Our Season 9 guide for Overwatch contains details of placement matches, rewards, ratings and season length for the next round of competitive play.
Season 9 of Overwatch is now under way on all global servers.
No drastic changes have been announced for the ninth season of Competitive Play, but we've summarised what this season has to offer in terms of rankings, rewards and more.
If you've not played Overwatch for a little while, it's worth brushing up on what's new for the ladder. Quite a few things have changed in recent months, from season length to rewards structure, but our guide contains all of the detail you need. We'll update it again if and when things change once more.
Systematically, nothing has changed as we transition from Season 8 into Season 9. Rankings, rewards and skills tiers all remain the same, but there are two big additions that make the latest Season rather an exciting one.
Here's what's new with Season 9.
- Overwatch's latest Assault/Escort map - Blizzard World - is now live in Competitive play. It's a theme park that brings the magic of Blizzard's many franchises into one place, so you'll be escorting the payload across World of Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft themed areas! Our Blizzard World guide contains a complete overview of the map, alongside some essential strategy advice. Do make sure you check it out to get ahead of the competition.
- Brand new Support hero Brigitte will be making her debut in Competitive Play this season. She's a Support/Tank hybrid who excels at crowd control and heals allies by smacking enemies with her Flail. For a breakdown of her abilities, as well as an in-depth look at how she may affect the meta, make sure you read our Brigitte guide!
Starting with Season 6, Competitive Play seasons were reduced in length to two months instead of three. During the game's original beta the team had tested one month seasons, but it didn't feel right, and players never felt they managed to reach the rank they felt they should be at.
Three months had felt pretty good for the devs for a while, but a lot of the feedback and statistical insight the team had received showed that engagement with the game was much higher at the start of the season. There's a perception that games are more competitive at the start of each season, and so are more interesting to play as a result.
There are no guarantees that seasons will always be two months from now on, but the team wants to continue with this length of play time in Season 9 and just see how it feels for the playerbase. At the time of publishing this article, we've every reason to believe that the system will continue into future seasons as well.
A few changes have been made to the competitive points rewards system to reflect the fact that seasons are now a third shorter than they have been in the past. That means that the total rewards at the end of each season will be a little bit less than you currently receive, but it'll even out across the year because you are playing two more seasons per annum.
Additionally, we began receiving more Competitive Points per win in Competitive Play, starting with Season 6. All things combined and considered, the team is confident that the rewards system will feel pretty good going forwards.
Here's the breakdown of rewards for reaching certain ranks in Season 9.
|Season 6 Rank||Points||Rewards (CP)|
Players in Silver, Gold and Platinum will be moved into lower skill tiers if they cannot consistently maintain the minimum skill rating for that tier.
After each loss, the game will check to see how a player’s current tier and skill rating match up. If their skill rating has not exceeded the minimum threshhold for their current tier over the past five games, they will be demoted. Do note that players will never be demoted following a win.
Been demoted? Don't worry. Competitive Points awarded at the end of each season will still be based on the highest tier you’ve reached. So, if you reached Platinum during Season 6, but finished in Gold at the end of the season, you’ll still receive the number of Competitive Points based on your Platinum ranking.
Skill Rating Updates
Blizzard has adjusted the calculations that determine how much skill rating players will gain after a win, or lose after a loss. These changes will address some of the anomalies members of the community have been reporting, especially with heroes that have lower win-rates earning far more skill rating on a win, and less on a loss.
There are going to be continual improvements throughout the season to make sure skill rating earnings are fair.
Skill Rating Decay
The devs have been listening to the feedback about the Skill Rating decay system for those players who are ranked Diamond and above. Season 7 introduced some minor tweaks to help take the sting out of the current system.
Rather than having to play seven games per week in order to maintain your current ranking, this requirement was recently dropped down to five matches a week. The team hopes this will make the experience a little better, but if you do miss your quota and your rank decays you'll lose 25 Skill Rating from now on instead of 50.
The team has reiterated the need for some kind of “punishment” for absenteeism at the highest levels of play as it prevents undesirable behaviour. The devs are exploring alternatives for this system, but they feel confident that the reductions should feel like a pretty good improvement in the short-term.
Control maps used to be a best of five affair in Overwatch, meaning one team had to win three control points in a Competitive Play match in order to achieve a victory.
As of Season 7, the devs felt that too many of these matches went into Overtime, and too many matches end in five rounds. This meant that control map matches often go on way too long compared to other modes.
Control maps victories are now determined on a best of three basis. Whoever wins two rounds - just like in Quick Play - will be declared the winner, which should take some of the sting out of losing exceptionally long matches.
In order to qualify for your spray rewards, you need to complete your ten placement matches as a bare minimum. Your performance in these matches is combined with your performance to date in order to determine your starting rank. This should be pretty similar to your finish position in the previous season.
Not all players will feel the benefit of some of the changes coming to the matchmaking system, but high-skilled players will. The team now feels that it's OK to make the best players wait a little longer to get matches that are fairer. The algorithm already does a pretty good job of building a 50 / 50 win scenario, but they want to improve things.
By having the very best players wait a little longer, they'll not end up stomping lower ranked competitors and getting rather meagre rewards as a result. The benefits for the people being stomped are obvious!
The team continue to reaffirm that they will not let the Competitive Play mode stagnate, and will continue monitoring the competitive experience in Overwatch.
That's how things currently stack up for Season 9 though.