Overwatch Hero Meta Report #10: The beta is dead -- long live the beta!
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 #10: The Beta is Dead -- Long Live the Beta! This week’s Meta was filled with crazy, innovative strategies and marked the free-fall of some of Overwatch’s (formerly) most powerful Heroes. This week was so strange, that King of the Hill maps made a comeback -- but with a crazy Seagull on Bastion instead of double-Tracer-duels. Have the Pros solved the Tracer Meta? Does McCree need another nerf? Or is everyone just trying to have a little fun in the final week of Closed Beta? Let’s find out!
Week 9's Tiering Results: for the extensive Map-by-map, Offense/Defense/King of the Hill Raw data, Click HERE
The Beta is Dead -- long live the beta!
“Cheese” was the theme of this week’s Meta. For non-gamers, “Cheese” refers to any strategy developed to win a game through “cheesy,” or unconventional methods. In Overwatch there’s plenty of room for Cheese, and the Competitive scene was recently overrun by these strategies leading to significant effects on the Meta. Let’s go through a few of the weird, yet surprisingly successful lineups and how they worked:
- “Protect the President” (2x Reinhardt, 2x Widowmaker, Mercy, Bastion): This lineup revolves around setting up a Bastion on the Payload (usually Route 66) and “Protecting” him from close and long range threats. Two Reinhardts use their Shields to guard the Bastion and a Damage-boosting Mercy, while the Widowmakers take aggressive positions to try to snipe Defenders seeking refuge around corners or attempting to rush the Payload to kill the Bastion. If the Defenses get breached by a Tracer Stickybomb, the Mercy simply Resurrects the team and the Deathball resumes. Teams were able to ride this “unbreakable” Defense from the beginning of Route 66 to halfway into the final, indoors leg of the escort -- quite some distance to travel without varying their strategy.
- “We’re all Soldiers Now” (4x Soldier 76, Mercy, Junkrat): This lineup was run on Defense in Route 66 for similar reasons as Protect the President: Route 66 has a very wide-open first and second escort leg with nooks and crannies for Heroes to peek in and out of. Protect the President used this open space to create looks for the mobile Bastion and his Widowmaker advance team to pick off Defenders -- We’re All Soldiers Now uses the same idea in reverse to create “Death Zones” of heavy, coordinated crossfire. Teams set up their Soldiers all around the Big Earl's Auto Shop and the surrounding cliffs -- making it hard to focus them all down at once -- and then all turned their aim to a single choke point to melt anything that came through. “Why not use Widowmaker?” you might wonder: it’s because Soldier 76 has much more room for error in his damage output, and can stand his own ground in a fight if he gets jumped by a harasser.
- “Secret Agent Bastion” (2x McCree, Lucio, Zarya, Mercy, Bastion): This lineup was a Seagull special meant to be run on select King of the Hill Maps, but especially Lijiang Tower. Luminosity speedboosted with Lucio to the control point, and set up Seagull on his Bastion in an area that overlooked both the Control Point and various entryways to the point. The initially-unnoticed Bastion quickly cleaned up the enemy team during the opening team fight -- allowing his team to secure the first cap. Then the game transitioned into a semi-Protect the President strategy: to pressure the Bastion, teams have to run through chokepoints or the far end of the Control Point. However, focusing on the Bastion splits the Opponent’s focus from contesting the point, and running straight down the sights of a Mercy-boosted Bastion spells death for anyone. This strategy is predicated on the initial cap and setup of the Bastion, so if the team attempting it fails to do either then they have to swap to more conventional lineups until they re-cap the point and can attempt setting up a Bastion again.
- “Cancer Comps” (2x McCree, 2x Lucio, 2x Winston, 2x Tracer -- Choose 3 of these): Pros have realized that on King of the Hill Maps, these four Heroes reign supreme. Teams sometimes start out with lineups designed to counter one or more types of “Cancer” comp, but eventually give up and swap to Cancer vs. Cancer after losing the first point. These lineups are work so effectively on King of the Hill because of their immense Offensive output combined with speed and knockback synergies. McCree leads most of these current Cancer Comps because of his title of "Most OP DPS in the Game", abusing his high auto-attack damage and his Tank-countering Flashbang + Fan the Hammer combo (which easily shrugged off last week's nerf). Winston can knock people off the point (or off the Map) in his Ultimate form, and has a lot of point-contesting staying power with his Shield Generator. Tracer is (obviously) a speedster who’s extremely difficult to track and who builds Ultimate charge very quickly; her Sticky Grenades often lead to vital pick-offs needed to turn the tides of team fights. Finally, Lucio’s AOE healing is vital to point defense, he can knock back Heroes off of points and maps, speed up a team for initial point capture, and his Ultimate enables Attacking and Defending teams alike to roll over each other.
