Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: The Real Sombras of South Korea
What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: The Real Sombras of South Korea. This week I have a surprisingly balanced meta to report spanning three separate regions. Many team comps and heroes were used, but Dive comps continued to dominate, especially in the EU and Korean scenes. The rise of these Dive comps have already prompted the Korean scene to react with counters, taking the form of Sombra-centric lineups. To help better understand this new Sombra phenomenon, I reach out to Bishop of Cloud 9 later in this report, but first as always let’s look at the view from above with this week’s Tiers:
S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate): Lucio (97%)
Tier 1 (>80% Usage Rate): Winston (84%)
Tier 2 (>50% Usage Rate): Tracer (78%), D.Va (59%), Soldier 76 (58%), Zenyatta (56%)
Tier 3 (>20% Usage Rate): Genji (45%), Ana (26%)
Tier 4 (>5% Usage Rate): Pharah (19%), Mercy (18%), Reinhardt (17%), Roadhog (13%), McCree (10%), Zarya (9%)
Tier 5 (<5% Usage Rate): Widowmaker (4%), Sombra (4%), Reaper (2%), Mei (1%), Torbjorn (1%), Bastion (1%), Hanzo (0%), Orisa (0%), Symmetra (0%), Junkrat (0%)
Overwatch is a diverse cast of 24 heroes, and right now 2/3rds of them are “viable” in the pro scene. That is, if you consider “viable” to be used in greater than 5% of all time played across multiple professional tournaments. Those of you who are regular readers will know that that 2/3rds number is a noticeable change from metas of old, where it was not uncommon to see over half the cast languishing in Tier 5. If we add Widowmaker and Sombra to the list of “viable” pro heroes – and we should, given how often they were used in Korea recently – that ratio grows to 3⁄4.
I don’t know about you, but that looks like a pretty healthy meta to me. Even the heroes who had very little usage this past week had their moment to shine: Reaper was used to great effect by Rise Nation’s Spirit:
Torbjorn was seen defending Volskaya Industries and Numbani:
Mei did work on Temple of Anubis and Hanamura:
Hanzo was used in some offenses:
Although the two teams that used Hanzo split the difference: Meta Athena won on Hollywood while Mighty AOD fell flat against Rogue on King’s Row.
What I’m trying to say here is to try not to fret if your favorite hero is not part of the 75% of the cast that the pros play. There are absolutely maps or sides of maps where playing Torbjorn makes enough sense that the pros do it! Although I do feel bad for Junkrat and Symmetra, who had 0 picks or playtime to speak of in the 71 matches that I covered :(
Direct links to charts used:
Two interesting, but small trends to keep your eyes on
Most weeks, my Hero Usage Summary chart doesn’t really tell me much because there have been “solved metas” where heroes start to approach a 50% winrate, or have inconclusive results due to low match counts. Take Lucio, the only hero used at such a rate, for example:
This chart is read by looking at the size and color of the boxes – the larger the box the more matches played with a given hero while the color indicates its winrate:
You can also click on the boxes to filter the field below for more information:
Now that you know how to use the chart, let’s get back to Lucio. Unsurprisingly, since nearly every team uses Lucio in their team comp whether they win or lose, Lucio had close to a 50% winrate across the board. However, now that we have a diverse meta, this chart is starting to show some interesting trends!
PharMercy on Eichenwalde
Rarely do I see boxes this blue, but this past week the PharMercy combo was deadly on Eichenwalde. Out of all of the matches where a team used Pharah on Eichenwalde attack, seven of the eight resulted in a win for that team, with the only loss going to CLG.
The stats looked similarly favored on defense as well. CLG was actually the only team who played Eichenwalde more than once in this weeks dataset, having likely drafted into the map to best suit Hyrdation’s strong Pharah play. Hydration was joined by other highly skilled Pharahs like Surefour and Bernar, raising the question of whether more teams should run Pharah-Mercy on Eichenwalde, or if Eichenwalde is just a good map for Pharah-Mercy and these teams had the best duos.
Genji in a lot of places
Genji had a rough time last week, with below 50% winrates on a number of map sides. However, I’m not convinced this meant that Genji was a poor pick on Eichenwalde, Hollywood, Lijiang Tower, or Numbani. We’re in the midst of a Dive-dominated meta, and Genji’s mobility and ability to chain kills with Dash-resets is vital to nearly every Dive comp. If we look closer into what was causing the lowered Genji winrate on these maps, we’ll see that in many cases the losing Genji was on a less-strong team, whereas there were Genjis on stronger teams with positive winrates – sometimes against the losing Genjis in a mirror match. For example, Lijiang Control Center here:
In the TaKeTV Tavern TaKeOver 2 qualifiers, Ex-Cylcone blitzed through the semifinals and finals defeating Expert and Hammers Esports, and all three of these teams primarily ran Dive Comps with Genji. Teams like Splyce and FaZe who did not make it far in the CyberPower Invitational added to the Genji lossrate. So, is it the teams that are the problem? Or were they using Genji on maps that they shouldn’t have? Eichenwalde for example provides a lot of vertical cover for Genji to escape to and harass from, but playing a Genji composition into the Pharah-Mercy comps I spoke about earlier may not be the best idea.
