Revisiting the concerns about leavers and how they impact Overwatch

Hey everyone, I am starting a new topic to bring discussion about the impact of leavers in Overwatch. I have written about this a couple of times in the past (but not before role queue). While I see the balance in the current leaver penalty system, I continue to look for ways to deter direct leavers and discourage players from attempting to play during technical malfunctions. I encourage everyone here to participate in this discussion. Remember, as a Forum MVP I don’t represent Blizzard (though I welcome them to join in on the discussion) but I do want to make sure that the game and our community becomes the best it can be.

Things to remember about leavers in the current state of the game:

  • In non-Competitive modes, leavers are not directly penalized but could trigger a -75% XP penalty if they leave too many games. This penalty is removed after they consecutively complete enough games in a row. Otherwise, there is no major consequence of leaving non-competitive modes.
  • In Competitive mode, the starting penalty is a 10-minute suspension from Competitive Play, but does increase with repeated violations on that same account. In addition, the following rules apply:
    • The leaver, if they fail to return, gets a -50 SR reduction, this is not really a penalty but just the SR adjustment for lack of participation. This never increases in order to prevent players from using the penalty to deliberately tank their SR in order to smurf on lower level players.
    • If the leaver leaves the match within the first minute, the match cancels. This ensures the remaining players don’t play the majority of the match in a mismatch. However, after the first minute, the match does not cancel and the leaver is given 2 minutes to attempt to return without penalty. I also believe a leaver cannot leave more than 3 times in a single match without getting penalized. This allows those who have a minor technical issue to recover quickly.
    • The teammates of the leavers will still take the full appropriate SR adjustment based on the result of the match even if they lose. This ensures players don’t attempt to bride or bully their teammates into leaving matches. After 2 minutes, teammates of that leaver may leave without penalty (suspension) but still take the appropriate loss and SR adjustment (regardless of the match outcome).
    • Opponents of the leaver would still get their appropriate SR adjustment based on the result of the match win or lose, however I noticed there is a change where if after the 2:00 minute countdown is up and all remaining players of that team with the leaver decides to leave themselves and the match is canceled, the opponents of that leaver don’t get any SR or match result. (I noticed this in one of my placement games this season. I don’t know know if this is a bug or not but I am trying to find out.
    • Leavers that continue to leave competitive games will have increasing suspensions and can lead to a season ban from only the Competitive Play mode. However, any suspension or season ban does not stop that player from switching accounts (if they own multiple accounts). Season bans results in the loss of all end-of-season rewards for that season (bonus Competitive Points, Spray, Player Icon).
    • Those who get three-season bans will result in a permanent ban from only the Competitive Play modes (including arcade Competitive Play modes). However, any permanent ban does not stop that player from switching accounts (if they own multiple accounts).
  • All technical issues (disconnections, computer crashes, power outages, etc.) counts as leaving a game of Overwatch and will be penalized appropriately. This encourages players to fix any technical issues before playing a high-stakes game like Competitive, and prevent any abuse to avoid penalties by faking such technical malfunctions.

Since Role Queue…

Before role queue, I found this to be a very balanced system, however, both Quick Play and Competitive have issues when there is a leaver in either of these modes.

  • A leaver in quick play can often lead to a match playing out in most a 5 versus 6 for a good portion of the match if the leaver was in an “impacted” role such as Tank or Support where not as many players queue for that role. This was not nearly as much of a problem before where backfills could come in quickly in most cases.
  • A leaver in Competitive can often cause a misalignment in team composition balance because the roles are restricted. Before role queue, my usual procedure to a leaver was to convince the team to switch off one of the two supports, and one damage player play’s Solider:76 (for his healing ability) to balance out the problem as good as we can get. This is often not possible with the current role lock rule set.
  • A player who has to backfill in quick play or players from a Competitive Match that was canceled early due to a leaver has to completely re-queue. This tends to be very annoying for high-demand roles like Damage.

What I would like to know

  • With leavers having a more negative impact on the overall match experience in both Quick Play and Competitive, would you like to see new measures to deter bad leaver behavior?
  • As a player, would you be willing to have a “low-priority queue”? This basically forces a player to wait in an active search queue without being selected for a match for a certain amount of time.
  • What other ideas do you think could work? Remember we know that there really can’t be any increased SR reductions, and we have to consider for those who are trying to troubleshoot their connections or tech issues to some extent. Backfill in Competitive is not a very viable option because there is no perfect way to balance it and make it fair for the team that did not have the leaver (and it would be no fun to backfill a Competitive match).

I look forward to your responses, please keep them constructive. In the event the development team happens to be reading this, I welcome any feedback to how much you guys are seeing leavers impact games of Overwatch and if this is a major concern for you guys.

Cheers everyone! (^^)v


I think leavers in non-competitive modes get an endorsement penalty. But it’s still not much of a punishment. I wouldn’t mind a sort of karma based queuing system that would group leavers with other leavers. I’m not sure doing something like that would contribute to the health of the game though assuming people stuck in such a system might just decide to stop playing.


