Blizzard introduce 2-2-2 Role Queue to Overwatch
A Symmetric system
Blizzard have announced that a role queue system will be introduced to Overwatch on September 1st 2019, corresponding with the start of the game’s 18th competitive season. Blizzard announced this on their website and in a developer update video on Overwatch’s official YouTube channel. According to Blizzard, this system has been a work in progress for a while, stating:
‘Getting this new Role Queue system right has been a huge priority for us—and after more than a year’s worth of work, we’re excited to finally make it happen.’
So, how will the new role queue system impact the game and what are the positives and negatives?
The basic rules of role queue
Currently, Overwatch asks players to queue for a game and then pick characters just before a match starts from any class. In the new system, players will be required to queue in a specific one of the game’s three classes – Tank, Support, Damage. Players then can choose characters within their own roles, so games will stay as two of each class on a team of six. Simple stuff. This applies across both Quick Play and Competitive Play. In doing this, the system will arrive with a new balance patch to optimise heroes in the new meta game with some heroes such as Brigitte getting huge reworks. These balance changes can be viewed here. Knowing Blizzard’s sometimes haphazard approach to balancing, we can expect some fine tuning as role queue stabilises this year. Locking down 2-2-2 will hopefully make the game more civil, with less vitriol when a team is comprised of Genji, Widowmaker, Symmetra, Torbjorn, Reaper and the one token healer in Ana. We’ve all been there. But these compositions cannot happen in the new system, neither can the game’s infamous GOATS composition comprised of three tanks and three healers, a strategy that has terrorized the Overwatch League with nearly 16 hours of the classic form of GOATS(Reinhardt, D.Va, Zarya, Brigitte, Lucio, Zenyatta) being played in the first stage of the 2019 season. Talk about overpopulation. Whilst the lack of experimentation will likely discomfort some, this should bring better quality games with people not forced into roles they don’t want to play, improving the overall social aspects of Overwatch. Hopefully. The one big negative for me is the addition of the system to quick play, a far more casual mode free for experimentation with new heroes players have tried and nutty compositions which may not benefit from a restrictive 2-2-2 system.
Role Incentives and new SR system
The key change for competitive comes with the changes to the game’s SR (Skill Rating) system, ranking players on the competitive ladder with an SR number. Instead of having a single SR number, players will have three SR values based on the different classes. Each class gets this value after playing five placement matches at the start of a new season. Incentives are added where players receive rewards for queueing for roles that are high in demand. The three roles not only have their own SR values and tiers, but their own leader boards as well as a fourth one combining the average. If players finish a season with a rank in all three roles then players will get more competitive points than they do know, which can be put towards golden weapons. This new system should rank players better based on their ability at different roles. For me personally, I will be a bronze tank, a platinum healer and silver damage probably. I’m not that good and I will have three numbers to prove it, Regardless, players should be matched up better depending on their ability to play their role. This may mix up more mechanically skilled players who are better at aiming and moving than others but this may not be the case as each role does require different kinds of mechanical skill. The biggest strengths of the new role queue are entrenched in the better-quality play it will almost definitely provide to the competitive mode. I for one am welcoming of this.
What about the OWL?
For fans of the Overwatch League wondering how it pertains to the top players, the 2-2-2 role queue will be arriving in Stage 4 this season, with the first game between the Houston Outlaws and Paris Eternal taking place on Friday 26th July. Their role lock is in on a map and players can only switch roles between maps. Players however will be seated according to their roles. I’m sure role switches won’t be awkward at all having to change seats, keyboards and accounts in two minutes. According to a blog post on the Overwatch League website, ‘The switch…was done after close consultation between the league and all 20 Overwatch League teams.’ With the teams onboard, the 2-2-2 will most assuredly shake up the power rankings, with teams like the Vancouver Titans and San Francisco Shock needing to make the most changes as teams priding themselves on their fantastic use of GOATS. However, teams like the Chengdu Hunters and Shanghai Dragons will be accustomed to these 2-2-2 team comps. The new balance patch mentioned will come in just before the start of the season’s playoffs, setting us up for an intriguing finish to the Overwatch League season.
The system looks ready to go and Blizzard seem very excited with these changes. The impact of the system will be interesting for a game which has always prided itself on a vast choice of different characters and team combos. The future for Overwatch looks bright, slightly ordered but extremely intriguing.