Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: ZenyattaWatch
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What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report #21: ZenyattaWatch. As you may have guessed from this week’s title – the Overwatch Hero Meta has been taken hostage by Zenyatta and his evil brand of “peaceful” omnic wisdom. The basis of Zenyatta’s Meta dominance lies in one simple ability: Discord Orb. Discord Orb almost singlehandedly removed Pharah from the tournament scene and has caused various ripple effects that resulted in the largest grouping of Heroes in the F Tier since this Report’s inception. Who knew that 50 health was the only thing holding back the tide of “Dangerballs” flying back and forth across Maps?
There’s some hope on the horizon, however. I will be examining a few, non-Zenyatta Heroes who appear to demonstrate the beginning of trends that may react to the current, “warped” state of the Meta. Additionally, this Report will introduce a new way of analyzing the Meta by calculating “Win Shares” – leading to some very interesting observations regarding what worked, and what did not work in this week’s Eleague qualifiers. Let’s start on a more simpler note, however, with this week’s Tiers:
As always, Raw Data for this and subsequent charts can be found HERE . The data is now presented as separate sheets for each Map, for better and more detailed tracking. A Summary Sheet can also be found HERE but its much less pretty. REMINDER: This Data was collected from the Eleague Qualifiers Week 2 (NA + EU), where 1 Hero Limit, and Stopwatch Format was used for Payload Maps
S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate*): Zenyatta, Lucio
A Tier (>80% Usage Rate):
B Tier (>50% Usage Rate): McCree, Zarya, Winston
C Tier (>20% Usage Rate): Genji, Reaper, Reinhardt, Tracer
D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): D.Va, Junkrat, Roadhog
F Tier (<5 % Usage Rate): Widowmaker, Ana, Soldier 76, Mercy, Symmetra, Bastion, Mei, Pharah, Hanzo, Torbjorn
*What is Usage Rate? For every match, I record the time spent on each Hero and divide it by that match’s total time duration. Each of these Data points (a number from 0-1) are then summed across all sides of all matches, then divided by the total number of sides and converted to a percentage to produce a Hero’s overall Usage Rate.
The Tier Ranges I’ve chosen** reflect different states of “Balance” in the Meta. This week, the Meta that is being analyzed is the Meta of 1 Hero Limit, and Stopwatch Scoring for successful attacks on Payload Maps.
S Tier “The Overpowered Heroes”
This week, the S Tier is the all Support Tier. Zenyatta and Lucio dominated the Healer slot in Overwatch lineups because they can do what other Heroes cannot: heal, dps, debuff, buff, and move all at the same time. Zenyatta and Lucio then destroyed all other Heroes in Usage because they have the two strongest non-Ultimate abilities in the game: Discord Orb and Speed Boost. Both of these abilities have existed (mostly, Discord Orb used to be permanent) untouched since Zenyatta and Lucio were first released, and its surprising that they have lasted this long. Perhaps the strength of these abilities was drowned out beneath Zenyatta’s long beleaguered journey of “only having 150 health”, and Lucio being edged out by “Resurrect charges far too fast”. Now, these two Healers with Overwatch’s two strongest abilities are at the forefront of the Meta, and I expect Blizzard has a very close eye on their progression.
A Tier “The Core Heroes”
.….. Crickets ….. Whenever a Meta includes even one S Tier Hero, the rest of the Tiers suffer because the S Tier Heroes essentially shrink the lineup slots from 6 to 5 or even 4. This week, we had two “YOU MUST PICK THESE HEROES” squatting in the S Tier, and it seems like Zenyatta and Lucio siphoned most of their Hero Time played from Heroes that would otherwise have reached A Tier. There were no “Core” Heroes this week: only Zenyatta, Lucio, and whoever you decided to place around them.
B Tier “The Favorites”
While not necessarily “Core” this week, McCree, Zarya, and Winston make up the “Favorites” of Heroes to be paired with Zenyatta and Lucio this week. I predicted that McCree would retain his S Tier position carrying over from last week, however either the snap-balance patch or the organic movement of the Meta was enough to drive the cowboy down two full tiers (from 98% usage to 74%). By comparison, Zarya and Winston gained ground this week by jumping from the C to the B Tier – potentially due to an increase in King of the Hill Maps played or to fill a need as “McCree-resistant” Tanks.
