Olivia R. May 1, 2019
Overwatch's sixteenth competitive season began today, and it brings with it some major changes for Grandmaster players.
Developer Scott Mercer announced that players with a skill rating above 4,000 would no longer be able to "stack." This is when several such players get together to play on the same team. Instead, Grandmaster players will only be able to duo in competitive mode.
"In an effort to have higher quality and more matches for everyone, Overwatch actively tries to place parties of similar sizes together to create fair matches," Mercer explained.
This works for the vast majority of Overwatch players. But it becomes difficult at Grandmaster levels, since there are fewer players at that skill level available for matchmaking. According to Mercer, this change will create better quality matches for Grandmaster players.
This new change also applies to professional players.
Most Overwatch League players are Grandmaster, which includes the top 500 players in every region. Reactions from the OWL community have been supportive of this change. In fact, most pros in the league are already playing with a stack of three or lower when teaming up or facing off with other Overwatch League competitors.
"No more 3 stacking in GM PogChamp," Houston Outlaws DPS Jake "JAKE" Lyon said on Twitter.
He went on to say that the 4,000 SR player pool is small enough that "balancing a triple stack" is too inconsistent.
On the original blog post announcing the change, the Overwatch community was very supportive of the change. Many players thanked the developers for the decision, and some even pushed for the change to be applied at lower ranks.
One player said that the Xbox community in the European region is so small that Masters is considered top 500. They noted that the rank 500 player is currently at 3,750 SR. Other players chimed in as well, including one who said that there are so few players on the Australian PC servers that there are usually only one or two masters in any given high skill game, even at peak times.
"I think top 500 in Asia is like Diamond lmao," replied another.
Other gamers expressed concern with the update. They said that Overwatch, for them, is all about playing with their friends. They expressed worry over being made to play with strangers who may not have a mic or be willing to properly communicate in-game.
Despite the vocal minority on the blog post, it's clear that Blizzard has listened to the Overwatch community regarding the issue with stacking in high-tier competitive play.