Overwatch — Low elo vs High elo

Ever since Overwatch was unveiled at BlizzCon 2014, gamers all around the world were ecstatic with the fast-paced team-based first-person shooter. With the game’s official release on 24th of March 2016 and ranked mode soon after, even though it wasn’t developed with a dedication towards eSports, Overwatch established itself as a highly competitive game, with ESL pioneering various tournaments and events around the world.

In the game, players queue up for the ranked game mode, individually or in groups, to get matched with other players of similar skill level, and play in two teams of six players in a random map. While not having a true Elo system, Overwatch does have a hidden matchmaking rating (MMR) for each player, which is represented by a Skill Rating (SR) value, between 1–5000, with higher numbers representing a higher level of skill. Winning a game grants the winning team’s players some SR points based on their hidden MMR rating, while the losing team’s players lose SR.

Alongside this SR scale, players are assigned different divisions, much like systems in other competitive games, with various divisions from Bronze to Silver and Gold, all the way to Diamond, Master, and Grandmaster games. The top 500 players of each region are also distinguished with a special icon. These SR points are soft-reset with every Season, which is essentially a period of time players have to rank up before every player is rewarded based on their highest rank achieved.

So what differentiates a low ranked player from one who is high ranked? Here are a couple of key differences between players of differing ranks.

Mechanical differences:

There are various differences between each Overwatch player mechanically. This involves basics such as aim and player movement. Some players are lower ranked because their aim isn’t as good, and with Overwatch being, primarily, a shooter game, they are going to be in a disadvantaged position, consequently not winning as many games. How does one improve their aim and other mechanical aspect of their game? Practice practice and more practice. Different heroes even have to aim differently. Some Heroes are hit-scan based, such as McGree and Soldier 76, where when your crosshair is on an enemy champion and you shoot, the damage is calculated instantly. Others such as Pharah and Genji, are projectile based and only when the projectiles they fire hit an enemy is damage calculated. Playing games and using the practice tool is invaluable to a player’s aim.

Understanding what each Hero does and their role:

Lower ranked players will often pick certain Heroes to fit a team composition and then play them completely different to their purpose. For example, if you pick a healer, your job is, primarily, to heal your team. You’re supposed to stay back, not die and heal your team. But too often can you see Healers in lower ranked games engaging in fights as if they were DPS (Damage per second) Heroes. Or if you pick a tank, your job is to absorb damage, distract enemies and get openings for your team to do their roles, not to overextend and barrel down into the enemy team, leaving your team uncovered.

Higher ranked players understand this better, and will play their heroes in the roles they were designed to do. Healers stay back and help their team, Tanks will frontline for their damage dealers, DPS will do damage, Defense Heroes will properly position to hold off areas of the map, and so on.

Another issue pertains to Heroes lower ranked players pick. It might come down to an ego problem, or is just someone looking to play the game casually, but they will usually pick certain Heroes that either don’t fit their team’s composition, or they cannot play to an efficient level. I’m sure everyone has seen that guy that locks in Hanzo and proceeds to not do anything the whole game, eventually costing everyone on their team the win. Higher ranked players will usually set aside their egos and play what the team needs them to play to succeed. If someone is playing an offensive Hero and is having a rough game, they’ll gladly communicate with their team to swap roles and Heroes. They also understand certain Heroes perform better against certain team compositions and counter other others. An example is switching to Reaper to be able to kill a beefy front line, or picking Soldier 76 when there’s a Pharah going rampant. Switching Heroes is a big part of the game, as well as proper execution with them.

Communication and Team Coordination:

One of the biggest differences that is very apparent in lower ranks is the lack of communication between players, especially with most players opting out of using team voice chat. While Overwatch is a first-person shooter, it is different in the sense that it is very fast paced and gameplay isn’t dependant on ammo or supplies, but on cooldowns, and people need to be relaying information to their team at all times. Things like deciding where and how to attack or defend, enemy locations, focusing down certain key heroes, calling out dead enemies, and, most importantly, your team’s and the enemy’s team ultimates.

Heroes have abilities that can be used in combination to win fights, and knowing that certain abilities are on cooldown from the enemy team, or that yours are up, are crucial to coordinating and winning team fights. Lower ranked games, due to player inexperience and lack of use of team voice chat, usually don’t have much coordination or ultimate, cooldown and death timers management, and are usually a free-for-all, where people don’t group up or wait for each other’s abilities.

Higher ranked players have a better understanding of this, and it shows since voice coms are always busy with various players pointing out different information to their team. They will usually coordinate better, as they understand, even though their ranking is individual, winning games is dependant on teamwork. Also, who doesn’t love amazing wombo-combos?

Awareness:

This lack of ability management by lower ranked players isn’t just due to lack of teamwork or understanding of the game, but also their awareness of their surroundings. The game is very fast paced and players have to rely on other signals, such as sound or visual queues, to understand everything around them, as full-blown team fights can be quite chaotic. When Heroes use key abilities, every player will hear certain phrases to signal they are being used. Lower ranked players usually get lost in the heat of battle and will end up dying because they didn’t hear or see something come at them. And if they don’t know what the enemy team used or what their own team still has available, it makes coordinating fights much harder.

Understanding every map:

Lower ranked players are also missing an understanding of each map’s important points and don’t know how to play in various chokes. If you compare lower to higher ranked games, usually higher ranked players take control of certain important areas in various maps, because they understand those areas are important, and usually the team that controls them will win that checkpoint or fights in a particular choke point. These are usually high ground areas as those are always an advantageous position.

Snowballing:

The one big thing that lower ranked players don’t do effectively is snowballing their leads. This refers to getting a lead in the game and pushing their advantage to create even bigger leads. The biggest snowballs are usually done on Attacking teams on Assault maps, where too often teams that get Point A can very quickly get Point B before the Defending team has a chance to respawn and set their defences up. This isn’t done too often in lower ranked games or done poorly.

But this doesn’t apply just to Assault maps. When teams get leads and wipe out the enemy team in any map, you’re most likely to have more ultimates charged up than your opponent. This brings back the point where lower ranked teams don’t have as much coordination and these ultimates are often wasted. Or in King of the Hill maps (KOTH), usually, teams that capture the points first will be in better positions as they are in better position and have more flanking opportunities.

This also brings us to playing against snowballs, where lower ranked player will, much too often, attempt to defend points that are already lost, and their efforts are wasted as they are just delaying the inevitable, while impacting their team negatively as they will be dead instead of setting up defences at the next point.

It all comes down to knowing your limits and when to cut your losses so you can start planning the next fight so it goes in your favour.

These are various key points that lower ranked players can improve on if they hope to achieve a higher rank. As with all video games, practice makes perfect. Most of these points are relatively small, but they all compound and influence your division in Overwatch. If you hope to improve, you always have to be mindful of that and not just play on auto-pilot. Every decision must be thought out and every mistake must be later analyzed so you can know what you did wrong and how you can do better next time the same situation arises. You can’t just hop on quick play and expect to get better. You have to actively think about improving your game and be dedicated for it to happen. Over time you’ll be better familiarized with each map, each point, each Hero, and each situation. With that experience, comes knowledge, and with that comes play improvement and higher rankings.

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