Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: Season 3 Review
What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: Season 3 Review. Season 3 has just ended and this report will be all about summarizing the ebb and flow of the professional meta during this time period. I’ll be going through hero usage, crown a “Hero Pool Champion”, show off players’ most used heroes, and jump into some deeper analysis during the break. First though, there were some matches that happened between last report and now, so let’s see where the tiers ended up before we head into the between-season downtime.
S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate): No one!
A Tier (>80% Usage Rate): Lucio (94%), Ana (92%)
B Tier (>50% Usage Rate): Reinhardt (78%), Zarya (75%), Roadhog (53%)
C Tier (>20% Usage Rate): Soldier 76 (43%), Tracer (37%), Genji (32%), Winston (24%)
D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): D.Va (17%), Pharah (15%), McCree (12%), Widowmaker (9%), Reaper (8%), Zenyatta (5%)
F Niche Tier (<5% Usage Rate): Mercy (4%), Mei (4%), Torbjorn (2%), Symmetra (2%), Sombra (2%), Bastion (0%), Hanzo (0%), Junkrat – 0 Picks
Tier / Usage Discussion
Order has been restored, Junkrat had zero picks in any of the matches in this week’s dataset. “But wait Captain!”, you’re probably saying, “Didn’t Mangachu play Junkrat successfully on Volskaya Industries recently!?”. You’d be 100% right, but I had already started writing by the time Renegades played so his usage won’t be appearing – this season anyway. In a meta where Tracers and Genjis are zipping around, it’s hard for a Junkrat to do work: spamming a choke is effective at lower skill ranks, but hoping to randomly get a lucky kill or trap won’t cut it at the pro level. That said, who knows what Season 4 and the new balance patch will bring. Perhaps the Rat will rise again!
Junk(rat) aside, the fact that more than half of the DPS have escaped the “Niche” tier is something to be celebrated. When was the last time you saw Widowmaker with usage this high? We can thank Apex and their forcing of 2CP maps into the pool – where attack Widows are common – for this rise in popularity in the pro community. Widowmaker is a valuable space-maker for dive comps that have come back into the vogue, as well as one deadly half of any Crossfire pair involving Soldier 76 or McCree. Soldier 76 sits atop the DPS rankings, finally able to operate at his full potential with D.Va’s nerfs in full effect. Skilled Tracers are quickly morphing into unstoppable monsters as her usage continues to climb outside of king of the hill maps where she has always been favored. I suggest you check out the Efrag VODs where Sinatraa was given free reign to terrorize Renegades in Selfless’s Finals win: he was so effective that at one point he landed a 5-man Sticky without an accompanying Zarya Graviton Surge. The Roadhog changes on the way may be able to put a damper on Tracer’s viability however. Hog’s main fire and right click have both had their bullet spread reduced, making it much easier to one-shot those pesky British flankers.
Season 3 Hero Usage Progression
I always find it interesting to look at hero usage over time, but this kind of visualization only makes sense over a prolonged time span. Good thing we’re looking at all of Season 3 then! I created this chart showing how each hero stacked up to each other throughout Season 3. You can sort by hero, or by heroes, by clicking, ctrl-clicking, or shift-clicking groups of portraits to the left. If you’re an Apple user, god save your soul. Furthermore, you can also see hero usage in the pro scene dating back to Overwatch’s release by clicking “All” in the filter on the right.
One point of interest with this chart was how quickly the 1⁄24 nerf to Ana and D.Va resulted in big changes to the meta, but little to no change to Ana herself. Immediately, D.Va’s usage tanked and an explosion of DPS classes rose in her place; we have since started to see much more Tracer, Soldier 76, Genji, Zenyatta, and even Winston without D.Va’s suppressive kit keeping them down. Ana is still as dominant as ever though, a high skill-cap hero that nonetheless pros still think needs more reduction in power level. Popular nerf targets are her damage output (80 damage per shot), the duration of her Sleep Dart, and the anti-healing on her grenade, which pros feel is too oppressive as a strict immunity.
As with all weeks leading into what may be Overwatch’s next balance patch, it’s hard to predict what heroes will emerge week to week, or even day to day. Season 4 is on the horizon, a new hero may have just been hinted at, and Bastion mains are lurking, waiting to unleash the strength of their reworked main. All of this and more is on the way, but in this break before Season 4 hits let’s first crown some champions – statistically.
Is it possible to crown MVPs in Overwatch?
Many sites try to rank teams and players based on their merits, but on some level they’re setting themselves up for failure. There are too many factors to consider, too many personal opinions to wade through, that any such list is often met with heavy criticism. Here, I’ve tried to take at least the second part of this qualitative ranking out of the equation by creating rankings based on a set of statistics. First up, a look at each hero in Overwatch and the players that played them in Season 3. These players are listed by time played, but I have also included each player’s winrate on that hero so you can make your own judgment of each hero’s “MVP” for Season 3.
As always, I encourage you to do your own investigations with the chart, especially if you have a particular favorite hero you want to learn more about. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite player in the process! While you do that, I’m going to speak about a few of the players who were particularly memorable to me personally.
Grimreality, Season 3’s McCree God
When you hear McCree, what player do you think of first? Taimou? IDDQD? If Grimreality maintains his stellar McCree play, he may usurp these masters in the public’s mind. Taimou had a higher winrate than Grimreality during Season 3, but Grimreality played three times as much McCree as Taimou – much of which came during Immortals’ Winter Premier LAN victory. Grimreality admittedly did not face a lot of pressure from his opponents – analysts likened his play to a game of high-stakes “Duck Hunt” – but pressure or not, Grim barely missed a single shot. Grim’s breakout McCree play was also significant because it happened shortly after the D.Va nerf – in a time period where Soldier 76 was predicted to take up the mantle of Overwatch’s premier DPS hero. Soldier 76 has since seen much more overall play than McCree, but it was Grimreality’s gun-slinging that won the day. Shoutout to Grim, Season 3’s six-shootin’ champion!
