Article 10: Overwatch Hero Meta Report #7



Home of Competitive Overwatch Analysis

Google ads keep the lights on, thank you for understanding


Click to Enlarge!

Look at this Infographic, isn't it pretty? If you don't think so, let me know exactly why in the comments of the Reddit thread


What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present Overwatch Hero Meta Report #7: We're All Tracers Now. By now, you've probably noticed something a little different about the Meta Summary graphic above: I've completely overhauled it! This new, improved representation shows not only Hero Tiering (which has also been slightly adjusted in values), but also allows you to track your favorite Hero's popularity over time. Like it or don't like it? Let me know in the comments of my Reddit thread! Getting back to the subject at hand: we’ve now had another week of Tournament play following the Zenyatta nerf, giving the more time for the Meta to crystallize and new Team Compositions to emerge. This week -- as the title of this Report suggests -- a lot of these lineups involved quite a bit of Overwatch’s most popular (and recently, most controversial) Hero: Tracer. Blizzard also broke their multiple-week trend of Tuesday Balancing this week -- no patch notes for me to review means we can get directly into this Tracer-filled Report. Cheers Loves!

Click to Enlarge!

Week 7s Tiering Results: for the extensive Map-by-map, Offense/Defense/King of the Hill Raw data, Click HERE


Have we hit Peak Tracer yet?

Blah blah controversy blah

Tracer has had quite a week! First there was buttgate, then there was her appearance in the new Animated Short: Alive, but what I'm concerned about is the Meta. Luckily for us, she's made a huge splash there as well! To put Tracers dominance of the current Meta in context, let's analyze some facts about Overwatch and its Competitive Meta. An important fact to understand about highly picked Heroes is that they tend to be Supports -- Healing Supports. In six past Meta Reports, the most picked Hero has been either Lucio or Zenyatta without fail, and prior to this week un-Nerfed Zenyatta was the only Hero to ever exceed a 100% pick rate. This makes sense: there's only four "hard" Supports in Overwatch (Zenyatta, Symmetra, Lucio, and Mercy) -- only three of which can actually heal. A healer's job is essential to any Team that wishes to succeed competitively, so seeing Zenyatta and Lucio dominate the top of the rankings comes as no surprise. 

This does, however, make Tracer's vault to the top spot of Week 7's Hero Rankings that much more impressive. While only four Supports only have to fight for lineup slots, damage-dealing Heroes have twelve other Overwatch Agents jockeying for position. Tracer's greater than 100% pick rate and leading spot is a first for Non-Supports in the Competitive Meta, and some may think she's finally reached the position a strong Hero and fan-favorite of the franchise deserves. Unfortunately for all the Tracer fans out there, there is a dark side to her sudden rise in popularity which speaks to Balance issues that lie just beneath the surface. 

Confounding Factors, King of the Hill's Skewing Effects

King of the Hill Statistics for Meta Report 7

This Meta Report takes Hero counts from all Maps, not just Payload or Control Point Maps, which can sometimes lead to interesting outcomes. It's a pretty simple reasoning: King of the Hill Maps are essentially "Offense Only" Maps, Tracer is an Offensive Powerhouse, ergo Tracer's numbers get inflated a bit by King of the Hill Maps. This "Tracer-flation" has happened in previous weeks, however this week marked the most extreme warping of the King-of-the-Hill-Only Meta to date. Examining the King of the Hill stats, we can see that besides Tracer's ridiculously high Pick Rate, strategies were fully centered around "Buff the Tracer",  "Hard-Counter the Tracer", or both. Lucio, Symmetra, and Zenyatta's prominence speak to the fist strategy, while Soldier 76, Reaper, and Winston feed into the second. King of the Hill in its current state has become nearly unwatchable for all but the most devoted of Tracer fans: games have devolved to Tracer-duo vs. Tracer-duo duels where you can't tell where TwoEasy's Pulse Bomb ends and Mendokusai's begins. I find it strange that Blizzard has let one of their three current game modes become so lop-sided in their quest to create a Balanced Overwatch. When nearly half of Overwatch's Hero pool is seeing less than 5% Pick Rate for an entire game mode, you know that this King of the Hill Meta needs addressing. 

The Agent Behind the Curtains

If you ask a random Overwatch Pro about their biggest Tracer-related Meta complaint, they'll instead point you to another Hero: Symmetra. Ever since the rise of Orb-ital Destruction, Symmetra has been a shadowy but ever-present force in nearly every Meta dominating lineup and the secret to her (and by extension, Tracer's) strength is her Photon Shield. Photon Shield grants 50 additional Health to a targeted teammate in the form of Shields, lasts as long as that teammate remains alive, and has a short cooldown allowing you to buff your entire team. Tracer, with her low 150 Health total, gains an inordinate amount of power from this simple 50 Shield boost -- accounting for a 33% increase in her total Health from a single buff! I'm beginning to think the February Shield-healing mechanic change may end up being the decision which most-defines the pre-release Meta. Allowing Shields to be healed (as well as buffing other aspects of Symmetra to be sure) has now led to the rise of two separate "Meta-warpings" to date. I don't know the solution to this secret Symmetra problem (and the pros were just as divided), and I'll be watching intently to see who takes the brunt of the Nerfbat: Overwatch's Darling Tracer or the real problem -- Symmetra. 



Click to Enlarge!

As usual, I'll start off this week's Offense/Defense Bias Report with our two largest outliers: Zarya and Junkrat. Zarya's surprise standout on Offense this week originated from a very specific strategy. The Capture Point portion of Hybrid Payload-Capture Point Maps like King’s Row and Hollywood saw a great deal of Offensive Zarya play by attacking teams who used her as a preventative measure: playing the odds to guarantee breaking through a successful Defense after fully charging her Graviton Surge. These stats were further inflated by the popularity of King’s Row in particular; this map was played nearly twice as much as the second most picked Maps and its first Checkpoint is prime real estate for a big Zarya Ultimate. On the other side of the coin, Junkrat similarly benefited from the popularity of King’s Row. The entire journey of the Payload on King’s Row is one giant is set up like one giant Chokepoint, making Junkrat grenade-spam exceedingly effective. 

The rest of the Heroes were surprisingly Balanced in their usage on Offense and Defense, with a few notable exceptions. Soldier 76 was utilized often in the CrossFire Defense to combat Double-Tracer Offenses -- either pairing with a second Solider or a Widowmaker to combine their strong Hitscan damage to snipe the buffed-up Flankers. Genji had a bias towards Offense primarily due to teams using him on the first point of Numbani -- a vertically-oriented space where an Offensive Genji can reign free to hunt down Defending Widowmakers and Zenyattas. 


Brief Map Summary

In the second week of my Map Spotlight series -- where I choose one map to feature regarding map-specific Hero usage in the current state of the Meta -- we’ll be travelling to idyllic Numbani.  Numbani is a hybrid Control Point  / Payload-escort map where Attackers must first take control of the payload’s location before escorting it through two checkpoints to win the match. Numbani’s long respawn path and tight corners on the first point mean big payoffs for teams running Heroes like Symmetra and Torjborn on Defense.  The long, winding roads also prove a boon to Tracer (who I’ve already covered extensively), giving her lots of room to operate and play into her ability to quickly return to the action after dying.

Individual Hero stats

Numbani is a perfect setup for Tracer-based lineups due to its long, flat roads between the second and third checkpoints and myriad flanking routes for her to take advantage of. Combine this with excellent spots for Torbjorn Turrets and the importance of Symmetra's Teleport to a Defending team with a long run back from spawn and the synergies begin to pile on. It comes as no surprise then that Tracer and her Buff-Buddies show up repeatedly in the Individual Hero stats for this map -- with Zenyatta making a showing a significant increase in usage compared to his overall rate as well. Lucio rounds out this section as a highly picked choice on Offense, no doubt due to his overall well-rounded skillset and Movement Speed buff's added importance in the winding roads of Numbani. 

Team Composition stats

For each control point of the Map, I tallied the varying compositions that teams used on Offense and Defense. I then constructed an “uber comp” for each leg, based on these data as well as some weighting to compositions which succeeded in either Attacking or Defending. As you may notice, the optimal Offensive lineup did not change too much from point to point; this was mostly due to teams subscribing to a mentality of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Genji was a surprisingly popular Offensive pick, and Torbjorn even made an appearance for the second escort leg. Winston's usage speaks to his ability to chase off Defensive Torbjorns from their Line-of-Sight Turret-building spots as well as to harass less-mobile Zenyattas from their positions and general wreak havoc on the back line of the Defense. 

Defense, just like last week, showed a bit more variability. Given time to set up an entrenched Defense on the first point, teams tended to opt to go for McCree (and Widowmaker, to a lesser extent), Torbjorn and his Turret, the usual Tracer-Symmetra duo, rounding it all out with a Reinhardt to spot-protect the Torbjorn while the Symmetra tries for an early Teleporter. The next two escort legs were dominated by Double-Tracer lineups -- which were quite popular with IDDQD and Reunited among other teams. After the first checkpoint, Numbani loses a lot of its verticality: transforming the map into a Tracer playground. Symmetra, as always, sticks around to buff her Tracers and Zenyatta and Lucio complete the Triple-Support lineup that has become the norm in many maps. Soldier 76 made a surprise appearance as a final Checkpoint Defender: his strong Hitscan damage was essential to beating back a buffed Tracer's assault. 


1. The Meta has started to Polarize again: We’ve had two weeks for the Meta to settle down post-Zenyatta nerf and while Zenyatta himself stayed relatively constant in pick rate, the rest of the Meta has begun to move in strange directions again. Many Competitive level matches have devolved to “who has the best Tracer duo?”, and the underlying reason seems to be Symmetra’s shields. I wonder which of these two Heroes Blizzard will target first with nerfs?

2. Team EnVyUs’s continued absence: EnVyUs sat out yet another week of Tournament play, depriving the Overwatch community of some potentially exciting matches. I’m sure they have their reasons...maybe they’re as sick of the Meta as the rest of the scene. 

3. IDDQD still hasn’t been picked up by a team: This is the third time in a row I’ve included this gripe -- but I’m starting to hear some rumblings, rumblings that say IDDQD has a sponsor! Perhaps we’ll hear later this week of a new entrant in the Overwatch horse race. 

4. We got a new developer blog this week about a divisive community issue: Netcode: Tim and Phil to the rescue! No time to explain all the details, but the option to enable a 60Hz client refresh rate in custom matches HAS BEEN CONFIRMED!!

5. Overwatch continues its aggressive publishing schedule for shorts, with “Alive”: Blizzard published their second animated short last weekend as a Playstation promotion event and in typical Blizzard fashion, it was AMAZING. This short seemed to raise more questions than answers, and gave quite a bit of depth to a few of everyone’s favorite characters. Haven’t seen it yet? Watch below!


This week, as always, I partnered with Icarus to compile the data necessary for both of our Meta Reports. If you'd prefer your Meta Reports in audio/video form, head over to his YouTube channel, or check back here every Wednesday of the week! In the meantime here's his most recent Report:


Check it out, you'll love it :)


I'd like to give a special shoutout to Reddit user Fonjask, who mentioned to me that he'd been using the Raw data from these Reports to make Individual Hero Tracking graphs for his friends -- this idea was so cool that I had to ask him if I could steal it! The result is what you see at the top of the Report: my newly overhauled Meta Summary Infographic. It's great feedback like Fonjask's which motivates me to keep this content fresh, so to all those who've made it this far: thanks for reading and keep all the good feedback coming!!


Until next time,




-Changed Tiering Percentages Slightly, added "F" Tier. Tiers are now

S: >100%

A: 80%<X<100%

B: 40%<X<80%

C: 20%<X<40%

D: 5%<X<20%

F: <5%

-Slightly Changed Tiering Colors in Ubersheet to accomodate Tier changes

-Overhauled Meta Summary Graphic to include Individual Hero Ranking Tracking

Like this content? Tweet  and Share it with your followers!

Powered by Squarespace

Article 9: Overwatch Hero Meta Report #6: Spring Balancing



Home of Competitive Overwatch Analysis

Google Ads keep the lights on, thank you for understanding


Click to Enlarge!

Look at this Infographic, isn't it pretty? If you don't think so, let me know exactly why in the comments of the Reddit thread


What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present Overwatch Hero Meta Report #6: Spring Balancing. Last week, just as Spring came upon world, Blizzard nerfed Zenyatta and saved the Meta of Overwatch. I initially speculated that this change to Zenyatta’s Orbs (see right) would prove to be too severe, however my fears were quickly put to rest by the data collected I collected this weekend. 

For two weeks, the popular Orb-ital Destruction lineup dominated the Meta: warping Defensive schemes and edging out all other Offensive compositions. This Zenyatta change could not have come soon enough. Despite fears within the community that re-balancing a Hero due to multiple-stacking could harm the solo potential of the Hero, it seems like the Devs were just stringent enough to reduce the effectiveness of double-Zenyatta lineups while still preserving Zenyatta’s solo viability. In fact, this move by the Blizzard proved to be an effective solution that opened up the Meta for other Heroes and more varied strategies. This brings me to this week’s question: Has Overwatch reached the Balanced Land?


Click to Enlarge!

