Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report: PolandFist
What’s up guys, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero
Tier List and Meta Report: PolandFist. This week I’m just as excited to talk about the World Cup Group Stages in Poland as I am about Doomfist, so I’ll be doing both! The Poland World Cup stage was extremely exciting in some ways, but underwhelming in others. We were to see the favorites to win the world cup, South Korea, utterly dominate their opponents from start to finish. South Korea’s dominance was staggering, and they got it done on defense:
South Korea chose to defend first whenever they had the chance and converted these defenses into many first point holds on their way to easily qualifying for BlizzCon. This strategy was intimidating and effective: the average score of their opponents against them was much…much lower than the rest of the field. This dominance was a double-edged sword for the viewers. The inevitability of their victory may have lacked suspense, but it allowed the South Korean players to get creative with their heroes. In fact, I think Flow3r may have been trying to play every hero in the game:
Flow3r picked 16 out of the 24 available heroes, but his Junkrat usage stole the show. This week I will be discussing World Cup storylines but will be skipping this week’s Tiers, since the World Cup was played on a patch that is now far gone for the rest of us. Instead, I will analyze the impact of Zarya and Reinhardts buffs as well as Doomfist’s release on the upper portions of Overwatch’s competitive mode with the help of Overbuff’s hero pages.
Ranked Play Movers
As hyped as I am about the world cup, the heroes and team compositions that saw on display may not represent the kinds of things you are currently seeing on the ladder. Doomfist is out, Reinhardt and Zarya were buffed, and the Summer games have begun! The World Cup, including the USA stage, is still stuck on the pre-Doomfist, pre-Reinhardt/Zarya buff patch to promote fair play, but the rest of us have to contend with getting fisted every other time we walk around a corner. How has the Doomfist patch shaken things up for the rest of the world?
Doomfist has only been available in competitive play for four days at the time of this writing, but the community has already flocked to him with a five percent pick-rate. For a new hero, this is pretty significant number that puts him on the same level as present-day D.Va. What’s more impressive, however, is his 62% winrate at Grandmaster*, which is 8% higher than the next highest winrate at Master.
When Doomfist was announced, Pros and GM players alike flocked to the PTR to test him out and the results appear to show themselves here. Early on, I reached out to ask pros why they spent so much more time testing Doomfist and not Sombra or Orisa and the consensus was that he’s … just fun to play. These top level players have already grinded out the movement and coordination skills that Doomfist requires and thus were ready to put on the gauntlet and succeed on the ladder.
I expect this winrate to cool off over the coming days as players become accustomed to this new ladder threat, but the power level of Overwatch’s newest hero cannot be denied. His release, along with the balance changes to Zarya and Reinhardt, have upended the upper levels of ladder meta. Let’s look at a few impacted heroes pickrates to see how:
The Doomfist/Zarya+Reinhardt buff patch occurred on July 27th, precisely when we see the spike in Reinhardt’s pickrate at the GM level*. This increase of 2%, while small, is still significant in a game with now 25 heroes to fight for lineup spots. Reinhardt’s usage was so low prior to this buff that you will notice his winrate spiking and falling above and below 50%, simply because so few people were playing him. The Reinhardt changes included not only an increase to his swing rate, but also some bug fixes to general hit detection which were aimed at making him feel good to play again. His usage appears to have plateaued for now, but time will tell if it continues to evolve as new pro-Doomfist and counter-Doomfist compositions arise, and where Reinhardt’s place in the meta falls.
Zarya saw a similar jump in pick rate thanks to her July 27th buff to her Graviton Surge, which now disables all movement abilities in addition to its usual effects. But that was not the only thing that has helped her gain back some ground. Doomfist, despite being a damage and mobility monster, has a weakness. He is secretly squishy, thanks to his huge hitbox and zero defensive abilities. He does not have Deflect like Genji, he does not have Rewind like Tracer, and his passive ability is infrequent at best.
