Overwatch changing Competitive Play skill rating calculations for Season 3

Also, there will now only be a week off between seasons instead of the usual two.


Season 2 in Overwatch Competitive Play will be coming to an end on November 24 next month, and the dev team already has changes on the public test realm for Season 3, most notably the way skill ratings will be calculated going forward.

"When Season 2 started, we had WAY more players in Gold and Platinum than we initially intended, and way fewer in Bronze and Silver," Principle Designer Scott Mercer explained in a post on the community forum. "This was the result of how we calculated your initial SR for Season 2. We tried to partially reset player SR at the start of Season 2, but the results were not as we expected. Instead, below-average players started Season 2 at a higher SR than they should have been given their performance in Season 1. This meant that as they played in Season 2, their SR would often drop to a lower value, which didn't feel great. It also meant that there was a much wider variation of skill in the Gold and Platinum tiers than we wanted. This is something we want to avoid in Season 3."

In plotting out the change, Mercer said fairness is more important than giving everyone a fresh start, with skill ratings to start lower in the beginning to avoid drastic drops despite a relatively even win-loss record.

"This change will mean that some players will not start in the same tier for Season 3 that they were placed in for Season 2, and that your SR gains from winning will be a little higher at the beginning of the season," he said. "After you play enough matches, however, your SR gains and losses will go back to normal."

Mercer said the changes will be closely monitored on the PTR to "see if our goals are being met." As with anything on the PTR, more changes could happen before they are poatched onto the live server, but he said they will try to give everyone advance notice to significant changes, such as possibly having to reset placement matches.

In another change, Season 3 will begin on December 1, giving players only a week of downtime between seasons instead of two. Blizzard will have a countdown timer in place to remind everyone when the new season starts.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 25, 2016 8:35 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Overwatch changing Competitive Play skill rating calculations for Season 3

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      October 25, 2016 8:37 AM

      Well that explains why getting out of gold is such a shit fest of matchmaking luck.

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      October 25, 2016 9:15 AM

      They should ditch the whole idea of placement matches.

      Just rank everyone by some visible or invisible score system. Anyone coming in has 0 points and is ranked dead last.

      Winning nets you more points than losing. But your score even in a losing effort gets you points. Maybe losing eats points off your total, but it might be sufficient that the winners getting more points than you pushes them further ahead in the rankings.

      match make with people in your immediate points vicinity. With groups make it a range: match people within the upper and lower bounds, hopefully to mirror the point distribution

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        October 25, 2016 9:17 AM

        Tldr: use the score system (fire points or otherwise) and give massive amounts for winning, none or deduct for losing. Rank by score

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          October 25, 2016 10:18 AM

          Wouldn't this just rank you roughly by playtime then? You could fail upwards and people that start playing in the middle of a season would be fucked.

          There's a reason elo deducts potentially as much for losses as it adds for wins. But then since this is an individual game played as random teams it needs to have an adjustment for performance. If you play good in a loss you lose less, and if you play bad in a loss you lose more.

          This shit is hard to get right and I don't envy blizzard.

          Disclaimer, I don't play this game.

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            October 25, 2016 10:37 AM

            Yeah it should be a combination of your individual score within the match and the effect of winning or losing. So a good performance could mitigate the downward pressure of a loss, whereas poor performance and losing would have a major impact. And doing badly but being carried to a win will not propel you as much as the rest of the team will be

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              October 25, 2016 11:29 AM

              How do you fairly measure performance, though? I might have the most damage done but if I'm doing all that damage in East Egypt instead of on the objective, I'm not helping very much. Maybe I'm on the point constantly but I'm doing zero damage or healing. The problem is once you start adding rules and caveats on a per character, per map, per whatever basis, suddenly the system gets incredibly opaque.

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                October 25, 2016 11:34 AM

                This. I think I remember Blizzard stating these reasons as to why they're basing the rating simply on team wins and losses. It's impossible to reliably measure a player's individual performance in a game as complex as Overwatch. If a player is really good, in the long run he'll win games against teams with worse players, so the rating will be accurate.

