How does Overwatch decide Play of the Game?

Here's how your POTG was made.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

While Overwatch‘s Play of the Game system was designed to highlight the most skilled or impressive play during a match, in actuality, the play it chooses doesn’t always make sense. Almost every Overwatch player has watched a Play of the Game and wondered, “What? Why did it choose that one?”

We’ve all seen our fair share of confusing POTGs, but there is a method to the madness. Certain categories of plays rank higher in the POTG algorithm, like environmental kills. Others aren’t prioritized as much, like AOE kills from Junkrat’s R.I.P. Tire and Reaper’s Death Blossom, for example.

Occasionally, you might see a secondary title at the beginning of a POTG that designates why it was chosen. While not all POTGs get one, these titles can help explain why a particular play was chosen. The four secondary titles that can be used to describe a POTG are High Score, Shutdown, Sharpshooter, and Lifesaver. Of these four categories in any one game, the player with the highest accumulative score in any of them will be awarded the POTG.

Keep reading for more information on each POTG title and what it says about a given play.

High Score

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A High Score POTG is awarded when the game detects a ton of score in rapid succession, like multi-kills and long kill streaks. These POTGs can be the Cassidy Deadeye ultimates that get five kills or a Reinhardt Earthshatter followed up with a lot of damage, but the game tends to prioritize those that happen without the use of an ultimate ability. If no one was able to get a flurry of kills, chances are you won’t see this one.

Shutdown

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A Shutdown occurs when a player interrupts an opponent right before a big play. One example of this is with ultimates that have a casting time, like Reinhardt’s. If a player kills or stuns the Reinhardt in the middle of his Earthshatter cast, that’s considered a Shutdown. These plays are emphasized not because of the number of kills they generate, but because of their ability to save your teammates from certain death at the hands of the enemy team.

Sharpshooter

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The Sharpshooter POTG is largely given to snipers or other high-skill heroes, including Widowmaker, Ana, and Cassidy. The game will look at factors like the distance of a kill, headshots, the movement speed of the enemy player, if they were in mid-air at the time of the kill, and more in its determination. This is one of the trickiest POTGs to receive since you not only have to be deliberate about your shots, but you have to land them, too.

Lifesaver

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Lifesaver is similar to Shutdown in that it rewards players who protect their team rather than attack the enemy team. Lifesaver goes to players who save the life of a teammate or multiple team members. For example, if a team is pinned and ready to get wiped but Zenyatta casts his Transcendence ultimate to keep them alive through sustained damage, that’s a Lifesaver. It’s mainly aimed at support and tank heroes who have the ability to protect others, though it’s not exclusive to those groups.