Week 6's Tiering Results, with CaptainPlanet and Icarus Tiering (for the extensive Map-by-map, Offense/Defense/King of the Hill Raw data, Click HERE)


A History Lesson

Orbital Destruction, bane of Overwatch lineups everwhere

A long time ago, in an FPS galaxy far, far away, the 21 Heroes lived in harmony. But all of that changed when the Orb nation attacked. Star Wars and Avatar references aside, all it took was a simple change to Shields in Overwatch and a troll strategy in a scrim from Cloud9 that accidentally worked, and soon the Double-Zenyatta, Double-Flanker strategy was born. These Meta-defining Shield changes occurred way back in early February, but it took until early March -- Week 2 of the Meta Report -- for the Orb lineup to begin to take off. It managed to run under the radar until the 2/2/2, Winston/Reaper/Lucio strategy was nerfed in Week 3. For the next two weeks, we enjoyed some of the most “Balanced” Metas of the Closed Beta, with a glut of Heroes falling into the 15-60% usage, Tier B range. Unfortunately, in Week 5 IDDQD and EnVyUs got good -- really good -- at the Orb-ital Destruction lineup and other Teams were quick to emulate them. This had a cascading effect: forcing many Heroes out of Tier A and B into C and D, a stark contrast to the prior two weeks (see above). Myself and pros alike predicted a nerf to Zenyatta had to be coming, and we got our wish this week. 

The Aftermath

This weekend heralded in a new Meta with a huge variety in viable strategies. The results are immediately apparent from both the crowded B Tier and absence of any Tier D Heroes -- a sign of a very healthy scene! This week, no Hero had less than a 6% pick rate, and no Hero besides Lucio exceeded 72%. That sounds like we’re getting pretty darn balanced to me. Lucio appears to be an issue once more, but his high pick rate is simply a symptom of there being four true Support Heroes existing in Overwatch -- only three of which can actually heal. Lucio is simply the best of the three, and will fill the valuable main Healer spot as long as this is true. The solution is simple: add more Supports, Blizzard!

The Monkey in the Room

There are two big names that were missing from a lot of this week’s games: EnVyUs and IDDQD. Where these two teams go, the Meta follows -- just as we saw with the prior weeks and Orb-ital Destruction. IDDQD did play in the Gosugamers EU cup, but in typical IDDQD fashion only played three games and didn't drop a single match -- preferring to play a modified Zenyatta/Flanker lineup in spite of the nerf. This begs the question: is the Meta truly balanced, or is it just waiting for EnVyUs and IDDQD’s lead? The last time we had a huge balance change come through (nerfing Genji and Lucio’s Health -- which has since been reverted), the Meta seemed to reach an equilibrium of diversity until these top teams popularized the next Uber-Team-Composition. We’ll just have to sit tight and see what crazy lineup rises to the top -- and hope that it at least has a few counters. 



Click to Enlarge!

Every week brings seems to bring new surprises to the Offense/Defense Bias Report! Consulting the chart, the first thing that stands out is the huge bias towards Offense for Roadhog and an even larger Defensive bias for D.Va. Roadhog’s emergence is the result of several teams subbing him in in place of their second Zenyatta in Orb-based Flanker lineups -- creating a Roadhog, Zenyatta, Symmetra, Torbjorn, Tracer, Lucio composition which was featured primarily by IDDQD and Reunited on Numbani. D.Va, on the other hand, was usually a panic-pick like previous weeks but saw some “serious” consideration for short bursts of time on Dorado. 

Bastion’s Offensive bias, however, is the most surprising result of them all; he was picked 200% more often on Offense than Defense. Unfortunately for all of the aggressve Bastion players out there, this was only due to his low pick rate. Reaper and Junkrat shined on Defense this week in Hollywood and King's Row maps -- making use of their close-quarters combat areas favoring their style of damage output. The most flexible Heroes this week were Widowmaker, Hanzo, Mercy, and Winston -- all of which had very little bias towards either side of the game. 


Brief Map Summary

This week I'm kicking off my Map Spotlight Series, where I choose one map from Overwatch and feature map-specific Hero usage for the current state of the Meta. This week, I’m analyzing Hollywood! Hollywood is a payload-escort map similar to King’s Row, where attackers must first take control of the payload’s location before escorting it through two checkpoints to win the match. This map's first checkpoint can often be won if a Defending team gets a fast Teleporter out, but is by and large won by the Attacking team as soon as they charge their first round of Ultimates. Hollywood’s second escort leg features narrow streets and alleys with high rooftops -- providing an arena where Heroes who dominate vertical space (and their counters) can shine. Hollywood’s final leg runs through an enclosed sound stage with only a few chokepoints, so Heroes with AOE-based Ultimates and Snipers have the most success here. 

Individual Hero stats

Reinhardt takes the prize as most valuable Hero for Hollywood. Already a strong tank, Reinhardt shines during both payload escort legs by providing cover for Heroes on the payload due to his shield stretching to nearly the width escort path. McCree is a close second because of his high damage hitscan Revolver-- allowing him to both snipe Heroes from the air above the rooftops and brawl with players on the ground. His Ultimate ability, Deadeye, also provides excellent area denial to push the payload along, making him the premier Offensive threat on Hollywood. Mercy sees an uptick in popularity compared to her overall pick rate, potentially due to line-of-sight issues affecting Lucio’s aura healing and Zenyatta’s (new) Harmony Orb mechanics. 

On Offense, McCree is an obvious choice along with Reinhardt but Lucio also makes an appearance for his strong Ultimate and speed boost aura. Zarya was also used by many attacking teams on both the first and last control points -- both of which in order to snag a team wipe with Graviton Surge to make a final push. On Defense, Junkrat, Symmetra, and Torbjorn stand out -- however these Heroes were primarily used for the first control point only. 

Team Composition stats

For each control point of the Map, I tallied the varying compositions that teams used on Offense and Defense. I then constructed an “uber comp” for each leg, based on these data as well as some weighting to compositions which succeeded in either Attacking or Defending. As you may notice, the optimal Offensive lineup did not change too much from point to point; this was mostly due to teams subscribing to a mentality of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This makes the emergence of Offensive Widowmaker on the final control point that much more impressive: her ability to deny choke-points from afar often proved vital for an Attacking team to gain the upper hand. 

Defense on the other hand had a bit more variability. Lineups which utilized Torbjorn and Symmetra -- the former for his Turrets and Molten Core and the latter for an early Teleporter -- tended to have the most success Defending the first control point. After (presumably) failing to Defend, teams would swap to a Defensive Widowmaker to deny the rooftops from Flankers, paired with a Pharah and Mercy to preserve their dominance of vertical space. Once the final leg of the Map was reached, teams were often in panic-mode on Defense -- leading to an increase in Zarya picks to pull off big team wipes. Unfortunately, I did not witness a single match where the payload reached the second checkpoint where the attacking team was successfully stopped. 


1. Zenyatta nerf -- not too little, not too much...just right: This Zenyatta nerf initially seemed far too severe, but seems to actually have been just the cure for what ailed the Meta. Zen dropped to a respectable pick rate of 41% this week, putting him squarely in Tier B...B for Balanced. 

2. Team EnVyUs's mysterious absence: EnVyUs sat out this weekend’s tournaments because they hadn’t had time to explore the new changes yet -- sadly denying the epicly stacked tournaments we witnessed last week. I guess it’s ok though, since IDDQD didn’t play in the NA tourney either. I hope to see them back at it next week!

3. Mix^ acquired by Luminosity Gaming: It’s always great to see more teams enter the Overwatch scene, and Mix^ has been a favorite of mine after having discovered A_Seagull’s awesome stream. Congrats to them!

4. IDDQD still hasn’t been picked up by a team: Seriously people, IDDQD is unreal. Throw money at them already. 

5. Code7’s breakout performance: Code7, also an un-affiliated team (hint, hint), had an amazing tournament run in the NA weekly, surprising Luminosity with a 2-0 sweep before falling in the finals to Cloud9. Perhaps this team also has sponsorship in the future?

6. Overwatch will be balanced separately on Console vs. PC: YouTuber Th3Jez did an extremely in-depth interview (see here) where Jeff Kaplan confirmed that console and PC versions of Overwatch will be balanced separately. This is a breath of fresh air for players of both platforms, as neither wants their experience to be adulterated by something unbalanced in the other. Kudos to Jeff!


This week, as always, I partnered with Icarus to compile the data necessary for both of our Meta Reports. If you'd prefer your Meta Reports in audio/video form, head over to his YouTube channel, or check back here every Wednesday of the week! It's Wednesday, so here's his latest report:


Check it out, you'll love it :)


I hope you all enjoy my new Map Breakdown Infographic! I plan to do further Map Breakdowns in the future, hopefully I don't run out too soon though since the pro scene seems to favor just a few maps total, out of the currently released ones. The Report was much more fun to compile this week than previous weeks because I could see the change and the freshness in the Meta unfolding in front of my own two eyes! I hope that this is the beginning of a dynamic, intriguing, and most of all fun Meta going forward. Finally, please keep submitting your Plays of the Game for my future Top 5 POTG series featuring you, the community! Submissions must be sent to my email, with the subject line "POTG" and recommendations for social media shoutouts. 


Until next time,




-Added Route 66 Map Tracking

-Introduced Map Spotlight series and infographic

Like this content? Tweet  and Share it with your followers!

Powered by Squarespace

Article 8: Overwatch Hero Meta Report #5: the Omnic Crisis



Home of Competitive Overwatch Analysis

Google Ads keep the lights on, thank you for understanding


Click to Enlarge!

Look at this Infographic, isn't it pretty? If you don't think so, let me know exactly why in the comments of the Reddit thread


What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present Overwatch Hero Meta Report #5: The Omnic Crisis. As you may have guessed from the title, we have reached a tipping point in the Competitive Overwatch Meta: Teams have begun to realize they must field multiple Zenyattas or lose. In last week’s Report, I predicted incoming Balance Changes from the Dev Team to bring the supposedly peaceful Omnic Monk back to earth, but it seems I was only half-right. Blizzard maintained their weekly Patch Notes streak, but no (major) changes appeared for Zenyatta. Instead, we got these:

Reacting similarly to  last week’s Lucio tinkering, the Devs reverted Genji's Health reduction -- placing him back at 200 HP --  but nerfed his overall damage by 20 percent. Blizzard stated that they were happy with the 150 Health version of Genji, however after listening to community feedback they opted to experiment with nerfing his damage instead of relegating him to glass-cannon status. This allows players to more safely utilize Genji’s Ultimate, instead of trying to snipe players across the map with Shruikens for the entire game. This change, however, seems to only further cement the strength of the Orb-ital Destruction Lineup by making it harder to pick off a Flanking Genji. 

After several weeks straight of buffs, Mei received some re-tuning to reduce her power level in a change that seems primarily aimed at casual/pub play. The Devs were concerned (and rightfully so) by the strength of Mei’s Alt Fire, which was causing many players to completely ignore her Primary Fire. By adding damage fall-off and reducing its fire rate, Blizzard intends to limit the playstyle where Mei simply spams her icicles at a chokepoint, hoping to get a lucky Tracer or Genji headshot. 

The source of everyone’s problems himself, Zenyatta, received a slight nerf to Discord Orb -- many more mechanics can now dispel the debuff. For this week in particular, little to no experimentation occurred on the Competitive level with regard to this change. In fact, by including Transcendance as an ability that can remove Discord Orb, Orb-ital Destruction seems to be even more blatantly it’s own counter -- further warping the Meta. 

Finally, several other Heroes received buffs and nerfs which had little to no impact on Competitive Play. Symmetra has had her Teleport charge rate nerfed -- but this had no impact on the Orb-ital Destruction Lineup of which she's become a staple. Winston's jump cooldown was reduced, which may aid teams in jumping on backline Zenyattas, however Discord Orb still makes Winston a giant walking target. Hanzo's Scatter Arrow can no longer headshot, should reduce the amount of whining in the community about the ability at the very least. Enough of this Patch Note review though, let’s get to the analysis!*


*Actually, just kidding! Just as I was preparing to set this Report to live, Blizzard released a new Patch: finally nerfing Zenyatta. You can see this change, and the Developer's comments below:

Ding-dong, the witch is dead!

Click to Enlarge!

Week 5's Tiering Results, with CaptainPlanet and Icarus Tiering (for the extensive Map-by-map, Offense/Defense/KotH Raw data, Click HERE)


As I stated last week, Icarus has been helping me compile this data and does his own YouTube-based Meta Report! If you’d rather learn about the Competitive Overwatch Meta via that medium (and to hear his sexy Aussie voice), check out his Report above!


**Note, since writing this Report, Blizzard has heavily nerfed Zenyatta. See above for the changes!

In last week’s Report I extensively covered Orb-ital Destruction: the double-Zenyatta Lineup which has been torching the Competitive scene. After analyzing its dominance, I concluded that a significant Balance Change was likely to occur to reduce some part of this Team Composition's effectiveness, and left it at that. We certainly got some Balance Changes this week, but the nerfbat swung and missed the most blatant target -- and now Zenyatta’s power level has grown out of control. We now have an Omnic Crisis on our hands. This week, Zenyatta had a patently absurd overall pickrate of over 150%, which means that Teams are either playing Orb-ital Destruction, or they’re losing to it. Since I already spent last week covering how Orb-ital Destruction dominates the Competitive Scene, I’m going to instead propose a series of potential nerfs to Zenyatta and discuss their implications. 

1. Reduce Discord Orb’s debuff by 20-30%: Discord Orb is a problem. When you first start playing Zenyatta, you may see this ability and think “Cool! A Tank-Killer!” The problem is, this incredible debuff can be placed on squishy of Heroes too, reducing their time-to-kill to a lucky headshot. To make matters worse, Discord Orb is often even too strong for its own intended purpose -- Tanks on the whole have been on the decline because of it. Reducing Discord Orb’s effectiveness would bring it back into line with Mercy’s Damage-boosting beam, prevent two-shotting Low-Health Heroes, and preserve its effectiveness for focus-firing Tanks. 