C Tier “The Balanced Heroes”
To the surprise of no one, Reaper stayed constant in his C Tier home – he’s quickly becoming Overwatch’s most consistent Hero in terms of usage and balance changes. I personally cannot even remember the last time Reaper was specifically sought out for a buff or a nerf – his role and kit are unique and powerful enough that he has been and presumably will be a mainstay of many Metas. Genji just barely fell out of the B Tier at 49%, I predict he will be bouncing between B and C Tier as long as Zenyatta is a common occurrence: Zenyatta is far too enticing of a target for Dragonblades. Reinhardt and Tracer fill out the rest of the C Tier for the same reason: an influx of king of the hill maps into this week’s dataset. With more King of the Hill maps, Tracer saw a boost in usage while Reinhardt got left in the dust by Tanks more suited to King of the Hill like Zarya and Winston.
D Tier “The Meta Dependent Heroes”
D.Va took a similar hit to Reinhardt due to the influx of King of the Hill maps into the dataset, dropping from C to D Tier this week. D.Va also suffers somewhat from Discord Orb more than tanks like Zarya, who can easily dispel the debuff with her personal shield. Speaking of Zarya, players have begun to simply stand in D.Va’s ultimate with their personal shields up, to gain an instant 100% charge – a huge detriment to using one of D.Va’s strongest abilities. Roadhog has zero protection from Discord Orb and with lots of McCrees in the Meta, his Chain Hook combo is less needed than before. Finally, Junkrat gained significant ground this week – escaping the F Tier as pros realized they still needed a consistent, AOE damage-dealing replacement from the liability that Pharah has become.
F Tier “The Unusable in Tournament Play Heroes”
This week, I think I caught the F Tier in a strange spot. Zenyatta and Lucio appeared in essentially every lineup this week, leaving only four slots for other Heroes to fill. McCree was in most lineups, so that left three slots. Most teams would have at least one tank, maybe two, so that leaves 1-2 slots left for the remaining 18 or so Heroes – so it made sense that a lot of Heroes ended up in the F Tier. Of course, the Tier was held down by Defense Heroes like in previous reports, but an interesting thing to note was that Pharah also received 0 picks, joining Torbjorn and Bastion in that regard. Widowmaker nearly escaped the F Tier due to a single player – Kephrii playing for Team Liquid – insisting on playing her on both sides of the payload. Sadly, my favorite Hero, Ana, dropped to the F Tier falling in usage alongside Soldier 76 as the Meta found no room for second-rate Healers and DPS.
** I do not chose the placement of Heroes in a Tier, only the Range which defines the Tier. By determining Usage Rate directly from Hero Time Played in Tournament Matches, my data is Objectively determined, and not subjective at all.
Methodology: Calculating Winrate
The idea to start tracking winrates in Overwatch has always been a goal of mine, I just had not yet had the “spark” of an idea for how to do it properly. It was too confusing, there were too many variables and I did not even know if the Data would be meaningful in the end. What does a “Win” in Overwatch mean anyway? Does capturing a single point count as a win? An entire Map? How do you account for Hero Swaps’ contribution to a Win? After many requests from the community, and one chance conversation with someone much more practiced at this (very particular) analysis than I, I think I have finally developed a way to track a semblance of winrate in Overwatch using my data. Here are the assumptions, rules, and calculations I performed to arrive at my new metric: Overwatch Win Shares.
METHODOLOGY: What is a Win?
First, I had to define what a “Win” meant in Overwatch. To make things easier, I listed each scenario and gave an example. Also for simplicity, all wins will be discussed from the perspective of offense – all offensive losses are by their nature defensive wins anyway.
1. Stopwatch Win – Team A finishes the map faster than Team B. if Team A goes first and sets a time faster than Team B’s attacking side – the wins and losses look like this:
Side 1: Team A Offensive Win, Team B Defensive Loss
Side 2: Team A Defensive Win, Team B Offensive Loss
This can additionally happen in reverse order – if Team B sets a faster time than Team A on the second side of the map.