Enter Zarya, who can support her Doomfist by giving him individual, protective bubbles at crucial moments. This enables the Doomfist to engage and disengage as he pleases and provides a reason besides the more obvious Graviton + Meteor Strike combo that by now I’m sure you’ve seen 10+ times on the main subreddit. All things considered, Graviton Surge + Meteor strike may be the most consistent team-wiping ultimate combo since pairing Graviton with Dragonstrike, and Doomfist is already looking to be more viable than Hanzo. Look for lots of “Meteor Surges” in ranked and pro play alike moving forward.
More Doomfist and Zarya – who deal the bulk of their damage in an un-Defense-Matrixable way, means less D.Va. Interestingly, she was the only hero from the traditional dive lineup of Lucio/Zenyatta/D.Va/Winston/Genji/Tracer that has noticeably decreased in pick rate due in this patch so far. Turns out having viable counters has an effect!
* I will be referring to the GM level of play for these analyses because even as we go down to Masters, hero pickrates and winrates tend to level out. Players in GM understand the game better after all.
Mangachu is Kevin Durant
No, wait, let me explain
We were treated to a rare show in the Overwatch World Cup Poland stage this weekend: Mangachu at the height of his Pharah powers. Throughout Canada’s match with Russia, there was a narrative tossed around the analyst desk that Mangachu’s Pharah was “passive”, and that that’s why Canada seemed to play well when he pulled it out. The thing is, anyone who knows Mangachu knows him as the most aggressive Pharah player in NA, perhaps in all of Overwatch. What was happening in the World Cup to make the analysts think he was playing passive? Let’s answer this question with a comparison: Mangachu’s world cup Pharah was like watching Kevin Durant play basketball.
Kevin Durant – for those who don’t follow basketball – is tall. Like, really tall. Like, seven feet tall which is massive by basketball standards. This makes his shots essentially uncontestable, even by the best players in the league. For example, here’s Kevin shooting over top of Lebron James (who is 6’8”) in the Finals last year:
Mangachu – for those who didn’t watch the Overwatch World Cup last weekend – is one of the best Pharahs at getting into the skybox of maps and staying there. Like Kevin Durant, he uses this height to create space between him and his ground-based targets to get off uncontested rockets.
This distance between Mangachu and his targets may have contributed to the idea that he’s a passive Pharah player. On maps where Pharah is most effective – like Oasis City Center – Pharahs use their height and long sight line advantage to spam at enemies from distances that make counter-fire impossible. But, this is just simple Pharah strategy that Mangachu excels at – it is not necessarily the only way to define his playstyle. Mangachu – and Kevin Durant – may seem passive at first, until they don’t. When these players flip from passive to aggressive, that’s when their opponents fear them most. I’m talking about dunks.
Dunking on fools
Kevin Durant is a freak of nature, and I mean that in the best way. In addition to being a seven foot tall sharpshooter, he is fast, agile, and athletic. And in basketball that means one thing: dunks
Kevin Durant’s height gives him superior court vision, his speed allows him to blow by opponents, and his athleticism gives him the power to easily reach the rim. The combination of the three makes him an always-about-to-dunk threat whenever he’s near the basket, hunting for opportunities to slam the ball home. Like Kevin Durant, Mangachu’s average height on Pharah gives him superior vision of the fight below, his mechanics give him the maneuverability he needs to hunt down his opponents, and his playstyle is the Overwatch equivalent of dunking on his opponent’s heads…but with Rockets. Watch this clip as he notices Shadowburn below him, stalks him from above like a bird of prey, and dunks rockets onto his head:
This is the Mangachu we all know and love. When he goes in for the kill, he is right up in your face: splash damage be damned. Mangachu could afford to play this aggressively because Mangachu had vital Mercy support from Roolf to back up his Pharah-dunks. Shadowburn, who had no Mercy, had no chance to fight back.
