Review of Overwatch's Leaver/Disconnection policies

[EDIT/UPDATE] I noticed the images are populating in Google’s Image Search results (go figure), and since I do not want to mislead the greater community, I have removed the screenshots.

Hello everyone, WyomingMyst here. As many of you are aware, last night was a rough night a large portion of the community who was logged onto Overwatch (or any other Blizzard game) as there was a DDoS attack which prevented most of the Americas community from being able to log on and those who typically play on U.S. West servers being disconnected mid-game. Now this issue was resolved last night, but there are other large-scale issues going on today apparently. So, over the last 18 hours, there has been a lot of us players who were negatively impacted by the issues that have happened or are still ongoing. As such this thread, is to hopefully collect constructive feedback as we as a community review the current policies.

I try to spend a reasonable amount of time as one of the forum MVPs to help spread the word when issues like these are going out and when there are no major issues, I spend free time helping players one-on-one with what knowledge I have about the game to help resolve technical issues and answer questions about Blizzard’s policies regarding how they handle leavers in Overwatch, including those who disconnect or crash. Note, this is not a job, and I am NOT a representative of Blizzard Entertainment. Believe me, if I ever work for Blizzard, it will be as a graphic designer. However, I am very passionate about this game, and it is this game and the friendships I have made with the community and with Blizzard that inspired me to help others and make changes in my life to pursue a career in graphic design. But enough about me, what I want to get at is that while I love this game, I still have certain opinions about it and I wish to share some of these opinions constructively here today.

How I am going to work this discussion is to tackle each of the common questions that players have had about leavers or dealing with disconnections. Remember this is one of the oldest arguments in our community. Many of us don’t like it when players leave Competitive games (or any game mode in general) and I also know many of us don’t like when we are kicked off the game due to some sort of a technical issue (including disconnections, game client crashes, power outages, or network or server issues). Blizzard has to balance both of these factors when it comes to handling players who leave games. As such their leaver policy works as follows:


Now that we know the details of how the Leaver Penalty system works, let’s discuss on ideas that should be implemented to help support players. As it stands, I believe the rules above are as fair as we can hope to get it in terms of the direct violations. However, I still feel certain ideas can be implemented to help educate players when dealing with specific issues. Some of these ideas I have touched on before.

IDEA 1: Warning messages when you are penalized

I have brought up this idea before in past topics discussed here. It has been my observation there are many players who don’t understand that they are penalized if they disconnect from competitive play, nor do they know what to do about it.

The idea here is when you start a Competitive Game, you are “logged into that game”. And until you complete the match you are not “logged out”. So if a player disconnects or has a game crash and they log back in they will be penalized (unless they quickly return to the same match in a timely manner). So for those who do disconnect or crash in a competitive match (and were penalized), I would like to see the following message to appear when they first log back into the game.

Here is a sample that I created of what a post-leaver warning message would look like:
[Image removed]

The displayed link would be clickable and would open the player’s web browser to immediately go to the support site. Now regardless if they took time to fix their problems or not or if they deliberately left, if a player tries to start a new Competitive Match after they served a suspension from leaving one, another warning message would appear when they click on the Competitive Play button.

Here is a sample that I created of what a reminder warning message would look like:
[Image removed]

The goal is to educate players on the importance of not leaving matches and to correct any technical issues before attempting to play Competitive Play again. Neither warning message will appear again if the player completes their next competitive match and remains that way unless they leave/disconnect/crash again in a future match.

IDEA 2: Cancel Competitive Queue Cooldown

I have seen many posts in all of the forums (Competitive, Technical Support, Bug Report) about players complaining that they cancel the search queue for a competitive match, and immediately exit the game, but then come back and discovered they were penalized for leaving a competitive match. This is happening because within the milliseconds of them canceling the queue, they were paired into a competitive match but were too fast to exit the game, not realizing they were paired into a match. To resolve this, I propose a 10-second cooldown that locks out the interface from the time they press to cancel the queue. Once they click to cancel, a pop-up message should appear to graphically show they are being canceled out of queue but until they matchmaking server returns a signal saying they are no longer in the queue that they still could be paired for a match.

Here is a sample that I created of what a cancel queue cooldown would look like:
[Image removed]

IDEA 3: Cancel competitive queue trigger if a player leaves a group

Another problem commonly reported is that a player gets a penalty if they try to leave a group when there is an active competitive search queue active. So, I propose that if a player in a group (even if they are not the group leader) clicks to exit the group, the queue is automatically canceled (and goes into “cooldown” as I described in the idea above). Once the cooldown is complete, then that player is removed from the group, after which the group leader may attempt to queue for competitive again.

