Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: I Love Lucio
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Whats up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: I Love Lucio. This week, unfortunately there was no change in the Meta so I’m cancelling the Report. Just kidding! While there was not too much movement in the Meta, plenty is happening in the world of Overwatch. Overwatch is currently at Gamescom, and the finals of the ESL Battle for the Atlantic Showdown will be played live at LAN this weekend. Blizzard just announced Overwatch’s newest map, Eichenwalde, a hybrid Escort/Assault map staged in Germany which revolves around a village with a central castle. Blizzard also ended Ranked Play Season 1 and rolled out Season 2 on the PTR – as well as Season 2’s Patch Notes. You can read the extended notes here, but here’s some quick and dirty highlights of a few of the larger changes as well as my reactions before we get to this week’s Tiers.
Hanzo will now experience a 30% decrease in speed while aiming (formerly 40%). Also maximum projectile speed increased by 30%
Is…is Hanzo viable now? Despite his lack of usage at the Pro level, Hanzo has always had one of the higher straight up damage potential of all heroes in Overwatch – his headshot arrows can one-shot any hero short of tanks. Increasing his arrow’s projectile speed cuts down on the “arc” of the arrows, increasing his consistency and making his projectiles less dodge-able. We could conceivably see serious Hanzo picks, especially if Pharah makes her way back into the Meta.
Blizzard projectile pierces barriers and radius increased
Quality of life change for Mei, making her ultimate more consistent. Right now, Mei is only used in desperate stall situations to add a precious few seconds to the stopwatch – I’m not sure that a change to her ultimate will affect her usage that much at the tournament level.
Deadeye now drains from 100-0% like all other channeled Ultimates
This definitely hurts McCree. No longer can McCree players use Deadeye as area denial with little consequence due to only dropping to 50% ultimate charge if canceled – they must be more judicious in choosing to activate it.
Healing rate increased by 20%, Resurrected heroes can now move after 2.25 seconds instead of 3.
Besides the obvious two buffs, my main concern for Mercy is whether or not resurrected heroes will retain their invulnerability for the full three seconds or not. My guess is no, but this could be a very interesting and possibly unintended mechanic introduced with Season 2. Mercy’s healing rate buff combined with Zenyatta’s Discord Orb nerf should be enough for her to sustain a discorded Pharah from a single McCree’s poke damage, but will it be enough to propel the Pharah-Mercy combo back into the Meta?
Double jump no longer resets after wall climbing, Dash no longer kills traps or bypasses traps, can no longer do the “Alt Fire/Melee/Dash” combo, Dragonblade reduced to 6 seconds
Whew, the big one. These changes pretty much gut Genji – I personally was an advocate for just the Dragonblade nerf, but not the other two. I predict Genji will fall completely out of Meta, if only due to Pros’ kneejerk reaction to what is ultimately a pretty harsh nerf.
Speed Boost reduced by 30% movespeed
I don’t think this will have much effect on Lucio’s usage – 70% is still far more than 0%. If Lucio’s usage decreases, it will be due to changes to other healers (like Mercy’s buff)
Discord Orb reduced from 50% to 30% bonus damage. Main fire damage increased back to pre-nerf levels (Zenyatta’s own damage to discorded targets is thus unchanged)
With the nerf to Zenyatta and Lucio, and the buff to Mercy – I see supports in Overwatch in strange situation. Lucio will likely still be core, at least initially, so the final lineup slot will depend on whether or not the Pharah-Mercy combo is really back, or if Zenyatta / Ana’s superior utility wins out for the second support slot.
