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Opening Thoughts

What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Meta Report: A Meta in Transition. This is a report I was hesitant to put out, since it only included about half the data as a usual! For example, last week’s report chronicling the “End of the Tank Meta” included 88 games thanks to the combination of the Alienware Monthly Melee, Winter Premier semifinals, and Apex Season 2 starting up. This week, there were only 31 matches to be had. This happens from time to time, when tournaments do not have many matches streamed, or when holidays occur. Between two four-team grand finals (Xtra Cup and the Winter Premiere) and Apex taking a Lunar New Year holiday break, we got hit with both this week. With sample size in mind, I want to caution those reading this week’s report to hold off on making final conclusions based on this week’s stats. It will give you a hint of where things might be heading, but it does not include any data from the likes of EnVyUs, Cloud 9, Luxurywatch Red, or Lunatic Hai.

Low match count aside, there were still plenty of storylines coming out of the Winter Premier Finals: namely the domination of GrimReality’s McCree on the way to Immortals’ win. McCree having noticeable usage after months of tank meta dominance is a story unto itself, much less that he ended up being one of the stars of tournament. I’ll get to Grim’s performance later, but let’s first look the tiers for these 31 matches, to see what else is new:


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Tiers

S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate): Lucio (96%)

A Tier (>80% Usage Rate): Ana (87%)

B Tier (>50% Usage Rate): Zarya (79%), Reinhardt (68%), Tracer (54%)

C Tier (>20% Usage Rate): Roadhog (40%), Genji (39%), Winston (29%), D.Va (29%), Soldier 76 (21%)

D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): Pharah (18%), McCree (13%), Zenyatta (12%), Reaper (5%)

F Tier (<5% Usage Rate): Mei (3%), Symmetra (2%), Widowmaker (2%), Mercy (2%), Sombra (2%), Torbjorn (0%), Junkrat (0%), Hanzo (0%), Bastion (0 picks)

Caution: take the F Tier with a grain of salt … it only represents the usage from a pro tournaments. 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


Tier / Usage Discussion

Last week Lucio surprisingly fell below 95% usage, so it was a little odd to see him so quickly bounce back from to the top. This could be the low sample size coming into play, which was affected by a higher proportion of king of the hill maps played in the Xtra cup. Indeed, many heroes’ overall usage was boosted by high king of the hill numbers: Tracer, Winston, and Genji all had a usage split favoring king of the hill this week. Future weeks may not have as strong a lean towards king of the hill, but the increase in these three heroes and decrease in Reinhardt, Roadhog, and D.Va will be a trend to keep an eye on moving forward. It could also have been due to a boost in Dive Comp usage, or teams dealing with a meta in flux sticking to the admittedly “safe” Lucio pick. Speaking of increases and decreases, I made a chart that shows the rise and fall of each hero relative to last week’s numbers:

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Increases

We see the previously mentioned Lucio, as well as Tracer, Winston, and Genji leading the charge. Interestingly though, Tracer’s relative offensive usage increased more than her king of the hill usage over pre-patch tournaments, despite an increase in the proportion of king of the hill maps played.

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Want to do your own investigations? Click here!

However this is where low sample size comes into play: Eissfeldt on his own accounted for much of the Tracer usage this week, more than double the next player’s playtime. Tracer has the potential to fit nicely into dive comps, which Luminosity ran often in their Winter Premier matches. Tracer can get quickly get into the backline and has become much more potent without as many D.Vas in play: she’s one of the few ways to pressure a team protected by a Reinhardt shield thanks to her mobility. Would-be Tracer players can blink behind the shield to empty clips into the Reinhardt, who will either have to turn the shield – exposing his team – or sit there and feed charge into the Tracer’s Pulse Bomb. Or, Tracer can jump on the Ana, bait out the Biotic Grenade, and Rewind – leaving the enemy with a 10 second Grenade-less window for your team to attack. Speaking of which, let’s look at Genji:

