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Opening Thoughts

What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: Season Two, Meta Boogaloo. Let’s start this week with some escalating hypothetical questions. What if I told you, that there were no Heroes with greater than 80% usage? What if I told you, that Pharah and Mercy are no longer liabilities as picks? What if I told you, that reports of Genji’s demise were greatly exaggerated? What. If. I. Told. You….that there’s a crazy new strategy that’s suddenly viable, which uses ZERO DPS HEROES???

 

Welcome to Overwatch Season 2.

 

It’s been two weeks since we last convened, but it’s a brand new season with brand new set of balance changes and we have a brand new Meta to discuss. In my time off recovering from sickness, I was also able to develop some brand new content for you all to enjoy with some help from someone much better at data visualization software than I. This and much more will be revealed soon – but let’s first check out the first Tier List of the new Season.

This week’s data pre-sorted can be found HERE . The data is presented Row-wise for each Map Side. REMINDER: This Data was collected from the Alienware Monthly Melee finals, and the Gosugamers EU and NA weekly tournaments that took place September 2-4th


THE TIERS

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S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate*): No one!

A Tier (>80% Usage Rate): No one!

B Tier (>50% Usage Rate): Zenyatta, Lucio, Zarya, McCree, Reinhardt, Winston

C Tier (>20% Usage Rate): Mercy(!), Genji, Tracer, Reaper

D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): Pharah, Roadhog, Mei, Ana, D.Va, Hanzo, Soldier 76

F Tier (<5 % Usage Rate): Junkrat, Widowmaker, Bastion, Torbjorn, Symmetra

*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”

Ding dong, the Lucio/Zenyatta-dominated Meta is dead – for a little while at least. Buffs to Mercy and nerfs to Lucio and Zenyatta have opened up room for the two other Healing supports in the opening weeks of Season 2, and understandably more Mercy and Ana means less Lucio and Zenyatta.

A Tier “The Core Heroes”

Surprisingly, there were no Heroes that fell into the 80-95% usage range this week, indicating that the Meta is in a state of heavy flux. Teams are in “high experimentation mode”, trying out many new strategies to feel out the impact of the buffs and nerfs that accompanied Season 2’s release. And they should – the Eleague tourney is just around the corner and $300,000 USD is up for grabs.

B Tier “The Favorites”

Finally we reach the meat of the current Meta. These are the Heroes that just “make sense”, either due to their prior dominance or their superior mechanics and abilities. Pros gravitate to these Heroes when there are lots of unknowns, preferring to have a set “control group” of known Heroes to provide a base to experiment from. This allows them to control as many variables as possible to determine the absolute strength of the newly buffed or nerfed Heroes. Many times, one would see Lucio or Zenyatta paired with an Ana or a Mercy, but not with each other. McCree, with his flashbang, is always going to be a known quantity in his ability to set up kills or pick off flankers. Reinhardt, Zarya, and Winston all fit the mold as strong Tanks with game-changing ultimates – staples of lineups regardless of the current Meta.

C Tier “The Balanced heroes”

Reports of Genji’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Despite the outcry of Genji mains upon seeing the drastic nerfs he received with Season 2’s release, Genji actually GAINED ground this week in usage relative to the Meta at the Atlantic Showdown LAN. Did Genji get a strong enough nerf? Or were his detractors correct in their assessment that his Deflect or Dash reset were the true source of his “OP” status? Tracer and Reaper held down their spots in the C Tier after receiving no nerfs or buffs, and everyone’s favorite maligned healer, Mercy, made her grand return to relevance this week, clocking in at a 43% overall usage rate. Welcome back, Doctor Ziegler.

D Tier “The Meta Dependent heroes”

The D Tier was quite crowded this week, hinting further at the volatility of the current Meta. Notable appearances include Pharah, Soldier 76, Hanzo, and Mei following buffs to all of their kits. Out of this cohort, I personally expect to see much more of Mei and Ana in the future – the former for her insane capture point denial through her newly embiggened ultimate and the latter for her pivotal role in the “NiP” strategy, otherwise known as the “3x3” or Triple Support Triple Tank lineup. As for the rest, Pharah is weak to Soldier 76, Hanzo, and McCree up above in the B Tier, so only time will tell if Mercy’s boost in usage and Zenyatta’s Discord Orb nerf is enough to sustain her present usage rate.

