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One of Overwatch's many in-game metrics is "Objective Time".

It makes sense when attacking, when you are with the payload or are on a capture point, that I think objective time measures how long you are with the objective, but for defenders, what is defined as 'objective time'? Is it how long you prevent the enemy from touching the objective, like moving the payload, or is it how long you stay alive? I've had times where on defense, I had received some form of Objective Time on the scoreboard despite being nowhere near the objectives at all.

What is objective time, and especially what does it mean in terms of being on defense?

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"Objective time" is how much time you spent actively contesting the objective.

On attack, this means how much time you spent escorting the payload, or standing on a capture point (that your team does not actively control).

On defense, it means how much time you spent actively stopping the offensive team from making progress with the objective by contesting it with your body -- so, time spent touching either the payload or capture point while the enemy team also has someone attempting to push or capture it.

Since the roles of attacker and defender often switch during Control maps, Objective Time on Control is a combination of both of the above metrics, depending on whether or not you own the point at the time -- so you gain time only while actively capturing or contesting the point, and not while standing on the point with no enemies attempting to take it.

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It's whenever you're making progress towards capturing an objective as the attackers (standing on the capture point or near the payload), and whenever you're contesting the enemy from making progress towards capturing an objective by standing on the objective as the defenders. Standing on a point as a defender while no enemies are trying to capture does not count as objective time, attacking enemies who are trying to capture while not being in range to contest does not count as objective time, and trying to push a payload while it's waiting for a checkpoint to open does not count as objective time.

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