Overwatch 2 Season 9 may be the last chance for Blizzard to get competitive matchmaking right

Illari using her ultimate
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment )

Blizzard has some fantastic plans ready for the upcoming seasons of Overwatch 2, many of which revolve around updating the competitive side of the first-person shooter with some desperately needed quality-of-life updates. 

While Blizzcon 2023 may not have been a success for the people who attended it, it was undoubtedly a breath of fresh air for Overwatch 2 players, many of whom have been itching for some serious overhauls for over a year now. In a panel discussion, Blizzard laid out a roadmap for competitive updates scheduled for Season 9. 

The first major change coming in Overwatch 2’s Season 9 Competitive 3.0 update is a new level of transparency, which will allow players to get a better grasp on their rank progress. During the panel discussion, one of the developers explained plans to "remove the requirements to get five wins or 15 losses to get a competitive update." This announcement was met with mass applause; it’s a feature that’s confused players since its introduction a year ago, as it prevented everyone from getting a game-by-game idea of how well they were ranking. 

In its place, the Overwatch 2 developers plan to add a new page that will make “your rank more transparent than ever.” This overview screen will see your level update after every match, regardless of winning or losing. The progress bar at the bottom of the image shows the exact percentage of how much your position has changed, including details of advantage, streak, and calibration. From this page, you can also see the scoreboard, which will give players a better idea of strengths and weaknesses.

Overwatch 2 competitive overview screen

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment )

There will also be less stagnation in levels thanks to regular resets. Players will have to regularly complete placement games to determine which rank they’ll start the season at. However, this is just a soft reset, and the higher echelons won’t be affected too much. 

Players will also be treated to a few new rewards. Starting in Season 9, Blizzard is introducing Emerald guns. An alternative to the iconic Golden guns, these weapon skins will give longstanding players new incentives to grind high-stakes matches. Current competitive points, rewarded after each match, will be preserved and can still be used to buy Golden Guns. 

Ready to Reap-er the rewards

Emerald Guns showcase

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment )

I’ve not seriously committed to Overwatch 2’s competitive branch since 2019. While I had a ton of fun in the first three years of the first-person shooter, everything started to go downhill after Brigitte was added, forcing one of my team members to stop playing (it was a tough time for all D.Va mains). 

Since then, I have entered non-quickplay matches sparingly. While that meant my rank wasn’t too badly affected, it did mean that the games my friends and I did compete in were against players above our skill level. 

There’s more incentive to try hard in every match thanks to the new visibility of ranking

The next nail in the coffin was the introduction of ranking after five wins or 15 losses, which was introduced at the beginning of Overwatch 2. Not having any transparency meant you couldn’t see what needed to be worked on or how much the following matches mattered. On top of that, if you were on a losing streak, there was almost no incentive for you to keep playing. During this period, the matchmaking was also pretty negative, and you either rolled the other team or got rolled, with no in-between. 

That’s why the Competitive 3.0 update for Season 9 sounds so exciting. For the first time since 2017, I’m excited to grind through more aggressive matches with a team and see how far we can improve our scores. There’s more incentive to try hard in every match thanks to the new visibility of ranking, while the Emerald Guns also give long-time players a new goal to work towards. 

If you haven’t played competitively for a while or are new and looking for a fresh start, then Season 9, which will begin early next year, looks to be the best time to dive in and find out what you’re made of. 

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Elie Gould
Features Writer

Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications. 

Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.