IDEA 4: Competitive Pairing Confirmation and pre-game Backfill protocol

One of the biggest problems I am seeing players struggle with is getting disconnected in the pre-game sequence of a Competitive Match. Now players are supposed to be committed to a competitive match once they are paired into that match. However, many disconnections will result in a “Failed to connect to Server” error, while the technical reasons about this are often outside of the hands of either the player or Blizzard to correct (it’s typically due to a problem somewhere in-between the connection). How the match goes about handling it is a bit unbalanced. Here is my solution.

When a player is paired for a match, they should be taken to the loading screen however the loading screen hides the names of all players, their tiers, the map name, and the teams’ average skill ratings. There is then a confirmation button on the screen that each player must press within 30 seconds to confirm they are ready for the match. Once the game receives confirmation of all 12 players, the match stats mentioned above is revealed for about 5 seconds and the match moves to the Hero Selection Screen as normal. If after 30 seconds a player fails to confirm, they are dropped from the match and be given their appropriate Suspension but NOT a match loss or loss of skill rating, and the match will then backfill appropriate players from the queue until the match is confirmed by 12 players. At this point, the competitive leaver protocols that currently exist take over.

Here is a sample that I created of what a confirmation screen would look like:
[Image removed]

The details in this idea help resolve all of the common problems with pre-match leavers while hopefully making it a little fair for all parties involved. I still believe a player should be suspended if they fail to make the initial connection to a competitive match (as they need to stop playing and resolve their connection issues), but I believe it is not fair for their skill rating to be affected when they fail to load into the match. Of course, once all players confirm and see the pairing details, they are subjected to full penalty as we don’t want a situation where queue dodging becomes a problem (this is the whole reason why players are penalized before a match starts). Finally, during the confirmation sequence, the matchmaker should work to find the appropriate substitutes in advance for each player slot, until all 12 players are confirmed for that match. This, of course, would be the ONLY time where there is any form of a backfill protocol in Competitive. This idea is radical from a development standpoint, but it would be beneficial to every player trying to play Competitive Overwatch.

IDEA 5: More in-game system warning during issues that affect a majority of players

This one is a new one. While the launcher does display notifications and we do get alerts on Twitter from Blizzard Customer Service, players who are already logged in and playing are left vulnerable if issues start to rise. While it is impossible to stop every possible instance of disconnection when something like a DDoS attack begins, I believe there can be more in-game warnings and alerts for all platforms. Especially during key steps such as beginning the search for a Competitive Play match. Say if Blizzard CS puts out an alert, I wish they have the option to turn on a feature which prompts a warning dialog stating they are tracking issues which may cause each player to disconnect if they risk playing Competitive. Now if the player still chooses to queue and still disconnects, they should be penalized still, but I think an in-game warning system will go a long way to minimize the impact a massive issue like a DDoS has on players.


The community in the past has proposed many solutions toward handling either leavers they suffer from or getting penalized when there was a technical issue. I wish to touch on a few and why I don’t think such ideas can work.

Rollback the servers where there is a massive issue like a DDoS.

I don’t believe this is practical or technologically possible. Remember that even with a DDoS attack, not every player is affected, so if there were players who did not suffer at all during such an issue made a really good gain in Competitive but then their record was rolled back because a portion of our community suffered disconnections, that would be very unfair for those players and feel even worse than the players who suffered penalties. I also feel it is not technologically possible. I say this because I look at how difficult it is for the Overwatch team to update the PTR with the latest account stats from the live Americas servers (a.k.a. a PTR Snapshot). This is, in a way, the same thing.

Rollback accounts on a case-by-case basis

There is no appeal system for Overwatch Competitive Play penalties. This would be impractical and inefficient for Blizzard Customer Service to deal with. Furthermore, even if it was for only issues that impacted large majority of our players, it would incentivize bad leaver behavior during such instances.

Have lighter penalties for those who disconnect versus those who hit the leave game button

As mentioned, while the Overwatch team can track who hits the leave game button, they can’t tell the difference between those who deliberately disconnect and those who have something happen that is out of their control. Furthermore, penalties were increased at the start of season 2 because of behaviors like this.

Add an AI or player backfill when there is a leaver in a Competitive Match

Backfilling is a pain already in casual modes but in those modes it’s not typically a big deal as the match often restarts immediately with the same players unless too many leave at the end of the match. Competitive is a single-match experience and players expect to be able to play this from start to finish. I also know that it would be unfair for the team without the leaver to give the team with the leaver a backfill as it no longer makes up the original pairing of that match. So, if the team with the leaver wins, there is a perception that the matchmaker is unfair at that point.