2. Reduce Zenyatta’s auto-attack damage: Zenyatta deals an incredible amount of auto-attack damage as a Support class, making him a formidable duelist. Prior to the changes to Shield Health, this was Zenyatta’s main form of staying “Balanced”: his lack of mobility and low Health pool offset his Offensive power. Now that Zenyatta is not quite so much of a liability Health-wise, he can out-damage Heroes trying to get the jump on him -- especially when Discord Orb is involved. Reducing Zenyatta’s auto-attack damage will increase his vulnerability to ambushers like Winston and D.Va which will help teams develop counter-strategies to deal with him.

3. Add an “out-of-combat” Cooldown to Harmony Orb’s Healing: This change is aimed primarily at the the Flankers who make up the majority of Orb-ital Destruction’s Lineup. Currently, a Harmony-Orbed Tracer or Genji can jump in and out of action with no delay or consequence: Orb of Harmony’s constant Healing begins as soon as these Heroes take any damage at all. By adding an “out-of-combat” cooldown to the Orb’s Healing -- that is to say, the Hero must not take damage for some time before the Healing begins again -- you force these Flankers to pick and choose their battles and slow down their assault.

4. Add a set Duration to Zenyatta Orbs: Currently, Zenyatta's Orbs function as “Fire and Forget” buffs/debuffs which last as long as Zenyatta is alive. Blizzard recently altered a few abilities to add ways to dispel Orb of Discord in particular, but outside of these specific situation his Orbs last forever. If each Orb had a set duration, Zenyatta and the players being buffed by him would have much more to consider, raising the skill ceiling and potentially nerfing the Orbs’ effectiveness. 

5. Root Zenyatta in place while Transcendence is active: This change is a little bit out of left field, I'll admit. Zenyatta can move while channeling his Ultimate -- I propose that Blizzard instead root him in place while Channeling. This would force the Zenyatta player to think more carefully about when and where to use the Ultimate, as well as force their teammates to return within the radius of the Aura if they’re far away. 

There you go Blizzard, 5 ideas -- free of charge. 


The heart of the this Omnic-based crisis is Blizzard having to balancing Heroes as a response to them being picked twice. Overwatch is a game where its creators refuse limits on Heroes -- be it switching Heroes throughout matches or having lineups featuring multiple copies of the same Hero. While Hero-switching is highly encouraged, problems arise when Blizzard is forced to nerf a Hero not to balance its strength as an individual, but to address a problem when multiple of this Hero exists in a lineup. Currently, Zenyatta is the only Hero really seeing much “Stacked” play, but the 2x Lucio, 2x Winston, 2x Reaper strategies of February’s Meta indicate that this may become a recurring issue. 

I’m all in favor of multiple-Hero compositions arising for certain parts of maps, but when stacking Heroes becomes the norm un-warping the Meta becomes a sticky situation. Applying a change to decrease the effectiveness “Stacking” a Hero has the potential to over-nerf its Solo capability -- something Blizzard is no doubt wrestling with Zenyatta even as I write this report. Personally, I believe Discord Orb is the root of much of the Omnic Crisis unfolding here and luckily nerfing Discord Orb probably will not instantly render Zenyatta useless. That said, I have been consistently surprised (in a good way) when Blizzard has made changes addressing problems in Overwatch, and I am content to sit back and see how they solve this one.***

***Well will you look at that: Blizzard did create a change that I was not able to predict on my own! Changing Zenyatta's Orbs to be line-of-sight based seems to be a much stronger nerf than I initially expected -- instead forcing players to play much closer as a team. 


In the finals of the Gosugamers NA Tourney, something strange happened. Team EnVyUs rolled out a crazy Defensive setup involving not one, not two, but three Soldier 76's on Watchpoint: Gibraltar to successfully defend against Mix^'s Orb-ital Destruction assault, winning them the Tournament. Because this lineup was used in the final game, no one got to see whether or not this was the cure to what's quickly becoming a very stale Meta. Luckily for you all, I was able to catch up with EnVyUs's Coolmatt69 and Minstrel to learn more about this strategy:

CaptainPlanet: This strategy was crazy, but was it actually designed to beat the double-Zen lineup? Was it something you developed in your scrims?

CM69: We've used it in scrims with good results against that comp on that map, so it was something that we tried developing and improving for that purpose. We also tried it on dorado with limited success.It also gets pretty weak on the last objective of Gibraltar. 

Minstrel: It's heavily dependent on the ability of people like Tracer and Genji to get to the Soldiers. So Gibraltar Hanger is the best area for it probably. Other places it could be viable too. 

CM69: So our conclusion was that it's just going to be most effective in an environment like the Hangar on Gibraltar with super limited entry points...

Minstrel: Where it is hard for genji to climb up without wasting his dash. The Hanzo wallhack arrow can also cover all entrances possible on Gibraltar Hanger
so you can just spam with grenades/scatter shot when a sniper tries to peek a door or whatever. [It’s] hard for Genji to climb up.

CM69: Meanwhile Genji is getting shot from 2 or 3 other Soldiers who are each in a position that's also difficult to reach. 

CaptainPlanet: That does seem like a unique space. I mean a Genji-difficult space. 

CM69: Yea. Dorado second objective Defense was the other place that came to mind for us to test it, but we couldn’t really make it work as effectively. 

So there you have it -- unfortunately this was a niche strategy for a specific Map location. At the same time, we're lucky that teams were obviously quite aware of the Orb-ital Destruction problem and were doing their best to combat it. Luckily, judging from the 3/22 balance patch, this will all be moot in the coming week's Tournaments, setting up a much more dynamic Meta. 


Click to Enlarge!

Week Two of the Offense/Defense breakdown has again yielded some surprises! The first, most blatant example is the favoritism of Soldier 76 on Defense -- thanks in part to the above Triple-76 strategy used by EnVyUs on Watchpoint: Gibraltar to try to fend off Mix^’s Orb-ital Destruction deathball. Going by percentages, Soldier 76 was picked 1700% more often on Defense than Offense, translating to a telling 18 vs. 1 pick spread. This likely resulted from Orb-ital Destruction forcing out other Offensively-strong, but less mobile Hitscan Heroes from their usual slots. For example, you’ll notice McCree and Reaper being picked much more often on Defense as well. Overall, this week’s Offense vs. Defense split was much more drastic: the only Heroes who had relatively balanced popularity either had extremely low pickrates like Bastion and Torbjorn, or were well-rounded supports like Lucio and Mercy. I see this as indication of an extremely warped Meta: Orb-ital Destruction is by far the most powerful Offensive strategy, so there’s no room for any non-Zenyatta/Tracer/Genji Heroes (and, randomly, Winston) except on Defense.


1. It took a bit too long for Zenyatta to get nerfed: I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but something needed to be done to fix the state of Competitive Overwatch. Players were frustrated, viewers were bored, and the Meta was more warped than ever. Thankfully, Blizzard finally did something about the Omnic Crisis today (3/22). 

2. The nerf DID finally happen!

3. Mei wasn’t the solution after all: After seeing a huge surge in popularity among the pros last week, the 3/17 Balance Patch resulted in Mei dropping back down significantly in pick rate. I guess the only reason she saw so many picks last week was due to her possibly OP Alt-Fire, but now that she's been nerfed slightly teams have gotten off the Mei train. 

4. IDDQD still hasn’t been picked up by a team: IDDQD is #1 in the world (via Gosugamers), and it’s not really even close. When they play in tournaments, they rarely drop a single match: in fact they’ve only lost 4 tournament matches total since their inception. While large gaming organizations Cloud9 and EnVyUs have already made forays into the scene, IDDQD remains sponsor-less. Who will be the lucky Team to pick them up? Will we see Liquid.IDDQD, TSM.IDDQD, or EG.IDDQD in the future? 

5. The new Animated Short, "Recall," is amazing: if you haven't had the chance to check out the most recent short featuring Winston's origin story and his efforts to bring back Overwatch, you are missing out. Blizzard has always done amazing cinematic animation, and Overwatch is no exception. Watch the video below:


This week was the last week of four in a row where I've actually been out of town and away from my computer over the weekend. This means I finally have some time to sit down and bust out some during-the-week content for you all! Hopefully the Meta clears up a bit as Balance Changes come through and I have plenty of things to discuss. As always, if you do have any comments or feedback, please let me know in my Reddit thread which accompanies each report! Finally, please keep submitting your Plays of the Game for my future Top 5 POTG series featuring you, the community! Submissions must be sent to my email, with the subject line "POTG" and recommendations for social media shoutouts. 


Until next time,




-No changes this week!

Like this content? Tweet  and Share it with your followers!

Powered by Squarespace

Article 7: Overwatch Hero Meta Report #4: Domo Arigat(a), Mr. Zenyatta



Home of Competitive Overwatch Analysis

Google Ads keep the lights on, thank you for understanding


Click to Enlarge!

Look at this Infographic, isn't it pretty? If you don't think so, let me know exactly why in the comments of the Reddit thread

What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present Overwatch Hero Meta Report #4: Domo Arigat(a), Mr. Zenyatta. For some time now, Overwatch’s developer team has been playing fast and loose with balance tweaks to Heroes, and this week was no exception. Just like last week, Blizzard dropped a new Balance/Content Patch shortly after I released Report #3,  ensuring that -- if anything -- the Meta was sure to change. Before I dive into the analysis of this weekend’s Tournaments, let’s take a look at the changes:

This week, Blizzard quickly reverted the Health Nerf to Lucio -- possibly responding to community complaints -- opting to instead Nerf Lucio’s Offensive capability and Ultimate. This change reduces Lucio's potential as a straight-up duelist, but still gives him enough tankiness to be in the thick of things to make the most use of his Healing Aura. We’ll see later that players were quite pleased with these changes...but perhaps too pleased.

Mei -- who received huge buffs but still failed to escape Tier D in last week’s Meta Report -- got yet another round of powerful buffs to her Alt-Fire. If Mei gets any more buff, she’ll have to try out for Ms. Olympia! Mei now has plenty of damage to supplement her unique, Map-controlling kit, and as a result Pros and Casual players alike have flocked to her. 

Last week, a particular strategy involving two Zenyattas, Genji, Tracer, Symmetra, and a Flex spot took the Meta by storm and Blizzard was quick to respond with the Nerfbat. In this strategy (which was dubbed “Orb-ital Destruction” by Twich chat), the run-and-gunning Genji and Tracer were nigh unkillable with Healing Orbs and could blow up any double-Discorded target in seconds. Will the nerfs to Orb-stacking alone be enough to break Orb-ital Destruction? Let’s find out!

Click to Enlarge!

Week 4's Tiering Results, with CaptainPlanet and Icarus Tiering (for the extensive Map-by-map, Offense/Defense/KotH Raw data, Click HERE)

Now, you may notice that two different Tiering Systems are being presented. This inclusion of a separate Tiering System is part of an announcement I would like to make: I am teaming up with YouTuber and fellow Meta-Analyst, Icarus, of IcarusGamers! Icarus does an excellent YouTube-based Hero Meta Report based on his own Tiering System, complete with Hero-by-Hero breakdowns and popular Team Composition strategies. If you’d like to listen to his sexy Aussie voice tell you facts about Overwatch, subscribe to his channel and check out his video below! My own Analysis follows. 


“CaptainPlanet, why are you naming this Report after Zenyatta, when Lucio has taken S Tier again?” Excellent question, to which I respond with my own: remember how Blizzard wanted to curb Orb-ital Destruction’s strength? Despite specifically disabling one of the keystones of Orb-ital Destruction's strategy, the Team Composition lives on and thrived in the past weekend’s Tournaments. Zenyatta continues to shine because of the power of his Orbs -- their "fire and forget" behavior allows Zenyatta to heal, debuff, and deal damage all at the same time. His Discord Orb in particular presents a difficult situation: it allows Zenyatta to effectively neuter his main counters. Due to his low health pool, run and gun Heroes like Tracer and Genji are poised to get the jump on a defenseless Zenyatta, however if he puts up a Discord Orb on his would-be assassins he can keep easy tabs on their location -- ruining the surprise. Now, not only do these Heroes no longer sneak up on Zenyatta, but they're often out-dueled due to Zenyatta's high damage auto-attack and the Orb's debuff. These elements of just a small part of Zenyatta's total package makes Orb-ital Destruction's rise seem inevitable. Orb-ital Destruction was so dominant, in fact, that NA’s best team, EnVyUs, spent all of their efforts trying to counter it, rather than simply using it themselves:

It is actually amazing is that Zenyatta was so close to Lucio's pick rate, despite several non-Zenyatta-based strategies popping up to counter him. If a Team Composition in Overwatch becomes too dominant, the entire Meta warps around it. Left unchecked, the best Teams will begin to either only play the "Broken Lineup", or develop extremely specific hard counters to it which get destroyed by more traditional Lineups. This phenomenon is not unique to Overwatch, in fact it is quite common in Competitive gaming. Just look at another Blizzard title, Hearthstone, and the hellish Metas of un-Nerfed Grim Patron Warrior or pre-Standard format Druid decks. I believe that Zenyatta is absolutely the root cause of this warping Meta, and players from Competitive Teams have been venting their frustration for quite some time: 

Luckily for us, Overwatch’s developers have shown a willingness to learn from Blizzard’s other titles to apply their best practices. Also luckily for us, Overwatch is still in Closed Beta, and the Devs are much more willing to swing the Nerfbat with impunity. Jeff Kaplan and Co. will not stand by and allow the Meta to devolve into the equivalent of a Rock-Paper-Scissors game. A nerf to Zenyatta must surely be coming. 