Few ideas

  1. In comp if you get a leaver in the game after the 2 minute mark they get replaced with a basic bot (They are simplistic in design and don’t give off any ult charge or count as a kill for achievements) that plays on the point and follows a determent path, commands etc (Not 100% on this idea, it’s just a thought)

  2. If a team mate does leave in comp and has no intent on coming back, maybe give the tiniest increase in ult charge rate to those that stayed. So it makes the already uphill battle of 5v6 at least one step better it’s more so when it’s a crucial role gone.

  3. If a match gets cancelled early those effected by long queue times are kept together to streamline onto the next match.

  4. Increase the exp reduction from 75% to 85%

  5. Possibly add a role suspension if you leave too frequently in a period. Even if it’s only from a day to 3.

That’s how it happens.

It’s basically a forfeit where no one gets anything. Had that happen since season 10 (that’s the earliest I can remember it happening at least :thinking: )


Outside of technical issues, people don’t leave because they’re having too much fun. I can only speak for myself but if I had to either stay in a match I’m not enjoying or face say a 1 week ban I’d stay in the match. Yeah, I’d stay in the match and do everything in my power to make your life a living hell every minute I’m there.


I think for Competitive,
If you get a leaver in the first 30sec, it should just backfill, and restart the match.


Can we Just have a pause of 3 min If the tem wanted, many times one person get kicked and they came back as soon as another player leave

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The vast amount of people deranking is causing more a problem than anything IMO, as opposed to the leavers.

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The answer to the leaver problem already exists in game in other modes - backfill.


Please actually take the time to read my thread before saying that backfill works when I’ve already said it doesn’t.

it was confirmed on the old forums that they would never use backfill in competitive play.


In reality, the matchmaking needs to be tightened up. Getting constant losses because the game mismatches teams really badly isn’t fun and causes people to quit. And this goes for the “fun” modes like Quick Play and Arcade too. Reducing the “people leave games because it’s a roflstomp” should be a priority to reduce the leavers to genuine “I need to answer the door” or “I need to go pick up my cat”

I shouldn’t regularly be seeing 1 win to 9 losses in my last ten games in arcade Mystery Heroes or Quick Play if the matches were actually pitching players at appropriate levels.


That’s fine if you don’t think it will, but you’re not Blizzard.

I think it will but I’m not Blizzard either.

All I know is that something needs to be done to overcome the problem of leavers, especially on console where smurf/alt/whatever accounts are free to make so there’s zero player accountability.

Backfill works in other game modes. I’m sure with some necessary tweaking it could be made to work in Competitive as well.

I don’t recall any such statement being made by Blizzard.

If you could provide a link, please, that would be appreciated.


The problem with the matchmaker is that there are too many smurf accounts screwing it up now to the point where it seems like it’s beyond fixing.

Worst thing Blizzard ever did with Overwatch was allow players to have more than 1 account.


Old forums were shut down last week. More or less the post confirmed that backfill was never used for competitive play because it affects the rest of the teams (allies and opponents). Not to mention, they give an opening for the player to return. I have made these points to you in your own thread.

I know you think that wants to be the solution but I formally disagree with it. It’s not fair for both teams.

As far as having alternate accounts I would agree to some extent, however in many ways that could be a whole separate debate.

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How are players meant to fix things that are beyond their control, eg power outages, unscheduled Internet service interruptions, unexpected hardware failures, etc?

It’s bad enough that Blizzard already penalises players for leaving regardless of whether it was intentional or not. Unintentional disconnects should not be penalised at all.

And before anyone chimes in with the “how are they meant to differentiate between intentional and unintentional” it’s 2020 now. I’ve no doubt a company with the resources that Blizzard has could come up with a way to differentiate between an intentional and unintentional disconnect if they committed said resources to that task.

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That was before role queue. Now they may consider it.


Someone leaving already affects the rest of the teams (allies and opponents) Backfill fixes that problem by restoring the match to being 6v6 instead of 5v6 or worse.

Which they could still do under the backfill system in the form of a reserves bench, as I also posited in my original discussion on the subject.

It’s not fair for both teams to have leavers. Backfill can restore the fairness to what ends up an otherwise extremely unfair match.


In the moment when it actually occurs they need to do whatever is within their available a power to try and get back into the game as quickly as possible. They’re not always going to succeed unfortunately, but that is why the current penalty starts at 10 minutes. It’s enough to encourage those who are honest enough to not leave games to correct any issues. My observation is that since role queue, negative bad lever behavior has been increasing and I think deterrence such as a low priority queue might be the answer. Even if that low priority queue is just an additional 5 minutes of wait time.

It is 2020 but no company or any form of technology can truly detect when a disconnection happens that is cause deliberately by the player, they can only tell when it disconnection happens regardless of how it is caused.


I would agree to increase the penalty for QP if there was a surrender button and shouldn’t be applied to a backfiller.
Sometime there is really waste of time matchmaking which doesn’t worth the time…

For competitive, there is a big issue of server issue for players, you can’t really punish big portion of playerbase for that. But you can make it less devastating to the team that got the leaver/DC.

Again, how is a player meant to correct issues beyond their control?

Answer: they can’t, and it’s incredibly unfair of Blizzard to treat them the same as they treat those players who intentionally leave a match.

That would be much preferred to an SR loss and time penalty.

Given the innovations we’ve seen of late, I find that extremely hard to believe.

I do not know what innovations you refer to. There is no competitive online team based game, that currently differentiates between disconnections and deliberate leaving.

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