2. Distance Win – Team B pushes the Payload as far as Team A, but faster. If Team A goes first, and fails to reach the final checkpoint, the wins and losses look like this:
Side 1: Team A Offensive Loss, Team B Defensive Win
Side 2: Team A Defensive Loss, Team B Offensive Win
This can happen in reverse order as well, although I have not yet seen that occur in tournament play.
3. Capture Point Wins – Team A and Team B trade attacks back and forth on one of the 2CP Maps for many rounds.
For these situations, I count full map clears as Offensive Wins. This was how an uneven amount of Offensive Wins vs. Offensive Losses and vice versa for Defense arose in this week’s dataset. The map in question was Temple of Anubis played by Rogue and ANOX, and the Wins and Losses proceeded like this:
Side 1, ANOX completed Offense – ANOX Offensive Win, Rogue Defensive Loss
Side 2, Rogue completed Offense – Rogue Offensive Win, ANOX Defensive Loss
Side 3, ANOX completed Offense – ANOX Offensive Win, Rogue Defensive Loss
Side 4, Rogue completed Offense – Rogue Offensive Win, ANOX Defensive Loss
Side 5, ANOX did not complete Offense (stalled at first point) – ANOX Offensive Loss, Rogue Defensive Win
Side 6, Rogue completed Offense – Rogue Offensive Win, ANOX Defensive Loss
METHODOLOGY – What about Swaps?
One of the most basic questions I struggled with about calculating winrate was how tocalculate the impact a Hero has on a win. If a player used Reinhardt for 95% of a Map, stalled on the final checkpoint, swapped to a Tracer, and that swap enabled the final push – which Hero had the most impact? The solution had been hiding right under my nose this entire time – transitioning to time-based Hero Usage data. Luckily, I have already done that weeks ago! To calculate each Hero’s impact on the Win or Loss of a game, I simply tagged each Hero’s usage rate data (a number normalized from 0-1 – 0-100%) with one of the four above tags. Summing these data, then dividing by the number of sides of Offensive Wins, Offensive Losses, Defensive Wins, and Defensive Losses respectively results in the Hero Win Shares you see above.
What does it all mean??
There’s a bunch of different ways to interpret this data, so I will attempt to utilize all of them to see what sticks. Let’s first go with the obvious – simply reading the data “as is”:
Data “As Is”
If we look at Offensive Wins, two Heroes stick out immediately: Lucio and Zenyatta. Both of these Healers – Overwatch’s premium supports – were included in every single successful offensive attack. However, we can attribute this primarily to their popularity in general: they were also included in almost every UNsuccessful offensive. A similar pattern emerges for Mccree, Lucio, and Zenyatta on defense: all three are used in almost every Defensive Win, but also almost every Defensive Loss due to their high pick rate.
Offense vs. Defense
Another way to compare the data is to offense to defense. Genji, for example, appears to be roughly 40% more likely to result in wins for teams when used on offense rather than defense. The opposite could be said for McCree, Reinhardt, and Junkrat – defensive Heroes that thrive when flankers like Genji attempt to breach their entrenched positions.
Offense vs. Offense – Defense vs. Defense
Finally, the most interesting analysis: offense to offense, and defense to defense comparisons. By comparing offensive or defensive success to their respective failures, we can see where improvements in Hero usage may be made. The first pair of Heroes that jumps out are the two off-tanks – Winston and Zarya – who were used 25% and 14% more respectively in offensive wins rather than losses. Comparatively, Reinhardt was used only in 53% of offensive wins but 83% of losses. This suggests that players looking for more success in their attacks may want to look into swapping to or starting on a Winston or Zarya more often than Reinhardt in the future.
