The start date for Overwatch Season 16 is locked in for tomorrow, April 30, and with the new season comes some significant changes that could completely reshape the competitive landscape at higher ranks.
Overwatch developer, Scott Mercer, has taken to the official Blizzard forums to detail a change that may force players in the Grandmaster tier — or roughly 4% of the total player base — to solo and duo-queue more often.
The change effectively bans any players with a skill rank of >4,000 to only play in a solo queue, or group up with a maximum of one other person.
It’s an interesting change to the competitive landscape in Overwatch, especially considering so little of the community actually falls into that bracket. However, what it does stand to do is force high-ranked and Pro players to more actively play in random teams.
“Starting with Season 16 of Competitive Play, Grandmaster players (players with SR >4000) will no longer be able to queue for competitive matches in a party size larger than two,” Mercer explained.
“In an effort to have higher quality and more fun matches for everyone, Overwatch actively tries to place parties of similar sizes together to create fair matches.
“For the vast majority of players this feature of the matchmaking system works reasonably well. For our Grandmaster players, making fair matches is always more difficult simply because there are fewer players of their skill level to place together.
“It’s even harder if we allow Grandmasters to queue with larger groups. We believe this change will help create better quality matches for all Grandmaster players.”
While Mercer says this has been implemented so as to improve the matchmaking experience — and it’s a completely valid argument given how small a percentage of the community falls into the >4,000 SR bracket — it also stands as an opening for players on the cusp of Grandmaster status to move into that rank.
Playing in solo or duo-queues in Overwatch Competitive Play is no easy feat, given it requires coherency with a group of players you’ll have unlikely never have played with in the past. Grandmaster players may have reached that rank with exceptionally good play in solo queue, however it’s likely they were grouped in four, five, or six-stacks to boost up the ranks. This could well open the community up to a more balanced and accessible Grandmaster rank.
What are your thoughts on the changes to Overwatch Season 16? Sound off in the comments below!