A Possible Solution To Scoring?

Overwatch Gosu “GosuGamers” Gamers

In yesterday's feature "The Competitive Game Mode Question" faction60 discussed the two competitive game modes currently available: The one Blizzard implemented and Stopwatch, which the community uses for its tournaments so far. But what if there was a third viable solution that combines the strengths of both?

Stopwatch doesn't work for Overwatch

I said it. Blizzard is right in their idea to move away from Stopwatch. We should have never implemented a pure Stopwatch format in the competitive scene. 

I feel people are too stuck in their old ways instead of searching for new solutions. It's no secret that a lot of the organizers and players come from a background of Stopwatch games. May that be Enemy Territory, Brink or Dirty Bomb. While I don't want to talk too much about these games moving forward, I think we should realize what these games all have in common: They just weren't great competitive titles.

Yes they were great to play, but there is a reason why these games never took off as a spectator experience: Stopwatch is just very boring to watch. It often becomes very clear within the first 2 or 3 minutes of a map who will win. When Stopwatch becomes close, its great to watch. It's nail baiting, its exciting. But those games are rare. Most Stopwatch games are decided early on and its just a matter of running the timer out. Especially with how Twitch.tv changed the landscape of game broadcasting and allowed eSports to boom, we can't exclude the viewers from the full game experience.

There is also another issue that I felt is always overlooked: Overwatch isn't even designed for Stopwatch to work. For Stopwatch to work properly, both teams should have the same time frame to complete a map. Just because a team couldn't get the first Objective within 5 minutes they shouldn't lose the game when the opposing team just had more time to finish the entire map overall after taking the first checkpoint in 4 minutes and 50 seconds.

Instead, for Stopwatch teams should be given 10 or 15 minutes to complete the entire map to allow for proper comebacks. Stopwatch is very simple: Either you complete the attack, or you failed to do so. Thus the maps should also be balanced. A stronger team should always be able to full hold.

This isn't the case in Overwatch. Overwatch follows a different philosophy, with the maps always favoring the attacker. Particularly early on the checkpoints are easy to take. The time limit on the checkpoints is there to end a game early if the teams are unevenly matched and thus avoid the common frustration that comes with Stopwatch games: Being spawn-camped for 15 minutes. 

The cheese issue

The third problem with Stopwatch, particularly in Overwatch, is one that in my opinion deserves his own point. This phenomenon happens most of the time on maps like Kings Row or Hollywood, which start with a Capture Point and then move into a Payload section.

A good defense or attack on the first Objective decides the round. If a team manages to win the first engagement on offense it is extremely hard for the second team to come back in their attack. They are forced to win the first point in their first push as well, or the game is almost over. This is down to how ultimates work in this game. The team that wins an engagement also wins the ultimate charge battle. On the Capture Points this can create a snowball effect, particularly with how essential the teleporter of Symmetra is on these defenses.

In this scenario the attacking team is better off picking a cheesy, unexpected strategy that can get them the first point in the first attack, rather than going for a composition that is proven to work. I've even seen teams on Kings Row completely refusing to attack and just spam and gain ult charges until they are certain they can win with their first push, usually when fielding a hero with high impact ultimates such as Zarya's Graviton Surge.

Kings Row's First Objective often decides the outcome of the map

That being said, this issue isn't just the case on maps that feature both Capture Point and Payload sections. We've seen it happen often in the double Zenyatta meta as basically every team was forced to run this composition because of how fast it was. There was no alternative to it, as if executed properly, it was objectively faster than any other possible composition.

A great idea that has been suggested to me by a friend was that on maps that feature both a Capture Point and Payload section to have the timer only run in the Payload section. Both teams have 5 minutes to cap the first point, if they fail to cap within these 5 minutes their attack is lost. But if they manage to cap, the timer starts immediately after the cap. This would at least decrease the importance and snowball potential of the Capture Point a little bit.

Blizzard's mode doesn't work either

Just as Stopwatch doesn't feel right to me, Blizzard's mode is also lacking something. There is nothing more frustrating than barely losing the defense in overtime and then winning your attack in 4 minutes only for the game to be decided on a King of the Hill map. Its unrewarding. Why am I as player being punished when my team was clearly better?

I understand what Blizzard is going for: Every Hero composition should be equally viable, something that can only be achieved when slow moving compositions are just as strong as fast moving ones. But this way of scoring is just a band aid for proper hero balancing. The payload mechanic should allow for compact play to be equally viable as wide play that focusses on gaining as much ground as possible.

While some people might not agree with me here, a potential fix to the compositions we see currently on payload maps could be a significant movement speed difference between 2 players moving the cart or 3 players moving the cart. This would tie more players to the actual payload and thus limit the effectiveness of teams using fast paced, self sustaining heroes like Tracer to spawn-camp the defending side.

