Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: A Tale of Two Tournaments
What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: A Tale of Two Tournaments. This past weekend kicked off both the Takeover 2 LAN and the NA edition of Blizzard’s Overwatch Contenders, two events could not have been more different except for the grueling schedules their participants endured. Takeover 2 required each team to play out four matches against the other three teams in their group before moving into the playoffs. Competitors in Contenders had to fight through a 500+ team open qualifier, with many top teams playing upwards of 14 hours both days of the weekend. But that’s the reality of professional tournaments, as so demonstrated by Seagull’s dedicated streaming of his team’s matches. Much of the quantitative aspects of this report will focus on Takeover 2, because unlike Contenders all of its matches were streamed, but I will still be breaking down the storylines of Contenders for all of the newly minted competitive Overwatch fans. Before we get to that though, let’s look at this week’s Hero Tiers:
S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate): No…one?
Tier 1 (>80% Usage Rate): Lucio (92%), Tracer (87%), Winston (81%)
Tier 2 (>50% Usage Rate): Zenyatta (74%), Soldier 76 (63%), Genji (60%), D.Va (53%)
Tier 3 (>20% Usage Rate): Ana (24%)
Tier 4 (>5% Usage Rate): Reinhardt (19%), Zarya (15%), Roadhog (8%), Pharah (7%), Sombra (6%), Mercy (5%)
Tier 5 (<5% Usage Rate): Widowmaker (2%), Mei (1%), McCree (1%), Torbjorn (1%), Bastion (0%), Reaper (0%), Hanzo (0%), Orisa (0%), Symmetra (0%), Junkrat (0%)
In lieu of a fourth straight week of a paragraph about Lucio, I’m going to just say one sentence about each non-Tier 5 hero and move on to the more interesting trends that came out of this weekend. Strap in:
Lucio: This marks the second straight week of Lucio failing to reach the S Tier, helped by the nerf to his aura radius prompting some teams to run Ana/Zenyatta defenses and some teams also subbing Sombra in for Lucio on Assault maps.
Tracer: Never has there been a better meta to be a Tracer main since the implementation of 1-Hero limit – her movement makes her essential to Dive comps and her ability to blow up Dive comp Zenyattas makes her a counter to her own best lineup.
Winston: Winston provides the positional and cleave-damage pressure required to soften up targets for Tracer and Genji dash resets, so it’s no surprise that he’s the most popular tank in a weekend filled with EU Dive teams.
Zenyatta: Either Zenyatta players have leveled up their fragging, or I’m just noticing it more – I’ll be breaking down Zenyatta more later in the report.
Soldier 76: If you want a long-range hitscan in the current meta, you need Soldier 76, who was completely un-phased by the slight nerf to his damage.
Genji: Dash resets are the chain reaction that allows Dive to push out the damage it needs and European Genji’s skills were on full display at TakeTV this weekend.
D.Va: D.Va is seen as a necessary evil by the pro scene, her Defense Matrix continues to prevent Soldier 76 from running amok by countering nearly every Tactical Visor used.
Ana: Fallen from her position as most overpowered non-Lucio hero in Overwatch, Ana is still a staple on most defense compositions.
Reinhardt: Reinhardt players struggled this weekend with constant up-time on Discord Orbs, however their shields proved essential on harder-to-cap final points of maps like Numbani and Route 66.
Zarya: Nearly every time Zarya was used at TakeTV it lead to a loss, contrary to her usage in Contenders which was much more successful.
Roadhog: Even the great Hymzi and Snizzlenose were not able to make much use of Roadhog as triple tank teams languished at TakeTV, although Lui had some success on the hero during FaZe’s run through Contenders to secure the #1 seed.
Pharah (and Mercy): Pharah continues to be a map-dependent pick. especially for the Surefour/Adam duo on Oasis, a comfort pick in TakeTV that was instrumental to their third place finish.
Sombra: Sombra has burst into the limelight courtesy of Unfixed and Neptuno’s use of her outside of Assault maps: I’ll be diving more deeply into the phenomenon later.
Postscript: Widowmaker Those of you who watched the many Watchpoint: Gibraltar matches this weekend may have noticed a high amount of Widowmaker play on its first point, a common place for would-be snipers. However, most teams who pulled out the Widowmaker didn’t convert it to a win, except for Lui, Buds, Nesh, and Xepher, the last of which actually used Widowmaker for an entire successful Cloud 9 offensive snowballing push.
