Relative Combat Power (RCP v1.0) in Overwatch League

Photo by Hassan Pasha on Unsplash

Every reader here can probably recall a moment where they had to play a 5 v 6 in competitive due to a teammate disconnecting or leaving. This consequent teamfight with a numbers disadvantage is really frustrating and leads to other members of the team leaving as well.
Let’s imagine a 6 v 3 teamfight. We assume that the performances and abilities of each side are the same. If thought in a linear manner, the team with 6 members will have 3 left standing after eliminating the opponent team. However, this is not usually what happens in reality. It differs by the situation, but likely 5 or more members remain after the said teamfight.

There is a huge difference between the linear calculation and the reality of a outnumbered teamfight.

In order to overcome the vast disadvantages of this outnumbered teamfight, an insane performance or efficient use of ultimates would have to be displayed by the team with 3 members. I found an interesting video about 2 Top 500 players playing a close game against 6 bronze players. If we assume that the SR of each Top 500 player is 4500 and that of each
bronze player is 500, it is quite interesting that Lanchester’s second law well explains the rather close game.

(SR) × (number of player)²

4500 × 2² = 500 × 6²

really close game of 2 Rankers vs 6 Bronze

In 1916 during World War 1, Fredrick Lanchester addressed his Lanchester’s Law on the relationship between the power and size of an army. In his first law (or linear law), the power of an army is linearly related to its size. This was can be applied in ancient combat, when it was a time when one soldier could only fight exactly one other soldier at a time. In his second law (or square law), the power of an army is correlated to the square of its size. The square law can be applied to modern warfare using firearms, in which a soldier can engage multiple targets and also get engaged at by multiple enemies. There are some assumptions that need to be made in order for the square law to be applied.

  1. The soldiers within an army are homologous.
  2. All units can attack at all times.
  3. As an army takes damage, its combat power diminishes.

Due to these assumptions, Lanchester’s Law can be more suitable to explain artificial combat like eSports rather than combat in the real world.

Surprisingly enough, Lanchester’s Law has already been applied in eSports titles like StarCraft. Check out the video below which explains how the law is applied in a game called Age of Empire II. Here you can easily pick up the concept of Lanchester’s Law and its application in eSports in detail.

Now it’s time to apply Lanchester’s Law in Overwatch. To make things easy, let’s use the number of players alive to calculate a team’s combat power. Here I used a modified version of Lanchester’s Law as presented in the video since 6 v 6 is a small group and a hero in Overwatch does not suffer combat power diminishes even if they are damaged.

Let’s call this power balance between two teams the ‘Relative Combat Power (RCP)’. The table below shows the all possible RCPs between blue team and red team.

All possible RCPs of blue team and red team

For example, if a teamfight starts as a 6 (blue) vs 4 (red), the RCP is 3.3 and it predicts that the blue team is going to win the teamfight with 3.3 players left at the end of the teamfight. So, you can understand that the RCP indicates the relative power balance between two teams at a certain moment.

Let’s take a look at an example.

RCP curve of a teamfight during a match between NYXL and GZC

This is the RCP curve of a teamfight during a match between NYXL and GZC. Positive value means NYXL > GZC, and negative value means NYXL < GZC. As you can see, the value went as low as -1.8 and suddenly surged up to 5.8. Here you can easily guess that the GZC picked up early final blows but the NYXL somehow turned the teamfight around. Let’s check what happened in the teamfight.

As you can see, Happy’s Ashe earned the first two final blows, (Libero and Nenne). So the RCP went down at the early stage of the teamfight.

However, NYXL managed to grab 6 final blows (4 by Haksal) after a good coordinated combination of Mano’s Supercharger and Haksal’s Dragonblade.

What we can do with the RCP?
Not only we can estimate the teamfight performance with it, but we also can estimate the value of a final blow. Simply, we all agree that a final blow during 6 vs 6 teamfight (first final blow) is much valuable than one during 6 vs 1. In my next post, I’ll define the value of a final blow with RCP, and the risk of a death as well.

  • English Revised by Minseong Kim (NYXL Player Manager)



Head of Data @NYXL. PhD in Neuroscience @KAIST, South Korea.

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