We take a closer look at the divisive topic of player rankings in Season 3.
Having been rather tied up with the launch of the new Hearthstone expansion over the last week or so, we’ve only just had a chance to start dipping our toes into Season 3 of Overwatch’s Competitive Play mode.
By the looks of things, it seems as though quite a few people are unhappy about the initial ranking they’ve received after finishing up their placement matches. Is the ranking system in Season 3 actually broken though?
The Skill Rating system has changed
We knew that things were changing when we first put our Season 3 guide together. The Overwatch developers had announced around the end of Season 2 that the season’s placement matches had left too many players ranked far too high, and they wanted to make some changes going forwards.
There were simply too many players in Platinum and Gold at the start of the season, and not enough players in the ranks beneath that. This messed up the broader matchmaking system, because there was a massive skill level difference between a top-tier Gold player and a below-average Gold player.
This resulted in matches that were often frustrating and seemingly imbalanced.
There’s more to your rank than placement matches
The most important thing to consider – and that Blizzard really hasn’t communicated very well – is that the ten placement matches you complete for Season 3 are not an independent assessment of your overall skill, based purely on those matches.
Your personal rating and performance from the previous season is also being blended into these results to gain a more nuanced picture of your ability with the game.
If you’ve read stories of Top 500 players losing most of their placement matches and yet still ranking at an exceptionally high tier lately, this is simply proof that the system is working as intended.
Of course, the uncomfortable truth in all this may simply be that – averaged correctly across the entire playerbase – you and I or anyone else are not the Gold or Platinum players we might have liked to believe we are.
That’s not a pleasant pill to swallow – and it doesn’t feel great – but unless you’re playing at the very highest level of competitive play anyway, you accept there’s always room for improvement anyway.
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Finding your correct rank
The good news in all of this is that you’re not simply doomed to spend countless hours crawling your way slowly towards your previous tier.
You’ll be able to prove your “worthiness” in pretty short order, and if you’re placed lower than you were last season, your Skill Rank gains will be a little higher at the start of the season.
In time, the system will normalise rankings across the entire playerbase, but it’s going to take a little while for things to even out. Hopefully things should feel a good deal less dramatic when the next season lands.
While it’s deflating to see your ranking go down over time – and for what seems like no good reason to boot – it strike us as the only sensible path to take.
Think of the frustrating matches you had that seemed so imbalanced last season , and look at this as a way of smoothing out the skill curve in order to give you better games, and more often. Look at it in this light and you’ll likely find the whole thing a lot more palatable.