Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: Something Strange is Afoot in Korea
What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: Something strange is afoot in Korea. This week’s report is all about the cross-region differences in Overwatch thanks to Apex finally (almost) catching up to the live servers the past week. For those unaware, Apex had been running on the pre-Bastion patch in order to not interrupt its competitors in the middle of a highly competitive tournament with fundamental changes to the game. I think we can all agree that that was exactly what the Bastion semi-rework turned out to be, so kudos to them for having the foresight to do so. For the semi-finals, Apex jumped forward past the Bastion patch and while they’re not on the Orisa patch yet, they’re pretty close. Before I get too deep into regional differences, let’s first take a look at the overall hero usage from three regions at once: Apex (KR), the Overwatch Carbon Series (NA), and the Overwatch PIT (EU):
S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate): Lucio (97%)
Tier 1 (>80% Usage Rate): No one!
Tier 2 (>50% Usage Rate): Ana (74%), Reinhardt (53%),Tracer (53%)
Tier 3 (>20% Usage Rate): Soldier 76 (48%), Genji (48%), Winston (47%), D.Va (42%), Roadhog (39%), Zarya (38%)
Tier 4 (>5% Usage Rate): Pharah (19%), Zenyatta (16%), Mercy (11%), McCree (8%)
Tier 5 (<5% Usage Rate): Mei (3%), Widowmaker (3%), Sombra (1%), Torbjorn (1%), Orisa (1%), Symmetra (0%), Reaper (0%), Bastion (0%), Junkrat (0%), Hanzo (0%)
In a surprising turn of events, hero usage looks pretty balanced in the post-Orisa world. Besides the soon-to-be-changed Lucio perched atop his usual mountain-top of hero usage, half of the heroes in Overwatch fell into the usage range stretching from 8% to 53%. Since I tend to be a glass half-full kind of person, I view this as a positive. In a game with heroes designed to be niche at best in their optimal usage, there’s always going to be heroes that fall by the wayside. This is especially true given the source of this data: competitive tournaments where professionals optimize team comps at Overwatch’s highest level of play. Other things to note are that every healing* support class had 11% or greater usage this week, and that every tank but one exceeded 38%. Unfortunately for those who were banking on a major meta-shakeup, that one tank was Orisa.
* Sorry Symmetra
Where do I begin with Orisa? First, the Korean matches (~19% of the total match count in this week’s set) did not even have the chance to play her, but I doubt they would have anyway. Orisa was actually only played three times in the matches that comprise this dataset, and one of those was a joke pick at the end of a match as to entertain viewers who wanted to see some of the new hero. The other two times she made an appearance – once from LG Evil Jake and once from Immortals’ Hyped – the results were mixed. Jake used her on Nepal Sanctum, where Liquid defeated them in a close 100%-90% match. Hyped had a bit more success with her on Nepal Village, demonstrating what I’ll call an “ideal” Orisa ultimate play: hiding her drum behind multiple physical barriers – the building wall and the Reinhardt shield. Grimreality was more than happy to use the 50% damage boost to combo with Tactical Visor, mowing down LG Evil in the process.
Pros – and casuals – seem less than impressed with Orisa as she currently stands. Common sentiments that I’ve seen from the community at large include complaints that her head hitbox is too large and thus too easy to hit criticals on, that her shield is too immobile, and that her movement is too slow while dealing damage. On the flip side, she does seem to be a strong hero for fixed-in-place defense turtle-ing, or for specific strategies like Immortals’ usage of her on Nepal Village. She’s also the next in what’s becoming a trend for the Overwatch dev team: releasing heroes that are under-powered at first rather than over-powered. We can see Orisa’s potential trajectory relative to the overall Overwatch cast by looking to Sombra, whose release was met with a similar sentiment: too under-powered for much play on the professional level besides some crazy Complexity Gaming antics. The devs have been gradually buffing Sombra ever since, and she’s started to pop up in more varied map positions and lineups as of late. Again keeping to the glass half-full mentality, I don’t expect Orisa to remain in her present state for very long.