There are many more trends you can investigate on your own, but I’m going to move on before this gets too “tl;dr”. Let me know if you find any trends you found interesting below in the comments!
The Real Sombras of South Korea
Many intrepid Apex viewers who stayed up late into the night to watch their favorite Korean teams duke it out may have noticed an interesting trend in the last week or so: there’s a ton of Sombra play! And not just in 2CP maps only – where she’s been pulled out from time to time due in the past – but also on hybrid, escort, and king of the hill maps as well. This is also largely a Korean phenomenon only – at the moment anyway:
Koreans are currently playing Sombra at a 5x higher rate than their NA and EU counterparts. Some of that ratio can be explained by being forced into playing 2CP maps, but not all of it. If I were to remove 2CP maps from the pool, the usage drops from 10% to 4%, still higher than NA and EU.
I must conclude that the Koreans know something we do not. To help find out what, I reached out to one of the best Korean Overwatch resources available: Bishop, the coach of Cloud 9. Bishop ties the increase in Sombra play to the increase in Dive comps in Korea, which is saying something since Korea has always been known as the Dive region. Dive comps, especially with the new Lucio, lack consistent healing and since the “divers” operate far from away from their supports tend to rely on health packs to recover from any damage they may take. This dependence on health packs usually isn’t an issue for the high mobility heroes used in Dive lineups though, since they can easily reach health packs and return to the action quickly.
But, Bishop says, Sombra denies all of this. She controls all of her team’s health packs on defense – preventing the offense from using them while also quickly charging her ultimate. Bishop also noted that D.Va and Winston are both staples of Dive comps, but also are vulnerable to Hack now that its cast time has been significantly reduced. Sombra required these changes and a meta shift to bring her into viability says Bishop; her kit was interesting but she didn’t have enough targets to realistically use her abilities on until the recent rise of Dive. He believes there’s a huge correlation between Sombra picks, and the existence of D.Va on the other team.
“The goal is to shut down Matrix, and clean with Soldier Visor”
I went on to ask Bishop about the strength of EMP, and how to best use it. EMP is arguably the fastest-charging ultimate in the game now if abused correctly, beating out even Tracer’s Pulse Bomb. I had noticed that in a match vs. Conbox Spirit (who has Twilight, one of the strongest Sombras in the game), LuxuryWatch Blue had started to hide their Lucio and save Drop the Beat! until after Twilight initiated with EMP. But, Bishop said that meant that Conbox had already won the mind-game:
”Forcing the enemy to hold Sound Barrier, by holding EMP…simply holding it causes the team to play extremely hesitantly.”
It makes sense since the threat of EMP – which we already established charges incredibly fast – forces the enemy to hide their Lucio in a position where he’s not supporting his team. If we also consider that the new Lucio changes have reduced his aura’s range, this tactic has become doubly effective. Just like playing Earthshatter chicken, this EMP vs Sound Barrier mindgame has turned top level Overwatch into a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors.
Bishop also came down on the side of subbing out a non-Support to fit in Sombra, contrary to what many teams are currently doing by running Sombra + a single support. He values Lucio, Zenyatta, and Ana’s ultimates far too much to cut them. In fact, Bishop would prefer to cut D.Va instead, creating a single tank, triple-dps lineup. If you’re running a defensive Dive comp with a Sombra, now you have all the health packs you could ever need (and your opponent has none), and your Sombra is happy with EMP ready for nearly every fight. Turns out Bishop might know what he’s talking about…
As a final question, I asked Bishop who he thought we should keep an eye on (besides Twilight) that plays Sombra at a high level. He recommended Rascal from Kongdoo Panthera, who notably plays Genji but who Bishop had previously played alongside. Per Bishop:
“Kid has been into Sombra like no other since her release. I remember telling him that she doesn’t fit in the current meta and that we can’t run her and that he’s wasting his time!”
Well, the time for Sombra has now come, so we should keep our eyes glued to the screen the next time Kongdoo Panthera plays. Maybe we’ll catch huge EMP play of the game!
Final Thoughts and Shoutouts
Shoutout to the TaKeTV qualifiers, CyberPower PC invitational, and of course Apex for providing the matches for this week’s report. Shoutout once again to Bishop for taking the time to chat with me about Sombra. Shoutout to Doa, who was kind enough to stop by Around the Watch for this week’s episode to talk OWL, Apex, and more. And finally shoutout to the /r/Overwatch mods for being willing to try a week without POTG gifs and other gif-y content, that’s not an easy decision to make!
Until next time,
PS: Thank you so much for all that voted for me in the World Cup. Rest assured, Team USA was going to be in good hands whoever made it in, but I still do very much appreciate those of you who wrote me in. Next year we’ll get em!