Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: A Trip to the PharMercy
What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: A trip to the PharMercy. Rejoice, Mercy mains, your time has come once again. Pharah has rocketed back into the meta and with her, right by her side, Mercy has carved out a position in the rankings. Not only have Pharah and Mercy returned, but this week marks perhaps the most diverse meta to date in terms of team compositions. Dive comps, traditional 2/2/2s, and triple and even quad tank lineups were all seen throughout the PIT group stages and Apex grand finals. This and more will be discussed later, but let’s first look at this weeks Tiers:
S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate): Lucio (98%)
Tier 1 (>80% Usage Rate): No one!
Tier 2 (>50% Usage Rate): Tracer (68%), Winston (65%), Soldier 76 (60%), Ana (53%)
Tier 3 (>20% Usage Rate): Genji (46%), D.Va (43%), Reinhardt (35%), Roadhog (27%), Pharah (26%), Zenyatta (36%), Zarya (22%), Mercy (21%)
Tier 4 (>5% Usage Rate): No one!
Tier 5 (<5% Usage Rate): Widowmaker (4%), McCree (3%), Mei (1%), Sombra (1%), Orisa (0%), Torbjorn (0%), Junkrat (0%), Reaper (0%), Bastion (0%), Hanzo (0%), Symmetra (0%)
As usual, Lucio was a near-unanimous lock on all game modes in all regions. That’s…not very exciting to talk about, but what is exciting is the potential for change on the horizon. The PTR has been down for some time and a new Overwatch event was recently leaked – hinting that the rework to Lucio’s aura abilities may come sooner rather than later. Pro opinion is mixed: some think it’s going to usher back in a tank-based meta, since the aura will no longer be able to support deeper diving heroes present in dive comps, but others think the changes are at least a step in the right direction to making the hero feel more engaging to play. I’m personally a fan of anything that changes Lucio, but I’d rather Blizzard release another hero entirely that makes Lucio less essential. Soundquake with a group speed boost too perhaps? But enough about Lucio…
The Return of PharMercy
PharMercy is back, baby. But why now? The key is two different patch notes that occurred over the past two months:
The change to Mercy’s Resurrection came alongside the “Omnic Crisis” version of Bastion, so few non-Mercy players even noticed it because they were busy dodging immortal, unfeeling, killing machines. Extending the invulnerability Mercy provides to her teammates upon resurrecting made using her ultimate much less of a suicide mission – although this change alone was not enough to noticeably increase her usage in the pro scene. Ana, Lucio, and to a lesser extent Zenyatta were still stronger options for the lineups of the time, so even with a buff to Mercy’s ultimate, she would have had to become a “better” option than the other three healers. Unfortunately, this was not yet the case.
Then came the Ana patch two weeks ago, nerfing her damage from 80 to 60. This change’s ripple effects have spread throughout the Overwatch cast, changing the way pros approach building a lineup. No longer can 200 HP heroes be taken out by three scoped-in hitscan shots from a skilled Ana. After this change and all of the nerfs up to this point, Ana’s position in the meta seems to have finally come into question. There’s evidence that this change was the straw that broke the camel’s back as well: the last two weeks of Apex were played on the pre-Ana nerf patch, and just look at the difference in regional hero usage:
The damage nerf had a Mercy-relevant effect on the landscape of Overwatch: the skies became a much safer place for Pharah, one such 200 HP hero. It’s not any harder to hit a Pharah, but now that it takes four shots instead of three she has a better chance of reaching safety or being healed back to full. And guess what hero does the best job keeping Pharah topped off? If Pharah returns to the meta, Mercy’s superior mobility relative to Zenyatta and Ana also comes into play. So let’s review:
Mercy’s Resurrect is buffed, directly increasing her general viability
Ana’s damage is nerfed, directly decreasing her viability and indirectly making Mercy more viable by chipping away at lineup slots otherwise occupied Ana
Ana’s damage nerf indirectly makes Pharah more viable, also indirectly helping Mercy
Pharah’s increase in usage allows Mercy to make full use of her mobility potential, exposing Zenyatta and Ana’s lack of mobility
Like a track of dominoes, all of these things have combined to bring Mercy back into the fore. PharMercy flies once again!
I would like to caution my readers, however: since this report is based off of data gathered from hero usage in professional tournaments, be careful dusting off your Caduceus Staff and heading out into ranked play. Without a Pharah friend to support, you might be asking to get flamed – not because you deserve it – but because it has been so long since Mercy was relevant in the pro scene. This could be a transient change in the meta anyway: notice that Pharah and Mercy saw most of their play on king of the hill maps and not escort or payload. The nature of these maps makes a Pharah pick much stronger than usual, since there is plenty of high cover to hide behind, ledges to knock people off of, and short paths back from the respawn room to return to action. We will have to see if this trend continues to spread to non-KotH matches as well as the meta moves forward.
The rest of the heroes
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As exciting as Pharah and Mercy returning to pro tournament play was, a third of Overwatch’s heroes had more play than Pharah, and half had more play than Mercy. Excusing the seven Korean matches from the Apex finals since they were played on a previous patch, the NA and EU teams have begun to play a diverse set of lineups. Teams ran 2/2/2 comps, triple tank, and dive, to varying degrees of success. In terms of hero picks, I noticed some interesting trends for various heroes and sub-maps this week. Reminder that clicking on the boxes will filter the “Who played this hero” box below, and mousing over the hero gives more detailed information. First, what the heck was going on with Tanks and escort maps this week?
Splitting this out by teams instead of heroes, we can see that this was probably due to a lot of the NA teams running non-Dive comps into the Winston-only, undefeated Dive Comp of Rogue:
Rogue’s pressure on the “successful hero meta” also accounts for some of the relative success seen by Genji in general:
But teams that played Genji on King of the Hill maps also won more than they lost as well, without the help of Rogue – Nepal Sanctum shown for example:
Another strange trend was that almost all of the assault maps had a negative winrate on them – how could that be?
It’s actually because two separate draws occurred this week: once on Hanamura and once on Volskaya. Draws are not wins, so they count against winrate in my system. I thought it was worth noting that of the six times Mei was picked on defense on 2CP maps played, she won four of those matches. I’m surprised western pros don’t stick with her more often: she’s much more popular (at least, in a relative sense) in Korea than here:
As it turns out, maybe Mei is bae?
Final Thoughts / Shoutouts
I said it in my Apex Plays article and I’ll say it again here, shoutout to OGN for their amazing production, stellar hosts, and a thrilling seven game series between two of Overwatch’s best teams. Hopefully we’ll get to see the likes of RunAway and Lunatic Hai again sooner rather than later. Looking to Western Overwatch, the PIT championships continue on this week for NA and EU, and the Overwatch Monthly Melee comes online this weekend featuring a diverse cast of teams ranging from NRG to the Korean squad Meta Athena. Next week, we also get to see the Cloud 9 with their two newly announced Korean players and EnVyUs in their first matches since returning from Korea as they attempt to take back the crown of NA’s top teams from Selfless and Rogue in the Rivalcade Overwatch Rumble. Lots of Overwatch to look forward to!
Until next time,