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Opening Thoughts

What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: World Cup edition. This week, I collected data exclusively from the Overwatch World Cup: BlizzCon’s premier Overwatch event. I will be focusing on successful general hero usage, country-specific hero usage trends, player hero pools, and individual hero breakdowns to focus in on this tournament’s most valuable players.

This particular report is unique due to the circumstances surrounding the World Cup. Teams that played in its group stages and ultimately its playoffs had to compete to get there, but prior reports have so far been populated with exclusively “Overwatch Pro” data. While some teams were comprised entirely of pro players, the majority were not. This means prior data sourced from tournaments like “The Battle for the Atlantic”, the “Overwatch Open”, or the APAC premier – tournaments with high prize pools where teams of professionals competed for glory – will look slightly different than what we can expect from the World Cup.

The Overwatch World Cup represents an interesting opportunity, however. By analyzing this sampling of players ranging from Overwatch pros to popular streamers / YouTubers, the conclusions I reach may better represent the types of lineups you – the aspiring Overwatch ladder player – could see on your climb. Furthermore, splitting teams by country adds another potential wrinkle to explore in my analysis. I will attempt to discover what lineups – if any – have a regional bias and if these lineups paid off for the teams that ran them. Finally, I will be introducing a new bit of data tracking: recording the final point reached by each team on non-”control point” maps as a way to weight defensive and offensive performance. Before I get to any of that, however, let’s look at hero usage as a whole throughout the tournament.


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THE TIERS

S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate*): Ana

A Tier (>80% Usage Rate): Lucio, Zarya

B Tier (>50% Usage Rate): Reinhardt

C Tier (>20% Usage Rate): McCree, Reaper, Mei, Winston, Genji, Roadhog

D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): Tracer

F Tier (<5% Usage Rate): Pharah, Mercy, D.Va, Zenyatta, Hanzo, Symmetra, Bastion, Junkrat, Widowmaker, Soldier 76, Torbjorn

Caution: take the F Tier with a grain of salt … it only represents the usage from a single tournament: the Overwatch World Cup. It is not meant to tell you that your favorite Hero is garbage nor is it meant for you to use as ammo to flame people in ranked play. Let’s be nice to each other.

Additionally: I do not chose the placement of heroes in a tier, only the range which defines the tier. By determining usage directly from hero time played in tournament matches, my data is objectively determined, and not subjective. I call these ranges “tiers” for SEO reasons, not because I enjoy making tier lists… Google just really loves the word “tier” for some reason


The S, A, and B Tiers: Lucio and Zarya dominated, but Ana led the way

At this point in the the current patch, it should come as no surprise that this trio of heroes were the stars of the Overwatch World Cup. Lucio and Zarya have dominated the hero usage charts ever since I started recording tournament data, but now we can finally say that these two have a truly worldwide appeal. Lucio is well known for his versatility: pros love to use his speed boost to fuel their initiations as much as ladder players need his healing aura to solo-heal single-support lineups. Zarya is a different beast, however. Her ability to save teammates and herself while simultaneously charging her damage makes her a force to be reckoned with in the hands of top players who can maintain high energy levels. Lest we forget, Zarya has one of Overwatch’s most powerful offensive ultimate abilities as well. Zunba of South Korea drove the point home against Team USA – parkouring through the window of Eichenwalde’s final point and dropping the most surprising Graviton of the tournament.

https://clips.twitch.tv/blizzard/FamousBisonTooSpicy

The big surprise to me was that Ana was present on all lineups – offense, defense, and king of the hill – for nearly 98% of all time played in the Cup. In the time since Zenyatta’s Orb of Discord nerf, Ana’s usage has skyrocketed as pros found the best Nanoboost synergies and strategies.

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As the tournament meta shifted towards a philosophy of “pick your flavor of Nanoboost lineup”, these strategies were analyzed, promoted, and spread across the globe. Last week Overwatch players from every region convened to compete in the World Cup: armed with their own take on the concept. At this point, the Ana meta has come full circle.