Just like with the previous round of hero balance changes, I’ll be doing a big predictions post when the changes go live to see if I can guess what the Meta will become, but for now let’s see what the Meta we’re stuck with looks like with this week’s tiers:
As always, Raw Data for this and subsequent charts can be found HERE . The data is 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 4 (NA + EU), where 1 hero Limit, and Stopwatch Format was used for Payload Maps
S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate*): Lucio, Zenyatta
A Tier (>80% Usage Rate): Zarya
B Tier (>50% Usage Rate): Tracer, Winston
C Tier (>20% Usage Rate): Genji, Reinhardt, McCree, Reaper
D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): D.Va, Roadhog
F+ Tier (<5 % Usage Rate with exceptions): Widowmaker, Ana, Junkrat
F- Tier (<5% Usage Rate): 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”
I just checked the numbers, and Lucio has been at or above 60% usage in tournament play since Overwatch was released to the public, and was greater than 70% for all but one of the 13 weeks I’ve been covering hero usage rates. It’s pretty nuts then, that it’s taken this long for him to receive a nerf (if only on the PTR). Both Lucio and Zenyatta will be receiving nerfs upon Season 2’s release, but I’m not sure these nerfs are strong enough to knock Lucio out of the S Tier just yet. 70% speed increased is still far more than 0% speed increased (the amount all other supports short of Ana’s Ultimate can grant), and speed is vital to Overwatch on so many levels. With Gamescom looming, we should see at least one more week of Lucio and Zenyatta dominance, but know that these healers’ time atop the throne may be limited.
A Tier “The Core heroes”
Finally, a hero escaped the lower tiers to climb back into the A tier, and her name is Zarya. Zarya’s been on the fast track to Overwatch’s preferred tank, and it’s in part due to how well she deals with, and synergizes with the other tanks in Overwatch. Following her buff, D.Va seemed like one of the strongest tanks on paper but Zarya’s main fire ability ignores D.Va’s Defense Matrix entirely. Besides this obvious counter, Zarya’s shields give her immense flexibility. If Reinhardt fires a Fire Strike, she can pop a bubble and intentionally eat the damage to gain an instant 50% charge. If a teammate gets hooked by a Roadhog, Zarya can quickly react and prevent them from dying to “Hook-Shoot-Melee” combo. Finally, Zarya’s bubble works amazingly well with Winston in Deathball lineups – there’s nothing more scary than a stun-immune, speed-boosted giant monkey suddenly on top of you firing a weapon that cannot miss. It’s no wonder Zarya has finally reached Overwatch’s A Tier.
B Tier “The Favorites”
The Meta is further and further crystallizing towards Deathballing your way to victory, so it makes sense that two of Overwatch’s fastest heroes in terms of getting up in their opponent’s faces would reach the B Tier this week. Winston’s leap synergizes well with Lucio’s speed boost, and Tracer has the highest non-vertical mobility in Overwatch. While her usage was certainly boosted by a larger number of King of the Hill maps in this week’s pool, Tracer is often used as the “initiation to the initiation” in rush strategies: getting around behind the enemy to force them to shift their attention for just a split second to allow her teammates to get the unexpected jump.
C Tier “The Balanced heroes”
The C Tier may as well read “the DPS and Reinhardt Tier” this week. Genji, Reaper, Tracer, and McCree are this Meta’s designated four DPS – the four DPS of the Meta apocalypse. Reinhardt has fallen out of favor in the Deathball Meta, but interestingly saw heavy use by a couple of teams on King of the Hill this week for a bit of surprise factor. Another important thing to note about this Meta before Season 2 goes live – Reinhardt’s Earthshatter is one of the few abilities that hard counters a Dragon-Blading Genji with reflect up. Pros have been known to solo-Earthshatter a particularly dangerous Genji player – so look for big Earthshatters stopping Dragonblades in their path as you watch the finals of the Battle for the Atlantic.
D Tier “The Meta Dependent heroes”
D.Va and Roadhog once again fill the D Tier this week as this current Meta’s reject tanks. A strange phenomenon I noticed is that every tank has some way to directly counter D.Va’s Defense Matrix – which may explain her drop in popularity since her buff with Ana’s release. Zarya and Winston’s main fire abilities ignore Defense Matrix, as does Reinhardt’s swing, and Roadhog’s Hook ignores it. It seems like for D.Va, and the rest of the tanks, there is paper and rock, but no scissorsd!
