With the confirmation and introduction of a new 2-2-2 role lock system, Blizzard is set to implement perhaps the most significance change to the Overwatch competitive scene since season 2 way back in 2016. Here’s what role lock means for you, competitive play, and the Overwatch experience broadly.
Role Queue – How It Works
The role queue system, basically, will work like this: as you enter into a Quick Play or Competitive match, you’ll have to select a “role”, being one of Support, Damage, or Tank. Then, the matchmaking system will put you into a team that requires players within that role.
When you enter into the match lobby, you’ll then select a hero based on that chosen role, and only heroes within that role. That means if you select Tank, you won’t then be able to pick a Support or Damage hero.
Unlike what was previously thought and rumoured, where players would have a role locked to their profile, you’ll select the role before each match, ensuring you can actually select some sort of variety in the heroes you’re selecting.
Wait Times and Matchmaking
Once you’ve selected a role, you’ll go into a queue for that specific class. So essentially, if you choose Support, you can into a “Support” queue, looking for a match that requires a hero of that calibre.
The idea, it seems, is that it will encourage players to choose the likes of Support and Tank more often, given Damage is the more heavily-chosen class.
While queued you’ll be given a wait time estimation as well, and this is determined by the number of players waiting for a match, but also your own skill set and rank: even if there is availability in a Bronze-tiered match for your selected role, you’ll still be queued if you’re Diamond.
How will role lock impact ranked player and competitive SR? Rather significantly, it seems.
Once role lock — or “Role Queue”, as it’s officially called — is live, you’ll earn separate skill ratings (SR) for each role in Competitive Play. This means you’ll have three distinct SRs.
You’ll get a number from 1 to 5000 for each role, with the higher the ranking, the higher the skill. The same tiers apply: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, or Grandmaster.
Matchmaking will be determined both by SR of your selected role as well as availability of the role across matchmaking lobbies. Blizzard hopes this will change and help the way players move between roles, and are ranked.
Further, it should improve overall balancing and team composition: a player in Gold, for example, may select a hero in a role they’re not familiar with, and so their play isn’t a true reflection of where they currently sit in the rank if they’ve made it to gold with a completely different role.
Placement Matches also see a rather significant change. The maximum number of placement matches is now 15, up from 10, while the minimum is now 5, down from 10 as well.
You’ll need to complete five placement matches in a specific role in order to get an SR ranking for that role. If you want an SR rank for each role, you’ll need to play 15 placement matches.
When is the Overwatch role lock release date?
The role queue is current being tested on the PTR on PC, with a live server beta run expected to take place from August 13 until September 1.
There will be a mini “beta” competitive season, with season 17 set to finish early to accommodate this. You’ll still be able to rank up and earn points and SR during this season, but given it’s only for a limited time you won’t have these counted towards your actual Competitive Season stats.
Once Blizzard is happy with all the feedback and testing, it’s expected that role lock will hit the Quick Play and Competitive Player public servers on September 1, right in time for the start of season 18.
And that’s about all these is to cover. What are your thoughts on Role Queue? Vote in our poll and sound off in the comments below!