Mei has arrived. This CC-heavy Support Hero has finally received enough buffs over the past two weeks to force Competitive Teams consider her place in a roster slot. Mei previously struggled to find her way -- while her debuffs and control over movement represent valuable additions to a potential team, her lack of supporting damage made her a liability. Teams would rather prefer to give her spot to a more traditional Fragger instead. Increasing the damage on her Alt-Fire seems to have been the tipping point on the usability see-saw, and Mei’s popularity jumped instantly out of Tier D all the way to Tier B (with ~24% chance to be picked!). Our little Snow Angel has finally grown up, and here’s why:


As Talespin hinted above, many Teams attempted to solve the Orb-ital Destruction problem -- rolling out several different lineups with limited success. One common Hero appeared in the few successful Lineups that did occur: Mei. Realizing this, Teams rushed to develop Defensive strategies centered around her, even using Double-Mei Lineups to counter the Hyper-Offense of Orb-ital Destruction. Increasing Mei’s damage may have made her viable, but what made her possibly the most powerful counter to Orb-ital Destruction was not her new-found damage, but her Support abilities. Mei is one of few Heroes in Overwatch that can actually slow Heroes or even freeze them in place: a death sentence for the run-and-gun Genjis and Tracers who make up much of Orb-ital Destruction’s Offense. Orb-ital Destruction Ultimately won the majority of its face-offs with Mei Lineups, but these Mei-based Team Compositions were the only ones which were able to effectively challenge it. Look for Teams to get more comfortable using Mei’s kit in the coming weeks, and potentially running Orb-ital Destruction out of town. 

Click to Enlarge!


Since some of you asked for it, I have begun analyzing of Offense vs. Defense preference bias for each Hero. As you can see in the chart above, there were some surprises this week! Hanzo, who’s currently labeled as a “Defense” Hero by the Developers of Overwatch themselves, stunningly had the largest bias towards Offense. However, this was primarily due to Hanzo's low pick rate and teams utilizing him primarily to  Attack the first leg of King’s Row, in a non-cheese manner no less. 

On the other hand, it comes as no surprise that the members (Tracer, Genji, Zenyatta, and sometimes Lucio) of the Offensive Juggernaut Composition, Orb-ital Destruction, all find themselves picked more often on Offense than Defense. For all its strengths, Orb-ital Destruction simply isn't a popular Defensive strategy with its lack of Tank Heroes. The only core part of Orb-ital Destruction who ended up favored on Defense, Symmetra, earned her spot due to her flexibility. Maps like King’s Row, Watchpoint: Gibraltar, and Hollywood all present opportunities for a quick Defensive Teleporter to turn the tide of a game  -- making her a quite popular choice for Defense. Finally, the main counter to Orb-ital Destruction -- Mei -- unsurprisingly found herself much more popular on Defense opposite of the Uber-Lineup's Offensive Assault. Bastion and Torbjorn earn honorable mentions: while they were picked quite sparingly, they were exclusively picked on Defense. 


  1. Mei IS Bae: I’ll be the first to say I’m a D.Va fanboy, but I'm finally happy to be able to say that Mei is viable. Mei may even be the savior of this Meta, if teams can find a way to utilize her with more skill and practice in the coming weeks. Overwatch is going to get just a little bit cooler with more Meis running around.
  2. The GosuGamers NA Weekly Tournament was STACKED: This weekend saw Cloud9, EnVyUs, IDDQD, Mix^, and FlatEarth all vying for the top prize in the NA Cup, making for one of the most competitive Tournaments we’ve seen this entire Beta. Despite a surprise upset of Prime taking out FlatEarth, the story of the Tournament was IDDQD remaining undefeated in Tournament play, defeating formerly "de facto World's best" EnVyUs in the Semis before demolishing Cloud9 in the Finals. “What organization will pick up IDDQD?” seems to be the burning question hanging over this young Esports scene. 
  3. The Warping of the Meta:  Zenyatta is simply too strong. He’s my favorite Healer by far, but it’s pretty apparent Zenyatta-based strategies have begun to run out of control, and further Nerfs are required to bring them in-line. I think Blizzard should continue their experimentation with Hero Balance, and try different ways to reduce Zenyatta’s effectiveness -- either by reducing Zenyatta’s Left Click or Discord Orb’s damage debuff. 


This week has been quite an interesting one for the Report, especially on the back end. A lot of work went into improving the Ubersheet’s formulas and integrating readers' suggestions and comments into new, informative, and hopefully appealing content. Once again I’m happy that Icarus was nice enough to join me in doing these Reports, without his help these would take a lot longer for me to produce. As always, if you do have any comments or feedback, please let me know in my Reddit thread which accompanies each report! Finally, please keep submitting your Plays of the Game for my future Top 5 POTG series featuring you, the community! Submissions must be sent to my email, with the subject line "POTG" and recommendations for social media shoutouts. 


Until next time,




-Introducing the Hero Offense/Defense Bias Infographic

This was a community suggestion and I had a lot of fun developing it. If you’re a fan of this infographic, please feel free to share it on social media with your friends and other fans of Overwatch! If you didn’t like it, let me know what you didn’t like and I’ll be sure to incorporate valuable feedback.

-Introducing Icarus Tiering Tracking

I have integrated Icarus’ Tiering into my Ubersheet for use in his videos and for his viewers to examine as well. His tiers are as follows:

Uber: >100% (Green)

Overused: 100%>, >80% (Dark Blue)

Fairly Used: 80%>, >50% (Light Blue)

Underused: 50%>, >20% (Yellow)

Rarely Used: 20%>, >1% (Orange)

Never Used: <1% (Red)

-Updated several back-end formulas in the Ubersheet

I noticed a minor error in previous versions of the Ubersheet’s formulas which were affecting the summary data percentages. This error only affected the percentages themselves, not the tiering. 

-Added Ilios Map Tracking

Blizzard added a new King of the Hill Map, Ilios, which will now be tracked in the Ubersheet. 

Like this content? Tweet  and Share it with your followers!

Powered by Squarespace

Article 6: Overwatch Hero Meta Report #3: Are We Balanced Yet?


Look at this Infographic, isn't it pretty? If you don't think so, let me know exactly why in the comments of the Reddit thread

What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present Overwatch Hero Meta Report #3: Are We Balanced Yet? This week’s Report comes after the announcement from Blizzard’s Dev team of yet another round of Hero Balance changes, conveniently occurring right before this weekend’s Tournaments. For some of the more important changes, see below:

To the surprise of few, our favorite Cyborg Ninja, Genji, two-time Hero Meta Report S-Tier winner, Lucio, and the scourge of Widowmakers everywhere, Winston, have received some much-needed nerfs. If you check my Historical Infographic above, you will notice that while these changes did manage to knock Lucio and Winston down a notch, it actually had little effect on Genji’s popularity in particular. In fact, nerfing Genji’s health pool had cascading effects which dragged some other Heroes up a Tier so that they could better help Genji do his thing...but that’s a topic for later.  

Mei, on the other hand, received some pretty significant buffs that I’m trying very hard not to take credit for after exposing her extreme lack of usage in my previous two Hero Meta Reports. Sadly, this was not enough to save her from the Tier D doldrums, even though I did witness some Teams picking her unironically in this weekend’s Tournaments. Want to learn more about this Patch affected the Meta of Competitive Overwatch? Let’s dive in!

Week 3's Tiering Results (for the extensive Map-by-map, Offense/Defense/KotH Raw data, Click HERE)


This is the question that all developers of competitive games seek to answer. Oftentimes, this answer is as fleeting as a speed-boosted Genji because of how quickly the Meta evolves thanks to top players and teams attempting to outwit each other. This most recent Patch, however, seems to have gotten extremely close to a well-balanced Overwatch. In my Meta Report Changelog (see at the end of this article), I explain that I have implemented specific cutoffs for each Tier, providing a way to historically track Heroes and their popularity as the Meta changes. With this new tool in hand, we can try to answer the question of "Are We Balanced Yet?" for our lovely Developer team. 

In an “balanced” game, Developers may hope to have a relatively similar popularity of play between the 21 Heroes of Overwatch -- with some Heroes being more or less popular due to their specific strengths (Mei vs. Soldier 76, for example). For my Reports, this is tends to be represented by the B Tier. The B tier has a wide range representing 15%-60% chance to for a Hero to be picked, so Heroes that fall into this Tier can be highly specialized, but well-balanced Heroes like Symmetra all the way to effective, not-quite-overpowered Heroes like Reaper. 

Looking at this week’s inaugural Historical Chart at the top of the page as well as this week's Tiering breakdown, we can see the direct results of Blizzard’s Balance patch: an extremely crowded B Tier. I have to give praise where it’s due: the Devs seem to have struck gold this time with their Nerfbat. Winston and Lucio both regressed to the suitably-balanced zone, joining Genji whose nerf did not affect his popularity much at all. Nerfing Genji instead had the interesting effect of indirectly increasing the viability of other Heroes with the ability to buff him. Sadly, the only strike against the Balance team is Mei -- despite strong buffs, she’s still stuck in Tier D. This could simply be due to Teams’ reluctance to try her out without sufficient practice, so we’ll have to stay tuned for upward movement in Mei’s popularity in the future. 


I learned a valuable lesson compiling this Report: Overwatch players will find any way they can to fit Genji in their lineups. When Blizzard nerfed Genji’s health from 200 to 150, many initial reactions were proclaiming Genji’s death -- jumping to the conclusion that he’d be far too vulnerable to Widowmaker’s sniping, among other things. Their fear was misplaced however, as teams rushed to fit Genji into their lineups anyway. This lead directly into the rise of interesting lineups including Offensive Symmetras and triple-support Defenses. 

As we move forward in the Meta, nerfing Genji may end up being the best thing that ever happened to Symmetra and Torbjorn, the two Heroes currently being used to make Genji great again. While Symmetra stayed in the B Tier, she was used in much more varied situations than simply as King’s Row Defense and Torbjorn’s ability to give Armor to his Genji teammates boosted his popularity enough to finally vault him out of Tier D. Interestingly enough, Zarya fell in popularity following Genji’s nerf despite also being able to grant Shields -- demonstrating that it’s much easier to break into lineups as a DPS than a Tank. Time will tell if Zarya will also find her way back into certain compositions, but while Reinhardt continues to dominate the Tank slot with Winston as a preferred second things seem unlikely at best.


Lucio dominated Hero popularity for two weeks in a row, accounting for nearly 15% of all picks in Week 2 and featuring prominently in many Meta-defining lineups. This week, he returned to earth thanks to Blizzard’s health nerf identical to Genji’s: reducing Lucio’s 200 health to 150. Zenyatta may have taken this week’s S Tier title from Lucio, but if you look closer at Offensive and Defensive usage, the S Tier ranking was far from unanimous. Zenyatta was a clear favorite on Offense, but on Defense the Robot Monk was out-chosen handily by Reinhardt. 

This parity in top-level popularity is a good sign for Overwatch. While there will always be a Hero who is picked most often to occupy the S Tier, in a well-balanced game this spot will swap its occupants on a daily basis. Blizzard -- with their much more extensive datasets I’m sure -- noticed Lucio’s shadow over the Meta growing too large and responded appropriately, demonstrating that they’re well-tuned-in to the happenings in the scene. Nerfing his health and making Lucio’s lineup position less set in stone reduced his popularity just enough for other Heroes to be considered for his spot. This weekend we even saw triple Support lineups featuring Zenyatta, Symmetra, and Torbjorn on Defense with not a single Lucio to be seen. Once again, I’m excited that Blizzard has made what appears to be a great Balance decision here; it has opened up the Meta for healthy experimentation, and I can’t wait to see what more comes of it. 


  1. Overwatch has a release date, and an Open Beta coming! It was announced recently that Overwatch finally has a release date! And an Open Beta! Everything ever OnlyWatcher could want is finally happening: we know when the wait is over, we get rewarded with early access for pre-ordering, and Tournaments will suddenly become a lot more competitive!
  2. Blizzard isn’t afraid to make changes: This week saw some pretty significant changes to Overwatch: Genji, Lucio, and Winston were all nerfed while Mei finally got some well-deserved buffs. These changes had immediate, and ultimately healthy results to the scene but I enjoyed the fact that the Devs are not afraid to swing the Nerfbat and understand where it’s actually needed. 
  3. NA needs more teams: Each week that I compile this Report, I noticed less and less NA teams entering Tournaments, despite NA’s supposed dominance in the scene thanks in most part to the juggernaut of Team EnVyUs. I enjoy recording stats from all sorts of regions (maybe Asia in the future?), and it makes me sad to see NA tournaments filled mostly with EU teams.
  4. Mei still isn’t Bae: The flip side of Blizzard’s mostly-successful Balance Patch was Mei’s buffs, and the unfortunate lack of improvement in her popularity in the Competitive Scene. My personal theory is that Teams simply haven’t practiced enough with Mei yet to bring her to Tournaments, and I hope that she sees an increase in popularity next week. 
  5. There still isn’t an in-game Stopwatch Mode for scrims: Without an in-game Stopwatch mode, I rely on the Tournament streams and their admins to provide accurate stopwatch data, however this gets tedious very quickly. Please Blizzard, the community wants this!
  6. Very few King of the Hill maps were drafted this week: I don’t know what to make of this. Did teams just get tired of playing Nepal and Lijiang Tower? Or was this just a fluke? It’s a shame that this happened just after I increased the King of the Hill map breakdown in my ubersheet.


If I had my way, Blizzard would release a Balance Patch every week, just to make writing these Reports this much fun. When changes abound, the Meta goes nuts and when the Meta goes nuts, there’s always plenty to talk about. I’m also quite hyped but also nervous to present the Historical chart to you all for ease of tracking trends from Report to Report and community feedback. As always, if you do have any comments or feedback, please let me know in my Reddit thread which accompanies each report! Finally, please keep submitting your Plays of the Game for my future Top 5 POTG series featuring you, the community! Submissions must be sent to my email, with the subject line POTG and recommendations for social media shoutouts. 