Reinhardt was the only hero in the Overwatch World Cup that fell within the 50-80% usage range, settling at 78%. This was primarily due to teams moving away from using him on offense: he was present for only 65% of offensive play time compared to 88% and 84% for defense and king of the hill sides respectively. This is surprising given Reinhardt’s history – he was almost never used on king of the hill maps until the rise of Ana. Despite his obvious synergies with Nanoboost, Reinhardt’s high usage on king of the hill maps in the World Cup was still unprecedented. A possible reason could be due to how the World Cup teams were selected – rosters were selected from nominees with known hero roles. One of the better ways to get noticed as a “Tank” main is to main Reinhardt, so many teams ended up with skilled Reinhardts on their lineup. These teams may have simply been playing to their strengths when it came to king of the hill. Reinhardt’s lowered offensive usage can be linked to Winston and Roadhog’s popularity: Reinhardt lost 23% usage on offense while Winston gained 20% and Roadhog gained 7%.

The C and D Tiers: Team-specific heroes shine

The C and D Tiers represent two different stories coming out of the World Cup. First, there are the heroes that were used in roughly equal frequency by all teams: Reaper, McCree, Mei, and Winston. In the current patch, McCree and Reaper represent preferred options for DPS scenarios: McCree for long range and Reaper for short range. Mei represents the preferred option for dealing with Nanoboost – her slows and area denial are one of its few non-ultimate counters. Winston, as previously discussed, was used by World Cup teams as one of the strongest offensive initiators – oftentimes leaping in with a Zarya bubble to guarantee instant charge in return. Miro – South Korea’s superstar Winston player – even won tournament MVP for his next level Winston plays. A particularly clever use of Winston mechanics by Miro invovled prolonging his Jump Pack animations by jumping into sloped walls to prolong his hang time, shortening the time between landing, dealing as much damage as possible, and jumping back out to safety.

The final three heroes of this range – Genji, Roadhog, and Tracer – all owe their position to individual players on specific country’s teams. Shadowburn’s seemingly-unbeatable Genji was the darling of the tournament and one of the major storylines in Russia’s unprecedented run to the finals. Finland’s Roadhog ringer, Hymzi, accounted for nearly 50% of all Roadhog usage throughout the World Cup on his own. Finally, Talespin represented 21% of all Tracer usage, but she was used by many other teams on offense and king of the hill maps.

The Sub 5% Usage Tier: Individual moments make memories

The rest of Overwatch’s cast had usage rates that accounted for less than 5% of the overall time played in the World Cup, but they created amazing memories just the same. Who can forget South Korea busting out the Nanoboosted Symmetra?

https://clips.twitch.tv/blizzard/GloriousGuanacoWinWaker

Or Team Sweden’s glorious Nepal Village Bastion?

https://clips.twitch.tv/blizzard/StrangeHerdUnSane

Or NZNR of Thailand winning an epic Pharah duel on Lijiang Tower?

https://clips.twitch.tv/blizzard/InquisitiveHyenaWutFace

While these heroes may not have been used that often, it was their rarity that made their big plays that much more special. Hearing the crowd explode when a Bastion went off was one of the hype-est moments of the World Cup for me, and I hope it inspired those who play counter-meta heroes as their mains.


Overwatch World Cup Country-based Hero Trends

The Overwatch World Cup was a celebration of Overwatch’s global success, bringing together Overwatch players from all across the world. These teams brought their own style and character to the Cup, and I was happy to see that there were noticeable country-specific lineup differences throughout the tournament. To help illustrate these differences, I created the chart below:

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GIF demonstrating usage: https://gfycat.com/SeparateQualifiedHumpbackwhale

Direct Link to Chart

This chart demonstrates the Hero Pools of each country in the Overwatch World Cup. The size of each “hero block” is determined by total time played on the hero by members of that team and the percentages signify the how much of the hero’s overall usage can be attributed to that nation. I encourage you to mouseover, click on the hero filter in the top right, and sort by team to do your own investigations. But first, let’s talk about the first hero that probably caught your eye: Roadhog.

