Overwatch‘s Competitive Mode ranks and matches players down a ranking system it calls Skill Rating, or “SR” for short. This form of rank distribution is not only what determines who you’re matched up with in a Competitive match, but it also stands to determine your authority and reputation among the Overwatch community.
Given how long Overwatch has now graced our PCs and consoles, chances are if you’re reading this you’ve already battled it out in Competitive play, or perhaps you’ve always been interested but have never really understood how the ranking system works.
In this guide we’ll run through each rank, what it means, how it rises and falls, and why distribution is important as you rise up the ranks.
The Basics of SR
Your SR is essentially your clout currency for every Competitive season. Whatever your SR is at the start of the season, this will determine your skill rating based on a combination of different factors. With the introduction of Role Queue, the below can simply be applied down the line to each individual role, with the primary difference between that you now have three individual SR’s, rather than a single one.
We don’t quite know how this rating is determined. Blizzard tells us it’s a combination of a number of different things, but it’s hard to gauge given your rating probably won’t change much between the end of one season, and the end of your placement matches in another season.
At the start of each season, you’ll need to play 5 “Placement” matches in a single role — Support, Damage, or Tank — in order to get an SR for that specific role. These are normal Competitive matches, and you may be placed with people who already have SR in that role. But you won’t have an SR until after you’ve completed these 5 matches.
How Placements Determine SR
This is where a lot of conjecture is focused on for Overwatch players. After many seasons now, it’s clear that your SR from season to season won’t change much.
Why is that? Well, let’s say at the end of a season your SR in Support is 2400. You’ll go into the next season, play your 5 placement matches, win all 5, and come out with an SR of, say, 2525.
As you can see, the rise in SR is actually in line with what you’d expect to see should those 5 matches have been played as normal with your Support SR already established.
This tells us that, potentially, placement matches are a bit of a ruse, an attempt to add some sense of tension and additional competitiveness to Overwatch‘s competitive scene.
Seasoned Overwatch players will treat these placement matches as just normal Competitive matches, except without any indication as to how your SR rises or falls with a win or loss, respectively.
You may be wondering, however, how a new player is ranked, or how a player that hasn’t played in a while is ranked.
Well, for a new player, SR is determined by a combination of experience (you need to have reached at least level 25 to play in Competitive), Quick Play performance, win:loss ratio in placements, as well as hero performance relative to the player base’s top peak performance for that hero in that specific class.
Seasoned players are ranked the same way, but obviously with less influence given they already have an established SR: going on a win streak, and playing above the peak standard for any given hero on a consistent basis, will see the SR increase for that role rising at a faster rate. Whereas a win, with a poor individual performance, won’t see as big a rise for that role.
There’s also the difference in each team’s average SR that has an impact on how much your SR will rise and fall. As an example, you stand to earn more SR for your select role if your team beats a higher ranked (overall) team, than if your win comes against a lower ranked team.
SR Scale Explained
- Bronze – 1-1499 SR
- Silver – 1500-1999 SR
- Gold – 2000-2499 SR
- Platinum – 2500-2999 SR
- Diamond – 3000-3499 SR
- Master – 3500-3999 SR
- Grandmaster – 4000+
- Top 500 – Among the 500 best players in that region
If you fall into any of the Silver, Gold, Platinum, or Diamond tiers for a role, a minimum rating for that tier will need to be maintained in order to stay within that SR.
For example, falling below 2000 in Gold in the Damage role may not atomically revert you down to Silver, however you’d need to fall on or above that minimum 2000 SR over a five-game period to avoid demotion.
Diamond, Master, and Grandmaster tiers have it a bit tougher: they’ll need to complete at least five matches every seven days to stay at their SR, or risk losing 25 SR every 24 hours. Time decay penalty will be increased by 36 hours if a game is played on the last day before decay is initiated.
As for matchmaking, when entering a Competitive match, your SR will determine a few things.
- A group must have no more than a 1000 difference in SR amongst any players for members ranked Diamond or below.
- A group must have no more than 500 difference in SR for members ranked at Master or above.
- A group must have no more than 350 difference in SR for members ranked at Grandmaster or above.
- If you have not completed your placement matches, you won’t be able to group with any player at Diamond or above.
At the completion of every Competitive season, you’ll receive an award based on your SR for a role.
- Bronze – 65 Competitive Points
- Silver – 125 Competitive Points
- Gold – 250 Competitive Points
- Platinum – 500 Competitive Points
- Diamond – 750 Competitive Points
- Master – 1200 Competitive Points
- Grandmaster – 1750 Competitive Points
How To Increase Your SR
There’s any number of tips and guides out there to play and compete in Overwatch as you look to climb the ranks.
The reality is that, with the meta constantly changing, new heroes being added, and fundamentals being tweaked with every new update, the best tip is to simply play the game as much as you can.
I know that may seem simplistic, but it’s really all there is to it.
One thing you’ll absolutely need to know is the basics of at least six heroes, two across each role. At the very least. And you’ll need to be good — that is, above the average player performance with that hero — with three heroes in each role.
This is to ensure that, should you need to “fill” for your team and select a hero that more even balances out across the other select roles and heroes, you can confidently play as a hero where necessary.
If you’re new to Overwatch and you’re looking for heroes to study and climb the Competitive ranks with, I’d suggest the following heroes:
- Soldier 76 (Damage)
- Reaper (Damage)
- Reinhardt (Tank)
- Orisa (Tank)
- Brigitte (Support)
- Moira (Support)
Having any tips for rising the ranks in Overwatch competitive? Sound off in the comments below!