Until next time,




-Introducing the Historical Meta Report Infographic
This was asked for by the community and I’m proud to present my Meta Report Infographic detailing the week-by-week change in Hero Tier for all 21 Heroes. This Infographic will be a work in progress subject to community feedback and my slowly increasing skill in using GIMP. I will probably only present up to 5 or 6 prior Week’s worth of data once I build up to it for clarity’s sake, however I can probably keep the raw data forever as long as Google Sheets doesn’t crash. 

-Added point-by-point breakdown for King of the Hill maps
After receiving community feedback asking for this, I’ve split out each capture point for King of the Hill maps for Hero tracking. This makes sense given the extreme changes in capture point map setup. 

-Automated Tiering, and hard cutoffs for Tiers
To ease my work, and to provide a blueprint for the Infographic, I implemented automation of Tiering Heroes on the backend of my ubersheet, and set cutoffs for each Tier. These cutoffs are open to suggestion, but would be kind of annoying to change so unless there’s significant feedback asking me to change them I’ll probably leave them where they are. The cutoffs are as follows:
S Tier: Most Popular Hero
A Tier: >60% chance to be picked
B Tier: 15%<, <60% chance to be picked
C Tier: 2%<, <15% chance to be picked
D Tier: <2% chance to be picked

Like this content? Tweet  and Share it with your followers!

Article 5: Ovewatch Hero Meta Report #2: The Rise of the Rat


What's up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here and this week the Overwatch Hero Meta Report returns bigger and better than ever! As a reminder, this weekly Report will be a work-in-progress, so please remember to leave me feedback in the comments of the accompanying reddit thread. Before I get to the interesting trends, the Tier List, and conclusions we can take from it, let's go through system I used to collect the data and the Report Changelog to see what has changed from the first week:


Because I'm only one person, I have implemented a set of rules to effectively count Hero Picks without going insane. To cut down on time but still paint an accurate picture of the state of Competitive Overwatch, these are the rules I followed while tallying Hero Picks for both Offense and Defense during this weekend's tournaments:

  • At the beginning of the game, tally each Hero on each Team
  • At the end of the game, tally any Hero change that has occurred from the beginning of the Match
  • Do not count obvious, opening cheeses (the only time this came into play was the 6-Hanzo Cheese on King's Row)

Now some of you may notice, there are some obvious limitations and outliers that will occur from these rules. I will discuss them line-by-line:

At the beginning of the game, tally each Hero on each Team: This rule is obvious, and generally accurately portrays a team's overall strategy for the first leg of a Payload or Checkpoint Map. 

At the end of the game, tally any Hero change that has occurred from the beginning of the Match: This rule also seems obvious, and would capture each team's final Push, or Defending strategies. Occasionally, this results in strange outliers as teams try various desperation-Hero Swaps in order to tag the payload either on Offense or Defense, rarely with any success. Finally, by only tallying Hero picks at the beginning and end of games instead of cataloging every Hero-swap that occurred throughout the match, I miss out on second-leg or other mid-map strategic picks. However, I teams generally didn't switch up their lineup too much in the middle of most maps (Gibraltar's Hangar section being the obvious exception), and I would lose my mind trying to keep up with every Hero swap throughout a game.  

Do not count Obvious, opening cheeses (the only time this came into play was the 6-Hanzo Cheese on King's Row): I decided that 6-Hero, single-action Cheese like the Hanzo Scatter Arrow strategy on King's Row were not worth counting, and this was the only such strategy that teams used anyway. I take initial counts for these teams only after they have all swapped off of Hanzo.


-Removed King of the Hill omission

King of the Hill maps are now counted and also count towards the overall Total of Hero Picks. For King of the Hill maps, Heroes are counted for both teams at the beginning of the match, and just before the capture point is captured. I wanted to include these maps because they are legitimate picks in Tournament play as well as to represent the few Heroes that are much better suited to these maps than others. King of the Hill Maps now have their own breakdown section in the Datasheet. 

-Added Map-by-Map breakdown

Thanks to a helpful redditor, Dthehunter, I was able to add Map-by-Map breakdowns for each Hero. 

-Duplicate Heroes are now counted

In the inaugural Meta Report, Team EnVyUs utilized a now well-known 2/2/2 Hero composition consisting of duplicates of Winston, Reaper, and Lucio. To better encompass the probability that a team picks a certain Hero at some point during a match, I now count duplicate Heroes when they occur. 

-Added Tiering Lists for each Map/Offense/Defense/KotH breakdown Tab

These lists allow for better visualization of where / what situations certain Heroes shine compared to their overall ranking.


1000+ Data Points, just for you

This data was collected from both GosuGamers weekly tournaments (NA and EU) which run on Saturdays and Sundays. I was able to collect data from nearly every single GosuGamers EU tournament match thanks to four channels simultaneously streaming the matches (, /gamersoriginow, /Bryak8888, /esl_alphacast), so major thanks to them for doing so. I was only able to catch about half of the matches for the GosuGamers NA tournament (thanks to AskJoshy and Fishtix for streaming part of the other matches), but the data was still meaningful. If you're a stats nerd and wish to see all of the Raw data, click here.



With 21 Heroes, I decided to split them into D,C,B,A and S tiers, with a single Hero filling the S spot. Here's how that looks:

S "The sometimes you need two of them" Tier: LUCIO

Lucio is the healer you should always have at least one of...and if you're playing King of the Hill you should probably run two. This is the second week in a row that Lucio has run away with the S classification: across all maps there was a greater than 90% chance that a team used a Lucio in their lineup. The question remains: Is Lucio too strong? Or are other Supports too weak?

A "The fits almost every strategy" Tier: ZENYATTA, REINHARDT, REAPER, MCCREE, WINSTON

All five of these Heroes are surprisingly unchanged from Meta Report #1, even accounting for King of the Hill maps. In fact, it appears as though they've cemented their place in this Tier -- last week Genji was nipping on  their heels but the cyborg ninja has regressed somewhat. All of these Heroes stand out because they fit strongly into both Defensive and Offensive strategies -- Zenyatta is the de-facto sceond-best Healer in a two-Support Meta, Winston and Reinhardt are the top Tanks in the game, and Reaper and McCree fulfill the current "Best Defense is a good Offense" philosophy that most teams abide by. 


Genji, despite the community's complaints, once again falls to the B tier due to his lack of popularity on Defense (Genji was picked twice as much on Offense). Soldier 76 remains in his B tier home as the lesser option to McCree and Reaper as a Fragger, played mainly in some Defensive setups. Joining Soldier and Genji, however, are some new arrivals. Remember last week's Team EnVyUs 2/2/2 Winston/Lucio/Reaper strategy which took the NA tourneys by storm? Turns out that insane composition was solved mere days after its arrival, by the simple inclusion of Junkrat in a team's lineup. Buoyed by this success, teams  this weekend loved to use Junkrat, Symmetra, and Mercy at specific points on a more than a few maps, boosting their popularity an vaulting them to tier B. Finally, Tracer's appearance in The Specialist tier is no accident: after counting King of the Hill maps towards the total for this Report, Tracer's numbers exploded. Many teams choose to run a single Tracer to harass Supports, prevent caps, and prolong Overtime on Nepal and Lijang Tower. 

C "The Single Map Area Heroes, Panic-Picks, and Player-Favorite" Tier: WIDOWMAKER, D.VA, ROADHOG, ZARYA, PHARAH, HANZO, TORBJÖRN

Widowmaker once again escapes the D tier thanks to teams like IDDQD putting their Fragging Ringer (Pluppie) on her on specific map points to destroy their Opponent's assault singlehandedly. Roadhog and surprisingly Hanzo both climbed ranks thanks to the play of single players who stubbornly tried (with some success, even) to make these Heroes work. More than once, a valiant Roadhog on Hollywood's defense stymied attackers with his Whole Hog Ultimate down a narrow street.  Teams also finally found ways to properly utilize Torbjörn in certain situations -- King's Row offense surprisingly one of them -- but not quite enough to join Symmetra in her Turret-building fun in tier B. Zarya and Pharah are interesting for their drop in popularity -- the former due to the strength in other Tank options and the latter due to her vulnerability to increasingly popular Hitscan Heroes. Finally, poor D.Va's appearance in the C tier is primarily due to teams choosing her as a last-ditch effort to defend a final Checkpoint...not because of her strength as a Tank. 

D "The Highly Suscpicious, possibly BM-pick" Tier: BASTION, MEI

It's the second Meta Repot, and these Heroes still just straight up stink. Out of 1096 total picks, poor Mei was picked twice, and one of those times I'm 95% sure was just to taunt the other team. One week later and there's still just no place for a peaceful robot or a Chinese meteorologist in Overwatch :(


Defense-Oriented Heroes Stink Round 2: Electric Boogaloo

The main conclusion I drew from my first Meta Report was that Defense Heroes are terrible in Overwatch -- but now that the teams are one week wiser it seems like I may have spoken too soon. Only some Defense Heroes stink, not all of them. I made the observation that Symmetra seemed well-balanced for her role, and teams this week agreed with me: her usage was extremely high on certain maps which propelled her to the A tier when on Defense. 

Defense - only Tiering

Our Turret-building friend, Torbjörn, sees a similar tier bump when examining solely Defensive setups, showing that Teams are willing to experiment with Heroes that have more niche roles if their abilities and the situation are worth it. Unfortunately, while Torbjörn and Symmetra have obviously made the cut, Mei and Bastion have not yet been deemed roster-worthy. I predict a buff in their future. 

EU vs. NA Differences

For the second week in a row, EU players have demonstrated that they really, really love McCree on Offense -- choosing the gunslinger almost twice as much as their NA counterparts. It is difficult to explain this phenomenon: is EU ahead of the Meta in some way? Or do they simply have more talented Fraggers currently in the Beta? This will be an interesting delineation to keep track of when Overwatch exits Beta and more players enter the pool.  EU players also seem to have responded to Team EnVyUs' Lucio/Reinhardt/Reaper lineup from last week by fully embracing the way of the Rat -- they now utilize Junkrat in several Defensive and Offensive strategies (much moreso than NA players). Further indication of the EU region's flexibility is their willingness to adopt Torbjörn on Defense -- picking him twice as much as NA players -- which accounted for his step up in tier this week. The only thing that stands out from the NA region is their insistence on using Offensive Widowmakers and Defensive Soldier 76s. I have no idea why Soldier 76 is so popular on Defense with NA players (maybe they saw Pluppie dominate Hollywood with him last week?), and perhaps the popularity of Offensive Widowmakers is a symptom of playing too many pub games. 

King of the Hill has its own Meta, which is rapidly becoming Stale

The two King of the Hill maps are exciting arenas which give some specific Heroes like Tracer a place to shine in Competitive Overwatch, but they represent a bit of a problem in Hero balancing. Due to the attack-centric focus of King of the Hill maps, some Heroes simply aren't viable. The data backs this up:

King of the Hill Total Breakdown. Statistically, you should pick more than 1 Lucio and Winston over the course of a Match

It's pretty egregious: 9 out of the 21 Heroes in Overwatch simply were not picked during any of the King of the Hill matches on either map. That seems like a problem to me. Blizzard will need to introduce more King of the Hill maps which favor a wider array of Hero lineups, otherwise the King of the Hill Meta is going to become stale very quickly. This does not bode well for other, future game modes if they support similar Hero-restricting strategies (Capture the Flag comes to mind). I see Nepal and Lijang Tower as an important experiment that Kaplan and friends have designed whose results will directly impact future game modes, and unfortunately the results do not seem that promising. 



This report has grown quite a bit in just a week since starting! Special thanks to Dthehunter for the upgrade to my Google sheet, and to the great discussion that was had on Reddit. As before, I will be travelling the next three weekends and the reports may be delayed as a result. As always, if you think I need to change anything about my methodology I would be glad to implement any ideas you might come up with, provided it's still time-efficient for me to do. Please let me know in my reddit posthere

Article 4: Overwatch Hero Meta Report #1




Home of Competitive Overwatch Analysis

Google ads keep the lights on, thank you for understanding


What's up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here and this week I have something exciting to present: my first Overwatch Hero Meta Report for the competitive scene of Overwatch. This project will be a weekly work-in-progress, as I plan to take community suggestions to optimize how I generate this report. Before I get to the interesting trends, the Tier List, and conclusions we can take from it, let's break down the system I used to collect the data, possible outliers that could appear, and the raw data itself. 


This is only half of the data I would end up tallying...(excuse the poor handwriting)

Because I'm only one person, I had to implement a set of rules to effectively count Hero Picks without going insane. To cut down on time and hopefully still paint an accurate picture of the state of Competitive Overwatch, these are the rules I followed while tallying Hero Picks for both Offense and Defense during this weekend's tournaments:

  • At the beginning of the game, tally each Hero on each Team
  • At the end of the game, tally any Hero change that has occurred from the beginning of the Match
  • Do not count Obvious, opening cheeses (the only time this came into play was the 6-Hanzo Cheese on King's Row)
  • Do not count Duplicate Heroes
  • Do not count Heroes on King of the Hill Maps, because they have no delineation between Offense and Defense

Now some of you may notice, there are some obvious limitations and outliers that will occur from these rules. I will discuss them line-by-line:

At the beginning of the game, tally each Hero on each Team: This rule is obvious, and generally accurately portrays a team's overall strategy for the first leg of a Payload or Checkpoint Map. The only issue I ran into were obvious Cheese strats, but this was addressed in a later rule. 