F+ Tier “The Used in Super Specific Scenarios heroes”
For sanity’s sake, I split the F Tier in two. The F+ Tier will represent Heroes that were used in very specific scenarios, but not for not a long enough time to bring their usage rate above 5%. Junkrat was used heavily by Liquid – on offense instead of defense. I spoke with id_, their Junkrat player who summarized the strategy as primarily based around zoning out defenses based around diving into their attackers. Grenades can be lobbed up onto high ground perches, Traps can be laid to stop aggressors, and Rip Tire can force the defenses to back off and give room for the offense to gain ground with the payload.
Ana and Widowmaker, by comparison, were used by a few individual players to a bit less success. Widowmaker in particular was used by Gods of Team NRG in several sets against both Clutch and Liquid with mixed results – a pick that could possibly have gone to a McCree instead.
F- Tier “The not used for any reason heroes”
Do these heroes still need explanation? Unfortunately, many of these heroes will remain in the F Tier through to Season 2’s release, but we can expect a couple to escape once that time comes. Hanzo, Mei, Mercy are all receiving direct buffs, and Pharah will be indirectly buffed by Mercy’s buff and Zenyatta’s nerf – all four of these heroes have the potential to climb out of the “F-” pit.
** 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.
For a more interactive chart (also less messy looking):
I Love Lucio
I encourage you to examine my Historical Tracking Viz (the direct link, not the image) above to check just how consistently Lucio has been at the top of the usage charts compared to every other hero. Some weeks Mercy was Queen, sometimes McCree was the Man, other times Zenyatta reigned supreme, but Lucio was always there, like a security blanket. The title of this week’s report refers to how I learned to stop worrying and simply love the Lucio. However, when a hero is such a constant in every Meta, you eventually run out of things to say about him. Lucio is that hero – Overwatch’s most consistent hero since its public release and dating back to his release in closed beta. That’s why this week I reached out to dhaK, one of Overwatch’s top Lucio players for Team SelflessGG, for an interview about everyone’s favorite Support hero:
CP: So dhaK, you have been playing Overwatch since Beta, correct?
dhaK: I started playing after the first stress test weekend.
CP: Do you recall first playing Lucio, and what your impressions at the time were? Was there a moment you realized how strong of a hero he was?
dhaK: I picked up Lucio immediately because I wanted to see how good the wall riding mechanic really was. I quickly realized most players were under-utilizing Lucio’s mobility…and since most walls in the game behaved differently I realized Lucio’s skill cap was high enough to satisfy me as a player. After that, I just kept pubbing with him and quickly realized Lucio was one of the strongest 1v1 heroes in the game due to a combination of mobility, self healing and reasonable damage. You could easily 1v1 any dps class in the game with smart positioning, Mei was the only hero you couldn’t 1v1 back in the day.
CP: And this was prior to his damage nerf, correct?
CP: Do you think he still has the ability to 1v1 people, or does he fit in stronger in the context of an entire lineup?
dhaK: In competitive, Lucio has always been about the versatility of the speed boost combined with the aoe healing. Speed boost is clearly the best utility ability in the game. Blizzard completely missed the point by nerfing his damage and not his speed boost. That’s why after the nerf, lucio kept being played just as much. If I recall correctly, Lucio was only out of the meta when either 2 of the other supports were particularly overpowered in a specific situation.