A Tale of Two Heroes
If you examine the Historical Tracking data you'll notice a disturbing trend: Symmetra and Zenyatta have been on a nose-dive in usage for the past four weeks. This downward trend can mainly be attributed to nerfs these Heroes received during this time period: Zenyatta's Orbs now require line-of-sight to refresh and Symmetra's Photon Shield reduced in strength from 50 to 25. For Symmetra the final effects of her nerf remain to be seen, but for Zenyatta I feel confident in saying that this nerf was far too strong. Zenyatta marks the first Hero to ever pass all the way from S Tier downwards to the very bottom of F Tier, meaning that he's gone from the most-picked Hero to the least. Blizzard undoubtedly had good intentions in nerfing Zenyatta (and I myself called for nerfs for quite some time before he received them), they've turned the nerf knob a little too far this time. Zenyatta's health is simply too low and his mobility too lacking to be effective in a Meta dominated by sharp-shooting McCrees and Widowmakers and while his auto-attacks are still devastating and Ultimate still game-changing, the pros no longer outweigh the cons.
Symmetra, unfortunately, may be headed for a similar fate. Her Shields were nerfed for good reason -- preventing 200HP Tracers running around destroying everything in sight -- but now the only reason to even run a Symmetra is for her Ultimate, and even then only on First Point Defense. Nerfing Supports ends up being a bandaid fix at best and creates an extreme lack of diversity in Team Composition. When teams look to create a lineup, they now know that they're going to either have a Lucio, a Mercy, or two Lucios depending on the situation -- not much choice there. The solution is obvious and may have already been leaked: add more Supports. There's whispers around the scene of just such a Support, a Sniping Healer named Sombra, based off CSI-esque "enhancements" of a screenshot from the Story of Overwatch documentary series put on by Gamespot. The Devs have stated they're going to launch with 21 Heroes and 21 Heroes only -- but hope is alive that more additions will be soon to come...maybe Sombra is the answer we need.
This week’s Offense Defense Bias Report is proud to announce the most Balanced Offense/Defense split since its inception. The vast majority of Heroes were either not picked often enough to be counted, or were utilized equally on both Offense and Defense with 25% or less Bias towards either direction. As always, there were still some standouts in Meta-specific strategies so let’s take a look:
On Defense, Junkrat reigns supreme once again for his overall utility on many maps -- using his Grenade spam to deny entire areas to create artificial chokepoints. His Ultimate can often be vital for forcing a Payload-protecting Reinhardt off his perch, as well as killing him and anything nearby. Next up is Reaper who saw increased usage due to Winston’s surge in popularity. Reaper’s shotguns shred large, tanky targets like Winston and he’s a popular pick in close-quarter, third-checkpoint areas like Hollywood and Route 66.
On Offense, Tracer takes the crown for most Biased this week and was mainly used as a last-ditch effort to contest the final payload checkpoint. Next up surprisingly is Bastion! Bastion came out of nowhere this week with usage on Offense in several Protect-the-President variations on Numbani and Route 66.
map breakdown: Route 66
Brief Map Summary
Route 66 is a vanilla Payload Map which is characterized by its open areas on the first and second leg of its payload path. Defending teams will often post up their Defense on top of Big Earl’s Gas Station, while Offenses and Defenses alike try to out-snipe each other throughout the early stages of the game. Route 66’s wide-open spaces lend itself to interesting strategies like Protect the President and We’re All Soldiers Now -- the former for its ability to pick off spread-out teams and the latter for its focus-fire Death Zoning.