McCree also stood out on Offense – racking up up 85% usage in failed attacks compared to 68% usage in successes. The only explanation I can muster for this discrepancy is the Meta as a whole. Right now Overwatch is in the midst of one of the fastest, rush-rush-rush Metas since the “Orbital Destruction” Metas of early Closed Beta. When using McCree on offense in such a fast-paced Meta, players will have to play far more aggressive than usual, compared to a defensive McCree that can pick their setup at their leisure. An offensive McCree will be forced to take less efficient shots, take more risks, and generally be less effective overall. Pros must be sensing this, and either swapping off McCree sooner, or not bringing him on attack at all.
Defense tells an entirely different story. Most games in this dataset resulted in wins by stopwatch time, so the Defense Wins and Defense Losses will look relatively similar as long as team compositions stay roughly the same (and they did). The outliers occur when a team is able to full-hold and win by distance or point holds (for 2CP maps), and these were enough to give us some glimpses into what improvements can be made in defensive team compositions. Two Heroes – Junkrat and D.Va – had somewhat higher usage on Defensive Wins than Losses, clocking in at 7 and 9% respectively. Perhaps, with the loss of the “Sky-Pharah” from the Meta, the time of the “Ground-Pharah” has come. Ana and Zarya also showed a slight bump in usage in Defensive Wins rather than Losses (~4-5%), but it is hard to separate this from the noise.
Based on this inaugural data, it appears that tournament-level teams should be playing less Reinhardt on offense and fill his slot with more Zaryas and Winstons. Teams should consider either running less McCree, or swapping off of him sooner for either the second tank or a DPS like Reaper. If your team is not using Lucio or Zenyatta on offense or defense, you are probably doing something wrong. Teams looking to pull off a full hold on defense should make sure they have a Junkrat and a D.Va on their squad, and maybe an Ana and a Zarya as well.
Individual Hero Breakdowns
For a more interactive chart (also less messy looking):
Three heroes stood out in their movement from last week to this week in usage: Tracer, McCree, and Junkrat. Trends in high level summary data like these are always interesting when they occur, but it’s often just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to team compositions. Tracer and Junkrat saw boosts in usage while McCree dropped off – but why?
I’ll begin with the Hero that surprised me the most this week: Tracer. Tracer is known by most Overwatch fans by now to be a King of the Hill specialist, but previous weeks have seen her languish in the D Tier of usage (<20% overall). This week, Tracer escaped the D Tier and the reason lies in not the “Hero” Meta, but the “Map” Meta. We’re now a full week into the Eleague qualifiers and teams by now have taken measures of each other and feel confident bullying lesser teams during the map ban phase of their matchups. The problem arises when two teams play “chicken” with their bans, each thinking the other is superior. When this happens, you can often get “unpopular” maps chosen for the matchup’s map pool – leading to a spike in Ilios (of all things…) maps played this week, and a parallel boost to Tracer’s usage.
That’s not the whole story, however. Tracer will always remain a king of the hill specialist, but she saw a decent amount of payload usage this week as well –- especially in the hands of Cloud9’s Surefour. Ever creative, Cloud9 saw the movement of the Meta towards placing a premium on speed and decided to double-down on this philosophy. Surefour’s Tracer seemed at times to go ignored, and at times to cause panic in the backline of NRG on Hollywood. Surefour easily snuck behind NRG’s defensee and began shredding slow-moving Zenyattas while emptying full clips into oblivious tanks preoccupied with the deathball in front of them. In a Meta with nearly 100% Zenyatta usage, a Tracer with rewind will easily feast on the slow-moving Healer – 200HP or not. Combine this with timely Discord Orbs and Tracer looks to be the next big thing for payload flanking.
Aug 3rd note: after spending the day casually watching the ESL Battle for the Atlantic games, it seems I was spot-on with my Tracer predictions. Teams are beginning to utilize the british speedster much more often on both sides of payload maps, often times even taking the place of McCree!
“When the Sky Pharah’s go away, the Ground Pharahs will play”. This is a quote I made up to paraphrase the advice I got from Creation’s Linkzr – and it’s reasoning behind Junkrat’s boost in usage this week. Overwatch will always have room for a Hero providing high damage AOE, but with Discord Orb painting floating Pharahs with giant “Kill Me Now” signs, pros had to look elsewhere for some explosive representation. Under normal conditions, Pharah counters Junkrat both by destroying him in a head-to-head matchup (rockets that travel in a straight line > bouncy arcing grenades) and by filling nearly the same lineup role. In a Meta where Pharah cannot leave the ground, however, Junkrat has room to shine.