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                  October 25, 2016 12:52 PM

                  Short version is, they've tried individual metrics and found they just fuck up the match-maker's ability to make decent matches.

                  Third party sites can do whatever they want with metrics but you can't actually test their validity without throwing them into a match-maker. A player may be called a "potato" but might have a >>50% win rating because he's doing things not captured in those statistics that either cover weaknesses in his team or exploit weaknesses in the other. Baiting is one example of this.

                  That's the underlying issue with individual performance statistics in a team-game. What ultimately matters is how well you play with your team, and being a team player often times means doing things that hurt your individual performance statistics to improve the team's overall standing in the match.

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                October 25, 2016 11:37 AM

                There's already some semblance or remnant of a score system in place: the fire points. Of course it'll have to be tweaked and improved if they are brought into relevance, but I don't think it'll be insurmountable.

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                October 25, 2016 12:07 PM

                Global Agenda did this fairly well. The entire system had its own website, and you could look up your matches and see the elo-ish ratings of everyone on both teams and all their different stats in every match. It worked fairly well.

                Just because it's hard doesn't mean it's better to just not try.

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                October 25, 2016 12:16 PM

                going back to world of tanks, external mods developed with reasonable algorithms to arrive at a player score. WN8 was a system to rank players on empirical output across a wide array of factors. however this was OUTSIDE the game engine and did not influence matchmaking whatsoever, it just gave you a score that you could easily reference who was superior, and who was not too bad, and who were fucking useless tomatoes.


                what was also amazing is they included an 'expected win' probability based on raw player statistics.

                circling back to Overwatch, who knows what variables they are tracking. they could have a HUGE amount of player stats they could incorporate to help matchmaker.

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        October 25, 2016 9:22 AM

        Yeah, I'm overall just frustrated with how Blizzard handles match-making across the board (except Hearthstone).

        They spent too much time fucking around with robust systems and too much trying to merge incompatible ideas, which in the end just makes it a giant mess.

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          October 25, 2016 10:39 AM

          World of Tanks even tries to help with this - on the losing team, if you are trying hard, you can earn more XP than people on the winning team. I don't know why Blizzard discarded this concept entirely.

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            October 25, 2016 12:45 PM

            Because it just makes the match-maker even worse and encourages people to try to game the system as opposed to win the match.

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              October 25, 2016 2:27 PM

              well, it does encourage gaming the system but matchmaker remained a mystery. world of tanks had a tier matchup index, which seems to discard player stats entirely. apparently all that mattered is tank type and tier. (tank destroyer, tier 6 - etc etc etc)

              the WN8 system did encourage people to use the FOTM tanks that could pump out damage and inflate their external personal score. internally to the game's matchmaker though, it didn't matter.

              ultimately what was keeping people not as toxic is you still got something in a loss. in overwatch, that's not the case. why work hard to try and come back? if things go badly just throw it because why waste time or put out effort if you are going to get rolled?

              world of tanks though has no respawn, so that's something to consider. in overwatch, people should be rewarded for TRYING... but they aren't.

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        October 25, 2016 12:02 PM

        Placement matches are the worse. Too many damn matches. I play casually and it's a grind to get through that crap.

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        October 25, 2016 3:56 PM

        if everyone starts ranked dead last, then people that are near bottom and are trying to improve and climb will get matched with people that just started and may already be better than them, causing them to get steamrolled in some matches. that's frustrating for anyone. imagine you're mid-rank and trying to climb. suddenly you get matched against some people twice as good and you get wrecked, out of the blue, for seemingly no reason. that will cause complaints about matchmaking.

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          October 25, 2016 4:02 PM

          Gotta separate the wheat from the chaff

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      October 25, 2016 10:26 AM

      The skill caculations are clearly broken as fuck - it keeps saying that I'm a mediocre player when I'm obviously a really very outstanding player.