Hymzi: the Hog God

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Roadhog was present in lineups for 21% of all match time played in the Overwatch World Cup, but nearly half of that time came from a single team: Team Finland. More specifically, Hymzi: Overwatch’s dirtiest hooker. Hymzi’s Roadhog ability has been well known in the competitive scene since closed beta and his mastery of the hero gives him the confidence to Hook players that are not even visible:

https://clips.twitch.tv/blizzard/FriendlyJaySriHead

Hymzi’s Roadhog play helped form the backbone of the “NiP strat” – the 3 tank, 3 support lineup that would eventually kick off the Ana meta. Finland knew what they were working with with their Roadhog ringer, and they built many of their lineups around him.

Shadowburn: Russia’s Savior

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Russia was supposed to do well, but they were not supposed to do this well. Russia’s run through Finland to the finals came on the back of to Shadowburn’s Genji play and his exceptional play of this hero accounted for >25% of all Genji usage. This is even more impressive considering that Shadowburn often had to play Reaper and McCree in certain situations as well. Just like Finland, Russia knew their World Cup hopes rested on the shoulders of their Genji standout and had the same goal in almost every match: get the Nanoboost to Shadowburn.

The Genji-Winston Phenomenon

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South Korea and Russia – the World Cup’s finalists – shared a common lineup trend: high Winston and Genji usage. Shadowburn’s Genji has already been discussed, but South Korea’s Genji, Arhan, has a similar notoriety in Korea: he was once described as one of the region’s top 5 Genji players to me by another Korean pro. Korea had the luxury of many hero-specific ringers on their team as well, but none more recognizable than Miro, their Winston player. While Russia split their Winston time between Anak and Redzzzz, Miro carried the torch for South Korea and for good reason. Through some bit of luck (Blizzard chose the map pools for the Cup) Korea ended up playing Eichenwalde and Temple of Anubis for 10 total sides. This was the most amount of sides played on any one map by any team in the tournament and both are very good maps for Winston. Scoring maps that complimented their hero pool likely had a hand in South Korea’s dominance throughout the tournament.

The question remains – does this “trend” of Genji and Winston being played heavily by the Cup’s finalists mean anything? Will you automatically win more if you play more Genji and Winston on ladder? The answer is: I do not know. Despite a large number of hero picks and time played in the tournament (2760 total picks, nearly 30 hours played), there were too many external factors at play. First, the previously mentioned map pool. While Russia played nearly every map, Korea’s map pool was limited to maps that fit their lineup. Additionally, both of these teams built lineups around their Genji ringers – much like Finland built around Hymzi’s Roadhog. This supports the idea that you would be best advised to build around your own strongest hero. If we learn anything from Russia and Korea’s success – and if you have a 6-stack to play with – its that building your lineup around your team’s strongest offensive players can lead to success.


Player Hero Pools: Tviq flexes his might

Ever since I started tracking player Hero Pools, Tviq has been king of this statistic. He has consistently had the deepest hero pool, while maintaining a positive map completion rate – and he’s continued the streak in the World Cup.

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GIF demonstrating usage: https://gfycat.com/FoolishScalyAppaloosa

Direct Link to Chart

Tviq played 11 different heroes during the world cup with a map completion rate of 70% – two more heroes than the next closest competitor and with a completion rate surpassed only by Korea’s players at 96%. Tviq got it done with Hanzos on payload maps, Junkrat on Anubis, Genji on both 2CP maps, Reaper all around, and a sprinkling of Zarya, Pharah, Tracer, and McCree elsewhere. Bastion even made an appearance on Nepal Village – a strategy once used by Rogue to great effect in the APAC Invitational Finals.

