A lot of Overwatch 2 players aren't happy with the sequel's new ranked mode, and Blizzard is starting to agree. In a new blog post (opens in new tab) meant to address recent player complaints, Overwatch 2 game director Aaron Keller said improvements to Competitive mode, including "more clarity" around what ranks mean, are coming over the next several months.
Confusion over how exactly Overwatch 2's ranking tiers (opens in new tab) (skill divisions that range from Bronze to Platinum and peak at "Top 500") factor into matchmaking has been driving players up the wall since season one. Some have reported a frustrating level of perceived inconsistency (opens in new tab) in the skill level of teammates and opponents, metrics that are especially difficult to track because Overwatch 2 actually hides a player's "true" MMR. Your displayed skill division, as it turns out, is a completely separate figure from the invisible MMR number that Overwatch 2 actually uses to match you with similarly-skilled players.
The result is the not-so-uncommon occurrence of matching up against players who appear to be a much higher or lower rank than you. In theory these players do actually have a similar, invisible MMR level as you, but it sounds like even Blizzard agrees this is a needlessly obtuse way to do things.
"The new Ranked mode suffered from poor comprehension," Keller wrote. Citing the experience of facing players with a display rank that doesn't match their true skill, Keller said this has created a "negative impression of the matchmaker" even when it's technically doing its job.
"We will be implementing some changes in S3 and quite a few more in S4 all aimed at creating more clarity in the system. More details on short-term changes and long-term vision will be coming soon."
What form these changes will take could vary, but it's probably wise to think small. Earlier this month, Overwatch 2 executive producer Jared Neuss clarified in a tweet reply (opens in new tab) that there are no plans to revert to Overwatch 1's ranking system, which used a numerical skill rating system as well as medal ranks. "The new system has good goals but the implementation needs work and has to be adapted based on player feedback, like yours."
In the short term, an "improvement" could be something as simple as a better in-game information page breaking down the difference between rank and MMR. If you ask me, it sounds like much bigger adjustments are in order.
Any public-facing skill tier should always represent at least roughly where you land in the true MMR equation, with some wiggle room to allow for more frequent movement through ranks and to throw off those trying to game the system. Otherwise, what's the point of having a rank? The fact that, right now, a Diamond Overwatch 2 player on paper might actually be at the skill level of a Grandmaster or a Platinum player is plain backwards. It cheapens the entire concept of ranked mode, turning what's intended to be a signifier of skill into an arbitrary number that sometimes goes up and sometimes goes down.
Overwatch 2 season 3 is due to begin sometime in early February.