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How Overwatch’s second competitive season is changing

So long, sudden death

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Blizzard is making a few key changes to how Overwatch’s competitive mode will play in its second season, according to a new developer update video featuring game director Jeff Kaplan. Some of the biggest changes include a change in player skill rating — Blizzard is bringing back competitive tiers — and the removal of sudden death tiebreakers.

Kaplan said that Blizzard will be moving away from the 1-100 skill ratings it introduced in Overwatch’s debut competitive season. Instead, players will have skill ratings that range from 1-5000, and those ratings will cover a series of tiers: bronze, silver, gold, diamond, etc. The tier structure (which was part of Blizzard’s original plan for competitive ranking) sounds similar to StarCraft 2’s league system.

Skill rating, as it worked in season one of competitive Overwatch, didn’t always feel good, Kaplan said. Players would see their rank go up or down by a fraction of a point, and it wasn’t really clear how much they were really gaining or losing with a win or loss. Now, rather than focusing on a single number, Blizzard wants players to think of themselves as playing in a certain tier, not just a number.

"What we want to do with the new system is focus you more on [thinking] 'I'm a gold player,'" Kaplan said.

Once players rank up from bronze to silver to gold, Kaplan said, they won’t fall down into a lower rank. However, players who reach Overwatch’s highest tiers — master and grand master — can drop down if their performance suffers.

Kaplan also said that Overwatch’s coin toss and sudden death implementation for dealing with ties in competitive mode will go away completely. There will be rare instances of ties, though Kaplan said players will still get competitive points for those matches.

Blizzard will also be multiplying players’ current bank of competitive points by a factor of 10 in season two, but the cost of golden weapons will also see their value increased tenfold as well.

For more details on Overwatch’s changes to competitive mode (and there are quite a few), check out the full video above.

Overwatch competitive play season one ends Aug. 17. Season two starts Sept. 6.