Blizzard Is Changing Overwatch's Controversial Sudden Death Mode

Overwatch's competitive mode has proven a contentious subject, to say the least. One thing pretty much everyone agrees on, however, is that the sudden death tiebreaker mode needs a serious overhaul. The good news: It's getting one! The bad news: In the near future, tweaks will be slight. Blizzard isn't Pharah ulting it into oblivion until next season.

Sudden death occurs in competitive mode after teams tie. A coin flip determines who plays attack and who plays defence. Winner takes the whole match. As part of a recent Overwatch patch, Blizzard tweaked Sudden Death timing on all but one map, Hollywood. Otherwise, it's been shortened everywhere from one minute and 45 seconds to either one minute and 30 seconds or one minute and 35 seconds, except on Numbani, where it actually got increased to one minute and 50 seconds.

So baby steps, basically. Many people's central problems with sudden death — that attack/defence is decided with a coin toss and the whole thing can render hard fought matches more or less moot — have not been addressed here, but that's not the point. For this season, Blizzard seems hell bent on making the best of a bad system. Fair enough.

Next season, however, Sudden Death is, well, suddenly dying. Speaking with PC Gamer, Blizzard's Scott Mercer explained what will take its place.

"With the current competitive mode, players really don't like the Sudden Death mechanic we have in place," Mercer said. "The thought was that the coin flip, while it was a little random, would be balanced so that the chance for the attacker or defender to win would be really close."

"But it turns out it wasn't close enough and in some cases wasn't close. We pulled back from that, decided that, hey, for season two we're going to remove Sudden Death and allow for the concept of ties to take place."

So yeah, instead of forcing a resolution to ties, Blizzard is just gonna let them happen.

They have yet to explain how that will affect your stats and Skill Rating, but I already feel like it's a much better idea than Sudden Death as it currently exists. It fits well with Overwatch's "everybody wins" ethos too, since it will create an outcome where, you know, everybody wins. Or at least, they might, depending on how Blizzard decides to dole out rewards.

That said, I could see it get annoying/unsatisfying if people feel like they're tying too often. It will be a delicate balancing act, that's for sure.


    Any change is welcome. Although my main problem with Sudden Death is the skill point hit you take after losing it, despite the fact that you essentially tied the match. Even if they just halved the skill point loss or something like that, I would be happy.

    I don't know what they did to change the game. But it feels like the defending team is just getting absolutely destroyed these days.

    My team defends, we get steam rolled. Then the other team defends and they get steam rolled. Ending in the ties where the attacking team is most likely going to win.

      It's because people will use cheap strategies to win. We've played against an all tank team so they ensured their victory. My cousin got wrecked by an all Winston team. It's not how to game is supposed to be played.

        This is the problem with sudden death, defenders can only go for cheap tactics (on console this usually means 6x Torbjorns) and attackers just go for 6x Winstons etc.

        It's not fun, it's not how the game should be, and its a kick in the teeth to lose like this (and feels cheap to win like this) especially after you might've just had a really close and fun fight through the proper game.

        Actually as far as blizzard is concerned hero stacking is a legit strat - there was a tweet about it. Regardless all winston is pretty easy to counter one mei and a reaper/roadhog will decimate them - both pretty standard in our defense setup. source:

        The problem i have with the tiebreakers is that generally the defending team can't have a wipe where as the attacking team can get one or two wipes, build ults then use them all on a final push wiping your team.

          I don't care if they made the game, it's wrong =P

          You are correct. Its not "cheap tactics" its the fact that the defending team when matched with an equal attack team will almost always lose. Its why some pro tournaments do the stopwatch system because its more about how fast you can get to the end rather then just getting to the end.

          As for hero stacking it is a legit strat and the way the game is meant to be played (as per the people thast made the game) Its acctully rather easy to counter 6 winstons or 6 tobj or any other "cheap" team comp. Its more of a gamble I'd say playing that way because if you get countered its GG

            Hero stacking works fine outside of sudden death as you have time to adjust. You don't get that in sudden death. You gamble on a team config and if it's wrong stiff shit and it is unfair if you're defending.

