Overwatch Ranks Explained – Learn How Overwatch Ranking System Works

overwatch ranks

8 minutes

Posted by: Radu

Radu Muresan

Overwatch is one of Blizzard’s best games. It’s also the only shooter and one of their several successful esports.

The original game was released in 2016 and sold more than 50 million copies. Then, in 2022, Overwatch 2 came out and replaced it.

Right now, every Overwatch fan is looking forward to the next season of the Overwatch League. If you’re new to the game, this guide will bring you up to speed and tell you everything you need to know about Overwatch ranks and the Overwatch ranking system.

How Overwatch Works

Overwatch 2 is a first-person shooter that simplifies the original formula. Instead of six players per team, the new game has only five.

This means that Overwatch 2 is better designed for esports audiences, who have come to expect either a 1v1 battle or a 5v5 one.

In Overwatch 2, you pick characters called heroes. There are around 35 of them and each is completely unique in every way. This game puts a lot of emphasis on predefined characters and doesn’t expect you to make highly nuanced choices once you’ve selected them.

In that sense, Overwatch 2 is just like Team Fortress 2. The moment you’ve selected your character, you’ve also determined what guns you’ll be using, what stats you will have, and what special abilities you have available.

Overwatch heroes fall into three big categories: Tank, Damage, and Support.

Tank heroes are good at staying in the frontline and tanking damage. Damage heroes are the ones that get most of the kills. And Support heroes are mostly responsible for healing and other buffs.

Overwatch 2 can be played in multiple game modes. But the most important of these is Competitive Mode.

How Competitive Mode Works in Overwatch 2

overwatch ranking system

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Competitive Mode revolves around 5v5 battles. However, you can’t play this mode right away. You’ll need to spend a significant amount of time playing unranked and honing your skills.

All esports, like Valorant, for example, have this prerequisite and Overwatch 2 is no exception.

After you have completed this phase, you will need to play placement matches to receive your initial Overwatch rank.

Anyone who plays Competitive Mode in Overwatch wants to win as often as possible and climb the ladder. The higher you climb, the stronger the opponents get. That is true for your teammates as well.

So the game is always balanced. As long as you do your part well enough to deserve your current rank, you will stay in that division.

But if you get ahead of the curve and start contributing significantly more than you should for your rank, you will start winning more frequently and you’ll be promoted. The system is built so that the strongest players rise to the top.

The first Overwatch 2 rank will be given to you once you’ve won seven matches. After that, your rank will change each time you accumulate a certain number of wins or losses.

One thing to note about the Overwatch ranking system is that each role is ranked separately. So if you’re playing the Tank role, you will be ranked as a Tank, not as a Support.

That is why it’s a good idea to figure out as early as possible what role you want to specialize in and then focus on mastering that role.

The Overwatch Ranking System

ranks in overwatch

In Overwatch, rank is an indication of how skilled you are relative to other players. All ranks in Overwatch imply a certain amount of skill, but those who compete in the highest rank divisions are much stronger than those who compete in the lowest ones.

The matchmaking system of Overwatch 2 attempts to place you in teams of players whose rank is similar to yours.

Your opponents will be chosen in the same manner. The goal of the system is to always create a fair match, even though from time to time you might stumble upon really weak teammates.

Two other problems in Overwatch are smurfing and account buying. Some high level players enjoy competing against much weaker opponents just for fun. Likewise, some low level players like to play several ranks above their real skill level.

Such occurrences can be annoying from time to time. But the vast majority of games you will play are going to be fair. If you truly are better than other players, you will win most of the time and you will rank up eventually.

The Overwatch Ranks

overwatch rank

In Overwatch 2, there are eight ranks in total:

  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Diamond
  • Master
  • Grandmaster
  • Top 500

Arguably, by the time you’ve become a Grandmaster, you are one of the best Overwatch players in the world. But you can climb even higher and take a shot at becoming a pro.

Each skill tier has five divisions. So to go from Bronze to Silver, you need to work your way up and climb five times. This incremental system helps players to become a bit more hopeful about their ability to reach the next rank.

Without it, many might give up along the way because it takes a long time to go from Gold to Platinum or from Platinum to Diamond.