Many of you watched as South Korea made a splash at the World Cup with a Junkrat-centric, anti-Dive lineup which consisted of a Zarya, a Reinhardt, an Ana, a Tracer, a Lucio, and the unforgettable Junkrat piloted by Flow3r. This anti-dive strategy roots lie in the Overwatch Premier Series Spring Circuit, where Chinese teams battled for two months during the height of the dive meta. These Chinese teams, sick of dive and hoping to break the meta and their opponents, devised a slew of anti-dive lineups. They fought each other with anti-dive versus dive lineups in their own region, but this anti-dive soon bled into the Nexus Cup Summer Circuit, where some of these Chinese teams faced Korean teams. The Korean national team, noticing the Chinese Miraculous Youngsters using an anti-dive lineup to smash RunAway, rushed to create their own take on it.
The Korean World Cup team thus devised an anti-dive lineup that consists of a Reinhardt/Zarya/Ana/Lucio core, with a rotating DPS cast of two out of the quartet of Junkrat, McCree, Tracer, and Reaper. Each DPS serves a different purpose, but I said I would talk about Junkrat, so let’s talk about Junkrat. Junkrat has one primary role in this lineup: disruption. He disrupts flanking routes with his bomb spam, forcing flanking Tracers and Genjis to avoid certain hallways and chokepoints or risk taking massive chunks of damage on their way through. He also disrupts general movement with his Traps: watch as Flow3r negates a Nanoboosted Zarya with a Trap sneakily thrown in the middle of a team fight at the beginning of this clip:
Junkrat also, as most Junkrat mains will be quick to tell you, dumps absurd amounts of damage into Shields and Heroes alike. This makes even coordinated pushes through chokes behind the safety of a Reinhardt Shield a losing battle, since it brings your Reinhardt much closer to dropping his shield than your own.
There should be one obvious counter to this team composition that you might have noticed by now: Pharah. None of the heroes present in Korea’s World Cup lineup for their King’s Row first point defenses should have been able to deal with a skilled Pharah player. So how did Korea get away with it? First: they played zero good Pharahs. No offense meant to Crusade from the Netherlands or MattH from Poland – the only two players who played Pharah against South Korea’s King’s Row defense – but you need to be especially gifted at Pharah to deal with Ryujehong’s Ana pressure. Because of this, South Korea was never pressured to change from this composition.
Why then, did Shadowburn and Russia choose not to play the Pharah into South Korea? Shadowburn is a skilled Pharah player as well as Genji, so Russia’s choice to instead to play the Zarya/Hanzo wombo-combo lineup was confusing. On paper, they likely wished to guarantee a first point team wipe upon charging up their Dragonstrike/Graviton Surge combo. But things do not always go as planned. Txao somehow managed to capture zero South Korean players in his Graviton Surge, and Shadowburn thus secured zero kills with his Dragonstrike. Shortly after, the Nanoboosted Txao was trapped in a Junkrat trap in the clip from above, and the match was essentially over.
However, this is all conjecture on my part. Had Shadowburn or any other skilled Pharah player pressured South Korea, they likely would have swapped to McCree and leveraged the extra hitscan and Ryujehong’s Ana skill to keep Zunba and Mano safe from the skies above. Or, the Koreans were just messing around because they were confident that they were just that much better than their opponents. When you are the best in the world – you get to make the meta.
Final Thoughts and Shoutouts
Shoutout to the Overwatch World Cup for some very exciting group stages so far, and to all the players who competed in them. I’m very excited to attend the LA group stage to cheer on Team USA in person this weekend! If you’re going to be there, be sure to say hi and make a lot of noise cheering on the home team. Shoutout to all the at-home viewers of the World Cup as well: the numbers continue to rise but I know the USA stage will knock Shanghai, Sydney, and Katowice out of the park. If you want even more World Cup in your life, be sure to tune into Around the Watch, where I’ll be having Mangachu and Roolf on to discuss Team Canada’s win! Join us recording live on Wednesday 6PM PST in our Discord. I’ll see you all then!
Until next time,