Looking to the Koreans, Arhan led the way with a hero pool of 7 heroes – the most on his team by far. Arhan is well known as a Genji player, but he made great use of Bastion on Eichenwalde: riding the cart and quickly racking up a Tank Form ultimate following capture of the first point. Spain’s Neptuno had the second deepest pool with 9 and a completion rate of 66% – playing mostly Mei, Genji, and Tracer in his matches. Neptuno was followed closely by an unfortunate Soulive who had a hero pool of 8 with 0% completion rate. Soulive is known for maintaining very high SR numbers on the Ranked Play ladder, but his individual skill was not enough to save Brazil from defeat.


Tournament “Hero MVPs”: Players with the most success on each hero

Every hero was played at least once in the Overwatch World Cup and it made me wonder: who played the best on each hero? The chart below attempts to answer this question:

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GIF demonstrating usage: https://gfycat.com/IncredibleThreadbareIrrawaddydolphin

Direct Link to Chart

This chart allows you to click on a hero (ranked by play time) to then sort players by play time and map completion rate. I will leave it to you to decide how much play time factors into who you consider wins MVP for each hero, however. For example, does Ryujehong (96% completion rate, 2:12:02 time played) or Rubikon (60% completion rate, 3:22:51 time played) deserve Ana MVP?

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Are Harryhook and Neptuno (100% completion rate, 00:18:44 and 00:14:05 time played respectively) better at McCree than Esca (96% completion rate, 1:13:22 time played)?

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IDDQD and Arhan both had 100% completion rate with Reaper, but had 30 less minutes played than Tviq’s 66% completion rate – who was better?

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Making MVP judgments based on a limited data can only lead to discussion at best. Interestingly, the relatively lower time played by Korea’s players can actually be attributed to their dominant play. South Korea tended to full-hold on the first point of escort maps, and also tended to 2-0 their opponents, leading to less time spent in game. With all of that in mind, there was still one obvious MVP who lead both time played and winrate: Miro’s Winston

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Looks like the T-Mobile fan vote got that one right after all!


Point Attack/Defense Breakdown: an interesting experiment that needs more data

For the Overwatch World Cup Meta Report, I started recording a new data element: what point teams ended their matches. This statistic was defense-facing, in that if a team successfully capped the first point and failed to cap the second, data was recorded as 2nd point attacked, 2nd point defended. The chart can be found below:

GIF demonstrating usage: https://gfycat.com/DiscreteWanAnnashummingbird

Direct Link to Chart

To use the chart, click on a map to filter the team breakdown below. The team breakdown displays the average point attacked or defended for that particular map side, and includes the number of sides played that factored into that number. Unfortunately, most maps did not have a high amount of play time: numbers ranged from 0 to 6 sides played which was hardly conclusive. However, there are still a few things we can look at to consider for the future as more data rolls in to populate this chart.

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When examining final points defended, you want low numbers and high completion rates. On Temple of Anubis, South Korea stood out: the champs averaged a final defended point of 1.2 with a map completion rate of 100%, which translated to five sides defended, four of which were full holds. On offense, however, things are a bit more complicated:

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Generally, you would think having a higher average point reached on attack would be a good thing, but South Korea also had a low number on offense. This was because South Korea often defended first, shut out their opponents, and thus only had to reach the first point to win their own offensive. For defensive numbers, it does not matter if you go first or second – a lower number is always better. I encourage you to explore the other maps, but as stated before, most of the data represents only a couple sides of play and is not enough to make definitive conclusions.

Final thoughts and shoutouts

The Overwatch World Cup was by far the best Overwatch event I’ve witnessed in person. The hype of the crowd, cheering on Team Usa, and meeting all of the pros is what makes doing these reports worth it. This week, we learned all about South Korea’s dominance, Finland’s Roadhog fixation, Tviq’s amazing hero pool, and much more. I cannot wait till the next event and what all may come with the Overwatch League. Shoutouts to all of the pros that I met, all of the community members that I hung out with, and all of the content creators who gave me hugs at BlizzCon. Although, maybe less hugs next time – being sick all week was a pain T_T

 

Until next time,

CaptainPlanet