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The disastrous nature of Overwatch’s Competitive mode

With the recent release of Overwatch’s Competitive mode, it should come as no surprise that there are some grumblings about certain features that are proving to be less than ideal. After all, no one is perfect, and some things that may have sounded like a good idea conceptually may not work as well on a practical level. However, it appears as though Overwatch’s Competitive mode is not just in need of minor tweaks here and there; it may very well be outright broken.

Of course, Overwatch’s Competitive mode seems fairly normal at a conceptual level. After all, most multiplayer games feature some kind of ranked playlist that is intended to test your abilities at the game. You win a couple of matches, your rank goes up, and you face players who are of increasingly higher skill levels. Lose some matches, and your rank goes down; a fairly simple mechanic that most people are familiar with.

Even Blizzard’s own announcement post shows how relatively unimpressive a victory is with regards to ranking

Unfortunately, the degree to which Overwatch penalizes losses and rewards wins is atrocious. As it stands now, it requires several wins to increase your ranking, but it only requires one loss to lose a full ranking. That means that theoretically, it is entirely possible to start off your competitive career at a certain rank, but by the end of the season, you might end up at a much lower rank than when you started even if you win the vast majority of your games.

The worst part is that the aforementioned scenario is a best case scenario that isn’t taking into account all of the potential variables that can happen in a game of Overwatch. Someone on either team quits? You gain a fraction of the ranking that you would have gained normally. You experience network issues but joined back into the game within minutes? Counts as a loss anyways. Both teams managed to escort the objective to the end? The winner is practically determined by a coin flip.

That being said, Overwatch’s matchmaking system does work fairly well in matching you up with similarly ranked players and parties, but given that most people are going to be losing ranks as each competitive season goes on, chances are that you will not actually be facing people who are of the same skill level as you per se. On top of that, since it is inevitable that one team will be of a lesser average rank than the other, the game decides that winning against a lower ranking team should also reward you with less rank progression.

Eventually, you too may reach rank 66…if you are in a competitive e-sports team and win every game ever

By the end of the day, you can’t even show off your ranking that easily. Sure, Overwatch’s Competitive mode does do a fair job at making your matches much more intense than normal, but you can beat the best team in the world and all you have to show for it is maybe a rank increase and a single Competitive Point. The aforementioned Competitive Point functions as a currency, letting you buy a golden weapon skin for your favorite hero, but you need 300 Competitive Points to purchase one. That’s right, disregarding any rewards that are given out at the end of a season, you will have to win 300 games to purchase a simple weapon skin.

Needless to say, it appears as if the only thing that is working as intended in Overwatch’s Competitive mode is the promise of more difficult matches. People are (generally speaking anyways) picking heroes based on their usefulness more often, they are switching heroes as needed more often, and the skills of your opponents tend to be more impressive and consistent than the usual fare of people that you may be matched up against in more casual playlists. While that in itself may be reason enough to jump into Competitive mode, the fact that the ranking system (among other things) is horribly unfair may be enough to dissuade you from partaking in the playlist.

About Anson Chan

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