F Tier “The ‘Even Season 2 cannot save you’ Heroes”

I don’t want to beat a dead horse with the “Defense” Heroes, but with Season 1 coming to a close and the first week of Season 2 behind us, they once again sit squarely at the bottom of the barrel. It’s no surprise either, none of the Heroes you see here received any sort of balancing as the seasons changed. One slight tweak to Mei’s kit was enough to save her – what’s stopping Blizzard from turning a couple knobs on Junkrat, Widowmaker, Bastion, Torbjorn? Poor Symmetra even had zero picks out of 101 sides, and over 18 hours of play time!

** 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.


Season 2: Meta Boogaloo

New Strategies

Long, long ago in a country far, far away (Finland), a team called Ninjas in Pyjamas had an idea. A crazy idea, an idea based on the release of Overwatch’s 22nd Hero, Ana. “What if,” an unnamed member of NiP said suddenly, in their secret ninja hideout, “What if we ran three Supports?”.

“No way, that’s crazy!!” the rest of the team exclaimed. “I mean Ana is great and all – her ultimate charge rate is through the roof, and Nano-boost is completely nutty, but one pick and you’re dead!”

“But wait, that’s only half of the plan”, said the unnamed player. “We run three Supports….and three Tanks!”

Thus, the NiP strat was born. The NiP strat, the 3x3 strat, the Triple Support Triple Tank strat – however you want to call it – consists of Ana, Zenyatta, and Lucio on Support and Reinhardt, Zarya, and Winston/Roadhog on Tank. The strategy revolves around Ana’s ability to generate Nano-boost extremely quickly by spamming heals on targets beefy enough to stand up to opposing team’s poke damage. Once she’s reached full charge – often far earlier than any other Hero – she cashes in her ultimate on Reinhardt or Winston to get early pick-offs and charge the rest of the team’s ultimates in turn. Each team fight then cycles back and forth – either the Tanks drop their ultimates or Ana has a Nano-boost ready to go. It’s greedy, it’s weird, and with the nerf to Zenyatta’s Discord Orb in Season 2 it has become strangely effective. Notably, Reason Gaming used the NiP strat to knock FaZe into the losers bracket in the Gosugamers EU weekly, and LuxuryWatch Red – a Korean team – used it to great success on their way to winning the Gosugamers NA weekly.

Pros don’t really know what to make of it. It’s such a strange lineup that simply by practicing its execution gimps your team in running traditional strategies – the ultimate charge generation timings and the general playstyle is simply too different to translate to “traditional” play. That’s part of the reason NiP’s name became attached to the lineup – they were known for playing the NiP lineup and only the NiP lineup; if they ever reverted to a traditional team composition their level of play significantly decreased. That said, the teams that have mastered it seem to enjoy the lineup – even if it’s only because it’s fresh, new, and most importantly: winning. The teams which have had to face it and lost are understandably upset*, and quick to label it as “The New Cancer”. It certainly does have echoes of the old 2xReaper/2xWinston/2xLucio “Cancer Comp” of old, but one cannot fault the flashy-ness of Ana-based multikills. Time will tell if the NiP strat will become the new “new”, or if NiP-specific counters will arise.

* see: FaZe Twoeasy’s Twitter feed


New Analysis

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Please follow along with the tableau viz in this link for this section

Season 2’s release also marks the start of a whole new set of analysis I’ll be doing each week, and a re-structuring of how I present the data. As usual, I will be presenting a historical tracking sheet each week (see above) each week, but now I will be collecting and presenting data in such a way that it can be searched, filtered, and otherwise correlated to satisfy your own curiosities. For example, I present the chart you see below:

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Direct Link

This is a chart of Hero Picks, and how often the correlated to successful full attacks on maps, on offense and defense. Size of the squares indicates the total amount of picks + swaps, and color of the squares indicates the overall percent success rate due to those picks. But wait, there’s more! Not only can you filter by Hero Class, Type of Map, Offense/Defense/KotH, you can do even deeper data dives. Let’s say, you notice that Winston has a pretty large “square” that’s also noticeably “blue” on King’s Row Defense and you want to know why that’s the case. Simply click on the square, and you’ll see a record of the picks that led to this statistic:

