Blizzard's "Avoid this player" feature was created with best intentions, but will soon be no more.
The feature, which players could use by right-clicking on a player's name, was created to help players avoid being matched with toxic or abusive opponents and teammates. It adjusted the matchmaking queue so that the system would know not to pair players with opponents they'd marked with "avoid."
But according to Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan, this soon met with disaster.
In a post on the Battle.net forums, Kaplan writes that "One of the best Widowmaker players in the world complained to us about long queue times. We looked into it and found that hundreds of other players had avoided him."
But they hadn't avoided that Widowmaker player because of his toxicity, they'd clicked "Avoid this player" because he was too good.
Things only got worse. Per Kaplan, "The end result was that it took him an extremely long time to find a match. The worst part was, by the time he finally got a match, he had been waiting so long that the system had 'opened up' to lower skill players. Now one of the best Widowmaker players was facing off against players at a lower skill level."
As a result, Kaplan says Blizzard will be disabling the "Avoid this player" feature. Though the story is somewhat amusing, it's a frustrating example of how tools meant to help players deal with toxic users can be undermined for unintentional purposes.
You can read Kaplan's full post for an extensive breakdown of how Overwatch's matchmaking system works, and how Kaplan considers its function more of an art then a science.