Overwatch Hero Meta Report #10.5: The Qualitative Report
What’s up guy and gals, CaptainPlanet here and for this week's Meta Report, I’m going to try something a little different. This past weekend saw the culmination of Gosugamer's OverkillGG league, which supplied much of the data for the past couple of week’s Meta Reports. While Overkill’s Third place and Grand Final matches were a great success -- the stream peaked at 18,500 viewers while competing with Dreamhack Austin -- there simply were not enough games for me to do an objective, Quantitative Meta Analysis this week. So instead, this Report will consist of a match-by-match, Qualitative Analysis of the team compositions brought by the Team EnVyUs and Luminosity Gaming during their fight for Third Place. This Report will provide some extra insight into what individual lineup decisions and team composition tinkering occurs in the competitive scene that provides the data points that make up the Overwatch Hero Meta Reports you've all become familiar with.
Why not do a Qualitative Analysis of the Grand Finals between Reunited and Cloud9 you ask? It all comes down to timing. The Overwatch Open Beta ends just and hour from now as I type this, and I did not have time to go through all NINE matches of the best of nine series that the Grand Finals took to crown Cloud9 as the champions of Closed Beta in time to post this Analysis for all of the soon-to-be Onlywatchers starved of content. If there's enough interest for a second analysis of the Grand Finals in the accompanying Reddit thread, I will try to post part two later this week! Enough of that though, let's get to the first match:
Game 1: Lijiang Tower
The Night Market
Envy: Lucio, Lucio, McCree, McCree, Reinhardt, Reinhardt
LG: Mercy McCree, Lucio, Zarya, Bastion, Winston
Bastion had been seeing play on King of the Hill Maps the past couple of weeks ever since Seagull pulled out a surprise Bastion play on Lijiang Tower to take an unexpected map off of Cloud9 in the group stages of Overkill. It came as no surprise then that Luminosity decided to continue the trend in this week's Night Market face-off. LG rolled out of the gates with Seagull on Bastion supported by a pocket Mercy to heal and damage boost him as well as keep a Resurrect at the ready should he eat a surprise Sticky Grenade from Tracer.
Unfortunately for LG, Envy was well-prepared for their Bastion-based strategy. Typical team compositions for King of the Hill often involve 2/2/2 “Cancer” compositions consisting of 2x Lucio, 2x Tracer (or McCree), and 2x Winston, however Winston’s shields aren’t tanky enough to stand up to a Bastion’s fire rate. Envy recognized this, and swapped their Winstons to Reinhardts instead. This allowed them to utilize the extra time granted from Reinhardt’s 2000 health shield -- as opposed to Winston’s 1000 health barrier -- to try to get pick-offs on Seagull’s Bastion by escorting their McCrees close enough to Flashbang.
Envy's strategy succeeded immediately: their McCrees rolled in behind Reinhardt shields and took out the Bastion almost immediately leading to an early cap. LG tried to take the point back by doubling down on Bastions, but quickly decided to blow all of their Ultimate abilities in a suicidal push to the point -- prompting a Resurrection by their Mercy and take their own cap. Superior play by Envy's McCrees, however, lead to another teamwipe and the final cap by Envy, holding till the end of the match and taking a 1-0 lead.
Envy: Lucio, Lucio, McCree, McCree, Reinhardt, Reinhardt
LG: Mercy, McCree, Lucio, McCree, Bastion, Reinhardt
LG, ever stubborn, started off Lijiang’s Control Center with a slightly altered Bastion setup -- using a Reinhardt instead of a Zarya -- perhaps having learned from their prior loss in the Night Market. Envy, expecting nothing less, continued with the same anti-Bastion lineup. Like last match, LG’s Reinhardt followed the Bastion around like a bodyguard, saving him oftentimes from surprise Flashbangs.
This match started off well for LG: they stole a few early pick-offs and managed to set up Seagull’s Bastion in a good position overlooking the hallway to Envy’s spawnpoint. Soon however, Tvique on McCree managed to sneak into a flanking position along the outer ring to Fan-the-Hammer down the Bastion and give Envy the opening they needed to take first cap of the point. Shortly following, Seagull managed to get a double kill no both of Envy’s Reinhardts which bought LG room to take the point for themselves. Envy was slow to respond, so LG was able to set up a Bastion nest overlooking the point where Bastion and his pocket Mercy sat protected by their Reinhardt bodyguard. This setup was extremely difficult to pierce -- Envy even tried to speed boost a Reinhardt and McCree with Lucio into close range to break through, but were mowed down in the process.