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Ube (also of Luminosity) also lead the charge in Genji usage, working his way into their dive comp lineup. Ube used Genji much more often on offense and king of the hill than his Korean counterparts Tydolla and Whoru, who used Genji in all game modes throughout the three maps their teams played. We’ll have to keep an eye on whether or not western teams pick up more in their Genji usage along with Ube, or if it will remain a primarily Korean phenomenon with the new patch. A good dive comp needs a good Winston, so let’s see where he was being used:

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SuperPlouk from Luminosity once again accounted for the most Winston usage, however he was joined by a familiar face from the Overwatch World Cup: Miro. Miro won the hearts of World Cup spectators with his stellar Winston play and now that the new patch has dropped he’s back in action on everyone’s favorite scientist. Again, small sample sizes mean that we don’t know if Miro happened to play the only maps in existence that his team would want to play Winston on, but it’s nice to see a hero that had under 10% usage last week has leaped back into the fray. All things considered, Miro did use Winston on all three map types, as did SuperPlouk, so evidence seems to point to more Winston viability in the new meta. We will have to keep an eye on this trend as more data comes in! Finally, let’s look at McCree, who Grimreality made the star of the Winter Premier finals:

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Well, damn. It looks like Grimreality was the sole reason McCree had any representation in the meta this week at all! Having watched, but not recorded the Apex matches from Monday night, I can assure you that more McCree play is on the horizon. Korean McCrees are back with a vengeance and their aim is insane. Stay tuned for next week’s report and we should be able to see who else has jumped on the McCree train.


Decreases

If you have come looking for evidence that the nerfs to Ana and D.Va were effective, it certainly seems so. Even accounting for the low match count this week, D.Va’s relative usage has tanked on all fronts. Ana continued the trend from last week of losing ground on offense (primarily on offense to Zenyatta in dive comps), and Roadhog and Reinhardt also dropped in usage. Winston was the direct replacement for Reinhardt in most cases: Reinhardt’s king of the hill and offense usage dropped by similar amounts as Winston’s gain in those areas. Roadhog lost ground on all sides of the game, his usage time eaten up by DPS heroes unchained from the pressure of unkillable D.Vas. Finally, Symmetra fell a significant amount on defense relative to last week’s data, however this was more likely due to a reduction in “Symmetra-map” play this week.


Another Top X List?

A lot of you enjoyed my top 10 list from last week, and since there was not a lot of data to talk about this week I decided to do another one! This time it’s less entries, but more detail. Presenting: “Top 6 things I liked and didn’t like about the Winter Premier Finals”.


1. Mineral’s Teleporter placement on Dorado (Game 1 Luminosity vs. Immortals)

https://clips.twitch.tv/overwatch_nge/EagerSnakeEleGiggle

The side corridor on Dorado’s Courtyard is one of the few ways for attackers to get to the backline of the defense without being caught out – so why put the Teleporter directly in this path? Perhaps Mineral was in a hurry to get Ube (who had just died) back from spawn, however the Teleporter almost instantly gets destroyed by an Agilities Whole Hog. The Teleporter did allow Ube to return, but I still I found this placement very confusing.


2. The Yolo-Sticky by Ube getting mega-punished (Game 1 Luminosity vs. Immortals)

https://clips.twitch.tv/overwatch_nge/PreciousTapirPipeHype

I’m not sure what Ube’s plan was here, but it appears that his Pulse Bomb was burning a hole in his pocket after just barely not having it in time for the previous fight’s Graviton Surge. For reasons unknown, Ube triple-blinks into Immortals’ backline to try to get the sticky – only to be stunned by Grimreality’s Stun Grenade immediately after the bomb leaves his hand. Unable to rewind, Ube gets exploded by his own hubris ultimate. Despite this misstep, Luminosity won the next engagement anyway so…¯\(ツ)


3. It’s as simple as an Ana Nade sometimes! (Game 1 Luminosity vs. Immortals)

https://clips.twitch.tv/overwatch_nge/GiftedCatRedCoat

Casters, YouTubers, Redditors …. everyone talks about how good Ana’s Biotic Grenade can be in abstract terms but it’s somewhat rare to see such a great example of its power. While you can make the argument that Hyped’s Graviton Surge + Agilities’ Whole Hog probably would have wiped Luminosity anyway, Aythen’s Biotic Grenade splashed onto three Luminosity players to lead off Immortals’ attack on Luminosity, completely nullifying Hidan’s Transcendance. This non-ultimate ability had just as much – or more – impact than the many ultimates used in this fight.


