Overwatch 2 is official! Details are still to come, but for now let’s look at the new “Push” game mode.
Push will be played competitively in ranked and the Overwatch League. This means that we can assume it will be played in all levels of competitive play. It is a mode in which teams fight over a single objective similar to a payload and have to “push” it further on the other team’s side than that team pushes it on yours. It will be near impossible to tie in this mode BUT, just the existence of a new competitive game mode is absolutely massive for competitive Overwatch.
Why a Four Map System Was Bad
I can go on for hours about the fairness of tournament and league formats, but the current best-of-four format is non-intuitive and flawed. The only reason they have a best of four system is presumably because:
- developers do not want to give an unfair advantage by having 1 mode played twice in a series
- everyone plays the same amount of maps
- and game developers are unwilling to remove one of the game modes from competitive play
As you can tell two of these reasons do not solve the problem due to a tie-breaker map that makes it into a best-of-five series anyway and the other is just as hesitancy against change.
I personally have been advocating for a best-of-5 format and removing the control map. This way the only map that is played an odd amount of times is the one hybrid map which just makes sense as it is a combination of escort and assault.
Now they don’t have to! Now they can have a best-of-five system with each game mode played once. This massively increases fairness. Before, teams could just focus on the control if they wanted. All they had to do was squeak out one of either escort, hybrid, and assault, and they get to play two controls (assuming they win the first as well).
What Does This Mean For Teams?
This is going to be rough for the weaker teams. Control was a game where, depending on when you win your team-fights, you could come away with a round win without being the stronger team. In assault, you were able to not win a team fight for most of the round then snowball two points off of one fight, until recent balance patches.
This looks like it’s going to be very similar escort. You won’t be able to get away with cheese strats like snowball points from assault or stalling out the first fight on control until you’re at 99%.
You also have to remember preparation. Well organized teams are going to have a field day with less organized teams based on preparation alone. There are going to be more heroes, more maps, on a new game mode, with new balance patches, and teams must create strategies and game plans for each opponent for five game modes. If you thought the Shock ran through teams this season, imagine if new Push game mode were in the rotation. They would have obliterated teams.
Problems With Implementation
There is one noticeable problem with having a best-of-five format with five different game modes. While on paper, the order of games shouldn’t matter, it does create a few unfair scenarios. For example, a team that struggles in Push might want to play that map last. If they can get a 3-0 or 3-1 win before they are forced to play that map, they won’t suffer a map loss. This can create unfair scenarios in tie-break circumstances. Thus, the earlier a game is in the series, the more important it is.
Now, this isn’t as much of a problem if the OWL enforces the same rules in the best-of-four format they have now. If a team wins a series, the rest of the maps still have to be played. This would be slightly “fairer” as two controls won’t be played, and there will be virtually no tie-breaker maps that create 2 game modes being played twice. However, it will be much more boring.
Imagine, the San Francisco Shock playing the Florida Mayhem. That series should be over in 3 maps. There is no reason to make the teams play two more maps if not needed. It’s boring for the spectators, neither team is going to use a secret strategy, and you’re overworking the analysts and commentators. Just make it stop.
New Map Selection System
So, the fairest system that incorporates all modes and does not penalize teams for specializing in one game mode that is played later in a series is to ignore map count and to implement a veto or picks system. There are many ways to go about a system like this but let me show an example of one, so you get the idea.
You can either flip a coin or let the “away” teams choose if they want to select “map” or “mode” for map 1. If they select “mode” they select which of the five competitive game modes to play. The opposing team selects which specific map they will play on. If they team were to select map, they select which specific map to play on after the opposing team selects which game mode will be played on map one. Then the other team gets the choice of “mode” or “map” for game two. This continues until game five in which both teams take turns vetoing maps until one is left.
Because the teams have a choice of picking their best game modes first, it would be more reasonable to take into account map differential. Though, the nature of series allowing for a range of 3-5 games plus extra maps if draws occur, would also mean it might be better to not use map win percentage or map differential as a tie-breaking metric.
You can see how deep this goes. Preparation would become more important than it is now. You have to know which game modes and maps are your strongest and weakest and which are your opponents’ strongest and weakest. Series victors could be seen in the map selection process and it is up to the to “losing” team to fight the uphill battle and come away with a win.
This is why the game mode should excite you. No matter, how it plays, it will make each individual series fairer and more exciting.
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