In the end, an ill-advised Ultimate from Seagull on the Bastion backfired as he left his sentry post to go hunting for kills in Tank form. Envy capitalized on this error, wiping out the Bastion and the rest of LG -- even after a Mercy Resurrect. Let this be a lesson to would-be Bastion King of the Hill players, if you’re going to go Tank form, you best not miss. Envy took the Map 2-0.
Game 2: King's Row
Envy: Reinhardt, Mercy, Junkrat, Pharah, Widowmaker, Soldier 76
LG: Lucio, Reinhardt, McCree, McCree, Genji, Mercy
Envy started off their attack of King’s Row with a two-pronged attack: setting up Taimou on the Widowmaker in the Sniper spots on the right side of the map while attempting to force LG off of the point with good angles for their Pharah and Junkrat. Luckily, LG’s lineup seemed to be set up to counter this exact type of attack. Reinhardt’s Barrier muted the explosive onslaught to create a safe zone for the two high-damage McCrees to scan the rooftops for the Widow, while the Genji to hunted her down up close and personal. Taimou, however, was too much for LG’s lineup alone to counter -- eventually taking a quick triple kill on his Widowmaker including both of LG’s supports. LG's Defense quickly evaporated and Envy moved forward to cap the first point.
Envy: +1 Reaper, +1 Lucio, +1 McCree, -1 Widow, -1 Junkrat, -1 Soldier 76
LG: +2 Winston, -1 Reinhardt, -1 Genji
Following Envy’s point capture, both teams made slight adjustments to their Team compositions for the street phase of King’s Row. At the highest competitive levels, many teams believe that running 2x Winston is “un-counter-able”, and to a certain point I believe them -- it seems like LG decided to bring out the Double Winston for the street phase in part to deny the high hitscan damage that won Envyus the first leg of the map. Two Winstons can cause a significant amount of disruption in the narrow streets of King’s Row because their shield Barriers reach nearly the full width of the Payload travel path, and if a Widowmaker ever shows her face they can jump her immediately. Luckily for Envy, their swaps ended up being one step ahead of the game. Anticipating some monkey business, Envy swapped their Soldier 76 to a Reaper to give them the Winston-shredding offense they needed. This made quick work of the monkey swarm, and a timely ultimate by Tvique on Pharah wiped out LG’s Defenses en route to the second point.
Envy: 0 Swaps
LG: +1 Reinhardt, -1 Winston
At this point, Envy had all of the momentum moving into the final leg of the payload escort, and LG was falling back on their heels. The final leg of King’s Row is even more cramped than the streets phase, moving indoors and dog-legging to the final objective. By this point, LG had realized that running two Winstons was simply feeding deaths and Ultimate charge to Envy’s Reaper, so they opted to swap one of them back to Reinhardt to make their final stand. All of this was for naught though: because of Overwatch’s focus on incredibly powerful Ultimate abilities, teams that preserve their momentum from phase to phase of a Map generally end up building Ultimates far more rapidly than the Defenders. This compounding Ultimate effect was in full-swing for the final Envy push -- a huge Deadye by McCree into yet another Pharah Ultimate sealed Envy’s successful Attack.
Envy: Mercy, Lucio, Reinhardt, Junkrat, Winston, McCree
LG: Mercy, Lucio, Pharah, Reinhardt, Zarya, McCree
Following Envy’s successful attack, the teams swapped sides and chose to use slightly different team compositions for Attack and Defense. Envy’s lineup was fairly vanilla for a King’s Row Defense, with the exception of Tvique’s Junkrat. To give this pick some context, Tvique’s Junkrat was the scourge of the Closed Beta ever since his rise to prominence on the roster of former IDDQD -- oftentimes singlehandedly holding the main alleyway used to access the first point of King’s Row. On Offense, LG decided to forgo the typical Widomaker pick for a McCree instead, and also added a Zarya for her “just-in-case” Ultimate should their push result in a stalemate. Luckily for LG, their Reinhardt was able to charge in and follow up with a huge Earthshatter for a triple kill before they needed Zarya’s Graviton Surge -- this created a large enough swing in momentum for LG to get the upper hand and force Envy off of the point to cap.