Interesting Hero Trends
The weakness of tanks in the Dive Meta:
Tanks did not withstand the test of the many EU Dive teams at TakeTV. Especially Zarya on Hollywood, where Mannetens claimed the single win out of seven Zarya appearances on this map. Zarya thrives in brawly situations where she can generate charge, but my theory is that Dive based teams attempt to bait out Zarya bubbles before fully engaging and exploding her. Zarya has the least amount of health out of all the tanks at 400, and has no damage mitigation via armor as well as no mobility to speak of. If Discorded and focused by a Tracer, Zarya is quite easy to dispatch if her personal bubble is down. Reinhardts faced similar issues against Dive comps, his huge body providing easy targets for Pulse Bombs. D.Va also interestingly suffered on Lijiang Tower in particular, but we can trace this to Cloud 9 and Hammers Esports who played a large amount of Lijiang with less than stellar results:
However, this was a primarily European phenomenon. If we remove the TakeTV data and look at just Contenders, we see that Reinhardt, Roadhog, and Zarya saw some success in the instances they were used:
This was thanks to Selfless, Immortals, and FaZe, who all played triple tank lineups on their way to qualifying for the group stage. Can the NA triple tank teams stand up to Europe’s Dive teams? It’s hard to tell. Selfless has been the only non-Korean team to give Rogue (ostensibly the “alpha dive team”) much trouble this year, but their own performance has begun to drop off in recent weeks. We’ll have to see how Contenders Season 1 pans out: there’s decent odds that at least one triple tank team will make it through to test their mettle against Rogue.
The Great Genjis of Europe
While Tanks fared poorly against European Dive at TakeTV, Genji players reached new heights:
In this case, Genji’s smashing success at TakeTV was due to four Genji aces: Kruise, Gods, Nico, and Cwoosh, the last of which pulled off the most insane comeback on Lijiang Control Center since SoOn’s Eleague-winning triple kill by quad-killing Cloud 9 with a clutch overtime Dragonblade:
The face of a man whose warrior spirit burns:
These Genjis – as noted by Uber in the clip – were often assisted by their Zenyatta partners with focused and on-time Discord Orbs to elevate their Dash+Swing combos from maiming to deadly range. And speaking of Zenyattas…
Zenyatta players ascend
If I could give an MVP for the entire weekend, I would give it to every Zenyatta player. Zenyatta has steadily increased in usage over time, thanks in part to the nerf to Ana and rise of Dive comps that rely on his Discord Orbs.
But this weekend, a whole new (but also old) element of his gameplay was on display: charged orb volleys. “Ralphing”, the name given by Surefour to describe his teammate’s map-crossing volley kills, is a method by which support players can change the course of an engagement in a split second. A fully charged Orb Volley can deal 230 damage across 5 orb hits, and this is before factoring in Discord Orb, or headshots. Ralphing comes at a cost, however, as it takes four seconds to fully charge and cannot be “held”, meaning that executing this deadly blast requires precision timing and clever sight lines. Luckily, we’re several weeks deep into a Dive-dominated meta, where Zenyatta players have had plenty of time to hunt down pixel-perfect sightlines to fire volleys through.
Ralphing may be the ultimate skill shot for Overwatch’s support heroes, beating out even Sleep Darts in terms of mid-fight impact. Sleep Dart can stop a Dragonblade in its tracks, sure, but a good Ralph can delete a Genji from existence. Eunited’s Boombox made the most noise of all the Zenyattas with his early pick-offs, often stopping the likes of Rogue in their tracks and giving Eunited a punching chance against the seemingly unbeatable French juggernauts. Take this clip for example, where Boombox secures the kiling blows on four out of six Rogue members:
But Unkoe had the last laugh, Ralphing Boombox to open up Eunited’s defense for what would be Rogue’s tournament-clinching final push:
The rise of dive and of Zenyatta’s 1b to Lucio’s 1a offense and king of the hill supports has helped improve Overwatch’s support diversity. Excluding Symmetra, every support is carving out their own niche:
Lucio and Zenyatta provide the healing, speed, and damage amplification engine that Dive compositions need on offense and king of the hill, the latter of which is simply two offenses attacking each other on mirrored maps. Zenyatta and Ana then often trade places on defense, where positioning triumphs over speed. Sombra – who I’m classifying as a support due to her health pack augmentation – has emerged as a strong, sometimes essential defender, filling a niche on maps with abusable health pack positioning. Mercy fills a niche just like Sombra, albeit a completely different one. She’s preferred on maps where, you guessed it, Pharah dominates. She exceeded 60% usage on Oasis Gardens this weekend in particular, thanks mainly to Cloud 9’s use of the map as a comfort pick during their third place Takeover 2 run.