4. Shutting Down the Sombra Offense (Game 3 Ghost vs. Complexity – Match was re-played)

https://clips.twitch.tv/overwatch_nge/CloudyWoodcockMingLee

Complexity is well known for their Sombra offense and has been running it often since her release several months ago. This offense relies on a pivotal moment – the EMP – to simultaneously remove the defending team’s Reinhardt shield and hamstring their abilities. EMP is essentially un-counterable since it has a nearly instant cast time with a crazy range: more often not the rest of the attacking team usually cleans up the defenders easily after it comes out. However, this EMP->confusion->cleanup sequence does not happen here and I think it was partly thanks to IRemix leading TorkTJO and Harbleu on a merry chase away from the point. Complexity may have caught a bit of tunnel vision here, since a Reinhardt who’s unable to use his shield is certainly a juicy target.

The rest of Complexity was also unable to capitalize on the EMP’s 6 second Hack duration either – no kills from either side appear until 6 seconds after the blast where we see Mykl and Babybay take out NicolasTJO and Joemeister. The camera was elsewhere, but Ghost likely retreated into the cafe as soon as the EMP happened – demonstrating how important smart positioning can be when facing a Sombra.


5. Playing Overwatch Detective: Grimreality with the Deadeye in the Graviton (Game 2 Immortals vs. Ghost)

https://clips.twitch.tv/overwatch_nge/JollyCrabFunRun

Overwatch is a game of ultimates, and this clip has several ultimates used at once. It’s hard to tell what’s happening in the moment – the killfeed helps a little bit – but with time to review we can dig into how Grimreality actually managed to get off a three-man Deadeye, a rarity at the professional level. The engagement leads off with Ghost moving along the balcony attempting to contest Immortals’ high ground defense. Babybay launches his Graviton, catching both Chance and Agilities but not the rest of Immortals. Now, it’s a common mantra repeated by Flame in his VOD reviews that you NEVER Graviton into a Graviton, since the team who uses it first tends to have far better positioning. But Flame can’t always be right. Babybay either failed to aim his Graviton closer to the doorway where the rest of Immortals was stationed, or Immortals knew the Graviton was coming and split their team to reduce its effectiveness. Either way, Hyped’s 99% Graviton ticked over to 100% shortly after and he fired it into the mass of Ghost players jumping in to capitalize on Babybay’s Graviton and Mykl’s now falling D.Va Self-Destruct.

Here’s where it gets a little confusing: it appears that Chance charges out of the Graviton, ending up somewhere below the archway safe to put up his shield to avoid Mykl’s Self-Destruct. Hyped also then throws a bubble onto Agilities, saving him from the D.Va blast. Grimreality invokes Deadeye, and Iremix charges directly into the mass of Immortals players in the doorway. Unfortunately, this meant that there was no shield to protect the Ghost players stuck in the Graviton from the Deadeye – but was this a misplay? In fact, this was an intentional charge. Rewinding a bit, we can see that Iremix had his shield up absorbing Immortals damage before Hyped even used his Graviton. Realizing that the damaged shield probably wouldn’t be able to fully to protect the team from Deadeye, Ghost decided the best chance to survive Grim’s ultimate was to send Iremix charging at Immortals with a Zarya bubble, hoping to interrupt or absorb some of the shots. Unfortunately for Ghost, in a game of split-second decisions this hail-mary came just a fraction of a second too late. The bubble either wore off Iremix or was blasted off by Immortals, and the Deadeye connected for the triple kill onto Iremix and his supports.