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Direct Link

Turns out Awesomeguy of LuxuryWatch Red is pretty darn good at Winston on King’s Row! Now let’s say Awesomeguy seems like a pretty awesome guy to you, and you want to learn more about his Hero pool. You can easily filter the data to show only Awesomeguy’s stats:

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Direct Link

Looks like Awesomeguy really loves his Winston! Maybe you want to learn more about LuxuryWatch as a whole – you can also filter by their entire team:

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Direct Link

Uh oh, looks like that strategy LuxuryWatch used on Hollywood didn’t work out too well.

Taking a step back, say you only want to see the more successful picks, and none of the less than successful picks. There’s an easy way to do that, with the success rate slider at the bottom of the chart. This will become much more useful as more data feeds into the master sheet, to be paired with the date range slider. Other tabs you can look into include:

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And this is only the beginning. I have more content I was not able to finish for this week’s report, but all of these “vizzes” will only get more and more interesting the more data that gets added to them – opening up more flexibility and significance to the various filters. I’m going to keep some of my projects under wraps until they’re ready, but I promise you’re going to love them :)


Predictions

I had planned on doing a Meta predictions article with this week’s report, but Blizzard decided to drop Season 2 several days earlier than the expected. They scooped me! Luckily, the Meta seems to be in a state of massive change, so nothing is yet set in stone. With a week of data to go over, I feel confident making a couple of predictions moving forward – let’s check back next week to see how accurate I am!

  • Mei will become Bae

Between the implementation of Time Bank and Pros softening on their hatred of 2CP maps, the Tournament Meta will require teams to put a premium on final-point defenders in order to make the most of the new system. Mei, with her new ultimate radius and ability to wall off all the first points of the 2CP maps is now perhaps one of the strongest of such defenders. As teams practice these maps in an effort to out-game their opponents in map bans, we will begin to see an increase in her overall usage.

  • Pharah will peak next week, and then regress

Pharah has all the makings of a Hero that players are only experimenting with because of a new patch, only to steadily decline in usage as pros optimize her out of their lineups. Despite Mercy’s resurgence, there’s simply too many viable counters in the present Meta now for Pharah to succeed. A similar fate befell D.Va after she received her buffs way back in mid-July – she had extremely high usage until pros realized that Zarya hard countered her, and she regressed.

  • The NiP strat is either the new “Cancer”, or it will be “Solved”

It’s far too early to tell whether the Triple Tank, Triple Support strat will become this Season’s version of Orb-ital Destruction or the 2/2/2 strats of old, but I feel confident saying it’s either going to be broken, or easily countered – nothing in-between. It’s one of those strategies that’s just so weird that either there’s an easy counter no one has thought of yet (Bastion/Mei?), or the only viable counter will be itself.

  • The Dive Meta as we know it is dead

The Dive Meta was predicated on two things – Zenyatta’s 50% Discord Orb and Lucio’s Speed Buff. While Lucio’s Speed Boost is still amazingly strong, Zenyatta’s Discord Orb’s nerf has reduced the consistency of getting picks early in the fight to start off engagements. A buff to Mercy bringing her back into relevance has also changed the landscape. Teams using Mercy can punish Dive strats by forcing a team to spend all their ultimates to secure a team wipe, only to negate all of their work with a Ressurect. This favors entrenched defenses, and forces the Meta to be much more about effective positioning rather than speed – at least on defense.


Final thoughts and shoutouts

Big shout out to a friend of mine who reached out to teach me a more effective and searchable way to do my data collection, and helped me set up these new visuals. Also big shoutouts to Blizzard for releasing Season 2 ahead of schedule! While it may have been a bit of a headache for me – I’m sure all you Overwatch fans enjoyed the new Season and new patch. Finally, Overbuff is hiring! If you want to work with me and the Overbuff content team, head on over to our job posting blog for more information.

Until next time,

CaptainPlanet

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