Sombra sneaks into the spotlight
Sombra has hacked her way into relevance along with Zenyatta, albeit on a much smaller scale. The half support, half dps, half disrupting flanker, half uncategorizable hero will never quite reach the levels of “traditional role” heroes due to her dependency on good health pack placement, however she’s now reached the level of near-essential on a few maps. Take Temple of Anubis, for example, where she was used for >88% of all time played on defense:
The reason for this is simple: by planning an entire defensive strategy around camping a hacked mega health pack and using it on cooldown teams can charge EMP faster than any other ultimate in the game. By a lot. The second point of Temple of Anubis is the perfect Sombra spot because of the close proximity of its mega health pack to the point – hacking it deals a double-blow to the attackers by denying it to flankers and giving your team an easy resource to charge your own team’s EMP. Add in a cramped, but open point and plenty of high ground to Translocate to and baby, you’ve got a Sombra stew brewing.
Overwatch matches are and always will be won by good ultimate usage, but sometimes simply using more ultimates than the other team will lead to victory. Does it matter that your team has used their ultimates efficiently and potently, if the enemy Sombra can use her EMP every fight? Ironically, the now-defunct Complexity was one of the first teams to strike upon and come close to perfecting the abuse of Sombra’s EMP shortly after her release. However, they used it as a hybrid map first point all-in offense strategy unlike the defensive anti-push juggernaut she’s become today. Some teams, notably Movistars and Eunited, have begun to use her on non-assault maps with surprising success:
We can trace this Sombra usage to Unfixed and Neptuno, who each played over 10% of their match time on the hero:
Interestingly, this means that jury is still out on whether to sub out a support or a DPS for Sombra as Unfixed functions as Eunited’s main hitscan contrary to Neptuno’s Lucio role on Movistar Riders. I think at this point it’s safe to say that teams tend to put Sombra on whoever their strongest Sombra player is, since her playstyle is so unique. Now to address the question: why are these teams using Sombra on non-Assault maps, and even on offense? Sp0h, who helped us create map callouts for both Hollywood and Route 66 may have the answer. On both Route 66 and Hollywood, where Sombra was used for entire defenses and offenses, both have easily accessible mega health packs along the payload route. When played super aggressively on offense – and without an enemy Sombra to block off health packs – Eunited and Movistar were able to gain the upper hand against their opponents. Just look at how Eunited doubled-down on their third leg offense against Cloud 9:
The payload is still at the doors of the soundstage and while Eunited was busy spawn-camping Cloud 9 Unfixed solidified that advantage by hacking both megas along the path. Cloud 9 can no longer hope to defend within the soundstage, especially against Kruise’s Genji and Vallutaja’s Tracer ducking into these megas every time they refill. It seems like Complexity was right: offensive Sombra was indeed a legitimate strategy after all. Interestingly, the best way to counter this type of aggressive “spawn-camping, Sombra-hacking dive” is to run a defensive Sombra of your own to deny the health pack advantage. I’m curious if teams will be willing to do so, and if Sombra’s reach will continue to grow over time for maps with good mega placement.