The search for the solution

To find a viable solution we should first define what we are looking for. There have been some great comments in our news section as well as on reddit, spurred in part by faction60's recent article. Let me just highlight a few of them:

I personally prefer the system blizzard came up with as I'd rather fight tooth and nail to finish the map and not feel like all is lost if the opponents put up a rock solid defense, at some point using stopwatch I feel like people will just give up and call GG due to there not being enough time left. [...] I also feel like the system blizzard has in place is far easier to new people to understand, as well for those watching unless you're already well versed in stopwatch. -Nyxxic on reddit

For me the problem is in the game mode on itself. (payload and zone capture). it will always be hard to balance between whats good for spectators and whats good for the match fairness. That said.. i dot like watching stopwatch, and like complete matches. -gizmomcs on reddit

The round end screen - sometimes a rare occurance in competitive games

While I am kinda digging the official competitive mode for matchmaking, I can completely understand why it doesn't work at this level. That said, you mentioned fluke victories in Koth maps and capture points - What about when teams set times in Stopwatch that are within 10 seconds of eachother? This is a huge flaw as well. Nothing more dissapointing and anticlimactic than a game ending because a team finished 2 seconds slower. If you're going to talk about luck in capture points, then I think this needs to be addressed as well. " -metasift on GosuGamers

The issue is, when both teams are evenly matched at at a high level, it's easier to win on attack. So most of these matches will be going to sudden death. -Xxav on reddit

So let us summarize what we need:

  • An intuitive system where both rounds are completed
  • Solid defense should be rewarded
  • There should be a way to come back
  • As little downtime in games as possible, both teams should fight until the very end of the round

The possible solution

To summarize what we've gathered so far: Viewers enjoy complete rounds that are easy to follow and understand, players prefer the faster and better team to be rewarded. Given what we have gathered so far, here is what I've come up with:

Both rounds are played and scored individually: A team gets a point for either winning an attack or winning as defense. Should there be a tie after both rounds because both teams finished their attack, the time used to finish the attack is being used as the tie breaker. Should both teams not complete their attack, a sudden death King of the Hill stage is being used as tiebreaker. This allows for the following scoring outcomes: 2-0 and 2-1.

In order to make this properly work in the competitive scene, where multiple maps are being played, we would however need to change the approach of how we are scoring a series. Instead of scoring map wins we score the accumulated points. Here is an example of how this could work:

Team Beavers play against Team Frogs in a Best of Five Series:

The maps to be played are Route 66, Kings Row, Hanamura, Watchpoint: Gibraltar and Hollywood.

Game 1:

  • Team Beavers wins their Router 66 attack with a time of 7:53
  • Team Frog wins their Route 66 attack with a time of 5:34
  • Thus, Team Frog wins the map with a score of 2-1, the Series score is 2-1

Game 2:

  • Team Beavers fail to finish their Kings Row attack
  • Team Frog wins their Kings Row attack in 4:32
  • Thus, Team Frog wins the map with a score of 2-0, changing the Series score to 4-1

Game 3:

  • Team Beavers win their Hanamura attack in 3:21
  • Team Frog wins their Hanamura attack in 9:42
  • Thus, Team Beavers wins the map with a score of 2-1, changing the Series score to 5-3

Game 4:

  • Team Beavers fail to finish their Watchpoint: Gibraltar attack
  • Team Frog fails to finish their Watchpoint: Gibraltar attack as well
  • Both teams now play a Sudden Death on a the 2nd Illios stage, which Team Frog wins.
  • Thus, Team Frog wins the map with a score of 2-1, changing the Series score to 7-4

As there is no possible scenario anymore for Team Beavers to catch up to Team Frog anymore on the last map, Team Frog wins the series.

Teams defying the odds is what we hope to see in a competitive Overwatch match

But why would we have to change the series scoring system then?

We want to ensure that both teams play their attacks to the end and do their best to finish the map. Equally, we want to ensure the defenders always need to be on their edge. As defending is by design harder than attacking, we also want to reward a team that can manage to full hold. To make the second attack relevant even in case of a stomp on the first attack, we must give the team attacking second something to effectively play for, even if their first push fails.

Would this scoring method work for both matchmaking as well as competitive play?

It works well for matchmaking. Since there will always be a winner on a single map, a best of one series can be played out like it is in matchmaking. It also allows for a unified scoring system over the three modes in the game currently, particularly if Blizzard reverts its change to King of the Hill back to a Best of Three. With this way of scoring King of the Hill, Payload and Capture Points would be scored equally and thus all be viable in competitive play.

Also, since there will always be a map winner, there won't be a tie after an uneven amount of maps. So Best of Three, Best of Five and even Best of Seven series would still be as viable for competitive games as they are now.
Additionally, this scoring system would allow the viewer to see the story of the game by simply watching the score: Once more tournaments pop up it will be hard for people to follow the majority of tournaments and still understand who played how well. A 4-0 in the way we currently score could either be a completely one sided affair, or a really close series with one team being slightly edged out by the time difference.

With the "3 point scoring system" suggested, the performance of each team would become pretty clear by just looking at the scoreline: If one team is beaten 6-0 in a Best of Five it was a complete stomp, however, a 8-4 would have been relatively close.

Additional changes that would help the game competitively if implemented

As this feature has been pretty long so far, I would like to bullet-point the proposed changes to game mechanics that have come up a final time:

  • If this scoring method is implemented, revert King of the Hill back to a Best of Three to have a unified scoring method across all game modes
  • There should be a significant difference in movement speed of the cart in Payload maps when pushed by three people as opposed to two people, to allow for both wide as well as compact play
  • The map timer on combined maps should only be active on the payload section of the map, to avoid the snowball effect that can happen on capture points, allowing for more comebacks.


The payload - incentivising teams to have three players on it could help create a balance between fast and slower compositions

A final word

While this scoring method might not be optimal either, I do believe it is closer to what Blizzards envisions the game to be and what the competitive players want. It's an attempt to unify the best of two worlds.

Let us know in the comment section under the news or in our forum what you think of this idea!

For more competitive Overwatch news and features, follow us on @GosuOverwatch.


Do you think this scoring method would be an upgrade to the two models currently in the game?

Yes, I would like to see it tested in the near future
Thank you for voting!
No, I prefer Stopwatch / The Blizzard scoring (define in comments)
Thank you for voting!


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