How Overwatch's Competitive Play Works

Published: April 11, 2016 2:54 PM /


Overwatch Soldier 76 & D.VA in action

On April 5 Overwatch received a patch that added new skins, sprays, player icons, voice lines, balancing fixes, and poses. Along with all of those additions the patch also added Competitive Play to Overwatch. Competitive Play has been a much requested addition to Overwatch ever since the betas started, so it's inclusion in this patch will no doubt make the beta players very happy. Here's how the patch notes describe Competitive Play:

Earned some battlefield experience and ready to step up your game? Prepare to prove yourself in Competitive Play! Designed for those seeking a more serious challenge, Competitive Play is our new game mode in which players can compete and “rank up” through a series divisions and tiers in monthly seasons.

Overwatch Competitive Play

Competitive Play will be available through "Play" on the main menu and then selecting "Competitive Play". You will only be able to play in Competitive Play once you reach level 25. The reason for the level 25 barrier is as Game Director Jeff Kaplan says:

The thought was that level 25 is relatively easy and fast for players to achieve, but it's enough of a barrier to keep brand new players sort of out and away from the system. We understand that players who are playing Competitive Play are very serious about the experience and don't want to be matched with players who don't know the heroes or don't necessarily know the maps yet, so we felt like 25 was a pretty good compromise.

One major concern you might have is how solo vs. group queuing will work. When you go to Competitive Play you can queue alone or in a party (of any size), so there is no barrier preventing solo players from playing in Competitive Play. You might be worried that your group will get stuck with a bunch of solo players, but worry not the system is set up so that it will do its best to match you with players of similar queue sizes. This means that if you queue solo the system will try to match you with other players who are also playing solo, and if you queue in a party it will try to match you against another party. Also you can only group up with players within 10 divisions of you so the likelihood of you matching up against a group of players way higher ranked than you is very low.

Overwatch Competitive Play Match

The way the actual matches will work is a bit different than the normal Quick Play. In Competitive Play if you get put into an Assault (the attacking team needs to capture two points on the map, while the defending team tries to stop them) or Escort (attacking team escorts a payload through the map to a final location, while the defending team tries to stop them) match you will play one game as the attacking team and one game as the defending team. After you've played each side, if both teams have one win and one loss the match will go to a sudden death overtime. The sudden death game will take place on a Control map (both teams fight to capture control points throughout the map), but with only a single randomly selected point. Whoever wins that one point will win the match. For Control maps the matches will be played with a 3 out of 5 game instead of a 2 out of 3 game. All of the match rules and set ups are tentative and could see changes depending on how they work out, as is normal for a beta.  

Competitive Play will have it's own progression system separate from Quick Play. The closest comparison for Overwatch's system to another ranked system would be League of Legends. In Overwatch's Competitive Play there will be four tiers (Challenger, Advanced, Expert, and Master) with five divisions (1-5) in each tier. When you first start you will be a Challenger 1 with Master 5 being the highest tier and division. Progression takes place in the form of earning points from your match wins in Competitive Play. You earn points for wins and, depending on the tier you are in, can lose points for losses. Your loss of points will only effect which division you are in, not which tier, which means you will never go down a tier after achieving it (also, you won't lose any points for a loss while in the Challenger tier). Here's how the point system will work:

  • Earn 20 points for a victory
  • Lose 20 points for a defeat
  • Advancement to the next division requires 100 points
  • Advancement to the next tier requires 100 points while at that tiers last division
  • Challenger tier players won't lose points for losses
  • In Challenger, Advanced, and Expert tiers players earn 40 points for consecutive wins
  • In Advanced and Expert tiers players lose 10 points, instead of 20, for a loss if the loss comes from a tie-breaker
  • Players can only queue in group if the are within 10 divisions of each other

Overwatch Heroic Tier

At Master 5 you'll have the opportunity to enter the special fifth tier: Heroic. There are no divisions in the Heroic tier, but every player in Heroic will get a unique numeric rank relative to other players in the tier. They also want to create in-game leaderboards for the Heroic tier in each season. Competitive Play will have a seasonal system where progression gets reset at the beginning of each month. The first season will start sometime after Overwatch's May release. Competitive Play will also award you with some cosmetic items like sprays and portrait borders. More information about Competitive Play rewards will be revealed in the future. Right now Overwatch is in "pre-season" which means some features of Competitive Play will be unavailable such as Heroic ranks, leaderboards, and the seasonal rewards. The pre-season will continue through at least launch date and potentially some time after that.

All of the Competitive Play features and functionality are subject to change based on your feedback and Blizzards own observations on what works and what doesn't, so make sure if you're in the beta right now that you share your thoughts with Blizzard so they can make things better before launch. 

Was this helpful to you? Are you excited for Competitive Play or do you play more for fun than competition? What do you think of the way Competitive Play works? Let us know in the comments below!

Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at

Kyle Downey TechRaptor
| Staff Writer

Staff Writer looking to keep you both informed and entertained. Favorite games include: Pokemon, Overwatch, Golden Sun, Portal, and Elder Scrolls.

More Info About This Game
Learn more about Overwatch
Game Page Overwatch
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date
May 24, 2016 (Calendar)
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)