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Opening Thoughts

What’s up guys and gals CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: The Meta that was Promised. If you wanted to pick one weekend to demonstrate the hero diversity in professional Overwatch, this was one of the best weekends to do so. Not only did every hero see play, but every hero had a reason to have been played. Yes, even Junkrat. However, is this meta paradise here to say? Or am I just exaggerating a fleeting phenomenon to keep you interested? Did the “quality” of the teams playing affect the meta, or the still-close proximity to the patch release? Later on, I’ll argue both sides of the coin. First though, let’s see what the hero usage looked like from an overall standpoint:


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Tiers

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

A Tier (>80% Usage Rate): Lucio (91%)

B Tier (>50% Usage Rate): Reinhardt (71%), Ana (70%), Soldier 76 (58%), Zarya (57%)

C Tier (>20% Usage Rate): Genji (42%), Tracer (41%), Roadhog (38%), Winston (37%), Zenyatta (25%)

D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): D.Va (16%), McCree (15%), Pharah (14%), Mercy (6%), Reaper (5%)

F Niche Tier (<5% Usage Rate): Torbjorn (4%), Symmetra (3%), Mei (3%), Hanzo (3%), Widowmaker (3%), Sombra (2%), Bastion (1%), Junkrat (1%!!!!)


Tier / Usage Discussion

Last week I made a handy chart to illustrate the changes in hero usage overall, on offense, on defense, and on king of the hill relative to hero usage rates before the January 24th balance patch. Last week, I also bemoaned the smaller sample size than usual (and it drove some people nuts), so I combined last week’s and this week’s post-patch data to create a new chart which you can see below:

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D.Va’s nerf has had the greatest impact overall both directly and indirectly. Her usage has dropped by nearly 60% overall split fairly evenly across all game phases, opening up room for other tanks and DPS. Out of the six largest gains in usage, four of them are DPS with one tank and one healer: Genji, Winston, Soldier, Tracer, Zenyatta, and McCree. Zenyatta interestingly only gained ground on offense and king of the hill in large part due to his replacing Ana in dive-based lineups, however Ana’s dominance on defense has remained relatively uncontested. Genji, Tracer, and Winston gained on all fronts, but much more on king of the hill relative to other maps as teams moved away from the low-mobility, high health tank lineups to high mobility, high kill potential dive comps. Reinhardt, no longer needed to provide cover for Roadhog and with much less mobility than Winston has dropped noticeably on king of the hill and offense as well.

D.Va’s regression has also improved the viability of Soldier 76, who has ballooned in usage across all modes. McCree as well has improve across the board, although not quite as much as Soldier, Tracer, and Genji. This could be due to several factors. Soldier 76 is presently considered to have a “more consistent damage output” than the high variance McCree, and Tactical Visor is more easily comboed with Nanoboost. Genji’s Dragonblade holds the same distinction of pairing with many other ultimates, and Tracer’s Pulse Bomb both charges fast and is the best ultimate outside of Dragonstrike to combo with Graviton Surge. For these and other general mobility reasons, these three DPS seems to be thriving a bit more than McCree. However, as we saw with Grimreality in the Winter Premier finals, there will always be room in the meta for players who put in the work to consistently hit headshots – so expect McCree’s usage to stay above a certain level in this new, reduced D.Va age.


But…are we balanced yet?

There are two ways to look at this. Either Blizzard has finally made the right tweaks, twisted the correct knobs, and toned back the appropriate heroes to bring us to the meta that was promised, or the meta simply has not had enough time to settle because the likes of EnVyUs, Lunatic Hai, and others have not figured out what the strongest lineups are yet. I spent some time trying to figure out whether what appears to be the most balanced meta in months is here to stay or not, but I gave up. There are too many arguments for both sides at the moment. Instead, I’m going to split myself in two argue both sides of the matter. Which of me will be more convincing?

This is the Meta we’ve all been waiting for

Last week several tournaments occurred in all three regions and one thing stood out: many different heroes were being played. Teams seemed to be unafraid to experiment and all of Overwatch’s diverse cast had a meaningful moment of play at one point or another. There was even a Junkrat + Symmetra spam-based defense that made an appearance on Hollywood first point, and it worked! Korean teams were running Mercy without Pharah, Widowmakers were popping off, and GamersOrigin somehow made a Sombra king of the hill lineup successful. This used to be a sign of the apocalypse, but two teams un-ironically ran a Bastion-on-the-cart payload offense. It was Overwatch heaven!