CP: I can actually confirm that statement with my own data too! Before we get to the upcoming nerf – I’ve had a decent amount of readers “misunderstand” what makes Lucio such an effective support in the current “Deathball” Meta. For example, thinking that you should be boosting heals instead of speed most times. Could you describe a typical engagement from your perspective, of say a successful attack on the first point of King’s Row – starting from the initiation through the team fight and finishing with the cleanup?
dhaK: It really depends of the strategy being executed. If you are going for a fast take with mobile heroes, you speedboost at the choke point to allow your teammates to get to the enemy backline. If you are playing a more straightforward slow approach hoping to get a pick before committing to a teamfight, you sit on passive speed unless anyone takes damage, and even if one teammate is hurt, you usually let your other support heal that damage as you might need to amplify speed to either engage or disengage. For example, back on Mercy/Lucio Meta, it was a very common mistake for Lucios to amplify heals whenever lets say your Mccree was hit by a firestrike. You should only amplify heals when more than 2⁄3 teammates are hurt and you let your team know that speedboost is down for 12 seconds. Once the teamfight has initiated, your amplify is down and you need to micromanage your speed/heal aura. You constantly keep switching between one another depending on if you see your mccree could use some extra speed to get some cover or if he would much rather use the healing aura. During cleanup you either amplify heals to build up Sound Barrier or you speed boost your team to catch opponents who are either falling back or got a bad respawn.
CP: Amazing stuff, I’m sure people can learn a lot just from that specific example. Moving on to the nerf – we just learned that Lucio’s speed boost will be reduced by 30% in season two of ranked play. You already mentioned this nerf was a step in the right direction, but would you have gone lighter or heavier on the severity? or changed something else entirely?
dhaK: Nerfing the maximum speed is definitely a step in the right direction – the max speed was a little bit too much. However, given the 30% reduction, I’d like to see a flat movement speed increase instead of the curve that you have now. It would allow for easier more consistent applications of the speed boost. One thing I do not really enjoy about blizzard’s changes is when they change small mechanics in the game even if they are overpowered. I’d much rather see them try to find a workaround. Think about the Widowmaker scope change, the Lucio melee+soundwave combo, the recent Genji double-jump (change). Keep in mind executing these mechanics are second nature for top players, and it takes a prolonged conscious effort to reteach your brain how to play the hero, plus you are not enjoying the game during this process.
CP: With this nerf in mind, how do you expect Lucio to be utilized in the future? Will his usage even decrease at all? Or will other supports take his spot in certain situations?
dhaK: It really depends on how the competitive scene reacts to the changes, I would imagine Hanzo would see a lot of play, is that’s the case and people run spammy type comps with Junkrat, Symmetra, etc I still see Lucio being used to fast engage with Winston/D.Va on offense. On defense I think we will see more variety, especially Mercy combinations with either Zenyatta/Ana/Symmetra depending on the map. I wouldn’t be shocked to see triple support combinations without a Lucio. Keep in mind Mercy ressurect is almost back to where it was, and you might still need to run a Zenyatta to counter the Dragonblade/Graviton Surge combo.
CP: Despite speed boost being what people associate most with Lucio’s “OP” position, what is your favorite part of Lucio’s kit that is not speed boost?
dhaK: Easiest answer out of all of them. The wallride mechanic and the unique ability of lucio to maintain momentum while continuously jumping.
CP: Do you have any favorite plays you’d like to share?
Did you know hopping on Lucio can preserve your momentum? Because I didn’t
Huge thanks to dhaK for the interview! If you’d like to support him, follow his social media destinations below!
Offense / Defense Payload Win Shares
Data “As Is”
Once again, Lucio and Zenyatta had high impact on wins and losses, on both offense and defense due to their high overall usage rate in general. It looks like McCree managed to reverse his trend on offense wins, snagging 70% usage rate in successful attacks while remaining consistent in his defensive prowess. Reinhardt saw a similar recovery to McCree on offense while maintaining his defensive win shares. Genji saw an increase in his defensive “loss” shares, perhaps due to teams specifically strategizing around his abilities.
