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In order to improve matchmaking, Blizzard is planning a couple of changes for Season 8. 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. The second change is the removal of performance-based matchmaking for Diamond tier players and above.
Don't forget that performance-based matchmaking is coming to Heroes of the Storm next week!
Limiting the Skill Rating variance for Teams
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 18.104.22.168 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!
New Mei themed event - Yeti hunt boss battle where a player plays the boss, old Snowball fight returns, new skins, seasonal tweaks to maps and much more!
"Jeff from the Overwatch team"™ is back to his video ways and is here to tell us about the next seasonal event! December 12th aka next Tuesday will bring new skins, including an existing Hanzo one from the comics and we'll be getting seasonal changes to some of the maps - so snow everywhere, presumably. Mei's Snowball Offensive is back on an additional map, and there's a new event as well, Mei's Yeti Hunt, a boss fight with 5 Meis vs 1 Yeti aka Winston. The boss will be played by an actual player as well!
The Overwatch League will be starting on January 10 and lasting through June, but the big news for us regular players is that we'll be getting some new skins out of it! Each team in the league has their own skins for each Hero and those will be available to all players, using a new currency - Overwatch League tokens. Every player that logs in within a month of the league's launch will be getting one skin for free, but there are still no details on how exactly we'll be getting these tokens, whether we'll be able to get them with in-game activities or only buying them with real money. What is known is that the money from the skin sales will help the teams themselves and the league, and you can check out more info from League commissioner Nate Nanzer in the video below:
There's going to be a LOT of skins coming, with 12 teams and 26 Heroes each, and redditor fireyREIGN compiled some of them to give you an idea of the team looks:
And an example of a full team's skins -the Florida Mayhem:
A new patch has arrived on live servers and it's a pretty minor one, with the big news being improved matchmaking in competitive play.
November 30 (source)
HERO UPDATES Moira
Changed Moira’s ultimate ability name from Fusión to Coalescencia in Latin American Spanish (esMX) Added four new voice lines when Moira says her ultimate ability name in Latin American Spanish (esMX) COMPETITIVE PLAY
Made improvements to matchmaking that will decrease the range of Skill Rating between players on the same team Developer Comments: This change will help players get placed with allies and against opponents of a similar skill level, which should lead to more satisfying games.
Fixed an issue that caused the main menu to be unusable for certain players Heroes
Fixed a bug that allowed Moira’s Biotic Orb to pass through terrain and structures unintentionally Previous patch notes.
The Overwatch League is already huge and is set to be one of the premiere esports events in all of gaming, and today we have Blizzard detail the new and improved way players can make it into the big leagues!
Path to Pro (source)
A core value of Overwatch esports is the building and maintenance of an ecosystem that can provide a path for players of all skill levels to grow as competitors and as teammates. We saw this idea in action over the past year, with Overwatch Contenders, the Open Division, and other regional leagues across the globe. As we move closer to the launch of the Overwatch League, it’s time to reveal the Overwatch Path to Pro system for 2018.
Beginning in March, Overwatch Contenders will expand significantly. First, we will embrace existing regional leagues: Overwatch APEX, Overwatch Premier Series, and the Overwatch Pacific Championship will become Contenders Korea, Contenders China, and Contenders Pacific, respectively. Additionally, we will establish Contenders in two brand-new regions, Australia and South America. With the existing regions of North America and Europe, this brings the total number of Contenders locations to seven. With three seasons a year in seven regions, this will create more opportunities than ever before for players to challenge themselves—as well as to be noticed by Overwatch League scouts.
At a minimum, the top six teams from existing tournaments (Contenders North America and Europe, APEX, Premier, and the Pacific Championship) will be invited to join their region’s Contenders for 2018. The new Contenders regions, Australia and South America, will hold open qualifier tournaments to determine entry. Contenders will not be region-locked, although online matches will be played on each region’s server. As with the Overwatch League, it’s important for us to have the best players in the world competing at every level of competition.
The Overwatch Open Division also is returning in January, in the same seven regions as Contenders. If you’re a solo-queue hero looking to try your hand at organized competitive play, this is your chance.
In addition, teams who dominate in the Open Division now will have a chance to progress even further. At the close of each Contenders season, the top four Open Division teams from each region will be invited to compete in that region’s Contenders Trials, an eight-team promotion-relegation tournament for Overwatch Contenders. The first Contenders Trials series will be in February. In these tournaments, teams will battle for their share of a prize pool—and a spot in the next season of Contenders. If applicable, additional teams from existing regional leagues and Open Division will be invited to participate in their region’s first Contenders Trials series.
More details will be provided on each of these programs in December. In the meantime, we hope this overview gives you an idea of the wide-ranging plans we have in store for the Path to Pro in 2018. The world could always use more heroes, and now it will be easier than ever to take steps towards becoming one.