At the end of the game, tally any Hero change that has occurred from the beginning of the Match: This rule also seems obvious, and would capture each team's final Push, or Defending strategies. Occasionally, this would result in strange outliers as teams tried various desperation-Hero Swaps in order to tag the payload either on Offense or Defense, rarely with any success. Case in point, all but one of the Tracer picks on Offense, and all but one of the D.Va picks on Defense were unsuccessful, desperation-based Hero Swaps. Finally, by only tallying Hero picks at the beginning and end of games instead of cataloging every Hero-swap that occurred throughout the match, I miss out on second-leg or other mid-map strategic picks. However, I noted that teams generally didn't switch up their lineup too much in the middle of most maps (Gibraltar's Hangar section being the obvious exception), and I would have lost my mind trying to keep up with every Hero swap throughout a game.  

Do not count Obvious, opening cheeses (the only time this came into play was the 6-Hanzo Cheese on King's Row): I decided that 6-Hero, single-action Cheese like the Hanzo Scatter Arrow strategy on King's Row were not worth counting, and this was the only such strategy that teams used anyway. I took initial counts for these teams only after they had all swapped off of Hanzo. 

Do not count Duplicate Heroes: This was the rule I struggled with the most, primarily because EU players tended not to run duplicate Heroes and I didn't see it impacting the count as much anyway. Then Team EnVyUs happened. EnVyUs preferred to run a Double-Lucio, Double-Winston, Double-Reaper lineup and somehow word got out among the NA teams that this was some sort of Uber-Comp and many teams rushed to copy their strategy. By this point, I had collected about 75% of the data, and I decided to continue not counting duplicate Heroes. I may remove this restriction in the following weeks as these strategies continue. This means that the percentages you will see later indicate the percent out of all Picks a particular Hero accounted for, however this means that the percentages of Lucio, Winston, and Reaper (the most commonly doubled-up Heroes) Picks are a bit lower than actually practiced. 

Do not count Heroes on King of the Hill Maps, because they have no delineation between Offense and Defense: This rule was primarily used because I wanted to have a concrete delineation between Offense and Defense to analyze different Hero choices on each side, and King of the Hill maps do not have that. This meant throwing out Hero tallies on King of the Hill maps, although the primary difference I noticed on King of the Hill maps was only an absence of Reinhardt picks. 


Raw, just like I like it

The first thing you'll notice is the red highlighting: I added these to indicate where I saw significant* differences between the EU and NA Meta. I also converted Picks to Percentage of Total Picks to better compare the differences between EU and NA, as the total number of picks I tallied were not equal across regions. This data was collected from both GosuGamers weekly tournaments (NA and EU) on Saturday and Sunday, as well as the OneHitClub NA tourney which occurred on Saturday. I was able to collect data from every single GosuGamers EU tournament match thanks to their four channels simultaneously streaming the matches (, /gamersoriginow, /cleverpress, /esl_alphacast), so major thanks to them for doing so. I was only able to catch about half of the matches in OneHitClub and the GosuGamers NA tournament because only half of them were streamed, but the data was still meaningful. Finally, since I don't claim to be a great statistician and I know some of you may want to run "real" comparisons on the data, I've included a link to the Google sheet here.

*significant via eye-test, not statistically.


With 21 Heroes, I decided to split them into D,C,B,A and S tiers, with a single Hero filling the S spot. Here's how that looks:

S "You should always have this Hero in your lineup" Tier: LUCIO

This comes as surprise to no one, Lucio was far and away the most picked Hero on both Offense and Defense, accounting for a whopping 14.38% of all Hero Picks across all regions. Because I didn't count duplicates, his pick rate likely much higher than this. Lucio is the healer you should always have at least one of, and as EnVyUs showed us this weekend you often want two of. Is Le Balanced Disco Man too strong? Or are other Supports too weak?

A "It's a pretty good idea to include these Heroes in your lineup" Tier: ZENYATTA, REINHARDT, REAPER, MCCREE, WINSTON

Now that Zenyatta's shields may be healed, and due to the popularity of the Genji Zenyatta combo, Zenyatta was the second-most picked Hero in competitive scenarios. Reinhardt was this weekend's most likely Tank to be picked by a team, however this is likely because EU teams were not implementing EnVyUs's double Winston lineup yet. As much as the pros like to complain about Genji, it was actually Reaper who took the top spot among DPS Heroes, proving that sometimes you just have to press Q and spin to win. McCree appears this tier, primarily due to his popularity among EU's Hitscan-leaning players. This may change as the Double-Winston, Double-Reaper, Double-Lucio Meta spreads across the ocean, however. Speaking of this strategy, it is entirely the reason behind Winston's appearance in Tier A, as well as the title of this Report, as NA teams rushed to copy EnVyUs's Meta-Defining strategy. 

B "The Specialist Heroes and NA favorites" Tier: GENJI, SOLDIER 76, ZARYA, PHARAH

As much as the Pros may like to complain about Genji, he actually falls into Tier B of Hero picks, although he had similar numbers as McCree and Reaper. This is mostly due to the disparity in how Genji is used: he's much more utilized on Offense than Defense, at a roughly 60:40 ratio. Soldier 76 marks the first significant drop-off in pick totals, and was similarly used much more on Defense than Offense. Zarya was almost never used as a Main Tank, but would often be swapped to mid-game in order to get a big team wipe against a tricky defense. Finally, Pharah falls to the B tier due to the majority of EU teams simply not using her anymore and some NA team's refusing to swap off their favorite rocket-firing Egyptian. 

C "The Single Map Area Heroes, Panic-Picks, and Mercy" Tier: MERCY, WIDOWMAKER, SYMMETRA, D.VA, TRACER, ROADHOG

Mercy's pick rate stands as the next significant drop-off in the Tiers, and I believe her pick rate was artificially inflated by NA players' resistance to change from playing Heroes they're comfortable with. Currently, Zenyatta and Lucio seem to have obsoleted Mercy except in extremely dire situations where teams need a huge push into team resurrection to capture a difficult point. Widowmaker was used extremely effectively in very specific situations by very specific people: Coolmatt69 used her to great effect inside Watchpoint: Gibraltar's hangar, Twoeasy was a demon using her Offensively on Hollywood's final checkpoint, and Pluppie mounted an amazing defense on Hanamura's final checkpoint. Symmetra similarly was only ever utilized Defensively on the first checkpoint of map, and primarily by the EU region. D.Va and Tracer picks (as stated above) were mostly panic-picks to either defend a payload from capping or tap a pushing payload to preserve the Overtime timer. Finally, Roadhog was used by a couple of players like Twoeasy who believed they could hit enough hooks in specific maps to make a difference.

D "The I'm not sure these picks were intentional and rest in peace, Mei" Tier: HANZO, TORBJÖRN, JUNKRAT, BASTION, MEI

These Heroes just straight up stink. Outside of the Cheesy 6-Hanzo Scatter Arrow King's Row strategy, Hanzo only saw play on Defense by a few stubborn NA teams. The rest of these picks occurred so rarely that I'm pretty sure they were random, panic picks at the end of games. Finally, out of 1175 total picks, poor Mei wasn't picked a single time. RIP Balanced Ice Woman. 


Defense-Oriented Heroes Stink

The first conclusion I draw from this data is the simple statement: "The best Defense is a good Offense." Heroes supposedly valued for their Defensive specialty -- Bastion, Torbjörn, Mei for example -- were completely non-existent in the competitive Meta of Overwatch. This can be attributed to the value placed on Hero deaths as ways to accomplish the goals in Overwatch's various game modes. In the current state of Overwatch, there's no better way to gain an advantage over your opponent's team than getting a pick off one of their team -- giving your team a Hero advantage and often snowballing your assault or defense. A Hero like Mei whose damage isn't very high and whose abilities are based on controlling/altering map space only slows down an assault, it doesn't stop it. Bastion and Torbjörn -- at least at the competitive level -- seem to be too fixed in one spot and thus too easily countered by more mobile or more long range Heroes who can get behind them or snipe them from range. Ideally, you'd see Heroes of this classification be picked at least at the same rate as Symmetra -- who I think is in a great place -- making their mark in a meaningful way on certain parts of certain Maps. The problem then is how to balance this such that it doesn't overwhelm casual players (as we've already seen with Bastion and Torbjörn in the past), but that's for Blizzard to figure out, not me. 

EU loves their Hitscan Heroes

There was a huge disparity in how often McCree and Soldier 76 were picked by EU players compared to NA. This can primarily be attributed to NA's adoption of EnVyUs' Double-Winston, Double-Reaper, Double-Lucio strategies which ate up slots that would otherwise be occupied by such Heroes, as well as NA's insistence on running Pharah in a Meta that seems sub-optimal for her. It is very interesting to see the two Regions' Metas shift in completely opposite ways: EU insists on playing Hitscan Heroes which makes Pharahs non-existent in their scene, while NA just turns into a Monkey on Monkey, Reaper on Reaper slugfest half of the time. We will have to see which strategy wins out next week. 

The problem with Support and Tanks

There's a balance issue looming with Support and Tank classes and it is blatantly apparent from this data. The smaller the amount of total Heroes make up a "class type," the greater the disparity in picks among that class type will be as players min-max their team compositions. We can see this immediately in the Tank class in particular: teams tended to pick Reinhardt or Winston as their Main Tanks, use Zarya only for her game-changing Ultimate as a change of pace, and almost never picked Roadhog or D.Va for any reason. Support classes -- Healers in particular -- have seen a similar increase in pick disparity. By now most teams have realized that without a strong Pharah, Mercy has become less viable and Zenyatta and Lucio eagerly eaten up all of the team slots she would otherwise have occupied. Fortunately for Blizzard, I do have a good suggestion for how to combat this problem: add more Tanks and Support classes. Adding more classes will smooth out the Pick rates like we see with the DPS classes, and give people more options to swap to in different situations which support different Hero movesets. 


This was a very interesting exercise to do, and something I want to continue doing in the future. Unfortunately, I'm going to be travelling the next four weekends and will have to do this entirely via VOD rather than as the matches happen, so the reports will be a little delayed. My question to you all is: Do you think I need to change anything about my methodology? I'm no statistician, but I would be glad to implement any ideas you might come up with, provided it's still time-efficient for me to do. Please let me know in my reddit post here



Powered by Squarespace

Article 3: How IDDQD Dethroned Melty Esports Club

What's up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here and today I'll be analyzing the biggest Overwatch story of the weekend: Team IDDQD sweeping Melty Esports in the semi-finals of the Gosugamers EU Weekly Tournament. The upset came entirely out of nowhere -- prior to the Beta break, Melty eSports was the frontrunner for best EU team, even jumping the NA-based NotEnigma in Gosugamer's head-to-head rankings. With such a strong record, Melty seemed like an instant-lock for the finals.



However, along came IDDQD -- a group of friends who just recently formed during the Closed Beta -- who took the first Map in stunning fashion: shutting out Melty on the first checkpoint of King’s Row after a successful Offense. IDDQD would continue their defensive dominance on Dorado: holding steady at the third checkpoint and to win the map on tiebreakers and sweep the Tournament favorites. How did they pull it off? Did IDDQD discover something in the Patch Notes that other teams had missed? I'll answer these questions and more -- breaking down how IDDQD dethroned the Kings of EU Overwatch on their way to their first big Tournament win.


The Bash Brothers: Taimou and Bromas


I spoke with Melty eSports’ KabaL shortly after their match and he said that Melty simply had no answer to the Hitscan-Hero-heavy lineup that IDDQD brought on Offense and Defense. I’m sure when KabaL was describing their troubles, he was having flashbacks of Taimou and Bromas’ overwhelming fragger play. Bromas favors Soldier 76 -- spending almost the entire Tournament playing him -- but this hardly mattered with how well he utilized the Hero’s kit. Taimou similarly played primarily McCree at a similar, masterful level. Taimou and  Bromas would both occasionally swap to Reaper -- a third, close-range  Hitscan character -- when the situation required.


Together these two players abused two key elements of the changes the new Patch ushered in. First, the reduction in weapon bloom recovery time for Soldier 76 allowed Bromas to be extremely annoying while poking enemy team at long range and extremely deadly at mid to close range. Second, nerfing Mercy and indirectly nerfing the viability of the Mercy-Pharah duo gave Taimou’s McCree and Bromas’ 76 a weak spot in their Opponent’s lineup to attack. While some teams still favor the Pharah-Mercy combo, IDDQD’s team composition preyed on these lineups by pairing Zenyatta with the Bash Brothers. A Pharah or Mercy floating in midair is a juicy target for any Hitscan Hero, but toss a Discord Orb on either and they’re blown up in seconds.


One question looms: how do you counter strong, Hitscan-focused Team Composition? You’ll notice Melty tried several different lineups to try to break through IDDQD’s line, and they actually almost stumbled upon the solution: the Genji-Zenyatta combo. Melty refused to drop their Mercy/Lucio healer composition and while they did utilize a Genji from time to time, without an Orb of Harmony he would often be quickly taken out before he could escape. To take out IDDQD’s Bash Brothers, you need to get up into close range  and take one of them by surprise -- but you need enough backup healing power to escape with your life when the other Bash Brother comes to their aid. Melty missed this, and paid for it.


The Swingman: Internethulk


While I was gushing about the Bash Brothers, I neglected to mention the real MVP of IDDQD’s King’s Row Defense: Internethulk. Internethulk’s piloted the third Hitscan Hero on the lineup, a Reaper, roaming back and forth seeking out the scouting Genji and making quick work of advancing Tanks. He ended the match with 25 eliminations, defending only the first Checkpoint for a whopping 58% Kill Participation rate. What’s most impressive, however, was Internethulk’s ability to fill any void in a team composition.