Envy: +1 Pharah, -1 Junkrat
LG: 0 Swaps
Knowing that LG had only a small window of time to finish their Attack run, Seagull leaped forward on Pharah to Envy’s new spawn in an attempt to score a kill and preserve their momentum, but was unable to capitalize. Envy -- who had come to the same conclusion as Seagull -- responded in kind: taking an extremely aggressive Defensive position and pushing forward up to the arch immediately past the starting point of the payload. Envy’s stalling gambit paid off in spades when Cocco got a huge Earthshatter with his Reinhardt which lead to a quad-kill, stopping any hope of momentum from LG. LG would continue to push -- even forcing their way to the second checkpoint -- but Envy’s Defense held strong and their Attack time was too fast, granting them the Map and the 2-0 series lead.
Game 3: Dorado
Envy: McCree, McCree, Winston, Winston, Mercy, Lucio
LG: McCree, McCree, Lucio, Mercy, Roadhog
Envy’s Attacking lineup in the third match of the series was tailor-made to fight off an aggressively posted Crossfire Defense which utilized one or multiple Widowmakers set up on the bridges overlooking the first leg of the Payload escort path. The now familiar double-Winston lineup generally attempts to spot out these sniper spots and both leap onto unsuspecting Widowmakers, but this Defense that never emerged from the side of LG. Somehow either by luck, or by strategic choice, LG’s lineup was far from what Envy gameplanned for. Instead of a more aggressively placed Defense ahead of the archway, LG chose to Defend in the courtyard with double-McCree to abuse his midrange strenght. LG’s lineup included an unorthodox (for any Overwatch map in the current Meta) Roadhog pick, potentially to try to get an early pick-off and cut off Envy’s momentum with a hook. Unfortunately, the end result of LG's strategy was zero pressure on Envy's initial escort. No opportunity to hook appeared, and instead of seeking out a Widowmaker both of Envy’s Winstons ganged up on LG’s Reinhardt and Envy rolled mostly unopposed to the first checkpoint.
Envy: 0 Swaps
LG: +2 Winston, -1 Roadhog, -1 Reinhardt
LG’s Defense was in disarray after losing the first point and the team took quite some time to reset themselves -- which nearly led to an uncontested cap of the second point. Finally deciding on a lineup change, they dove forward with two Winstons (starting to see a pattern here?) to get bodies on the point just before the payload reached the checkpoint. Gods and Seagull bookended a series of kills by the Winstons on the cart with their McCree Deadeyes -- leading to a wipe of Envy and the first Defensive stand by LG. What followed for the rest of this Second Point Showdown was a Wild West Duel as both teams McCree duos scored kill after kill and traded huge Deadeyes. When the dust settled and the tumbleweeds rolled away -- Envy had won the shootout and claimed the Second Point.
Envy: +1 Reaper, -1 Winston
LG: +1 Bastion, +1 Mei, -1 Winston, -1 McCree
The final point of this half of Dorado played out in a similar fashion as King’s Row: the Envy Attackers were on fire with all of the momentum while the LG Defenders were struggling to change up their strategy to compensate. LG swapped to a Bastion and Mei to presumably lock down the final arena-like area surrounding point, but a timely swap to Reaper by Internethulk leading into what would be the final push gave him enough time to gain significant charge on his Deathblossom. As Envy moved the payload around the corner into LG’s Defensive setup, Internethulk snuck into LG’s back line, scored a kill, then Deathblossomed their spawn -- preventing any possible challenge to their push. Envy completed the successful Attack in his wake.
Envy: Junkrat, Symmetra, Mercy, Reinhardt, Widowmaker, McCree
LG: Lucio, Reinhardt, McCree, Mercy, Hanzo, Zarya
Similar to King’s Row, Envy choose to go with a much more traditional lineup for Dorado -- picking the first Symmetra of the series and setting up a Widowmaker in a sniper spot far back from the action. It was actually a bit of a surprise to not see Symmetra on King’s Row given her dominance in earlier Metas -- it seems that the nerf to her shield strength has turned her back into a one-trick, Teleporter-creating pony. Envy also kept to the now familiar tactic of “Play Tvique on Junkrat whenever possible” -- making use of the many objects and walls in the courtyard of Dorado to bounce explosives around. LG chose to use their Zarya “just in case” again, but also rolled out with and Offensive Hanzo -- apparently a favorite of Seagull for Dorado. The Hanzo pick seemed to be motivated by Hanzo’s ability to do much of the same job as Widowmaker with more mobility: his passive wall-climb ability is always usable while Widow can only grapple every so often.
