Year in Review - 2017's Pro Metas
Throughout 2017, CaptainPlanet covered the pro meta from the Winter Premier, through Contenders Season 1, and ending with the APAC Premier. During that time we saw a few different metas and the rise and fall of many heroes. Here is a look back at the pro metas that encompassed 2017, using the data that the Captain collected over the course of the year.
“Watching Reinhardts face off is like watching two turtles fighting.”
At the beginning of the year, we were still heavy into the tank meta. The tank meta meant players favored use of tanks over other roles, thanks to their large hit point pools and massive amounts of healing available to keep them alive. By this point in the tank era, in almost every situation, it was more favorable to use three or four tanks and two healers over anything else. On the rare occasions that Roadhog wasn’t used as a fourth tank, Tracer or Soldier: 76 would step in for a bit more firepower or harassment.
Something new was coming
With tanks full of hit points, Lucio’s massive aura on his speed boost, and Ana’s incredibly strong Biotic Grenade, it’s no wonder that this meta held on for so long. While Ana had already received a nerf in the way of removing the speed increase from her Nano Boost, it proved to not be enough, and at the end of January, her Biotic Grenade’s effectiveness was reduced by 50%.
During the same patch, Roadhog’s usefulness was dramatically lowered when his “hook 1.0” that seemed to grab anyone from behind a wall, so long as you were pointing in their general direction, received a number of changes to make it feel better for the unfortunate soul who it had snagged. In turn, this made him much less useful in high end play.
The last major change in this patch came for D.Va. They were changes that was heralded of “The end of D.Va forever,” and cries that, “She’ll never be used again!” from the doomsayers. With her massive amount of armor, demeching D.Va was proving to be ridiculously difficult, so her armor and health were switched to where the mech had more health and less armor. This change caused her use to (temporarily) plummet, and introduced us to the beginnings of the next meta as different heroes stepped in to take her place.
“The cavalry’s here!”
With D.Va, and her old, longer Defensive Matrix, disappearing from the meta, it allowed some projectile heroes to rise up through the ranks, namely Tracer, Soldier: 76, and Genji. These three heroes would prove to be staples in what became the dive meta, a style of play where the idea was to strike your opponent right in their face, hopefully forcing them to engage when they aren’t ready, rather than play a much more slow and cautious tank style.
One of the benefits of the dive meta is that it allows for a larger pool of heroes to be used over what the tank meta allowed. During the grand finals of APEX Season 2 and the PIT Group Stages in April, we saw one of the largest hero pools we would get to see all year thanks to a mixture of tank and dive setups!
During the spring months, our support heroes received a number changes that allowed the meta to change even further. First up, Zenyatta was given the ability to cast Discord Orbs on targets behind barriers, which turned out to be a much needed buff. Second, Mercy was given invulnerability while casting her Resurrection ultimate, which increased her viability in pro play since she was previously so easily picked off. Third, Lucio’s auras were reduced in size, but healing effectiveness increased, and finally, Ana, after already having gone through a few nerfs, received her final nerf, a damage reduction that kept the skies a bit safer from her scope and allowed for the occasional return of Pharmercy. This damage nerf ultimately led to her being replaced by Zenyatta around June, who turned out to be very powerful thanks to his healing range that wasn’t hindered by barriers, his Discord Orbs that increased the power of others, and his ability to dish out a respectable amount of damage for a healer.
More diving than a submarine
Over the summer, we returned yet again to a stale meta, though it was more interesting this time around. Reinhardt and our new shield hero Orisa saw almost no use, and D.Va returned to control the dive meta with her scientist friend, Winston. Anyone new to Overwatch while watching Contenders Season Zero could have been led to believe that the game only had 9-10 heroes with how small the pool had become. Every team was almost consistently running Lucio, Zenyatta, Tracer, Genji, Winston, and D.Va, only switching out during certain maps, such as replacing a healer with Sombra while defending on Anubis point B.
It wasn’t until the latter half of summer where things would finally shake up after the release of Doomfist. While he would only ever get above 20% playtime for about a month, it was enough to break the pros out of their small hero pool stupor. To counter him, McCree finally returned to pro play for the first time since is damage fall off nerf back in 2016, with the idea being that he could help control Doomfist with his Flashbangs.
It may seem minor since Doomfist only saw a fair amount of use for only a month, but his shakeup, along with a few changes to other heroes, finally allowed for a healthier meta to take hold for almost two months! Widowmaker was showing up more on 2cp maps, Junkrat was given a second mine and faster RIP-Tire which helped his viability, and even Reaper’s health regen change made him useful to help take out heavy tank defenses. Heroes we had barely seen in months were coming out of the woodwork!
Lord have mercy
In our Captain’s final meta report, someone was finally able to push Lucio off the S Tier throne, a place he held for 16 out of 25 tier lists of 2017. Throughout the entire year, his speed boost was seen as vital part to almost every single composition that our pros came up with. In those rare weeks Lucio wasn’t above 95% usage, he was almost always above 90%. All that came to a screeching halt though once Mercy’s rework, version 1.2 went live, causing all hell to brake loose and Lucio went from a 97% pick rate one week, to 16% the next.
This version of Mercy’s new Valkyrie ultimate gave her a 30 second, single target cooldown Resurrection, and when she used her ultimate, it would give her a bonus use of Rez. While this was a toned down version of what the rest of us had to play for a few weeks, it still gave her incredible utility that made it nearly a requirement to run Mercy at all times.
Mercy would go one to receive a few more changes, but those would be after CaptainPlanet’s reports came to an end. Missing are the APAC Premier 2017, Overwatch World Cup, and the Overwatch League Preseason. While we don’t have the data to show you, these games continued the trend of a much more varied hero pool overall.
To new beginnings
While one could pick out some nuances and find a few “sub-metas,” 2017’s pro meta was defined by two to three major themes: tank, dive, and now ending on a mixture of both. Where the tank meta was seen as an extreme bore, the dive meta didn’t receive nearly as much hate as the months wore on. After all, watching heroes go all in on each push instead of slowly muscling each other out of the way is much more interesting.
A huge thank you to CaptainPlanet for all of his hard work in creating the hero tier and meta reports. His continued work will be greatly missed, but we do have some neat things coming soon that we can’t wait to show you.