Offense vs. Defense
This week only two heroes stood out significantly on offense vs. defense win shares: Genji and Reaper. Genji was used in 61% of successful attacks compared to 32% of successful defenses which fits his high-mobility, flanker-in-your face playstyle. Reaper on the other hand had a usage rate of 32% in offensive wins compared to his 69% usage in defensive wins. One of the easiest ways to deal with a Reaper is simply to put as much space between you and the edgelord as possible, but on defense Reapers can simply wait for attackers to come to them.
Offense vs. Offense – Defense vs. Defense
Comparing offensive or defensive successes to their respective failures demonstrates where improvements in hero choices may be made. In a stunning reversal, McCree had a 31% higher usage rate in offensive wins than losses. Compare this to his -38% differential across the same statistic last week. What happened? Did McCree players suddenly decide that they were going to show up this week? Did a counter to McCree decrease in usage? If we look at McCree’s usage rate across the past few weeks, he’s been steadily decreasing in overall usage ever since his falloff damage was nerfed following Ana’s release. My theory is that up until this week, McCree was being used too much in offenses to the point of becoming a liability. This week, however, a tipping point must have been reached where McCree’s usage dropped below a threshold that favored the few teams that did run McCree. At the same time, Tracer jumped 16% in overall usage but 20% in offense-only usage, perhaps indicating that teams were using just a bit too much Tracer instead of McCree, and that these lineups were not paying off.
Reinhardt mirrored McCree’s movement, but on a much smaller scale. After appearing to be an offensive liability last week, Reinhardt’s usage seems to also have hit a threshold where the teams that used more him showed more success than the teams that did not. Reinhardt was joined by D.Va this week, the only hero besides McCree to show posititive signficant differential in win shares on both offense and defense.
Zarya seems to have done the exact opposite as McCree. After many weeks in a row of ever-increasing usage, Zarya has her first negative differential in offensive win shares – indicating that she was used a tad too much on offense in the final week of Eleague. She was joined in that aspect by Roadhog, who I think teams may want use sparingly moving forward, if at all.
Reaper was the main standout on defense this week, combining his high overall usage with a 13% differential towards positive defensive win shares. He is joined by McCree and D.Va as the only non-F Tier heroes with significant positive win shares on the defending side of the payload.
If I were the coach of a professional team with just this data to work on, I’d tell my players to slow down on my advice from last week. We’ve cut too much McCree and Reinhardt from our offensive play, we need to starting playing a little bit more of the Cowboy and the German. We should try to include a little bit more D.Va in all of our lineups, despite the obvious counters she sees in Zarya and Winston. On Defense, we should start rolling out the Reaper brigade as a welcome wagon!
Let’s talk swaps
Tracer had an immensely high amount of “swaps to” this week, due in part to the increase in king of the hill maps, and to a series of players who would swap from their current hero to Tracer at every single payload control point to try to sustain the contest. Reaper followed, again for his specific set of skills and map areas in which he operates best. Presumably swapping to and from Reaper and Tracer, Genji and McCree also had high swap rates both “to” and “from. Winston lead the way as the tank to swap “to”, for his usefulness in mid-map, high verticality areas as well as a mid-round counter to certain king of the hill maps.
Always highly variable, Reaper was the second most swapped “to” hero and the most swapped “from” hero. There isn’t much more to say about this, except that if we see a return to a semblance of the Pharah-Mercy Meta of old, we may finally start to see a drop in Reaper’s swap rate if only due to a drop in his overall usage. Zarya came in second this week in swaps “from” and I found this somewhat surprising given her high usage rate. It seems that the trend of favoring Zarya usage on the first point only of Hybrid maps is still a thing at the pro level. Hollywood comes to mind, where teams are likely to use a Zarya to break the first point and then swap to a Winston in the streets phase if they stall.
Final thoughts and shoutouts
Huge thanks to dhaK for helping me out this week with some Lucio information deep-diving, it’s always a pleasure to work with the Professional Community. Also shoutout to the staff of Tableau who keep helping me out with my Historical Infographics, they’ve been a great resource as I’ve tried to improve how I display my data.
Until next time,