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      October 25, 2016 10:30 AM

      I think the problem is they rank you individually but grade you as a team. You can have an amazing match, you get several gold medals, even POTG, but your team loses at the last second in OT and you go down, WAY DOWN. It's really feels awful.

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      October 25, 2016 10:34 AM

      I tanked my placements. Went 2/9 or 1/1/9 or something.

      Ended up like 2200 gold after finishing 76 last season.

      I climbed back up to masters. It just takes alot of grinding. You will get there if you belong there

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        October 25, 2016 11:44 AM

        Lots of grinding and a little luck. I went on a losing streak twice, losing 300 points each time. Now I'm back up to ~3350. Wish I had more time to play.

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      October 25, 2016 10:51 AM

      You know a hero I've been enjoying recently? Widowmaker! I picked her for the first time in months the other night to counter a Bastion that my team couldn't deal with (go figure) and found her a lot more effective fun to play than I remember. Maybe it was the change to scope-in time or maybe my aim has just gotten better but it had to be the first match where a team's only support changing to Widowmaker actually resulted in them making progress. I've been playing her a bunch since.

      That said, I'm not sure the proposed changes on the PTR are taking her in the right direction. She needs to be made better as a mid range DPS (which is how I like to play her) than as a choke camper. The change to her mine, for example, will be of precisely zero benefit when it's fired into the melee as a grenade and seems to be 100% suited to people just placing it and sitting on it for the meagre amount of protection it offers in the (likely) event of them getting ganked by a Hanzo.

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        October 25, 2016 11:45 AM

        Seems like everyone is playing widow maker lately. There's one almost every other match now.

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      October 25, 2016 11:06 AM

      Do those that play support a lot in Season 2 still get punished with placements like last season?

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        October 25, 2016 11:31 AM

        Only insofar as your DPS will be incompetent and the enemy will wear you down through sheer attrition.

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          October 25, 2016 11:38 AM

          That's not the issue I'm talking about. Season 1 punished those who played support a lot with a much lower placement than if you were to play DPS or any of the other roles. It might be different now, but when I was doing placements in S1, I was forced to play support because no one else picked a healer to help the team win. It was stupidly frustrating and I got punished for it with a low rank of 40. I grinded my way up to 52 before I got burnt out on the slogfest.

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            October 25, 2016 11:42 AM

            AFAIK that got fixed pretty early on in the season but we only have Blizzard's word about it.

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            October 25, 2016 12:22 PM

            Now I'd say it's 0-200 pt. difference from DPS. Makes sense though playing support is easier than dps. Also those numbers were just anecdotal and may not be true at all.

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              October 25, 2016 2:19 PM

              Mercy maybe but Ana is harder than most DPS and Zen basically is a DPS. Lucio is a different ballgame because being effective with him is all about keeping track of your teammates' health whilst wall riding and getting the occasional shot off.

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        October 25, 2016 11:47 AM

        Not sure about placements but the last time I lost with lucio during comp, I only lost 19 points, waay less than I would've gotten if we had won.

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        October 25, 2016 11:49 AM

        Sort of, but it's not as severe as Season 1. You can place closer to what a DPS would if you play support for your placement games. Wins and losses during placements matters more than anything.

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        October 25, 2016 11:54 AM

        During placements I pretty much only played lucio and zenyatta. I went 7-2-1 and ended up just under 2600. No idea how that would compare to dps or rank players

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          October 25, 2016 11:56 AM

          Bear in mind that your season 2 MMR is seeded from your season 1 MMR, so if you had a particularly bad season 1 it'll skew it downwards.

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            October 25, 2016 1:21 PM

            I was rank 50 last season so that would have brought it down compared to other players here.

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          October 25, 2016 12:25 PM

          I was ranked 65 last game. Did almost all dps 5-2-3 and got placed ~2800.

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      October 25, 2016 12:04 PM

      These changes are very good. Should help substantially for season 3.

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        October 25, 2016 12:40 PM

        I'm skeptical as to whether these changes will help or not in the short term. It's very likely they'll have to tune their system quite a bit more to avoid the wacky rank compression that happened with Season 2.

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