Season four of competitive Overwatch has officially begun, and there are some big changes to go over before you start your placement matches.
It seems like Blizzard is happy with the changes it made to the initial calculation of your skill rating at the beginning of season three, but it made some major tweaks to the high and low ends of the skill rating spectrum — for very different reasons.
Here's what you need to know.
Overwatch Season 4 Placement: Skill rating decay happens more quickly after update 2.05
The biggest change that's likely to affect the greatest number of players is that skill ratings above 3,000 will now decay much more quickly than in previous seasons. Instead of having to complete one match per week to prevent skill rating decay, you'll know have to complete seven matches per week.
According to Blizzard, this stricter skill rating decay "will improve the accuracy of the player's skill rating, make maintaining multiple high-level accounts more difficult and make upper-tier placement more meaningful."
Basically, if you want to reach a high skill tier, you're going to have to put in a lot of work to get there and a lot of work to maintain it. Here's how the matches per week system works, per Blizzard's most recent blog post:
When you complete a match, the amount of time until skill rating decay occurs is pushed back by 24 hours, and you can bank up to seven days per week. That means as long as you manage to play seven games over a one-week period, your skill rating will be safe. You could play one match per day or complete all seven in a single session. It's up to you.
Overwatch 2.05 Update: Top 500 much more exclusive in season 4
That's not the only step Blizzard is taking to make its highest skill tiers more exclusive, either. In previous seasons, in order to earn the special rewards for reaching the top 500 skill tier, all you had to do was enter the top 500 at some point during the season. However, if you want that slick animated Hanamura spray, you'll have to be in the top 500 when the season ends.
According to Blizzard, the previous system "meant that many players no longer had an incentive to maintain their status as the season progressed, which could result in less competitive matches toward the end of the season." The new system will make the fight for the top 500 much more cutthroat.
Overwatch 2.05 Update: Skill ratings below 500 will no longer show up
In previous seasons, there were some players who took on the hilarious — if not a bit annoying — task of intentionally tanking their skill rating as much as possible, according to Kotaku. In order to stop this from happening, players whose skill ratings dip below 500 will no longer have a number value attached to their skill rating until it rises above 500 again.
More Overwatch news and updates
For more on Overwatch, check out the rest of what Mic has to offer. Here is a list of our predictions for what seasonal events might appear in 2017, a look at a very funny but naughty meme on the Overwatch subreddit, an interview with the creator of an awesome new Overwatch zine, the full patch notes for Overwatch version 2.03, a full explanation of the different types of health in Overwatch, our definitive ranking of every Overwatch hero, a roundup of awesome gender-bent Overwatch cosplay and a giant Overwatch FAQ for beginners.