You can speed up the process by following certain principles, but it still takes time to become good at the game.

For each rank, the lowest division is the fifth. The highest is the first. So every time, you start from the fifth and climb your way up toward the first.

To climb the ladder, you need to win matches. However, the system doesn’t work the same way it does in other esports.

You get promoted or demoted only after reaching certain thresholds. You need seven victories to promote and 20 losses to be demoted.

However, the answer to the question “how does Overwatch ranking works?” is a bit more complicated than that because you’ll obviously win and lose matches without achieving a long streak (positive or negative).

Only by playing the game can you actually see how fast you get promoted or demoted based on your results. But the basic idea is that you will rank up or down relative to your win rate.

Teaming Up With Other Players

all ranks in overwatch

When you want to team up with other players, those players need to be close to you in rank. Up until the Diamond rank, players can team up within 2 skill tiers. Starting from Master, the conditions are a bit stricter.

Players in the top ranks need to stay within three divisions from their teammates. In the lower ranks, you can team up with people from a completely different skill tier.

However, the maximum number of tiers that can exist between the players is two.

This means that if you have a Silver player on your team, you can’t also have a Diamond player. Because of this reason, you’ll often encounter teams of players who are all competing in the same rank.

For a Diamond player it can be a bit frustrating to play in the same team as a Gold player because the skill difference is substantial. But sometimes, friends will do that just for the sake of fun, even though they know that their odds of winning will be lower.

Earning Competitive Points

Competitive Points are used to unlock golden weapons for heroes. However, each time you do it, you will need to spend 3,000 points, which is quite a lot relative to how many of them you get at the end of the season.

You get 15 points for winning a match and 5 for drawing it. Based on your rank at the end of the season, you will get a certain number of Competitive Points.

  • Bronze: 65 pts.
  • Silver: 125 pts.
  • Gold: 250 pts.
  • Platinum: 500 pts.
  • Diamond: 750 pts.
  • Master: 1200 pts.
  • Grandmaster: 1750 pts.
  • Top 500: 1750 pts.

How to Rank Up Faster in Overwatch 2

how does overwatch ranking work

In Overwatch 2, you rank up faster by getting longer win streaks. And to do that, you will need to do several things:

1. Follow the Best Players

If you want to become good much faster, just watch the best players regularly and learn from them. After a while, you will start to notice patterns of movement, positioning, and ability usage.

You’ll realize that the reason why they’re so successful is that they do all the right things and none of the wrong things.

If you optimize every aspect of your game, it’s hard not to improve your results. And the best Overwatch 2 players in the world have spent thousands of hours optimizing their aim and their decision-making process during team fights.

One thing that’s very important here is to follow players who are experts at the same role that you want to become good at. If you want to play Tank really well, follow 3-5 Tank experts and see how they approach the game in every situation.

You might notice that they do certain things at the start of a fight. Or that they don’t act the way you would. This should make you wonder: “Why? What’s the reason behind this decision?”

2. Specialize

overwatch ranks explained

It’s very tempting to play every role because all Overwatch 2 heroes are fun. But it’s much better to experiment with the options for a short while and then specialize.

Spending 500 hours in just one role will make you a much better player than spending equal amounts of time learning every role.

Like other esports, Overwatch 2 is a huge game that requires years to master. You won’t be able to become an expert at everything, but you can become an expert at playing one role and a handful of heroes.

3. Watch Your Own Replays

When you play the game, you don’t have the time to think about it that much. You mostly utilize the knowledge that you’ve acquired in previous games. And that’s why it’s important to watch your replays.

Otherwise you won’t know what you’ve done well and what you’ve done wrong, and you’ll repeat the same mistakes over and over.

The best Overwatch players in the world regularly watch their replays and try to improve their playstyle.

They pay attention to every element of their game and ask themselves: “Why did my team win here? Why did we lose? What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently to get a better result?”

Without this kind of problem diagnosis or self-evaluation your rate of progress will be much slower. What you want to do is to accumulate experience and then analyze that experience to extract key lessons from it.

If you don’t do that, you’re basically ingesting food without ever letting your body assimilate the nutrients from it. It’s not effective.

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