Overwatch Ranks Explained

Overwatch Ranks Explained

Written by 

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch


7th Jan 2021 19:22

Overwatch Ranked has changed a lot in recent years, and it can be hard to keep track of what’s going on. What’s a role queue? What are the ranks? How do I rank up? What am I judged by? Some of those questions have definitive answers, others we can make educated guesses that allow you to work with them. Let’s get going.

When can I start playing Overwatch ranked?

Your account needs to be at least level 25 in order to unlock the Competitive Queue in Overwatch.

What are the different queues in Overwatch ranked about?

Fairly recently, Blizzard Entertainment introduced a non-role locked queue for you to play competitive and ranked games in. With this, they responded to a significant part of the community missing the flexibility of playing outside of the mandated two tanks, two DPS, and two support meta that the normal queued had gone to in 2019. Other than those differences, there’s no difference between the queues. If you enjoy playing with fewer role restrictions, the Competitive Open Queue might just be for you. Perhaps it might be worth mentioning that most people consider role-queue to be the real deal, as Overwatch esports works under the ruleset imposed in it. 

What are the ranks?

Ranks range from Bronze to Top 500. The ranges are the following

  • Bronze 1-1499
  • Silver 1500-1999
  • Gold 2000-2499
  • Platinum 2500-2999
  • Diamond 3000-3499
  • Masters 3500-3999
  • Grandmaster 4000+
  • Top 500 - As the name states, the best 500 players on each respective ladder

Each role (Tank, Support, Damage) has a separate ladder with a fourth ranking coming in to aggregate the overall ranking of the best Overwatch players across all roles. The average player sits around the Gold rating range. Watch out though, you can lose your rank if you drop out of the rating range and you’re only given one game of grace period!

Overwatch Ranks
Click to enlarge

How do I gain rating?

After the first five initial placement matches in role queue or ten placement Competitive Open queue, you will receive a rank based on your in-game performance. Winning will award you a rating based on several factors. First off, when you just start out each season, the rating will fluctuate more than when the matchmaking system thinks it has figured out your real rank where you belong. A second rating hidden from you called the Matchmaking Rating (MMR) is constantly evaluating your performance and will put you in games it think you are good enough for, trying to find equally skilled opponents.

Your performance is evaluated based on your win-loss record but also your individual performance in each match though to what degree or which numbers boost your rating gain the most is unknown. Generally speaking, trying your best to win each game without stats padding and chasing will give you the most solid returns.

Moreover, you will receive rating in relation to the level of opponent you are facing. If the matchmaker thinks that the opponent is stronger than your team is, it will reward you with more points and if your opponent is slightly outmatched, it will reward you less for winning that match. The same is true for rating losses, subtracting less against stronger opponents and more against weaker ones.

Does grouping with friends help my rating?

It depends. If you are playing with a friend who is a much better player than you are, they might just be outside the rating range you can queue with. First off, you can’t queue with your friend if he’s Diamond or above and you haven’t completed your placement matches yet. Secondly, between Bronze and Diamond you can only queue with people within 1000 points of your rating range and in Masters this range even decreases down to 500. Lastly, Grandmaster players can only queue with players within 350 rating of their own.

The matchmaker will take your groups MMR into account and will try to find equal matches in order to produce a fair game. If you group with someone, the matchmaker will consider your team to be slightly above your actual skill rating to make up for the advantage you get for grouping. However, generally speaking the matchmaker will try to put you in matches with other groups of similar size and skill and especially outside the top rankings, it achieves this very well.

If you happen to jump into a game in which it feels like you are massively outgunned, it’s likely that either your team is underperforming their usually skill level or the team has one or more so called “smurf”, new accounts of players that are actually much higher in ranking but have not yet arrived at their desired position in the ladder.

As a word of advice, given that the matchmaker considers you to be at an advantage grouping with a friend, you have to make sure that you guys are communicating to make up for the disadvantage the matchmaker will put you at. Keep up communication and coordinate with your friend, otherwise games can quickly turn into a rating dive fest.

My friend and I played the same matches and have the same score but he’s ranked differently. How does that work?

As previously mentioned, the matchmaker considers your individual performance in these matches too so you might be contributing less to the success of your team than your teammate. Another option we may hypothesise about is that during your normal matches, you lost significantly more. Given that the matchmaker is unlikely to start from zero when you jump into your first competitive queue matches but rather also takes your normal game performance into account in order to rank you as quickly as possible, you might have shown a worse performance during your grind to level 25 than your teammate.

What do I get for playing ranked?

At the end of the season, players who participated in Competitive Queue will receive a profile icon that changes based on the rank you finished at. Top 500 players will receive a special icon. 

Moreover, you will receive an emblem on your profile. Last but certainly not least, you will receive points which you will be able to buy golden weapons for each character for. You will also receive 15 points after each Competitive queue victory as well as five points for each drawn match.

The current price for a golden gun for a hero is 3000 points. The rank you finish at will be immortalised on your rank page.

This concludes our Overwatch Ranking explanation. The world can always use more heroes!

Images via Blizzard Entertainment

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