Oops, Blizzard accidentally trapped some Overwatch 2 players in Bronze 5 Elo hell

Overwatch - Wrecking Ball
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Do you feel like your Overwatch 2 competitive ranking isn't quite as it should be? Are you being matched against players far above, or below, your skill? Do you really and truly believe, somewhere in the back of your mind, that Overwatch 2 is jerking you around? When things don't go our way, it's easy to think that we're being hosed by Elo shenanigans or broken SBMM. But for some players in Overwatch 2, well, it turns out that the conspiracy was real.

The Overwatch 2 patch notes released yesterday, November 17, reveal the strange truth: "Resolved an issue where some players could be stuck in Bronze 5 even after several rank updates."

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Overwatch 2 competitive rankings are divided into seven medals—Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Grandmaster—which are further broken down in numerical divisions, from 5 to 1. Win games and your rank goes up; lose them, and your rank goes down. That part of it is pretty straightforward, although you can dive into our explanation of how Overwatch 2 ranks work in competitive if you'd like a more detailed breakdown.

In that ranking system, Bronze 5 is the absolute bottom of the barrel. I mean no disrespect to anyone—I'm a terrible online shooter player myself—but Bronze 5 is a rank that the vast majority of players will leave behind quickly. Look at it this way: Even if you exclude the Master and Grandmaster ranks, the median Overwatch 2 ranking is Gold 3. That's your cold, hard, middle of the road, and the numbers back it up: In 2018, former Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan revealed that 32% of Overwatch players ranked Gold, bracketed by 21% Silver and 25% Platinum. Only 8% languished in Bronze, a smaller number than the much higher Diamond rank, which accounted for 10% of players.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

From a distance, being stuck at the bottom of the bottom is kind of funny. But it's also undoubtedly frustrating for the players trapped in that position. For one thing, they're probably pulling their hair out trying to figure out why the hell they can't get out of that stupid sub-basement rank. More importantly, Overwatch 2 players on Reddit confirmed that the bug wasn't just visual, but did in fact impact MMR ratings, which throws SBMM for a loop by pitting legitimately low-ranked players against those who belong in much higher ranks—with predictable results.

"I've been stuck in Bronze 5 in the lowest quality games ever," Illuminaso wrote. "It's a complete grab bag. Some players belong in Bronze 5. Some of them are legitimate Grandmaster. It's impossible to tell. MMR just doesn't seem to exist."

"It’s definitely their MMR too," Enable_Duck_Protocol added. "For a while every game in Bronze 5 was either your team steamrolling the enemy or your team getting steamrolled."

"Sorry, this is just really aggravating," SeeOurTea wrote. "I saw a bunch of people over the past month complaining about being stuck in Bronze 5, even after winning 7 games in a row, or at least winning the vast majority of their games. And people's response to it was that the person just needed to get good, they were getting carried, etc... Which probably made those people feel discouraged like they really were bad at the game, only for this information to come out AFTER the fact."

The bug fix means players can rank up and out of Bronze 5 properly, but it won't automatically boost them to their proper ranks, so there will presumably still be a bit of chaos while the rankings sort themselves out. Blizzard didn't say how many people were impacted by the bug, or if it's in any way related to the October issue that saw players slotted into lower competitive ranks than they should have been. I've reached out to ask, and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.