These four ultimates and myriad of other abilities that decided the fate of Ghost occurred over just nine seconds. Nine seconds…the level of decision-making that goes into playing Overwatch at a professional level continues to amaze me. To even understand what was going on, I even had to bug other pros to split out what each team was probably thinking at the time. Here’s some of the great what-ifs of this match-defining time span:

  • If Mykl had aimed his Graviton more to the right, it might have caught more Immortals players, killing them on the spot

  • If Chance didn’t charge out of the Graviton, he would have died to the Self-Destruct

  • If Hyped didn’t shield Agilities, he would have died to the Self-Destruct

  • If Hyped didn’t get Graviton at that exact moment, Immortals would not have pinned Ghost in position for the Deadeye

  • If Iremix charged a beat sooner, or if Babybay’s Shield lasted a second longer, the Deadeye may have been interrupted or blocked

Instead, Immortals’ two ultimates lead to a team wipe of Ghost, who also used a two ultimate combo. Pro Overwatch, in 10 seconds or less.


6. Do you like Duck Hunt? (Game 3 Immortals vs. Ghost)

https://clips.twitch.tv/overwatch_nge/DeadCatKappaClaus

This clip is a microcosm of Immortal’s series vs. Ghost – a series of uncontested Grimreality McCree shooting gallery sequences. This is a meta in transition, and teams haven’t had time to settle on what they think is most powerful. Whenever significant balance changes occur, teams experiment with new lineups and strategies, but when money is on the line they sometimes fall back to what they know they’re good at. You can see this happen with Immortals and Ghost both utilizing D.Va for signficant stretches of time despite her signficant nerf, because they had two very strong D.Va players in Hyped and Mykl. Connorj also continued to play Roadhog almost exclusively despite Hook 2.1’s rollout, although opinions are still mixed on whether this change was a nerf or a buff. It just so happened that Grimreality is one of the best McCree players in the Overwatch at the moment, so Immortals made the call to keep him on this hero over the more popular overall Soldier 76.

And golly, did it work out. Despite often having Mykl on D.Va at the same time as Grimreality was on McCree, Ghost often failed to contest Grim on the high ground. This could have just been good positioning by Grim – who surprised me again and again with his ability to survive engagements long enough to turn the tides of fights – or just a misplay by Mykl who had a tendency to contest the point rather than the McCree playing shooting gallery above. There are some good reasons to use McCree over Soldier 76 if your McCree players’ aim is good enough as well. Contesting a McCree as a solo flanker is extremely difficult, as he’s always a headshot or two away from out-dueling you. McCree can’t be completely self-sufficient on his own like Soldier 76 and his Healing Station, but his Stun Grenade does great work for winning 1v1s with non-tanks.

If a McCree, or any DPS hero is going off, it can sometimes require an entire lineup shift to deal with him. Ghost using just Mykl on D.Va was not stopping Grim, so they might have needed a Winston as well (or just better target priority) to pressure Grim constantly. Regardless, if any single player becomes a big enough threat to affect your entire strategy, it leaves the rest of your lineup and positioning open to be exploited. It seems like Ghost had a set strategy in mind that did not involve Mykl sitting on Grimreality’s face for the entire match and didn’t want to change their hard-practiced lineup on the fly. Unfortunately for Ghost, this led to quadkill after quadkill for Immortals’ duck-hunting champion.


Final Thoughts and Shoutouts

Shoutout to Immortals for winning the Winter Premier after months of grueling group stages. They become the first team not named EnVyUs, Rogue, Luxurywatch Red, or Misfits to win a six-figure prizepool tournament and they did it in spectacular fashion. Grimreality is the real deal, and Immortals was even without their main tank Nomy – who was unable to attend due to visa issues. So again, congratulations to Immortals! Moving back across the pacific, I’m excited for the return of the Apex after their Lunar New Year holiday break. The meta is much more favorable for dive comps now, and the Koreans are masters of the dive. Also coming out of Korea is some chilling news – Leetaejun and Dean of Lunatic Hai have been kicked off the team for abusing their status to inappropriately contact female fans. As more details have come out, the western scene’s reactions have changed from moderately confused to a bit outraged. We’ll be talking about this, the Winter Premier, and more on Around the Watch later this week, so be sure to tune in!


 

Until next time,

 

CaptainPlanet