The Priority Pass is Overwatch’s most recent attempt to decrease queue times, especially for the DPS role. Since the introduction of the 2-2-2 role lock, DPS has seen significantly higher queue times than the Support and Tank role. The Priority Pass aims to encourage flexing to other roles and it rewards this with a ‘cut in line,’ if you will. Enrolling into the ‘Flex Queue’ option will award a ticket that can be used to speed up the downtime before the player’s next game.
These tickets are available for both the Quickplay and Competitive modes. Players gain two tickets if they lose their flex game, but gain six tickets with a win. Each player can only hold onto 40 tickets at a time.
- Encourages Flexing
In and of itself, the new flex queue obviously promotes flexing. DPS mains now have an incentive to play heroes beyond their comfort picks. By learning or practicing different roles, they are rewarded with faster DPS queues. But they also gain greater game sense and understanding of the metagame.
- Theoretically Lowers Queue Times
The crux of how the Priority Pass lowers queue times is when people flex. When people flex, they likely end up on Tank or Support. This at least slightly lowers the demand for DPS games, while simultaneously increasing the supply of teammates in other roles. This shift, no matter how slight, works as a balance so that DPS players don’t have 10-minute queues while Tanks get games almost instantly.
- Provides Role MMR Rebalancing
An issue since role lock came out is that it placed all roles in similar places. But if someone was a strict DPS player before the lock, their tank and support play is likely not at the same level. Yet the game placed all roles in a roughly similar spot, hoping that it would adjust accordingly as people played those roles.
However, in the initial games skill levels were all over the place. A player who was Masters on DPS but should be Platinum on support would end up playing support in Masters games. This puts the player and their team at a distinct disadvantage. So many players just choose not to flex into those roles. This new system gives an incentive to flex now and will end up placing players closer to their actual skill level in the long run.
One distinct issue that this system ran into is people throwing games to get passes faster. Rather than use the flex queue for its intended purpose, some players have intentionally sabotaged their own team so that the game ends faster. Whether they intentionally feed, continually jump off the map, or just go inactive throughout the match, their team inevitably loses but the player still gets two Priority Pass tickets.
One week after the system went live, Blizzard issued a manual ban wave of people they found to be throwing to get Priority Passes. This will curb a good deal of it whether directly or through instilling fear of punishment. But players still have slightly more incentive to throw games with this system in place.
- Overloaded Economy
One issue with the new system is the sheer number of Priority Passes a player can accrue. If a player spends the afternoon flexing, it takes on average 12 games to reach the maximum amount of 40 tickets. That means they can spend the next 40 games solely queueing DPS. Gaining tickets at a far higher rate than they are spent means that the ticket ‘economy’ will eventually be flooded. Thus DPS queues will no longer be shorter because most people queueing will be using their tickets.
This is not to say the system is bad, it just needs tweaks to the numbers. But it is good to start off with a lot per win, otherwise players would not feel any kind of need to use the system.
- Doesn’t Address the Real Problem
While this system is a Band-Aid solution, it doesn’t tackle the underlying issue. That is there are far fewer Tanks and Supports than DPS characters. Additionally, many players generally find DPS more fun and engaging. There will be no fix for queue time disparities until more characters are added and the roster fills out.
There are a handful of new heroes coming with the release of Overwatch 2. But there has been no recent news about that release. Stay tuned as TGH will update with any new Overwatch and Overwatch League news.
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