It’s even more interesting to look at Junkrat’s kit in the context of other Meta-influencing factors. As mentioned above, Tracer may begin to see a gradual climb in payload usage – but that infringes on Junkrat’s turf. If more Tracers start zipping around as the Rush Meta picks up more speed, Junkrat may also see a jump in Defensive usage to drop Steel Traps and to spam chokepoints, hoping to pick off the little speedsters. Another factor in Junkrat’s climb is potentially due to the changes to Overtime in Overwatch. After a certain amount of time, the Overtime timer runs out increasingly faster without contact on the point – fast enough that a single Junkrat Riptire can scare an enemy team off the point long enough break the hold.
What happened to McCree? Pros initially expected nothing to change usage-wise when McCree got “nerfed” in the week following Ana’s release – expecting the improvement in his Fan the Hammer consistency to outweigh the loss of McSniper. It appears that was not the case this week, however as McCree dipped in usage from S to B Tier. It’s hard to explain this phenomenon. Was McCree objectively worse this week than last week? Maybe. Or had the Meta evolved more anti-McCree strategies? Perhaps! You’ll also note that Zarya and Winston saw an increase in usage this week, both of which are great annoyances to McCree. Winston’s Shield Bubble causes line of sight issues for McCrees looking to pick off enemy Supports, and Zarya bubbles protect would-be Stun Grenade targets. The speed of the Meta may also be edging out McCree – a Hero with no movement abilities – at least on the Offensive side of Overwatch. Just take the situation where you combine all of these factors: a speed-boosted Winston jumps on your McCree, drops a Bubble so you cannot snipe their Zenyatta (who proceeds to toss a Discord Orb on you) and then Zarya tosses a Personal Shield on Winston for good measure and he laughs at your Stun Grenade as he melts you.
Let’s talk swaps
This week saw yet another dominating run by Tracer in the “Swaps To” column, no doubt due to final point defenses as usual. D.Va mirrored Tracer’s bias, showing a huge bias towards being swapped to after an initial lineup failed to succeed. Unlike Winston, however, players who swapped to D.Va seem to have stuck with her rather than swap to another hero – indicated by her low swapped from numbers.
Roadhog was one of the few with “from” bias – once again for his usage as a safe first pick on payload maps for teams unsure of how their opponents lineup may look. McCree as well showed some bias towards being swapped from rather than swapped to. This indicates that teams would often start with McCree in their opening lineup and sub him out if they needed a fresh look for the next escort phase of a payload map. This phenomenon was repeated with Junkrat, as well for his “first point specialist” tendencies.
The “High Volatility Duo” of Winston and Reaper appear to have been being swapped in and out constantly – accounting for two of the top four slots in both “Swaps To” and “Swaps From”. These Heroes are very map-location dependent, so will often be called. There were also some smaller, but still interesting trends that arose this week. Zenyatta, despite his 99%+ usage rate, still got swapped from – usually to a panic Tracer at the end of a match. Mei also popped up on the radar in the swaps to and from column, which shows that she was being used for more than just last second point-stalling as well.
Final thoughts and shoutouts
As always, none of this Data could exist without the help of the Competitive Overwatch Community – so remember to check out my Competitive Overwatch Beta Twitch Directory! This Directory features all of the Twitch Streams and Social Media of as many of the people who helped make the Beta Competitive Scene great that I could find. Get out there and give these people a Follow – without them there would be no Competitive Scene and no Overwatch Hero Meta Report. This week also marks the end of my posting to my personal site, planetoverwatch.org, and my move to overbuff.com! I highly suggest you check out the rest of overbuff’s features, but I’ll let you all explore at your leisure as I don’t want to come off as a sellout <3 My personal site will stay live as an archive to all of my prior reports, if you’re interested in a brief history of the scene.
Until next time,