Harryhook, human Aimbot?
Some say he never misses a single shot. Some say he only uses Tactical Visor to reload. Others say he never uses it at all, lest he miss headshots. All we know is: he’s Harryhook.
Since Talespin’s departure from EnVyUs in the waning days of Season 2, Harryhook has stepped up in his place as Taimou’s contemporary. Last week I wrote about EnVyUs’ Crossfire offense strategy making full use of Taimou popping off on Widowmaker, but every Crossfire Widowmaker needs an equally deadly partner opposite them. For EnVyUs, that hitscan demon is Harryhook, the undisputed Soldier 76 champion of the tournaments that I covered in Season 3. Rarely does a player hold the distinction for most time played and highest winrate, but Harry has done both – at least among players with over an hour total play time. Cheer for Harry, the human Aimbot!
Internethulk has opened the path (to victory)
Symmetra is not a hero that will have a lot of overall playtime even under the most favorable circumstances. Her kit is very good for only certain types of engagements in Overwatch; like Liam Neeson in Taken she has a very particular set of skills. Skills she has acquired over a long period of balance patches. Skills that make her a nightmare for first point attackers. None of the players in this ranking list played more than an hour total on her, but one player stands out: Internethulk. In every match that Internethulk played Symmetra, EnVyUs went on to win – 11 games in total with zero losses. This speaks to Internethulk’s long tenure and depth of experience as an Overwatch pro. Before he was relegated to the Lucio role from off-tank due to Talespin’s departure, Hulk was known to play Symmetra on the King’s Row first point holds of Closed Beta, switching to Winston should EnVyUs fail to full-hold (a rare occurrence indeed). Over a year and a drastic rework later and Old Man Hulk is still playing – and never losing – on what I dare say is Overwatch’s best defense hero. Raise your old cheese for Internethulk!
Who had the best Hero Pool in Season 3?
Next up, I created a chart that shows the players with the deepest hero pools. The players you see here have over 7 heroes played, over 10 matches played, and winrates higher than 60% in Season 3. To the right, you can see what heroes filled out their pool, and where these heroes were used. Mousing over the blocks will tell you additional information like winrate, time played, and matches played. As always, I encourage you to explore this chart at your own leisure!
Last season I crowned TviQ the “Hero Pool Champion”, but due to roster swaps the former Rogue, now Misfits player has not been playing nearly as many matches – and therefore not as many heroes. No one has bested TviQ’s 13-deep pool this season, but we do have a new face as Season 3’s Hero Pool Champ: Flow3r, also known as Nanohana, Luxurywatch Blue’s DPS ace. Flow3r has been tearing it up in Apex Season 2, playing matches with every meta DPS hero and many off-meta ones as well. He’s made memorable plays on the new Oasis map as Pharah, demonstrated Korea’s proclivity to Widowmaker offense on Volskaya Industries, and even had a successful stint as Winston on Watchpoint: Gibraltar. Flow3r, Nanohana, whatever you want to call him, is one of the Korean players we should all keep our eyes on with the Overwatch League looming. Player like him, Miro, Ryujehong, and more can bring foreign star power to the league – and maybe even give EnVyUs a run for their money.
Speaking of EnVyUs, we see two familiar faces on this chart: Taimou and Harryhook. Joined by Jake from Hammers Esports, this trio were the only to exceed 80% winrate while playing more than 8 heroes during season 3. Both Taimou and Jake were forced to play mainly Roadhog due to the dominance of the Tank Meta throughout most of Season 3, but I was impressed by both players’ ability to play a wide range of DPS heroes outside of what the meta dictated. Harryhook stuck primarily to Soldier 76 as mentioned before, but played a significant amount of Reaper as well. In fact, if we go back to the individual hero superlative chart, Harryhook had the highest Reaper usage by far in Season 3, so this does not come as a surprise.
When it comes to hero pools, what do you think: does Flow3r’s deeper hero pool put him above the likes of Jake and Taimou? Or does winrate matter more than how many heroes a player can play?
Final Thoughts and Shoutouts
Shoutout to Blizzard for navigating through another season of competitive play in Overwatch. This season included many balance initiatives like the rework to Symmetra, the buffs and nerfs to D.Va, several nerfs to Ana, the release of Oasis, the release of the Lunar New Year Capture the Rooster maps, with much much more on the horizon. I also wanted to do a quick shoutout to a play that caught my eye while compiling this report, straight out of Afreeca Blue vs. Cloud 9’s Volskaya Industries matchup last week:
In this play, Cloud 9 has been stymied for an extended period of time on Volskaya’s second point after having quickly captured first. Donghyun, casual as can be, walks his D.Va mech up to the center console as Cloud 9 is counting down the final tick in overtime. Then…he just presses Q. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that. He doesn’t even kill anyone, but he doesn’t have to either: watch as Cloud 9 scurries to safety as the D.Va bomb explodes along with the ROUND OVER screen. Later, Afreeca Freecs Blue would take this same second point on their own attacking round, making this D.Va ultimate that zoned Cloud 9 off of the point a pivotal moment in the match. The only way Donghyun could have made it cooler was if he had moonwalked to the middle – maybe next time! That’s it from me, see you in Season 4!
Until next time,