Here’s the secret: Internethulk doesn’t just play Reaper, he plays any and every Hero his team needs. When IDDQD was on offense, Internethulk played the essential Genji role to pair with Chipshajen’s Zenyatta -- wreaking havoc on Melty’s backline and giving freedom to Taimou and Bromas play their preferred Heroes. When IDDQD had pushed into the final Checkpoint (putting Melty’s back to the wall and providing little backline to harass) Internethulk swapped seamlessly to an Offensive Winston to give the team a stronger position on Payload for their final push. When the teams moved to Dorado, Internethulk played the entire Offense as Winston, then swapped between Winston and Genji on Defense.


What I’m getting at here is that if IDDQD didn’t already have their other roles already filled they could probably slap Internethulk in as their Main Tank, Main Healer, Bastion, or even a Torbjorn and he’d still kick ass. Every successful team wants a player like Internethulk who can step up to fill roster gaps and IDDQD leaned on his flexibility to respond to every composition Melty (and later, Reunited) would throw at them in the Tournament.


The Zenyatta of Dreams: Chipshajen


When you have a team full of skilled Hitscan-mains, a well-played Zenyatta is the key to executing your strategy. The recent Patch enabling Shields to be healed made the tiny mechanical monk barely tanky enough to fit into current lineups, and IDDQD warmed up to him immediately. Throughout the tournament Chipshajen popped Transcendence at vital times, saved his team, and preserved their defensive setups on Checkpoints. Half of the Plays of the Game seem to involve a huge Zenyatta Transcendence Ultimate leading to 4-5 assisted kills and a couple of solo-kills using Zenyatta’s ridiculously high damage left-click. Despite all the obvious, the real answer to how Zenyatta pushed their lineup to the next level lies in his Orbs.


Zenyatta has two Orbs: an Orb of Discord and an Orb of Harmony. Both of these Orbs last as long as Zenyatta is alive and have extremely powerful effects. Orb of Harmony sticks to a friendly target, healing at a rate of 25 health per second as long as the target whenever the target is damaged. This Orb can be used in two ways: the Zenyatta can either juggle it to whichever teammate needs healing the most -- playing a triage game -- or it can be slapped on a Genji to abuse the Orb’s sustaining power to enable more reckless attacks. Chipshajen does both: expertly juggling his Harmony Orbs when the team is set up defensively and making the -- somewhat easy to be honest -- decision to slap a Harmony Orb on Internethulk’s Offensive Genji when the time calls for it.


Orb of Discord is the real money-maker in Zenyatta’s kit: currently taking the award for strongest buff or debuff in Overwatch. Orb of Discord not only increases all damage done to the target it’s stuck to, but also gives the Zenyatta vision of the target wherever it goes. Strategically, this vision allows the Zenyatta to keep his team updated on a dangerous target’s position at all times, and the damage increase has its own more obvious effect. The Orb of Discord also functions as an important means for a team to focus their firepower. Consider this example:


You and a partner enter a 2v2 battle between four equivalent DPS Heros, but your side has a single Orb of Discord to be attached to a chosen target. In a normal 2v2, you and your partner would want to single out one of the enemies to kill them twice as fast. However, your Opponents would likely do the same thing -- resulting in a 1v1 stalemate where only skill wins out. If you add an Orb of Discord to focus your firepower and grant a 50% damage boost, your duo can now blow up your target before the other team eliminates either of you, giving your team the upper hand to finish off the remaining enemy.


This is an extremely simplified scenario, but this is exactly how many of IDDQD’s eliminations played out: Chipshajen Discording a target, Bromas and Taimou focusing it down instantly, leading to a cascade of subsequent eliminations as the enemy team suddenly found themselves at a numbers disadvantage. It’s amazing what a single purple ball can do!


Let’s not forget the “boring” Heros: Cocco’s Reinhardt and NBRGIBUP’s Lucio


There isn’t much to say about Reinhardt and Lucio that most Overwatch fans don’t already know. Reinhardt is every team’s de facto #1 Tank and Lucio sits as the game’s #1 DJ/Healer. Cocco and NBRGIBUP (who has the most confusing name I’ve ever seen) both excelled in their execution throughout the matches -- setting up combinations with Earthshatter and saving the team with Sound Barriers. It will be interesting to see if NBRGIBUP can abuse Lucio’s knockback in future matches as the two cliff-laden King of the Hill maps become more popular picks in competitive play.


Final Thoughts


I’m cautiously optimistic about how the competitive Meta has responded to the changes in the Balance Patch. We’re finally seeing more Zenyatta play, more Genji play, and less of the hated Mercy-Pharah “uber” combo. An interesting thing to note is that outside of Mixup’s Offensive Bastion on Dorado and a couple of Torbjorn Defenses, I saw zero successful utilization of either of these two Turret classes throughout the NA and EU Tournaments.


Unfortunately, I still noted that some Heroes like Lucio and Reinhardt were picked by nearly every team in every situation, leading to a bit of stagnation in Team Compositions. All of that said, we’re only on the second week of the Post-Break Meta, so maybe teams will find ways to counter the heavy usage of Lucio and Reinhardt, as well as develop a strategy to combat the Zenyatta-Genji duo that has emerged to fill the void that the Pharah-Mercy duo previously occupied. Until then, I’m going to sit back and enjoy some crazy Ninja plays.



Article 2: Post Beta-Break Hero Balance: First Impressions

Post Beta-Break Hero Balance: First Impressions

What's up guys, CaptainPlanet here and HOLY CRAP THE BREAK IS OVER! Overwatch Beta has officially come back online, and those of us following the competitive scene have a whole bunch of Patch Notes to get through. Jeff Kaplan and Co. have introduced two new maps (Nepal, and Lijang Tower), a new game mode (Control, a King-of-the-Hill variant), and Private games with all sorts of options  -- but what I'm most interested in right now is how our beloved Overwatch Heroes have changed in the Beta's absence. What follows will be my analysis of the Balance portion of the Patch Notes -- line by line -- where I will provide insight into how these changes affect where these Heroes fit in the competitive Meta of Overwatch. 

General Notes

  • Healing effects now applying to Shields greatly improves the Heroes who have innate Shielding included in their kit: Zarya, Zenyatta, and Symmetra. These three Heroes suffered in usage compared to similar Heroes who occupied the same roster slot because they were simply not tanky enough under constant pressure with much of their effective health tied up in un-healable shields. Now, Shields stand to be the the best type of effective health in the game: not only can it be healed like regular health, but it still retains the bonus of recharging on its own after a delay of 3 seconds.  Finally, Symmetra and Zarya can apply Shields to their allies, so look to see a huge increase in the usage of these two Heroes. 
  • Quick melee pausing weapon recovery time while active should address resetting weapon bullet spread by meleeing -- this will no longer work. 
  • Ammo reloading in the middle of the animation should be a helpful change for players who enjoy Heroes like Roadhog or Torbjörn who have excessively long reload animations which were un-intuitive when the reload occurred at the end. 
  • Improving enemy team color seems like a nice quality-of-life change, while muzzle screen-obscuring animations have been a major concern in the community -- especially for Heroes like Soldier 76.
  • Finally, Sound Design is an often-overlooked element of first person shooters, so seeing Blizzard address and improve the Sound Design of Overwatch encouraging.

Ultimate Charge

This is an interesting change and the developer insight explains why: Heroes like Junkrat whose maximum effectiveness was tied to spamming their regular fire over and over were being unfairly punished for playing correctly. At higher levels of play, spamming your abilities ended up being counter-productive by constantly charging the enemy teams' Ultimates -- leading to a drop-off in the popularity of such Heroes. Enemy teams would also engage in suicidal strategies by diving into your barrage to build their Ultimates, a playstyle that was not very fun or interactive to face. This change will hopefully cause Ultimates to recharge at similar rates, while also freeing up "spammy" Heroes to do their thing. 


Bastion marks the first of our two "major" Hero overhauls along with Torbjörn, and there's quite a bit to go through here. Bastion received a buff to his base heath in Recon Configuration, making him a tiny bit tankier while moving from Turret spot to Turret spot. His Recon gun also received a small boost in accuracy at close range, allowing him to better defend himself against sneaky Tracers and Genjis. Speaking of defending himself: Bastion also received a buff to the speed at which he swaps Configurations, meaning that if you manage to get the jump on a Bastion, you no longer have time to melee him multiple times while he's stuck in an animation. 

In Turret Mode, Bastion has both gained and lost ground in different ways. The most obvious change is that it is much more difficult to out-flank a Bastion now: Bastion's Turret mode has a 360 degree rotation instead of just 180. This makes some of the more innovative Offensive-Bastion strategies a bit more viable: such as planting a Bastion on top of a moving Payload. Bastion's Turret weapon has also received some Balance changes which increases his learning curve.  By decreasing the bullet spread you reward the more skilled players who can aim better, while reducing the overall bullet damage makes the Hero less newbie-friendly. Blizzard has also done away with Bastion's frontal shield -- which makes sense given his 360 degree aim buff -- opting for a 300 Armor boost bringing his effective health up to the level of current Tanks. Despite all of these anti-flanking buffs to his kit, Blizzard seems to want to preserve flanking as the preferred strategy to deal with an entrenched Bastion: in Turret Mode Bastion's core is exposed, giving Tracers and Genjis a nice juicy target to target for triple damage. 

With these changes, Blizzard seems to have addressed the "overpowered versus new players but underpowered against experienced players" situation Bastion players found themselves in. Nerfing his damage while giving him more tools to deal with hard counters provides an increased learning curve for all Bastion mains to enjoy and simultaneously opens up the possibilities for strategies and team compositions that Bastion can fit into. 


D.Va is by far my favorite Hero in Overwatch, but I even I knew she was due for a nerf. As I discussed in a previous article, D.Va on her own is a strong tank -- but when multiple D.Vas enter the picture they can overwhelm an attacking team and neuter any offense. Blizzard realized this and has made the spread of her Defense Matrix much smaller, which should decrease the effective area in which multiple D.Vas can deny projectiles. While I love my Defense Matrix, I look forward to the increase in skill that maining D.Va will require in order to effectively use this smaller version. Finally, the change to the Mech despawn should make killing a suit-less D.Va slightly easier, because the Mech will no longer soak up random bullets.


Hanzo has received some fairly straightforward, quality-of-life changes. Scatter Arrow having a consistent spread pattern will allow players to more consistently plan how they want their shots to hit their Opponents, and Sonic Arrow sticking to enemies will provide additional position info while not forcing you to aim away from your target. Finally, like a few other Ultimates in the balance notes, Hanzo's Dragonstrike can be aimed while charging -- making it less likely to miss due to quick action from a well-prepared enemy team. 


Mercy was a constant presence on every pre-break team due to the power of her Ultimate ability, something Blizzard has definitively addressed with Mercy's Ultimate overhaul. The cost of her Ultimate has been decreased likely due to the passive Ultimate recharge changes. This may end up allowing Mercy to cast more Ultimates than before,  but that's a bonus she'll be needing because Mercy's Ultimate's range has also been reduced by more than half. This means that Mercy players need to play extra carefully to get a good Team Resurrection off as they now need to be right on top of their dead teammates to Ressurect them. Luckily, Mercy can now dash to her teammates' dead bodies due to the Guardian Angel change -- a change that will also give Mercy additional recovery options when she gets knocked off the edges of maps. 


Pharah's balance change isn't really a balance change as much as a bug-fix. This will address Pharah players abusing map objects in an unfair manner and frees up design space for future maps. 


Pre-break, Reinhardt was another Hero who was being picked in almost every team composition due to his immense tankiness and powerful Ultimate ability. Blizzard seems to have decided that Reinhardt's Ultimate was too powerful, allowing him to solo entire teams with a well-placed Earthshatter -- instead of simply setting up team Ultimate combos as they originally planned. The days of 1v5ing a poorly-spaced enemy team with Reinhardt seem to be over...Sorry Renbot :(. Like Hanzo, Reinhardt will now be able to change where he's aiming his Earthshatter while it's charging, making it harder for enemy teams to dodge. 


Roadhog also receives a straightforward buff which should help less-skilled players hit the "hook-left click-melee" combo more easily. This will also help Roadhog become a single-target specialist, picking off more mobile characters like Tracer and Genji who previously could make a quick getaway after being hooked. Finally, an undocumented Roadhog change was just confirmed on Seagull's stream: Roadhog's weapon now always fires in the center of the target reticule, instead of from the barrel of the gun. This will make Roadhog much more accurate -- and deadly -- at close range. 

Soldier 76

Like a few other Heroes in this round of balancing, Soldier 76's changes seem to create a greater learning curve to the Hero, separating the pros from the beginners. Learning to balance 76's bullet spread with bursts of shots will now be essential for any aspiring fragger, however this gain in accuracy comes at a cost. Possibly prompted by some of Blizzard's more skilled testers, Soldier 76 now suffers a long-range damage fall-off similar to McCree, placing his maximum effectiveness in close to mid range battles. 


I've already covered the how the overall changes to Shields help Symmetra, but she's also received a few Balance changes with Overwatch's return. Symmetra can now get her first Teleporter out faster -- giving her a boost to her roster potential on both Attack and Defense -- but no longer generates Ultimate charge while her Teleporter is active. As the Devs state above, they don't want Symmetra to be able to chain Teleporters one after the other, but it seems to me that being able to rush her first Teleporter could introduce strange gameplay. A team could have a single support rush out a Teleporter with the intent of immediately Hero-swapping as soon as their team has taken full advantage of it -- essentially becoming a single-use Ultimate bot. With this and other whacky strategies in mind, it will be surely interesting to see how Symmetra fits into new team compositions. 


