower skill tiers
We’ve made some adjustments to how skill rating is calculated after a win/loss
SKILL TIER UPDATES
Players in Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond will now be moved into lower skill tiers if they cannot consistently maintain the minimum skill rating for that 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.)
Don’t worry: Competitive Points awarded at the end of a season will still be based on the highest tier earned that season. So, for example, if you reached Platinum during Season 6, but ended the season in Gold, you will still receive a number of Competitive Points based on your Platinum ranking.
SKILL RATING UPDATES
We've adjusted the calculations that determine how much skill rating players will gain after a win and lose after a loss. These changes should help address some of the anomalies players have been reporting, especially with heroes that have lower win-rates. We'll continue tuning this system and are committed to making additional adjustments so that players are encouraged to play the hero they feel gives their team the best chance to win a competitive match.
The other benefit for high tier players is improved matchmaking to provide more balanced matches. The trade off is longer queues, and these changes will be tested during Season 6. If matchmaking takes too long, the developers will jump in and change the system accordingly. The goal is to create matches with a 50:50 chance for each team, and give appropriate rewards for a victory against an equally skilled team.
Kaplan is sure to stress at the end of the video that these changes are part of a constantly evolving process, and the developer team will continue to experiment. Personally, while I don’t expect to get much out of the skill rating changes at my lowly rank, I’m very excited for shorter, less tense Control games.