Blizzard must have struck gold with the simultaneous nerf to Ana’s Biotic Grenade healing boost and nerf to D.Va’s survivability. Without her 400 armor health pool, D.Va has stopped being a dual threat to DPS heroes: she doesn’t always win (or at least, survive) every 1v1 vs. them and her lineup spot can now be occupied by a DPS of the teams’ choosing. Without the 100% boost to healing on Ana’s Biotic Grenade, tanks are more difficult to top off – blowing open the door for dive compositions on offense and mobility based lineups on king of the hill. Ana still has a place in non-dive compositions, especially on defense where she’s the most used healer by a significant margin and her lesser mobility is less of an negative. Ana and D.Va have been a suppressive force on meta diversity, and these changes have removed that weight.

This is just a transitionary period until EnVyUs and other top teams “solve” the meta

There was actually one other thing that stood out about the tournaments this weekend: a lack of top teams outside of the Koreans. Not that Korean teams adhere to what us Westerners believe the meta is – they were known to play Genji-based dive comps deep into the Tank Meta anyway. In Overwatch, the top teams lead and the others follow in terms of team comps outside of a few oddballs like Ninjas in Pyjamas, who have been playing 3+ tank lineups since before it was cool. We have not yet seen what EnVyUs, Misfits, and Cloud 9 have cooked up in their secret Korean training grounds. All of the data this week comes from EU teams that haven’t had a tournament in ages to practice for (Strivewire Monthly), NA teams we aren’t even sure the strength of (Haste Cup), and Korean teams that thought running Mercy to boost Genji was a good idea. Is it? I have no idea. I’m not a Korean professional player. But all of this looks like we’re sitting in that post-patch honeymoon period where the everything’s made up and the meta doesn’t matter. This 1-2 week free-for-all has happened after every balance patch, before some top team went on a run with a very particular lineup and everyone rushed to copy them. First it was super-dive comps, then it was Beyblade, then it was the rise of the Tanks. Will the next meta be dive-centric? Will it be some form of Roadhog/Zarya/Reinhardt triple tank? Is there room for Pharah and Widowmaker at the same time? It’s too early to tell – so enjoy the chaos while you can.


Quite Interesting Stats

Direct Link to Chart - I encourage you to explore!

Along with overall trends, I also track what heroes are used on what maps, what phase of maps, what their winrates are, and what players on what teams play them in what regions. Sound like a mouthful? That’s ok, because Tableau helps me (and you) visualize this better. Using this chart’s functionality, “weird stats” can be more easily seen and understood. Caution: the following stats only serve as interesting, single bits of information and are not intended to represent overall/future trends. With that out of the way –

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Did you know that Winston had a 100% winrate when used on Watchpoint: Gibraltar this past week? Six players used Winston on Watchpoint, four times on offense and four times on defense across six games so some players used him on both offense and defense. Winston has always been a strong pick on Watchpoint: Gibraltar thanks to its many high grounds throughout the escort path, but Winston usage correlating to wins in every single appearance was … quite interesting.

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Did you also know that out of five games played on Numbani, Torbjorn only had one win? Luckily for him, one of these matches also ended in a draw but this outcome was just as interesting as Winston because Numbani used to be known as one of the few maps Torbjorn was ever used. It seems teams wanted to test out their Torbjon strategies of old this week, but were unable to convert to wins. This bring us to one of his historical counters, D.Va:

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D.Va was played five times on defense and six times on offense on Numbani, and only three of these eleven appearances lead to wins. Many of these D.Va occurrences only lasted for under two minutes, however, so the impact that they had on the game is debatable. The usage of D.Va moving forward will be something to keep an eye especially with slight changes to her Defense Matrix making her more able to save her teammates from Gravitons and Roadhog hooks.


Final thoughts and Shoutouts

Shoutout to @NoukkyIzzy for setting up the StriveWire monthly which provided much of the data for this week’s report. She adminned, acquired sponsors, and booked teams all on her own to save the EU scene from further languish and it resulted in some very exciting games and hopefully a renewed interest in competitive European Overwatch. Be sure to support her and the continuation of this monthly by following her on Twitter, and contributing to their crowdfunding in the future!

 

Until next time,

 

CaptainPlanet