Blizzard is kicking off the new year with the start of the next competitive season for their team-based hero shooter, Overwatch. Season eight has begun, and with it new rewards to earn, as well as adjustments to skill ratings. Watch the full developer update above featuring Jeff Kaplan, lead game director and VP at Blizzard.

To access competitive play, you need to reach level 25 and complete a series of 10 placement matches to determine your initial tier.

Completing your 10 placement matches will reward you with a special spray and player icon denoting the eighth season. As in previous seasons, completing competitive matches earns Competitive Points, which can be used to purchase golden versions of all the heroes’ weapons.

Specific adjustments and changes have been made to skill ratings and performance. The difference in skill rating (which is a number representing your overall skill) for everyone on a team has been reduced, especially for the lower and mid ranks of Bronze through Diamond. This means that players should be matched with other players of a more similar skill level, which should lead to more balanced matches.

Blizzard has also turned off the personal performance aspect of skill ratings for players at Diamond tier and above. You can read the full post here. Here’s the key takeaway: “We spent quite a lot of time examining data over multiple seasons, checking a lot of math, reading a LOT of community feedback, and then doing some deep soul searching about this. Especially at the higher levels of online competition where every point of skill rating matters, we want players to not be distracted and worry about how to optimize around the personal performance adjustment.”

In related Overwatch news, the inaugural season of the professional Overwatch League begins next week on January 10. Tickets are available to watch live at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.

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Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.