Something Strange is Afoot in Korea
Many of my readers are often curious about regional meta differences – I am too! This week, thanks to a lucky temporal convergence of regional tournaments, I was able to collect data from the professional meta of all three major regions at once: NA, EU, and KR. My usual summary graphic at the top of the report breaks out out overall, offense, defense, and king of the hill game mode usage, but this week I’m presenting a different look by splitting out hero usage into regions:
As a disclaimer, as I said above the data from Korean matches only compromises ~19% of matches played in this dataset, so we can expect higher variance in summary results from that region. With that in mind, there a couple differences that stood out to me. First, Korean players played much more Ana overall than their NA counterparts – although less…more…than the EU region. There’s actually a pretty simple explanation for this: Korea is playing on the pre-Orisa patch, and the Orisa patch itself nerfed Ana’s damage from 80 to 60. NA players have since soured a bit on the elderly sniper relative to their EU and KR counterparts, now that they’re no longer able to three-shot Pharahs and other 200HP heroes. Moving along, Koreans really seem to dislike Soldier 76 relative to their regional peers. Why could this be? To help answer some of the questions I had about the Korean scene, I reached out to NamedHwi, a Korean Overwatch caster and coach for BK Stars. His team’s main DPS, Carpe, apparently doesn’t play Soldier 76 in comp games at all – he only takes him out in scrims. Since we know from western pros returning from Korea that their region’s players take competitive mode much more seriously, this is actually a pretty significant statement. NamedHwi went on to explain that Soldier is sometimes “boring to play”, and that Nano-Visor is difficult to combo in a competitive setting, due to the prevalence of D.Va in high level Korean play which we also see in the chart above. NamedHwi also mentioned that McCree was much more popular with Korean players thanks to the high amount of Genjis in ranked ladder, who are all just one good Flashbang combo from being dealt with. On a lighter note, according to NamedHwi Koreans prefer McCree because, and I quote:
“Koreans prefer McCree than Soldier, cuz McCree is gorgeous. Ting ting, head by head. Koreans like that”
A bit may have been lost in translation, but you get the idea. Perhaps in their estimation of the overall strength of Soldier 76 vs. McCree, Korean hitscan pros found the gap to be close enough to stick with the hero they play the most in ranked ladder and bring him to actual tournaments. Given how good Korean D.Va players are at recognizing and countering NanoVisors and also given that McCree has better tools to deal with Genji than Soldier 76, the cross-regional difference makes a lot of sense. This has had some other ripple effects like a heavy reduction in Korean Pharah play relative their western counterparts – seems like Korean McCrees are so feared that the skies remain more-or-less clear for the moment.
Koreans were also seen playing Widowmaker and Sombra more than twice the overall average time, and nearly three times the average time for Mei. Since the overall time played is significantly lower than the heroes previously mentioned we’re straying into individual-variance-land, but that doesn’t mean that specific examples exist where Koreans are making these heroes work. Meta Athena has famously used Mei in what seems to be a brand new way every week they play, and this week was no exception. Seriously, watch that clip. Also from Meta Athena, Sayaplaya has risen the ranks of Korea’s best hitscan players, and was responsible for some of the week’s Widowmaker play along with Kongdoo Panthera’s Wakawaka. Sayaplaya sticks out to me as one of the few Korean players that Taimou ever complimented for having good aim. Meta Athena just missed out on making the finals for Apex, but we’ll get to see Sayaplaya and the rest of the team compete one last time for third place six hours from this post. Or, in the VODs after the fact, since they’re playing on Korean time and no one in NA will be awake.
If you’d like to also see a breakout of the same chart above with Offense/Defense/KotH splits, you can check out
Make sure you click on the region you wish to view, because the chart will otherwise not be readable.
Finally, if you’d like to perform your own Hero Usage Deep Dives, I’ve created my usual Hero Usage Summary chart
On the surface, you can see each hero and where they were used. The size of the squares correlates to how many matches they were picked in, and the color correlates to the winrate of the hero on that map + side. You can then mouse-over each square for more information, click on each square to filter the “Who played this hero?” menu, and select or de-select regions in the top right. Enjoy!
Final Thoughts and Shoutouts
Shoutout to Apex for finally moving onto a more-recent patch and giving me some actual Korean data to talk about this week! The grand finals are only a week away: will you root for Lunatic Hai, home of several World Cup winners, attempting to take home their first championship? Or will you root for RunAway, the team that wasn’t even supposed to make it out of groups, lead by the most excitable team captain in Runner and anchored by Kaiser, the Sultan of (Reinhardt) Swing? Also thanks to NamedHwi for answering my silly questions about Korea and McCree, and giving me equally silly answers back. As always, don’t forget to tune in to Around the Watch, where we have LG Evil’s Jake on this week. Also, Join our Discord!! Pesto, Harsha, and I will usually be hanging out to discuss the topics from Around the Watch and the scene at large, and we’ll also be using the Discord to record our podcasts live! Listen to and contribute to every podcast live, via the chat!
Until next time,