Route 66 shares an interesting dynamic map element with Watchpoint: Gibraltar. After capping the first point of the map, the payload proceeds through a gigantic set of steel doors which close behind it, creating a new set of chokepoints. Attacking teams should attempt to continue their push away from these doors as fast as possible so that they don’t get stalled out. The second leg of the payload proceeds similarly to the first: Defending teams taking high positions on the roofs of buildings while the attacking team tries to snipe them or harass them off their perches with Winstons.
The final checkpoint of Route 66 continues into an indoor area which dog-legs into a long hallway: perfect for a Defending Bastion in pubs. Pros on the other hand like to flip things upside-down: teams that reach this point with the Protect the President strategy will move their Bastion off of the payload and onto one of the moving platforms which circle above the path, creating a mobile Bastion of Doom which is very difficult to approach.
Individual Hero Stats
Overall, Bastion once again makes a surprise appearance as a popular pick on Route 66 compared to his overall rate: owing his usage in most part to Protect the President and Double-Bastion Defense strategies. Soldier 76 also sees a boost on Route 66 both for his strength in the We're all Soldiers Now cheese and conventional strategies. Mercy appears in all areas of of Route 66 on both Offense and Defense because of its many areas to hide: inside buildings, inside tunnels, behind boxes, below cliffs, etc.
On Offense, Widowmaker was a popular pick in both Protect the President and conventional strategies, similar to Soldier 76. She pairs with her Defensive Sniping Countermeasure buddy, Winston, to chase the enemy Widowmaker off of the roofs which define the early legs of Route 66. On Defense, Soldier leads the way in large part to cheese strats, but his Ultimate is quite useful for mowing down Tracers and Widowmakers from afar. Reinhardt and Mercy round out the group for their solid overall play.
Team Composition Stats
On the first checkpoint, Widowmakers and their counters define the overall strategy. The best way to counter a Widowmaker is to run another Widowmaker, and the second best way is to run a Winston. Case in point, this image below:
Nothing is more terrifying to a Widowmaker than getting jumped by two Winstons at once. Moving on - the second point is largely more of the same, except Soldier 76 and a second McCree slightly edged out Widowmaker and Reinhardt in usage on Defense. This makes a bit of sense: Defending teams don't need to necessarily be on top of the payload to move it along, they can post up with an extra DPS character on the roofs surrounding the road and crossfire down the Offense on the Payload. Perhaps the lack of Widow on this point is a reactionary play to the heavy Winston usage on Route 66 -- an extra Flashbang and a Tankier Soldier are both much better choices against Winston's monkey business.
On the final checkpoint, Offensive teams start to bring multiple Lucios to speed up the long run-back distance and Drop the Beat multiple times in succession to get final pushes. The long, straight hallway continues to favor Widowmaker play, but Defending teams choose instead to use a roaming Reaper who can hide in the side rooms and Teleport to advantageous positions to get a good Ultimate.
Things I like and Dislike
1. Closed Beta has ended: What a long, strange trip it's been -- and I didn't even have Beta Access. The week off Beta will be bittersweet -- I'll finally get a week off Meta Reporting, but I won't have any Overwatch to ... watch. Looking forward to Open Beta next month.
2. This week was extra Cheesy: Cheese strats may not be fun for the team getting Cheesed on, but damn if they aren't entertaining as hell when they work. I look forward to seeing more Cheese strats happening in Overwatch, it's a sign of innovative minds hard at work.
3. More Roster Shakeups! EnVyUs dropped their team, merged with IDDQD, and now they're back! Also, team MyDong has dropped Ace Ringer Mendokusaii -- who is once again the hottest commodity in Overwatch's budding competitive scene. More roster drama is sure to come with the Open Beta!
4. McCree is broken: Pls nerf. Again. This week McCree has reached heights that only Tracer has seen before: being the top picked Hero who isn't a Support. The Six Gun Killer needs a swing from the nerf bat, hopefully as Open Beta arrives.
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 around every Wednesday of the week! This week, he finished early!
Check it out, you'll love it :)
Whew this one was a long one! I'm almost glad that the Beta is taking a week off -- finally a week of rest! Just kidding, I'm going to be spending it on a secret project to make the Overwatch Hero Meta Report even better :)
Until next time,
-Fixed minor bug in Ubersheet Formulas
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