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Overwatch’s Season 17 end date brought forward: Is role lock imminent?

The current Overwatch competitive season kicked off on July 17, but its end date appears to have been brought forward, leading to speculation that Blizzard could be looking to introduce the long-touted and rumoured role lock system sooner than expected.

Players battling it out in Season 17 would have noticed that the countdown time for the end of the season suddenly changed to 26 days. That would mean the season clocks in at only 27 days, shorter than the normal two-month seasons we’ve been used to since 2017.

Overwatch patch notes: Update 1.37 sees huge buff to McCree, Baptiste

With the change has come heated speculation that Blizzard is working to introduce a role lock system in line with Stage 4 of the Overwatch League‘s current season, which kicks off on July 25 PST.

While major changes tend to roll out onto the PC PTR ahead of the competitive scene on live servers, Blizzard may be looking to introduce role lock with a new season while the stage is taking place. This would make sense, given how significantly it stands to change the competitive landscape for the Overwatch community.

overwatch ptr patch notes

Back in March we touched on the prospect of a forced role queue being introduced to Overwatch‘s competitive play. While the consensus was pretty mixed — with an even spread across the yes-no votes for the move — Blizzard has been pretty emphatic in its dismissal of it. There was always the prospect for change, however, if the studio was to ever listen to the game’s vocal Overwatch League players.

The idea behind the hero preference system was put to Overwatch game director, Jeff Kaplan, recently over on the forums. Always one to take on fan and community feedback, Kaplan detailed that the development team has thought of the system, its pros and cons, and how it might be implemented. 

overwatch patch notes

Ultimately, however, it would force to significant a compromise upon more balanced players, that it may not be a viable solution for any of the game’s queue woes.

“It’s actually one we’ve debated on the team,” Kaplan explained. “One concern we have is anytime we – the OW team – make assumptions about what you want to do without giving you some agency in the situation.

Our concern is, we believe there are a number of players who want to or like to play different roles but because they are thinking of ‘the good of the team’, they flex to needed roles. A player like this, under your design suggestion, is going to end up always having to play tank or support.

“We really want to avoid design solutions that further reinforce players being forced to play roles they don’t intend to.”

Pro players weighed in back in April, with Dallas Fuel’s Timo ‘Taimou’ Kettunen tweeting out support for role queues.

“I think we might actually need the 2-2-2 force to balance the game.. I am a different man now,” Kettunen tweeted.

“Let’s do it,” responded André “iddqd” Dahlström.

It’s been a few months since we last heard about the prospect of role lock, be it in the Competitive scene or pro scene, but it’s once again ramping up, and recent murmurs look to have a 2-2-2 role lock coming to the Overwatch League.

And now, with the sudden change to Competitive Season 17’s end date, we may be on the verge of the 2-2-2 role lock far sooner than many of us expected.

Upcomer reported last month that multiple sources claimed a 2-2-2 lock will be implemented for Stage 4 of this year’s Overwatch League season. This would mean that teams would be forced to lock to two Supports, two Tanks, and two DPS/Damage healers.

It seems inevitible at this point.

What are your thoughts on a role lock system in Overwatch competitive play? Vote in our poll and then sound off in the comments below!

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