The match should be canceled at any point of time in a Competitive Match when there is a leaver

Remember this would not be fair for the team without the leaver, matches would not complete consistently, and the game would become very unplayable. Matches cancel in the first minute of play because not either team invests a lot of time and in most cases, the course of the match is not showing who is going to win. As for those who complain about capturing the first point on an assault or hybrid map on the first fight and there is a leaver, well consider the fact that you were probably already fighting a 6 versus 5 in that case and the leaver disconnected.

As you can see there is a lot that was discussed here, and maybe you guys have some clever ideas. Just remember to think about the following before you pitch your ideas:

  1. Does it fairly benefit both teams in a single match? Remember when there is a competitive leaver any solutions must treat both teams fairly.
  2. Does it benefit equally at all ranks and ensure fair and honest matchmaking? We can’t have situations or exploits available where players can artificially inflate or tank their skill rating for any reason.

I hope this was found enlightening and I hope this sparks engaging conversation with each of you.


Why must we endure a losing battle when u have a leaver during comp. With any close game its an automatic loss. why can’t you change it so when anytime a leaver leaves in comp, say a set time countdown and match is ended because its like a 90% (or more) of the time its a loss. if u leave u get a penalty in endorsements because u left the match.

This has to be by far the most useful necro I’ve ever seen in these forums.


On topic: Here’s some few quick comments on the ideas:

Idea 1. Seems useful, and it is not hindering the player at all.

Idea 2. Perfect improvement. Even a 3 second countdown would do, just like starcraft2 does for its ladder games.

Idea 3. This one was in my mind for a long time too. Very useful for friend groups and lfg alike.

Idea 4. This one just doesn’t click to me. Feels like it will make games roll out less smoother after a long period of time, and they can tire the player out.


I already explained in the starting topic, it’s not fair to the team without the leaver and matches overall would no longer completely consistently

I too have been a little hesitant of this idea since when I first proposed it. Besides, I remind the community these days that if dealing with leavers is a serious concern, they should instead use the Looking-for-Group tool to find other serious players in Competitive.

Considering I remember when I wrote this that we just got over two really bad network provider issues that affected the community. I wish this topic had earned a little more traction back then.

So true. This was a well thought out post which unfortunately did not go off. Especially the confirmation screen is a good idea.

1 Like

not fair to the team without the leaver … u want them to beat on the remaining team? and that’s fair?? have u ever fought 2 against 6 and u were one of the 2 where is the fair in that??. why cant u do it like baseball 10 run rule… or 4 against 6 rule?? instead u rather the players suffer against overwhelming odds. bad play on blizzard’s part. today alone I have played 10 games and maybe 5 had leavers. its ok when they leave in the beginning cuz match resets… but the ones that they leave after that. … I hate being on the short end of the stick… this is what gives me a bad taste in my mouth and makes me wanna find a different game to play.

That still results in a loss to the team who is taking the beating. Overwatch already has that, once the 2 minute timer expires, you can leave, take the loss and queue for the next match without being suspended from Competitive Play.

yeah but i got my endorsements taken away when i left the game… so u do lose something…

Any endorsement level drop when forfeiting a match after a leaver occurs due to endorsement decay over a series of matches played. It was not that one match alone, but not earning enough endorsements played over your most recently matches played. If you had finished that match, and received not enough endorsements, the result would have been the same because you were on the edge of dropping anyways.

Besides, recovering that endorsement level is easily recovered as you continue to play more matches and earn endorsements.

The way i read that is … SO What u lose your endorsements… u can easily make them back… but today alone i was in at least 5 games with leavers… if i left the games after the timer ran out, would I have dropped more in my endorsements? I don’t know about other levels but in bronze people don’t care if u zap them with a penalty they say i’m in the lowest bracket … who cares!! they can’t put me in a lower level.

Good ideas! I wanted to add something, pLZ.

You NEED to post on here the section that they NEED to have a new message SCREEN which states.

" YOU must click “YES” to agree or “NO” to exit the screen before queuing".

Overwatch Competitive gameplay is a serious game where players are competing for a Seasonal Rating. You may be expected to play roles you are not quite ready for and/or are going to need to open a voice channel to at LEAST listen to your fellow team members. You may not be required to talk, but are at least asked to listen to fellow team members.

Please note: That you are expected to stay in groups. Using ledges and open areas of the map for “cliff diving” is not acceptable behavior.

Verbal abuse and accusing others of throwing is NOT acceptable behavior. If a person is being abusive in chat. They need to be REPORTED.

Leaving and standing still while idle in the game is REPORTABLE behavior.

If a person is abusing the system. You will be LOCKED OUT of competitive play until the season ENDS and this penalty will CONTINUE into the following season.

Click “Yes to continue. Click “NO” to return to the main menu”.