Overwatch 2 Season 9: Champions launches on February 13 and will bring the biggest set of changes to the game since the sequel launched in October 2022. Along with an overhaul of the Competitive systems, there are major updates to all heroes in terms of damage output, health pools and self-healing.
Let’s start with the competitive side of things, since most of these updates were already known. We learned about most of them at BlizzCon, but they’re worth revisiting.
Everyone will start with a fresh start as your Skill Ranking resets, while Placement Matches return. You will need to play 10 Placement Matches before you receive your new rank. Given the re-ranking, these will be high-stakes matches as you will have the opportunity to make big gains on your original ranking. After each placement game, you will see your new predicted starting rank.
I would advise doing a ton of practice in Quick Play and custom games before jumping in as you only get one shot to play Placement Matches this year. No more complaints if you end up with Bronze 5 once more.
Once you’ve completed your placements and started playing Competitive properly, your ranking will be updated after each match. A progress bar will show how much progress you’ve gained or lost as a result of this match, and you’ll see an explanation of why your rank may have changed a little or a lot.
You might, for example, get an extra rank boost if you’re victorious when the matchmaking system thinks the enemy team is favored to win. Win and loss streaks can exacerbate how much your ranking changes as well.
There is a new top ranking for competitive play. Blizzard says only the best of the best will make it to the Champion ranks. There are also new cosmetics — Jade Weapons — to unlock with Competitive Points. You will need 3,000 CP to unlock each Jade Weapon. You will still be able to earn Golden Guns, but the process will be a little different.
All Season 8 Competitive Points will be converted to legacy Competitive Points and you can use them to unlock Golden Guns. Likewise, any 2024 Competition Points remaining after the end of the 2024 Competition Year will be converted to Legacy Competition Points. So hopefully you’re not stuck with less than 3,000 legacy CP when Season 9 starts.
At this point, it’s worth bearing in mind that the challenges that provide players with CP bonuses are also changing.
“Season 8 will be the last season to claim competitive end-of-season challenges for Seasons 1-7,” Blizzard said, “Log in before the end of Season 8 to earn any rewards from Season 7 or earlier that you didn’t you have claimed yet. Once Season 9 begins, you will not be able to receive previous Competitive Points from completed Competitive Challenges from Season 7 or earlier. You will still be able to claim your Season 8 rewards during Season 9; but you must log in to receive this bonus before the end of Season 9.”
These are all significant changes. I don’t play much ranked Overwatch 2but I’m curious to see how all these updates will work in practice, so I’ll probably switch to Comp next week.
Major gameplay changes
We’ll have to wait until the full Overwatch 2 Season 9 patch notes drop next week to find out all of this season’s balance changes, but there are a few bulky there are updates for every hero.
Blizzard says they’re based on community feedback and rooted in three goals:
- Give a more consistent feel to shooting and landing your shots on your opponents.
- Reduce the effects of burst damage to allow for greater resistance.
- Adjust where in-game healing and damage is effective to reduce stagnant teamfights.
Gameplay changes are introduced to balance these goals.
First, projectiles become larger for all weapons and hitscan and projectile abilities. The goal here is to improve hitting consistency. “Heroes that have weapons or abilities that don’t benefit from any projectile size changes will receive additional balance changes,” Blizzard says. “However, we don’t want to make too many hero adjustments before we better understand the effects of these initial changes, so stay tuned for more on individual heroes in future updates.”
I won’t go into the subtle projectile size changes here (there’s plenty of time for that when the Season 9 patch notes are released), but this graphic gives a sense of the updates:
To make sure the projectile size changes don’t affect the time-to-kill factor too much, some important survivability changes come into play. Each hero gets a health boost based on their current HP. For the most part, heroes will need at least one more hit from an enemy before they’re eliminated (don’t worry, Widowmakers: you’ll still be able to kill a Tracer with a fully charged headshot).
Again, I’ll wait until the patch notes to break down the new health pool for each hero (although there was definitely some smoke in the fire of recently leaked patch notes). This is how they adapt:
- 150-175 HP Heroes: increased by 25 HP
- 200-300 HP Heroes: increased gy by 50 HP
- 300+ HP (Tanks): increased by 75-100 HP
The other major set of core gameplay changes has to do with passives. As previously revealed, each hero will now have a self-healing ability. This is a controversial change, as it will reduce reliance on supports, but on the other hand, you can heal your damn self now, Genji.
Each hero will now recover health at a rate of 20 HP per second after taking no damage for five seconds. For supports, self-healing starts after 2.5 seconds without taking damage.
Larger health pools and self-healing aligned with weaker burst damage effects can lead to longer teamfights. To mitigate this, Blizzard is bringing in a new passive for Damage heroes, where taking damage will reduce the healing the target receives by 20%. The goal is to help DPS players “more easily fulfill their role of securing takedowns, reduce healing in combat, and potentially add an additional strategic layer to focus shooting targets.”
Again, these are massive changes to its underlying systems Overwatch 2. These will fundamentally change the way the game is played and will mark the biggest change since the transition to 5v. 5. I’m cautiously optimistic that it will be for the better, but it’s hard to say how touch until we get into Season 9 and try them out for ourselves.
As always, these updates are subject to change. There will certainly be some tweaks in the coming weeks and months to specific heroes and abilities as Blizzard gathers more data from players.
Even so, that’s not all that’s new Overwatch 2 Season 9: Champions. Along with a new Battle Pass, skins, co-op event mode, Valentine’s Day event, new weapon skins and a Cowboy Bebop crossover, Pharah and Junkertown have been revisited. Expect more details on these in the coming days.
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