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What you need to know about Overwatch Competitive Play

Time to raise my APM.

Competitive Play has returned to Overwatch. It's where most if not all of the serious competition will now take place, which in turn means the atmosphere around Quick Play should relax.

But Competitive Play works slightly differently to standard Quick Play and there are some things you should know.

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Pre-requisites and season length

  • Competitive Play unlocks when you reach level 25. (This took me around 15 hours.)
  • Competitive Play consists of four seasons, each two-and-a-half months in length with a two-week offseason in between.
  • The current Summer 2016 season runs until 18th August. Its theoretical start-date was 1st June.
  • The Autumn 2016 season will begin on or around 1st September, then. (You've got time for a quick holiday in between. Maybe Barbados?)


  • Competitive Play rewards you with Competitive Points. You are awarded 1CP for every win.
  • At the end of the season you'll be awarded more CPs depending on how you've done. (I can't find anything about how this is calculated.)
  • Competitive Points can be exchanged for golden hero weapons. Golden weapons cost 300CPs, so they'll take a lot of time to earn.
  • There are additional rewards available exclusively in Competitive Play. The example is a shield-shaped Ilios spray and player icon for completing 10 placement matches. There's also an animated Ilios spray (!) that's rewarded for placing in the top 500 at the end of the season. I can't see any other Competitive Play rewards in the game at the moment.
I have one Competitive Point now. Only 299 to go. Yearn.

Map specifics and Sudden Death

  • You must complete 10 placement matches before you get your skill rating (more on that below) and begin Competitive Play proper. This process takes a few hours because Competitive Play matches last longer than Quick Play matches; you must play a round of both Attack and Defend on Assault/Hybrid/Escort maps, or first-to-three on Control maps Nepal, Ilios and Lijang Tower.
  • Note that in Competitive Play, the initial timer for all maps other than Control has been reduced from five minutes to four.
  • On Assault maps Hanamura, Temple of Anubis and Volskaya, it's possible to win the match on the second game immediately after capturing Objective A - if the first Attack team did not.
  • If the score is tied (you get a point for each objective taken), each team plays one more Attack with the time they had leftover. Any amounts less than two minutes are made up to two minutes. And if it's still a tie it goes to Sudden Death.
  • On Escort and Hybrid maps Dorado, Route: 66, Watchpoint: Gibraltar, Hollywood, King's Row and Numbani, a point is awarded for capturing the initial objective and for reaching payload checkpoints.
  • If neither teams gets the payload to its destination, the team that pushed it furthest is declared the winner.
  • But if both teams get the payload to its destination, or if neither team manages to score the first point, then the match goes to Sudden Death.
  • Sudden Death is a feature in flux and Blizzard intends to rework/remove it but probably not until the Summer 2016 season has finished.
  • Sudden Death takes place on the same map and places one team randomly on Attack and one on Defend.
  • It gives the Attack team [varying times depending the map] to score a point (by either reaching the first Escort checkpoint or securing the first objective). If successful, the Attack team wins; if not, it loses.
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Skill rating

  • Your skill rating is a number between one and 100, and serves as your matchmaking score.
  • Your skill rating and Competitive Play standing are reset at the end of each season.
  • Your skill rating goes up or down when winning or losing Competitive Play matches but how much depends on a number of factors, including your performance as well as the average skill rating of the other team (which will be clearly visible). Beat a team with a higher average skill rating and you stand to gain more, whereas if you lose, you'll lose less.
  • (I can't find exact breakdowns of skill rating calculations and there are complaints that performance, however good or bad, doesn't seem to influence it.)
  • (There's a good discussion about matchmaking rating on the Overwatch forum that involves game director Jeff Kaplan.)
  • There will be a leaderboard of the top 500 players activated during each season, one for each platform (PC, PS4 and Xbox One). Presumably there will be separate leaderboards for each region (Europe, Americas and Asia).

Quitting penalties

  • Competitive Play penalises game-leavers more severely. Two minutes is the dividing line.
  • Leave a game before two minutes and the entire match is cancelled. This either happens because you chose to leave or were booted for being inactive.
  • You're warned about inactivity after not touching your mouse and keyboard for 30 seconds. If a further 15 seconds goes by and nothing changes, you're kicked from the game.
  • You're also considered inactive if you avoid combat for three minutes.
  • Leave a game after two minutes and you'll be given a one-minute window in which to rejoin the game. If you do not, all remaining players will have the option of leaving without incurring a leavers penalty - but they will record a Competitive Play loss.
  • If you leave and do not return you will not be able to join a new game until the one you left has finished. You will also incur a penalty mark - an infraction.
  • Continued infractions will lead to Competitive Play being locked away from you for increasing amounts of time, as well as, ultimately, being banned from the current season and forfeiting any rewards.
  • You can return your account to good standing by completing Competitive Play matches.

That's it! If you see any holes or any new information comes to light that I've missed, please let me know below. Thanks and GLHF.

If you're interested in any more Overwatch tips, then be sure to check out our Overwatch guide for heroes, maps, mechanics and more.

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