On top of announcing the start of Season 4, Blizzard’s blog on the topic also covers some of the changes being made to the system. Most changes deal with those ranked Diamond or above, but a few are important for all Competitive players.
The most important change in Season 4 was also detailed in today’s patch notes, updating Overwatch to patch 1.8. All Assault, Escort, and Assault/Escort hybrid maps will now feature a situational respawn delay for defenders.
If attackers outnumber defenders on a contested point, the defenders’ respawn timer will increase proportionally over time. This feature is being implemented to prevent timer stalling by trickling in defensive players one by one, and hopefully reduce the number of ties. The studio also mentions working on a more “robust” solution for breaking ties on Assault maps.
Also of note is that players with Skill Level 500 and below will no longer be shown. Blizzard saw that many players were striving to acquire as low of a skill level as possible to matchmake with low-level opponents. The devs hope that by removing the number, it will stymie the need for these players to continue losing games intentionally.
For high-level Overwatch players, there are a couple of important changes to note. For Diamond-level players and above (those above a 3000 Skill Rating), decay sets in much faster. Rather than just a single game per week, players must participate in seven games to keep their rank.
Each game will increase the decay timer by 24 hours, with the timer capped at seven days. Blizzard describes this as a way to make upper-tier placement, “more meaningful.”
Next, for those eyeing Top 500 ranking rewards, Blizzard is taking off the training wheels. Previously, any player who broke into the Top 500 during a season would be rewarded Top 500 rewards at the end of the season, but now only the Top 500 at the end of a season will get those rewards. Blizzard believes this will lead to more serious competition for the full duration of a season, as not only will top-ranked players have to play multiple games every week, but also finish the season in the Top 500 to get those prestigious rewards.
Overwatch‘s Season 4 of Competitive Play began today across PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Season 4 launched in tandem with patch 1.8 which added the Game Browser and Capture the Flag custom game mode.