To Maintain High Ranks, Overwatch Players Will Need To Play Way More Often Now

To Maintain High Ranks, Overwatch Players Will Need To Play Way More Often Now


Yesterday’s Overwatch patch will force players with high competitive skill ratings to play at least seven games a week or see their ranking decline. It’s a smart move to combat foul play, and in the comings weeks, top Overwatch players should see fewer “smurf” accounts and more fair skill rankings.

In response to the patch, some Diamond, Master and Grandmaster-ranked players complain that Blizzard is levying a “tax” against them for having a life outside of Overwatch.

Skill rating decay isn’t new, but the latest update intensified it. Blizzard’s been testing out ways to improve SR accuracy since Overwatch‘s release last year, and forcing players to compete often gives Blizzard more data to measure their skill.

In Season Two, Blizzard adjusted Overwatch‘s competitive ranking system so players who placed in the top three ranks were forced to play at least one competitive match a week. Their rating would “decay” 50 points every 24 hours, but never fall below 3,000.

Today, Blizzard published a blog post marking Overwatch‘s fourth season of competitive play, explaining that they’d increased the requirement for Diamond, Master and Grandmaster players from one competitive match a week to seven. It’s a huge escalation that, Blizzard hopes, “will improve the accuracy of the player’s skill rating, make maintaining multiple high-level accounts more difficult, and make upper-tier placement more meaningful.”

Reading between the lines, it’s obvious that Blizzard wants to stomp out the practice of “smurfing.” That’s when players compete on alternate accounts, often so more talented players can crush newer ones. They do that by opening up or buying secondary accounts with lower skill ratings. In a lower rank, they’re matched against less experienced players.

With the new update, it will be much harder to maintain, say, three smurf accounts, if you have to play seven games a week on each. Probably, they will fall into the lower end of the Diamond ranking.

You might ask, “Why would a player ‘smurf’ in such a high rank?” Between a Master and low-Diamond, the skill gap is significant. For Master-ranked players who want to feel superior but still face a challenge, low-Diamond matches will do the trick.

Although the “skill decay” boost should combat smurfing, on Reddit and, players are complaining that seven games a week is a big commitment.

Some say Blizzard is “punishing” them for having a life outside of Overwatch. Anything from travel to school assignments can get in the way of Blizzard’s new quota. Others point out that Overwatch players who have enough time to “smurf” probably have enough time to play seven games a week on each “smurf” account.

More diehard Overwatch fans say that two hours a week is peanuts for top-ranked players. Other highly competitive games, like League of Legends, have a similar mechanic. It’s nothing new for esports, but for Overwatch, it widens the gap between casual and competitive play, a line the game desperately attempts to walk but, in cases like this, trips over.


  • Ha ha, joke’s on them! I never rank over 3000 in the first place. Check. Mate.

  • Jokes on them the higher ranks either dont have jobs, are streamers who play 8 hours a day, or are listed as a permanent resident at a South Korean or Japanese net cafe…. no effect.

  • Others point out that Overwatch players who have enough time to “smurf” probably have enough time to play seven games a week on each “smurf” account.

    What an idiotic suggestion. It now takes the same time to keep rank on one account as it used to take for one account, PLUS six smurf accounts.

    If you want to keep a high ranking, two hours a week is peanuts. Can you imagine any other competitive sport where someone would expect to be in the top thousand or so players with an investment of only 20 minutes per week? It’s ludicrous. In fact, I dare say that if you only play the game 20 minutes per week, you’re a casual player anyway and shouldn’t be concerned with rankings, etc.

  • Surely anyone who’s seriously into overwatch and skilled enough to be in top tiers would be playing seven matches a week anyway? And can surely get their ranking back up should they take a break for personal reasons, if they’re genuinely skilled enough to be in that rank…

    No different to dropping rankings in any other sport with rankings (eg tennis) if you aren’t playing regularly…

  • I hope Blizzard takes some more moves to combat the smurf situation. It’s gotten a little ridiculous over the last couple of months

  • How does this combat smurfing. If anything this makes smurfing much easier as a smurf wont need to actively derank.

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