Unfortunately for LG, their plan immediately went south. Seagull ended up eating a Tvique grenade early on and immediately swapped to Genji -- but then was headshot by Taimou upon re-entering the fray. Tvique continued to corner LG inside and below the the bridge choke point with his Junkrat, then an insane sequence of events occurred:
-LG's Zarya dropped her Graviton Surge -- comboing with Seagull’s Genji, which killed a few Envy players
-During this Ultimate, Taimou managed to take a triple kill off LG with his Widowmaker
-Esper on Mercy flew in to Resurrect all of the players Taimou killed
-Taimou responded again by ripping off with a quad kill to bury LG’s chances of a successful Offense, essentially sealing the Game 3 for Envy.
Game 4: Hollywood
Envy: D.Va, Mercy, Lucio, Zarya, Pharah, McCree
LG: Junkrat, Mercy, Reinhardt, Lucio, McCree, McCree
Starting off Hollywood, it was Envy’s turn to feature some unorthodoxy in their lineup decisions -- choosing to run an Offensive D.Va in lieu of a more traditional Winston for the first point. This fit well with their Pharah pick: D.Va can charge ahead to wherever a Widowmaker or Soldier 76 may have set themselves up on Defense, creating a safe zone in the skies for Pharah to peek over the rooftops and poke the capture point. This paid off doubly well for Envy because of LG’s lineup choices: LG also decided to go with a more traditional setup for first point but skipped the usual Soldier 76 / Widowmaker pick. This allowed Envy’s D.Va take the top level of the Cafe with no resistance, and for Envy to move forward quickly. A timely Mercy Ultimate brought back Tvique after his Pharah was killed, sealing the assault for Envy and taking us to the first leg of the payload escort.
Envy: +1 Winston, +1 Reinhardt, -1 D.Va, -1 Zarya
LG: +1 Genji, +1 Widowmaker, +2 Winston, -2 McCree, -1 Junkrat, -1 Reinhardt
There’s an unofficial rule of Overwatch that even LG knows to follow: if you’re Defending on the the second leg of Hollywood without a Widowmaker, you’re doing something wrong. Hollywood’s second payload escort leg is the by far the most open of all the Payload Maps: whichever team controls the skies controls the area. For a Defending team, there’s no better way to assure your air superiority than by swapping to a Widowmaker and making sure that whenever the Attacking team’s Pharah pops above the roofline she’s looking down the barrel of your rifle. LG also gave Seagull his Genji for this portion of the map to best make use of the many walls to climb and alleyways through which to escape. Envy’s lineup changes are less drastic, swapping to a Winston to make hell for the Defending Widowmaker and a Reinhardt to escort the payload through Hollywood’s narrow streets.
For some time, LG’s strategy worked exactly as planned: Gods on Widowmaker immediately sniped Tvique’s Pharah and others while Seagull harassed on Genji. The tides started to turn however when a Winston finally got the jump on Gods and wiped him out, then all hell broke loose. Tvique's Pharah and his pocket Mercy took control of the skies and pushed up to the only two exits from LG’s spawn area -- securing the area for the second point cap.
Envy: 0 Hero Swaps
LG: +1 McCree, +1 Bastion, -1 Widowmaker, -1 Winston
To the surprise of no one by this point, LG swapped to a Bastion for the final defense of Hollywood -- also deciding to change to the more midrange favored McCree over Widowmaker. Envy, once again with tons of momentum coming into this final escort leg, did not feel the need to change their lineup at all. Despite Envy choosing not to, I’ve often seen very skilled Widowmaker players like Reaver, Surefour, and Twoeasy swap to a Widowmaker for this area because of the great visibility you get of the final point. It was this visibility which lent itself strongly to Seagull’s Bastion pick: he took a central position with a Reinhardt shield guarding him and mowed down all attackers advancing up the center ramp. The tables turned, however, when Tvique managed to sneak behind the entire LG team on Pharah and ripped off a Rocket Barrage: killing the Bastion and his protectors. LG countered this team wipe with a Mercy Ultimate, but the damage was done -- Tvique and the rest of Envy were able to move forward and clean them out of the point a second time to complete the successful Attack.