            I know this because I did it last night because the game allows it. Sudden death, we got placed as attacks. Stacked Dva's with a Lucio. By the time the other team works out what's going on they can't do anything because they need to die to switch and then walk to the action again. So they either sit there shooting watching their shots get absorbed or do nothing, or die to change and then lose due to the commute. They lose either way. Meanwhile the attacking team just rolls their defence matrix one by one and the other team dies to 1000 papercuts of Dva's peppering them.

            It should be how it goes in other games with time attack. Lowest time wins because it demonstrates better skill of the team.

            Last edited 08/07/16 12:48 pm

              that's a really good point and a good reason to get rid of Sudden death.

        Use Roadhog against Winstons. Played against an all Winston team and got hit pretty hard, switch to the hog and started to hold them off for a bit. Still lost though.

      The problem is on capture the point maps, the attacking team naturally has the advantage when attacking the first point (A), but that switches to giving the defending team the advantage for the second (B). When you only need to capture (A) after a coin flip, naturally due to the maps layout the attackers should always win.

      No one enjoys losing due to a coin flip.

    Pretty disappointed with this. They should have dedicated tie breaker map(s). A tug of war or something.

    That said there are more pressing issues than tie breaker - they need to fix support classes MMR. Go dual healer (lucio+mercy) and ya support players get fucked on. If ya team is playing well, ie taking little damage again support is screwed (mercy in particular). explains it better than i can.

    Probably the biggest thing they need to fix tho is the leavers issue. i had 5-3 as a solo queue the other day (5 wins) in 4 of the 5 wins an opposition member dc'd or left. I lost a rank and a bit due to leavers on the opposition side yet i had a 63% win rate and was getting 3 - 4 gold medals each match. It's fucking ridiculous that a winning team gets punished due to rage quitters on the opposition.

    Yeah Im having an issue with leavers as well, but I think that will eventually stop, because they face harsh penalties.

      We had an aenitre team rage quite, but two people. They were really bummed about it and we felt for them. They asked for mercy and our entire team went mercy. I think that made them laugh, at least. We won, but I feel like those who stay should get something.

      Loosing a rank as punishment? Probably won't stop some people from doing it occasionally and i think it is only your last 20 games that get taken into account for bans. Remember it only takes 1/12 to fuck over 11 others - so maybe it happens once in every three games or 1/36 (which seems to be my experience solo queuing, full group queue it's virtually a non issue). Also you then got legitimate dc's as well and they'll never stop.

      Don't forget that it has the side affect of introducing a higher % of quitters\dc'ers into the lower ranks, so if your in the 30/40's you'll get more people dc'n or rage quitting. I get a lot and i'm in the 50's.

    Honestly I would rather have a tie and split the points, Sudden Death is so disappointing after a hard fought match.

    I've always liked the idea of a team deathmatch for the tie breaker. Same map you're on, spawns change every 30 seconds to keep things fresh and prevent turtles, most points after 5 minutes wins.

    Funnily enough I have actually won a number of sudden deaths as the defending side. I don't understand why they have it on payload and hybrid maps though. Should just go by time left, seems especially unfair when your team beats the opponnet by a margin of 5 mins or so only to wind up getting steamrolled on def in sudden death.

    There is no need for sudden death. The objectives are time based - the winner should simply be the team who reached the objective in less time.

    I was playing a game yesterday, where I had DCed right at the start. By the time I rejoined, the enemy team was pushing to the final checkpoint for the payload. We managed to hold them off until overtime, in which they made it.

    The next round, we completely smashed them. We made it to the end with several minutes remaining. But then, as BOTH teams made it, we had to do sudden death, and our team overall lost.

    Clearly, we had the better team. The other team only went up against 5 players for the majority of their round, and only just made it in overtime, where as our team had several minutes remaining. It was no contest.

    Competitive currently is just horrible, and it's not just sudden death.

    I think death match should be a tug of war on an old western style map. Just a straight road, a payload in the middle, and houses on the side.
    First team to push the payload to the other end wins.

    You could go Worms: Armageddon style and slowly drop all players health or something as the game goes on if it take too much time

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