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Overwatch competitive play: 5 ways to prepare yourself

Overwatch‘s second season of Competitive Play rank mode is finally here. If you’re looking to test your skills against the best of the Overwatch community, these tips should help prepare you.

Firstly, some basics about Competitive Play.

What is Competitive Play?

Competitive Play is for Overwatch players who want to put their skills to the test. The point of Competitive Play is to offer a more serious, skilled experience than the one offered in Quick Play or Weekly Brawl. You can only compete in Competitive Play if you’re level 25 or above.

Skill Rating

Once you first get things started, you’ll compete in 10 “placement” matches in order to earn a skill rating. Player ratings are measured from 1 to 5000. Skill rating decay will also occur, with players with a skill rating above 3000 needing to stay active in order to stay within that range.

Ratings increase or decrease depending on wins and losses, respectively, as well as your own performance and the skill level of the other players in a match.


Competitive Play consists of four “seasons”. These seasons last two and a half months each. During each season you’ll be able to increase your skill rating and battle up the ranks, with stats reset at the end of each season. There is a two-week “offseason” between seasons.

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Do you think you have what it takes to test your skills in Competitive Play? If you’re unsure, be sure to use these tips to get you ready to compete.

Make Sure You Know The Maps

One would hope that by level 25 you have a fairly sound grasp of each map in the game, but you might have spent your first few hours of the gaming only playing a handful of maps, so it’s important that you’re familiarised with each. A loss in Competitive Play can really send your rank tumbling, and coupled with a bad performance you can really struggle to increase your rank. Spend some time in a private lobby if you need to as a means to understand each map: the good vantage points, the best flanking positions, the bottlenecks. Knowing the ins and outs of each map will help you shoot up the rankings.


Familiarise Yourself With Two Heroes From Each Class

It’s important that you’re comfortable with at least six characters before heading in. You may occasionally find yourself having to suck it up as a character you can’t play as, but if you expand your knowledge and skill with more than just two or three characters, you’ll be able to diversify your skillset and approach matches any number of ways. Competitive Play is a little more serious and skill-based to what we’re used to in Quick Play, so having a double-up of a character, or not paying attention to the team tips can really hurt your team. If my team is low on Offense characters, I go as one of Soldier: 76 or Reaper. For Defense, I’ll go as one of Mei, Hanzo or Widowmaker. Tank is D.Va (when defending) or Reinhardt (when attacking), and Support is either Mercy or Zenyatta. Having that wide skillset means I can go into a match confident that I can support my team where necessary, and without having to choose a Hero that’s been picked by a teammate.


Do Away With The Team Chat Anxiety

The default chat method in Overwatch is Group Chat, but you can switch to Team chat by press “P” on your keyboard. Overwatch is an infinitely better gaming experience when you’re chatting with your teammates. This is a game that dictates tight, balanced team structure and strategy, and it’s possible but tough to achieve that without chatting with those on your team. Competitive Play absolutely dictates Team chat, so if you’re shy or anxious about chatting with randoms, maybe Competitive Play isn’t for you.


Improve Your Defensive Prowess

As the old saying goes, “Offense sells jerseys, but defense wins championships.” You could apply that to Overwatch, because a good defense almost always leads into a good offense. Take for example Reinhardt. He’s a defensive-minded Tank who is best used when Attacking, He defends teammates, who have the capacity to push forward safe from the enemy bombardment near the objective or payload. The same goes for every Hero: you need to be able to utilise your character in a way that protects your teammates as much in Attack as you would in Defense. Being a good defensive player on either end of the pitch will help you progress in Competitive Play. If you’re an overtly attack-minded player, this could hurt both you and your teammates when you come face-to-face with aggressively defensive players and teams.

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Know The Right Times To Play

Being in Australia with our far-from-impressive internet, choosing the right time to play is incredibly important. In my experience, early afternoon gives me the highest ping, as fewer Aussies are online (probably at work being all productive and stuff!), whereas North American gamers are winding down and settling it for the night playing Overwatch. The later in the day, the better my ping. This matters, particularly on console, because a bad ping, coupled with the occasional bad server, can really mess with your ranking. It might be tough for you to break into the world’s top rankings, but at least you’ll be competing against fellow countrymen of a similar rank. It’s also worth noting that if you leave a match too many times — even if it’s because your ping is too high, or the server is kicking you — you’ll earn an XP penalty of 75%. You might even be banned for a set period from Competitive Play. Keep this in mind.

Got any tips for Overwatch Competitive Play? Sound off in the comments below!

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