All You Need to Know About Ranked Overwatch!

It's been a little over a month since Blizzard's newest title, an FPS called "Overwatch" (you may have heard of it) has released and it has been a hit here at the LAN center. Blizzard stated shortly after Overwatch's incredibly successful launch that new content was incoming, and yesterday we got our first bit of the new scheduled stuff! After spending about a week in Blizzard's PTR, or Public Test Realm, Blizzard has launched the long awaited "Competitive" mode to the live servers on PC.




Essentially a Ranked ladder, Competitive Mode finally allows players to test their meddle and see how they match up against their fellow Overwatch players, earning rewards and bragging rights along the way. If you are familiar with Overwatch, Competitive mode has a few changes but nothing too insane, I'll give you guys a rundown!

Firstly, in order to play Competitive Mode, you must be at least Level 25. I honestly wouldn't mind if this level requirement was even higher, but 25 isn't bad! Next up, all 12 maps you have been playing the last few months are all present in Overwatch's competitive mode but with some changes.

Escort/Hybrid Maps: Dorado, Watchpoint Gibraltar, Route 66, Numbani Hollywood and King's Row

So, the earliest look we got at competitive Overwatch was a few small tournaments (including ESL's) that had players playing this game mode just like in Quick Play, however, performance was judged by how long it took the team to complete the escort. In the new competitive mode, a team is judged by how many checkpoints they were able to capture in the allotted time. After teams play both Attack and Defend, the winner is decided. In the event of a tie, players are put into a sudden death scenario (explained below).

Assault Maps: Hanamura, Temple of Anubis, Volskaya Industiries 
Personally, Assault is probably my favorite game mode. However, Competitive Assault is a little strange. Each team takes a turn at attacking and defending the control points with 10 minutes on the clock, once on offense and once on defense. If your team is able to capture both points, and defend at least one, congratulations, your team has won. However, in the event of both teams capturing the same amount of control points, the game continues. Both teams must attack and defend the points again, however this time their allotted time is equal to the remaining time left on the clock of their last attack round. For example: Your team captures both control points of Temple of Anubis in 7 minutes. The second time around your team is only allowed 3 minutes. The same rules apply to the enemy team. If the game STILL results in a tie, it's off to sudden death, which is explained below. This system allows for longer matches and less sudden deaths, which is a good thing, however the system can be a little confusing for people who have yet to experience it.


Control - Ilios, Nepal, Lijang Tower

Dubbed "King of the Hill" by the community, Control is basically the same as it is in Quickplay, however instead of matches being played in a Best of 3 format, matches are best of 5. After each round the map changes to one of the three points, allowing for interesting strategies and counter strategies in replayed maps. Due to being a best of 5, this game mode is also immune to ties, which is always nice! 


SUDDEN DEATH

Sudden death is a problem with competitive play currently, causing a bit of an uproar in the community. In the event of a tie, a coin is flipped, and one team is assigned to attack a point while the other defend, with only 2 minutes on the clock. Despite the community's complaints, game director Jeff Kaplan has addressed these issues and stated this format is here to stay for the duration of Season 1 (2 months). Kaplan did state that the issues will be looked into and addressed for Season 2. Personally I have yet to experience a sudden death so I don't have any personal input but I imagine it is pretty difficult for the offensive team. 


When you first begin to play competitive mode, you must play 10 placement matches, very similar to League of Legends. These placement matches will determine what rank you get plopped into to kick off your Season 1 of play. Rankings are judged on a scale from 1-100, with the lowest ranking players residing lower on the scale, with the best of the best residing on the high part of the scale. Once you have been placed, each victory or loss will adjust your progress towards earning your next rank or being demoted. I'm currently 4 matches in on my placement matches, with a 3/1 record after Duoing with my man Scarskull. Hopefully I'll be able to finish my placement matches soon! The good news is, if I get placed in number 1, at least I'm number 1, right?!

Ranked play wouldn't be ranked play nowadays without some kind of reward, and Overwatch has it covered! Just for completing your 10 placement matches you will be rewarded with a Season 1 specific spray.


For every competitive match of Overwatch you win, you are awarded a new currency, Ranked Points. Despite the feeble name, Ranked Points can be spent to acquire cosmetic golden weapon skins for any character in the game. Each of these weapon skins will cost you 300 Ranked Points, which equals out to 300 wins. That's a whole lot of grinding, but having a virtual golden cyber katana is worth it, right? (rhetorical question, of course it is.)

Reaching the top 500 players in a server will unlock a special icon under your hero portrait in game, and if you manage to end Season 1 in the top 500 you will net yourself the very first animated spray in the game. Overall, I like the rewards set in place for Overwatch's first season of Competitive play. Even "bad" players are capable of grinding out a golden weapon for themselves, and that's a pleasant surprise.

Before you head out and start earning some Season 1 rewards, I'd like to share a small list of things I think is incredibly important to note for competitive play. If you've read any of Slooze's blogs about ranked League of Legends this should all sound familiar -

Rules For Success! -

1) Play what your team needs, even if it's something you don't particularly like. If you want to win matches and climb the ladder play to the needs of your team, just like any other game. Only playing 3-4 characters is pretty detrimental, and you should probably spend some more time grinding out quick play to learn the game before you find yourself demoted.

2) Communication is probably the most overpowered thing in Overwatch. I'm not saying you have to communicate via mic with a bunch of random players (but if you're comfortable with that, go for it!) but simply using the in-game social tools to communicate the status of your ult, or take the time to type out a game plan is extremely valuable. Simply pressing "z" (the default key for your ultimate charge status) can be enough for your team to identify an opening and make a play. Your team won't always listen, but at least you can say you did your part. Which brings me to point 3!

3) You will have to deal with baby men. There will always be those players with poor attitudes and even poorer social skills. and you need to be able to either ignore their rage, try to reason with them (LIKE AN ADULT) or simply mute them. Don't let their bad attitude effect your game play or your own attitude. Sometimes things are out of our control, and you will lose games where you have every gold medal. Feelsbadman.

4) Don't try to get Play of the Game with every ultimate you earn. Use ultimates to counter other ultimates or to simply remove a troublesome opponent. Don't float around as Pharah all game and look for that 5-man ultimate, when you could've cleared the point and charged up again. I cannot stress this enough with Mercy's Resurrection. Resurrecting only your offensive all-star or your beefy tank can be enough for your team to swing things in your favor.

5) Don't forget that the payload heals you for a small amount. This is one of those things that I see a lot of players forget, when they could have survived! You can crouch and keep the payload between you and the enemy team, and you'll be full health in no time!

6) Don't shoot Zarya bubbles. Unless you're confident in your god like ability to shred her bubble and then her life (about 600 damage in 2 seconds), just focus a different target for a few seconds. A Zarya with 0 energy is essentially useless. A Zarya with full energy can wipe your team.

7) HAVE. FUN.

I'll be around the shop playing Overwatch a lot for the next few weeks. I'm down to play with anyone with a good attitude! My entire life's motivation has come down to acquiring golden ninja swords. It's fine.





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