This past weekend marked the beginning of the long road to the Overwatch League with the immense North American open qualifier for Season 0 of Overwatch Contenders. Many new viewers were exposed to the pro scene of Overwatch, but some may have felt at a loss for who to root for. To help fans navigate the intricacies professional Overwatch, I’ve compiled a list of interesting storylines that played out of the course of the two day, >500 team tournament. If you’re a newly minted competitive Overwatch fan, perhaps you’ll find a team to cheer on as they battle it out in the group stages! Let’s drop right in:
The Yikes! Vs Kungarna grudge match: These two teams loathe each other due to personal beef between xQc, main tank of Yikes! and Babybay and Mykl of Kungarna that has since metastasized outward to include much of both rosters. xQc is quite possibly the most outwardly passionate (and vocal) player in NA, and upon finding out that Babybay had been VAC banned in the past immediately suspected Babybay was continuing to cheat in Overwatch. The majority of the pro community disagrees with xQc, however Babybay and Mykl’s relentless trashtalk certainly have not helped the issue or extend olive branches. These two teams finally met head-to-head in Contenders…
Only for it to end in a lopsided 2-0 affair. However, both teams qualified for the group stages and it will be exciting to see how far they each go to see if the Yikes! can get the better of Kungarna next time around.
The CLG vs Ex-Rise Nation heartbreak match: After Ex-Rise lost to Renegades (who would go on to qualify for groups) on day one and CLG dropped a surprise matchup to a PUG team of random pros, these two teams were subject to a Ro16 match on day two…against each other. CLG had a lot riding on this match as failing to qualify could have meant re-evaluating the team’s sponsorship. Ex-Rise’s entire existence was at stake: as one of the oldest continuous rosters in NA they had recently lost their sponsor and Contenders represented their one last shot at glory as a six-man unit. Unfortunately for Ex-Rise, it was CLG who took the win to qualify for the group stages. No one’s sure what will happen to the members of Ex-Rise: their talent is still worth exploring, although it may have to come as individuals on new teams.
NRG fails to qualify, FNRGFE places 3/4th on day one: Casual viewers may wonder why NRG was not among the qualifiers for group stages and the reason is simple: they were knocked out by eventual qualifier, Envision. Instead, FNRGFE is the team you should be looking to root for, if you want to cheer for NRG players in the Overwatch Contenders group stage. Well, former NRG players anyway. Named for the group of rejects that make up its roster, FNRGFE includes former Fnatic, NRG, and Gale Force players who stomped through the open bracket on the back of amazing hitscan play by former NRG player and TF2 legend, Clockwork, as well as exceptional Winston play from former GFE tank Muma. FNRGFE even defeated Selfless, supposedly the undisputed kings of NA Overwatch…as long as Rogue and EnVyUs are out of the country. FNRGFE and its ragtag group of formerly sponsored reject pros will be a great team to keep an eye on in the group stages – they’ve shown us they deserve to be there.
EG and Immortals shared struggle, but split destinies: When Blizzard announced Overwatch contenders for the NA region, one country was noticeably missing from the eligibility list: Mexico. This was a problem for Immortals and EG, who both had Mexican players in Nomy and Dcop respectively. Immortals, however, was ready. Behind the scenes Immortals had been working on a complete roster and support staff revamp, bringing in two Korean players (Fate and Kariv) and a new Korean coach (Ookz) as well. Fate was an instant replacement for the beleaguered main tank Nomy, and with his stellar Winston play even unlocked a level of Dive comp that Immmortals was not previously capable of executing. Immortals lost out of day 1 of contenders presumably due to jet lag and language barriers (the Koreans had been in the US for roughly 36 hours at the time), but went on to win day two.
EG was a completely different story, however. Unable to replace Dcop – and without the in-person bootcamp provided to Immortals – EG struggled to compete while dealing with roster changes on such short notice. They would eventually be eliminated by Toronto Esports – a team that unlocked their own potential with a timely team house bootcamp and the addition of a skilled shotcaller, Luddee, who some of you may recognize as Mendokusaii’s younger brother.
Final Thoughts and Shoutouts
Shoutout to TakeTV and Carbon Entertainment, as well as all of the casters, observers, and support staff that helped these two tournaments happen. Both teams were not afraid to try new methods making the broadcasts more viewer friendly: TakeTV actually put the camera on supports from time to time while Carbon gave us beautiful extended third-person fight overviews as well as instant replays in 1st person to never miss the action. This upcoming weekend features the EU portion of the Overwatch Contenders League – including many of the strong European teams from TakeTV this weekend – so it will be a blast to tune into. I hope all of you do too. Remember to tune in this week to Around the Watch at 7PM PST Wednesday, where we’ll be having Gillfrost aka “Left Guy”, as well as Dogman from Team Kungarna to talk more in depth about NA Contenders from a caster and player perspective.
Until next time,