Envy: Junkrat, McCree, Zenyatta, Symmetra, Reinhardt, Lucio
LG: Junkrat, Mercy, McCree, Reinhardt, Zarya, Lucio
After setting a blazing time on the Attack, Envy could smell blood. If they successfully Defended Hollywood against LG, they’d sweep the series and get to go home -- so they went for broke with their Defensive lineup. Junkrat’s spam cuts off the two chokepoint entrances to the first point, Symmetra’s Teleporter lessens the impact of any deaths, and McCree, Lucio, and Reinhardt are staples in pretty much any lineup -- leaving us with the Zenyatta pick. Ever since the nerf to Zenyatta’s orbs, he’s fallen far out of the Meta but Envy chose him here on Hollywood because of the unique combination of their team lineup and the Map’s layout. The first point of Hollywood contains only two entry chokepoints, giving the Zenyatta relative safety to fire his autoattack, then Symmetra’s Shield gives him just enough survivability to not get insta-gibbed by random headshots all of the time.
LG tried to counter Envy’s chokehold on the chokepoints with a Junkrat of their own, as well as their usual “just in case” Zarya. The Zenyatta pick by Envy ended up paying off immensely by countering the Zarya’s Graviton Surges: his Transcendence was the perfect answer to what otherwise would have been a point-capturing Ultimate. In the end, it was Tvique’s Junkrat play which did most of the stalling by denying so much area with his bombs, traps, and mine placement. LG was never able to take the point through Envy’s great wall of stall, and Envyus completed the series sweep 4-0.
Qualitative analysis: What can we learn about the Meta from a four game sample size?
When building a successful team composition in Overwatch, the team captain has to consider several factors: the current Map layout, the strengths and weaknesses of Heroes, the strengths of their Team’s players, and synergies that exist within these three elements. Having gone through these four Maps played between two of the best teams in Overwatch, we can see several examples of these forces guiding decisions to choose lineups, swap Heroes at particular times, or even being at odds with each other.
In the current Meta, due to the power of Heroes like McCree, Lucio, Reinhardt, and Winston, it’s far more likely than not that three of your team’s lineup slots will be occupied by one or more of these four Heroes. This leaves you with 2-3 “flex” spots left to pick the Heroes which depend on the current position of the Map: Widowmaker on the roofs of Hollywood, Reaper on the final point of Dorado, or Symmetra on any map where there’s a long respawn are all such examples. At times, team captains will have to bow to the team's Ringers and their favorite Heroes -- allowing Seagull to play his Bastion or Genji, or to find excuses to put Tvique on Junkrat. This element can have mixed results -- LG's insistence on giving Seagull his Heroes backfired more often than not, while Envy's usage of Taimou's Widow and Tvique's Junkrat singlehandedly won them particular Map Sections. Finally, when all these forces combine it can sometimes create situations where your final slot is filled by a Hero which is objectively not so good: Envy’s use of Zenyatta on their Hollywood Defense demonstrates such an outcome.
By going through each Map point by point and Hero swap by Hero swap, we can conclude that the "Meta" of Heroes in Overwatch cannot be defined by Qualitative or Quantitative data alone. Raw, Objective data like my usual Meta Reports and Hero Tiers are a just a tool which don’t tell the whole story of what Heroes are strong or weak -- they only show which Heroes are truly outliers either by being so overpowered they’re used in almost every lineup (McCree, Reinhardt, Lucio, Winston), or so unusable that you almost never see them (Mei, Torbjorn, Zenyatta, Roadhog, Hanzo). Qualitative Data like this Analysis demonstrates that there are many Heroes that are perfectly viable and in some cases essential, but only on certain maps or in certain lineups like Junkrat, Widowmaker, Pharah, and Mercy. Only by taking both the Qualitative and Quantitative data together can we see the whole picture of the competitive scene. I hope you all have enjoyed this look into the final Meta of Overwatch's Closed Beta, and I look forward to continuing with both types of reports once Overwatch officially releases.
Until next time,
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