Blizzard seems to have saved the best for last with Torbjörn. Or, at least, the most. Torbjörn has received the most line item changes of any Hero in Overwatch post-break, but the Developer team seems to have still kept the spirit of the Hero intact. Torbjörn can now find and hoard much more Scrap, allowing him to buff himself and his teammates with Armor packs and increase their sustaining power. Torbjörn's base, non-Turret based fire has been buffed as well, making him more dangerous as an individual when he's finished hammering away at his stationary weapons. His Level 1 and Level 2 Turrets now deal more damage but have far less health as well, making them both more effective against his hard counters but less punishing against new players. Finally, his Ultimate Ability instantly converts Level 2 Turrets to Level 3 -- adding a bit of challenge to choosing when to activate his Ultimate ability. This also gives Torbjörn more freedom to run around bashing and shooting enemies while his Level 3 Turrets rain rockets from afar. Teams will have to experiment to figure out when and where on maps to make best use of a Torbjörn, as well as what compositions can make the best use of his Armor buffs while protecting his Turrets. 

Final Thoughts

Overwatch's Devs seem to have a good handle on what knobs to tweak to break up entrenched Meta compositions while also bringing underused Heroes back from the grave. I can't wait for the budding esports scene to start experimenting with new Hero rosters to start pushing the limits of what's possible. Maybe we'll see an offensive Torbjörn, a Payload-pushing Bastion, or some crazy Symmetra strats in the coming weeks! One thing's for sure: regardless of what Heroes come out on top, we're all just happy that Overwatch has returned. 


Article 1: Pre Beta-Break Competitive Strategies (NotEnigma and Hubris)

Evolving Strategies in Overwatch: Analyzing NA’s Best Teams


The esports wave is picking up speed, and not even Closed Betas are safe. In a growing world of competitive gaming, Shooters seem poised to make the biggest splash in 2016 and one game has everyone’s attention -- and it isn’t even out. I’m talking about Overwatch: the highly anticipated Arena Shooter from Blizzard whose Closed Beta lasted only a month and a half, yet spawned nearly a dozen tournaments and more than enough highly competitive teams to fill them. During its short, invite-only run Overwatch fostered a competitive scene which was healthy enough for numerous Meta tactics and team compositions to take form.  Much of the innovation centered around Overwatch’s fundamental distinction from its competitors in the genre: Hero-switching during matches. This created complex strategies which revolved around team compositions that varied not just per map, but even throughout different progression areas of a single map.

Two NA teams have emerged as favorites both in strength of roster and ability to experiment with team compositions: Team NotEnigma, and Team Hubris. Over the course of late November and into December, these two teams fought, innovated, and fought again attempting to out-play each other with their skill and out-strategize each other with their lineups. I will be breaking down various strategies each of these teams employed in different maps and on both attack and defense to help demonstrate the insane potential Overwatch represents as an esport.** The first tournament I will be pulling matches from is the weekly King of the Watch Tournament hosted by Creation eSports and casted by AskJoshy (read my BlizzCon interview with AskJoshy here), and the GosuGamers weekly NA Cup casted by Tempo_ZP and Hexagrams. Let’s get to it!

**This article will assume the reader is familiar with the abilities of the various Overwatch Heroes and basic gameplay.

Game 1: Small Changes Lead to Big Payoffs

Match: King of the Watch Game 3, Hubris Attacking

Map: Dorado

Initial Lineup: Reinhardt, Winston, Lύcio, Mercy, Pharah, McCree

Hero Swaps: McCree becomes Soldier 76 after first Control Point, Winston becomes D.Va after second Contol Point.

Match VOD:

Hubris begins this Payload match with Talespin on Pharah in a duo with Esper’s Mercy to pressure NotEnigma’s position on the bridge by rocketing above the buildings as the Payload turns the first corner.  Mercy-boosted rockets and Pharah’s Wrist-Rocket knockback forces NotEnigma off the bridge while Coolmatt69 on McCree takes out any player unlucky enough to fall to the ground. Winston, Reinhardt, and Lύcio form an uncontestable wall on the Payload: NotEnigma is unable to get through the two shields and an aura-heal from long range. Upon reaching the first archway, Ras on Winston splits off and jumps on NotEnigma’s back line to harass and prevent them from stalling Hubris in the tunnel. Dorado has few hiding spots along its first Payload Leg: allowing Coolmatt69 to threaten McCree’s Ultimate to recover should Hubris stall at the first archway, however Hubris pushes through to the first checkpoint with little difficulty.

Dorado’s streets begin much wider and without clutter but become more narrow as the Payload progresses. Hubris recognizes this, and when Coolmatt69 suffers his first death on McCree after the first checkpoint he switches to Soldier 76: a Hero whose Ultimate and Alt-Fire abilities more suited to Dorado’s later, tightly-packed stages. Hubris reaches the second checkpoint with little difficulty as well: Seagull’s Pharah eats a rocket to the face shortly after Clockwork’s Soldier 76 is ambushed and cut off by three Hubris players with Lύcio’s speed buff. Clockwork then switches to D.Va -- presumably to get back to the point faster -- but D.Va’s significantly lower damage barely tickles Hubris’ Lύcio-Reinhardt-Winston combo riding the Payload.  

Upon stalling at the final checkpoint, Ras switches off Winston for a D.Va of his own: noting that this final section of Dorado -- with its high, close-together walls -- does not synergize well with Winston’s jump ability but creates deadly traps with D.Va’s Ultimate. At this point, it’s also important to mention a Hero Switch that Hubris performed in Game 2 of the same series -- swapping a Pharah for a second D.Va -- which stalled their progress and lead to a loss. In Game 3, Hubris has learned from their mistake and Talespin remains on Pharah: giving them enough offensive firepower to push back the defenders while maintaining still making use of a single D.Va’s staying power and Ultimate ability.

Getting back to the action, Coolmatt69’s swap to Soldier 76 pays off immensely when he uses his Ultimate to take out four NotEnigma defenders while simultaneously chasing them around several corners: a move he could not have performed had he stayed on his previous Hero, McCree. NotEnigma attempts to stop Hubris’ push by swapping to multiple D.Vas, but Ras’ switch to D.Va and Talespin’s decision to stay on Pharah gives them the oomf to finally push through: a well-placed D.Va ultimate scares most of NotEnigma off the Payload while a Pharah Ultimate cleans up the final few hiding behind it. 

Game 2: Consistency is Key

Match: King of the Watch Game 4, NotEnigma Attacking

Map: Hollywood

Initial Lineup: Reinhardt, D.Va, Lύcio, Mercy, Pharah, Reaper

Hero Swaps: Reaper swaps to McCree, then Soldier 76 very early in the game

Match VOD:

In this match, NotEnigma opens as the attackers on the Hollywood Payload map. Hollywood shares some of Dorado’s map philosophy: the payload path begins outdoors with wide roads and open spaces which gradually narrow and move through an indoor area to an arena-like final checkpoint. While NotEnigma rolls out with the cookie-cutter Lύcio-Reinhardt Payload-pushing setup as well as the now well-known Mercy-boosted Pharah duo for damage, it’s their final two Hero choices that make their lineup so powerful. 

Because of the high walls and rooftops surrounding the winding Payload path, defending teams on Hollywood will generally try to take the high ground with a Pharah-Mercy combo: raining damage-boosted rockets down upon their attackers. To counter this, NotEnigma chooses to include D.Va in their starting lineup to fly ahead of their front line and wreak havoc on Hubris’s defensive line: harrassing the rooftop defenders and disrupting the barrage. Indeed, as soon as the payload reaches the first arch in Hollywood Enigma takes off on D.Va to chase Talespin’s Pharah and Esper’s Mercy off of the adjacent rooftop -- splitting them up and forcing Talespin to the ground.

Unfortunately, D.Va cannot eliminate a Pharah-Mercy team on her own and NotEnigma realizes they need another, preferably hitscan character to snipe the high-mobility defenders out of the air when their D.Va forces them to relocate. Clockwork, after dying early on Reaper and seeing Hubris’ lineup, initially switches to McCree then to Soldier 76: a high damage hitscan character with excellent sustaining pressure. Soldier 76’s team synergy shines due to his Sprint and Biotic Field abilities: Sprint compliments the team’s high mobility while Biotic Field gives Payload-pushers an extra bit of breathing room. In a map like Hollywood with long paths back from respawn for the attacking team, this team full of Heroes with movement-augmenting abilities allows NotEnigma to pile on the pressure and push Hubris back on their heels.

After the swap to Soldier 76, NotEnigma locks in the uber-comp that they stick with for the remainder of the map. Enigma on D.Va stays far ahead in front of the Payload as a triple-threat: harrassing rooftop defenders, providing defensive support by deleting Talespin’s rockets with Defense Matrix, and denying contention from Hubris by Self-Destructing near the Payload. Seagull on Pharah quickly takes the high ground with his Mercy partner by winning the Pharah duels --  partly thanks to D.Va’s defensive support -- and snags a few team wipes. Clockwork on Soldier 76 plays a flexible ground role: picking off air and ground defenders while providing additional healing for the Reinhardt-Lύcio Payload team. After the first Checkpoint, Seagull and Talespin trade teamwipes with their Ultimates -- but a timely Mercy Ultimate from Dummy resurrects all of NotEnigma, a swing that Hubris never quite recovers from as NotEnigma cruises through the rest of the map.

Game #3: The Great Wall of D.Va (

Match: GosuGamers Weekly NA Cup #1 Game 3, Hubris Defending

Map: Watchpoint: Gibraltar

Initial Lineup: Pharah, McCree, Mercy, Lύcio, Reinhardt, Roadhog

Hero Swaps: All except Lύcio switch to D.Va at final Checkpoint

Match VOD:

Hubris begins the match with a standard lineup: the typical Pharah-Mercy combo, a hitscan character in in the form of a McCree, and a Lύcio and Reinhardt to contest the Payload. The only variation comes from the flexible sixth spot where Ras makes an appearance on Roadhog as Hubris’ second tank. Roadhog in particular shines in the first leg of Watchpoint: Gibraltar because Gibraltar has potentially the most open first Payload leg of any map where Roadhog can get easy hooks and provide large area denial from the knockback of his Ultimate. Despite Hubris’s choice to take advantage of Gibraltar’s open spaces, NotEnigma quickly takes map control by controlling the high ground with an aggressive double D.Va lineup while Mesrawr backs up their aerial assult by charging behind the lines as Reinhardt. After a short stalemate under the bridge, a damage boosted Seagull on Pharah takes out a few of Hubris’ members to split the team, and Hubris has to fall back to the second checkpoint. 

Watchpoint: Gibraltar differs from the previous two maps examined because its indoor portion of the Payload path occurs during the second Checkpoint leg instead of the third. Gibraltar’s shuttle hangar is extremely cramped and has high ceilings and objects strewn about.  Defenders will often take advantage of hangar’s clutter and the shuttle hanging above to hide and snipe attackers. NotEnigma, unphased by the change in scenery, continues to utilize their double-D.Va strategy to try to harrass Hubris’ superior positions while Hubris is slow to respond. Ras stays on Roadhog in an area that’s far too tight for him to get reliable hooks, and NotEnigma seizes this opportunity to move the Payload quickly through the hangar to the second Checkpoint.

The third leg of Watchpoint: Gibraltar opens back up again giving much more free space for Ras on Roadhog to operate, and Hubris temporarily pushes NotEnigma back thanks to a timely Ultimate from Talespin on Pharah. They manage to take out a few Payload pushers and split Mesrawr’s Reinhardt off away from the group -- leading to an easy eliminatino. Unfortunately for Hubris, Seagull and Dummy’s Pharah-Mercy duo sneaks behind them to the final bridge overlooking the third Checkpoint, taking control of the sky and forcing Hubris back to their spawn the help of their two D.Va protectors.

Around this time, Coolmatt69 and the rest of Hubris seem to realize something: these D.Va’s have been wrecking them all game. If they can’t beat them, why not join them? Gradually, all of Hubris begins to switch to D.Va, until their team consists of five D.Vas and one Lύcio. This strategy is good. It takes advantage of several aspects of Watchpoint: Gibraltar, D.Va, and the fact that Overwatch allows teams to have multiple of the same Hero to create an endless stream of Korean Gamer Girls. Gibraltar’s final defense spawn point is*** much closer to the final Payload Checkpoint than most maps, meaning that D.Va can use her Rocket Boosters and Lύcio’s movement speed buff to quickly reach the Payload from spawn. D.Va additionally has one of the the strongest sustaining presences in Overwatch for contesting Control Points because losing her MEKA doesn’t kill her: it only reverts her to Human form. Combine her survivability with her projectile-deleting Defense Matrix and multiply it across five D.Vas and you end up with a Payload defense that simply cannot be stopped. Despite NotEnigma’s dominance for the first 90% of the map, they fail to break through the Great Wall of D.Va and eventually defending D.Va Ultimate forces the attackers off the point long for enough time during overtime for Hubris to claim successful defense.

***at the time of this writing

Final Thoughts

From MOBAs to Hearthstone, I have never seen a Meta quite as flexible and fast-paced as Overwatch. Blizzard has stumbled upon something game-changing here by designing a game that allows Hero-swapping at any time while also permitting multiples of the same Hero -- resulting in map-by-map strategies and position-within-map strategies. Competitive Overwatch teams will be forced to not only have the highest skilled players, but also have the most flexibility and ingenuity to stay on top. We’ve seen hints here about how small changes can have big outcomes in a team’s success in attacking, and that more extreme strategies can result in huge comebacks on defense. Team compositions and strategies will only get more complex and exciting as the game ages and more Beta invites go out, and I’m excited to see what crazy ideas the best teams come up with next.

- CaptainPlanet