Season 12 Competitive Meta Changes
Change in hero use from the beginning of Season 12 to its end.
In the grand scheme of things, there wasn’t much for dramatic change in hero use in Season 12 save for one outlier, Mercy. Her fall from the top has been pretty significant, but of course it will definitely feel that way when, for much of the year, she was so powerful that one was almost guaranteed to see her in every match. For Season 12 she was still the third-most picked support hero as she takes a bit of a vacation while Ana returns from retirement.
Season 12 Hero Changes
There were a number of changes made to heroes during the course of the season that puts some of the above figures into context.
- Busan added.
- Is knocked down when using Shield Bash against charging targets.
- Shield health reduced to 500HP from 600HP.
- Added damage falloff to his Hand Cannon at 15 meters.
- Combat Roll cooldown reduced to 6 seconds from 8 seconds.
- Weapon spread of her primary fire reduced by 20%.
- Changes made to increase the reward for playing her well, and reduce how punishing she was at lower levels. Read the full changes here.
- Earthshatter finally fixed (mostly).
- Primary fire falloff damage extended to 15-30 meters, up from 10-15.
- Damage falloff added to secondary fire.
- His rework went live. See official patch notes for all the changes.
- Number of shots needed to reach maximum weapon spread increased to 9 bullets from 6.
- Retains her momentum when using Grappling Hook on surfaces without ledges.
During Season 12, we saw the continued rise of Reinhardt and Zarya while D.Va and Winston took a little breather. Rein and Zarya have always worked well together, especially more now as crowd control (CC) has become so prominent in Overwatch, so both being used more at the same time makes sense. With her protective bubbles, Zarya can save Reinhardt from any number of abilities that throw, stun, and freeze the German tank that prevent him from doing his job.
The dive meta has fallen out of favor, but D.Va still jumps into the fight with her maneuverability and Defense Matrix being so powerful. When there is a good enemy Zarya, there’s a fair chance your team may switch to D.Va to eat her Graviton Surge.
Orisa’s slight buff to reduce her damage spread didn’t increase her use any, but it’s not because she’s weak, but that the meta doesn’t support her kit at the moment. For now she’s mostly seen on maps such as Ilios Well and Nepal Sanctum where her Halt! ability can be used for environmental kills.
We’re still feeling the effects of the Season 11 support changes that, in many respects, evened out the support lineup in power. Just like tanks, two supports will always sit at the top of the “most used” category, as the two classes depend highly on each other for maximum effectiveness. With Reinhardt and Zarya so common now, Ana is the perfect compliment to them with how much healing output she has and how useful a well-placed anti-heal from her is effective against the same pairing.
Mercy received a nerf to her healing power in the same support patch that others received a buff, and we’re seeing the effects of that. She goes well with Reinhardt and Zarya, but Ana and Moira can dish out more healing to multiple heroes over a shorter period right now that Mercy just can’t keep up. On the PTR she has been buffed back to her pre-support patch healing, but only while using her Valkyrie ultimate, so we’ll see how that changes things in Season 13 if they go live.
Even though dive has taken a dive in use, Genji still tops the charts as the DPS hero who gets played the most. It’s Genji heaven right now with Zarya and Ana there to set him up for those sweet Dragonblade or Nano Boost Plays of the Game. He also has another benefit, when played smartly, of not being affected by Brigitte as much as Tracer. Brigitte was one of the causes to shut down the dive meta, which Genji was a part of, because of her Shield Bash stun. While Tracer, another common hero in that meta, has to get relatively close to her targets to be effective, Genji can weaken enemies out of Brigitte’s reach, dive in for a Swift Strike, and then climb up walls for the escape.
Torbjorn’s slight increase was inevitable as he, and his rework, was made available to play during the last week of the season. Will his small climb last? I think that’s doubtful. Unlike previous hero reworks, I rarely had to fight to test him in live Quick Play games upon his launch. It seems that while the rework was much needed, most players continue to give him a shrug. His turret hiding/surprise abilities are good for some ultimate charge, but unless ignored, his turret isn’t much of a problem and he’s most annoying as a short term area denier with the new Molten Core.
Pharah’s half-rework most certainly had an effect, and it’s hard to say if it’s successful or not. For all ranks, once her changes went live, she had an upswing in use but after a week or two, she went back to where she was and then some. As an aggressive Pharah player, I greatly enjoy the changes, but I know I can’t speak for everyone. Snipers have come down in use, but her other common counters like Soldier: 76 and McCree see a fair amount of play, so that may be keeping her at bay.
Doomfist has seen a new rise to power. There have been a few hypotheses as to why he’s come into meta recently, such as Seagull’s suggestion that it’s in part due to Brigitte and her help in shutting down the dive meta, but no matter how it happened, he’s a force to be reckoned with. As a support main myself, I’ve certainly felt the effects of his rise in popularity, and getting others to help me deal with him can be a bit of a chore.
What does Season 13 hold? We’re about to see some buffs to Roadhog, Reaper, and Mercy that has potential to shake things up a bit, but we also very likely have a new hero joining the fight at BlizzCon. Depending on how long it takes them to come off the PTR, we’ll see them this next season as well.
Edit: The original version of this article mistook that Mercy’s normal heal was getting a buff, but instead it’s only being applied while she is using her ultimate.