Overwatch Hero Meta Report #11: The Grand Beta review

This infographic is non-interactive, but you can download the interactive version below!

Opening Thoughts - and a special gift!

Whats up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here and this week I’m happy to present Overwatch Hero Meta Report #11: The Grand Beta Review. This Report will primarily be based off a compilation of Data from the Overwatch Competitive Scene trailing back to the last major Balance Patch (April 5th’s Patch, which included the nerf to Symmetra’s Shields -- read more here: http://us.battle.net/forums/en/overwatch/topic/20742886413) and is intended to give Competitive-minded players some insight to what Heroes are the strongest in the current iteration of Overwatch.

However before we get to that, I'd like to share something with you that I've been hinting at: INTERACTIVITY! I've been collecting Historical Data ever since starting this Meta Report series three months ago and now that we've reached the weekend before Overwatch's launch I'd like to present my End of Beta gift to all of my readers. This Excel chart (download link below) presents Absolute Hero Rankings from Tournament-level competition, and pairs these Rankings with the Balance Patch(es) that occurred the week prior to the Data Collection. If you mouse-over your favorite Hero's name on the right, the chart will highlight their progress throughout the Beta's Competitive Overwatch Scene. ENJOY!!

Download link + instructions:


1. Click the Download link at the top of the file:

2. Click "Enable Editing"

3. Click "Read-Only" in the dialog box that pops up

4. Click "Enable Content" to enable the Macros needed to run the sheet

Click to Enlarge!

As always, Raw Data for this and subsequent charts can be found HERE. REMINDER: This Data was collected from Overwatch Tournaments that Occurred after April 5th (452 total Sides, 3731 Data Points)

The grand Beta Review

how to interpret these data:

There has been some confusion to what the Data actually means, so I’m going to start off with an example: McCree. The formula I use to determine Hero Pick Rate is "Number of Times X Hero has appeared divided by Number of Sides Played". Sides refer to Offense or Defense halves, with each Map having two Sides played for each. If I see two McCrees appear on a Team’s Lineup during one Side, they get counted twice, so this ratio can exceed 1. 

But wait, doesn’t this mean you’re not calculating a direct percentage of Hero Picks? 

Correct! This is why I’m referring to my formula as "Hero Pick Rate" instead of "Hero Pick Percentage". Consider McCree’s Offensive Rate: 107.3%. What this number means is this: “Over the course of an Offensive Side, you can expect to see 1.073 McCrees appear on a Team’s Lineup”. I convert these Rates to Percentages for cosmetic reasons only -- percentages just look better on Infographics and on paper. 

Hang on -- what about King of the Hill??

Another good question! King of the Hill matches essentially function as an Offensive and Defensive Side played simultaneously, as both Teams are Attacking and Defending the Point throughout the game. King of the Hill matches therefore have no Offense or Defense delineation and both Team’s picks are counted simultaneously. King of the Hill data *IS* included as an element of the Overall Summary for each Hero, so each of these Maps still have two Sides -- just like non-King of the Hill Maps. 

Going back to McCree, how do we interpret his Data? If I were explaining McCree’s standing as the DPS King of the Beta this is how I’d do it: 

“Looking at the Overall Hero Standings, McCree is the Top Ranked DPS by a long shot. In any single Side played in Overwatch -- Offense, Defense, or King of the Hill -- you can expect see 1.05 McCrees appear over the course of the Side played on Average. This is primarily due to his use on Defense: McCree’s usage rate is 123.6% on Defense (1.236 McCrees per Lineup per Side), compared to 107.3% on Offense and a measly 68.37% on King of the Hill.” 

My own analysis

Where did all of the "A's" go?
Two things stood out to me after compiling this Data: two Heroes reached a greater than 100% Pick Rate (S Tier), while no other Heroes exceeded 80% Pick Rate (A Tier). I’ve generally considered the B Tier (which ranges from 40% to 80% usage) to be populated by Heroes that range from specialist to core inclusions in a Hero lineup, with A Tier designating absolute core Heroes and S Tier illuminating which Heroes are truly overpowered. The lack of A Tier Heroes in an Overall sense is actually explained by the inclusion of King of the Hill Data into the full summary. Looking at Offense and Defense splits, both Mercy and Reinhardt reach core status -- it’s simply their lack of utility on King of the Hill Maps (which, by design, are much more Offensively Oriented) which drive their numbers down. 

The Problematic "S" Tier

Lucio, by comparison, owes his #1 spot in Overwatch’s Beta to his dominating Usage Rate on King of the Hill Maps. The Rate at which Lucio was being picked was a whopping 167%, which translates to 1.67 Lucios PER TEAM, or 3.3 Lucios per Map. That’s kind of insane. Lucio is a Support custom-made for King of the Hill: his Speed Boost and Sound Barrier are vital components to a successful Point Capture,his AOE Healing helps the Defending team maintain their position, and his Alt-Fire can secure important Ring-outs into these Maps’ many Death Pits. Lucio also benefits from being the best of only four total Support Heroes, in a game where at least two of your Lineup’s slots should be occupied by a Support.

This makes McCree’s S Tier status even more impressive. McCree has 12 other DPS Heroes to compete with for lineup slots, and still managed to reach >1.00 Usage Rate. It also bears repeating that this Usage Rate level was reached without the help of King of the Hill Maps -- where Hero-Stacking is much more common. McCree’s abilities seem to be just slightly too synergistic, and all signs seem to be pointing towards post-release nerfs. A Hero that:

A. Has one of the highest DPS rates simply with his Auto Attack
B. Can instantly reload in a pinch
C. Has an ability that can be comboed with his Alt Fire to melt Tanks
D. Has an Ultimate that can deny huge areas of the Map for 6 seconds at a time (which also can be canceled for only 50% Ultimate Charge) 

is simply too many strong elements crammed into a single Hero. If I had to speculate possible nerfs to McCree, I’d wager that they decrease the amount of Ultimate charge you retain after Ulting -- especially given how quickly skilled McCree players can generate Ultimate charge. 

Escort Map Breakdowns

For this portion of the Grand Beta Review I’m will be looking back to Hero Statistics for the Six Escort Maps in Overwatch. These Map Breakdowns should help demonstrate which Heroes fit on which Maps, for Teams and Players looking to dominate Ranked Play upon its release. Let’s get started!

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King's Row

King’s Row is by far the most popular Map in Overwatch's Competitive Scene and perhaps that is why it features a plain Vanilla Top 4 in its Hero usage. At the highest skill level on King's Row, you can expect to often see Mercy, Reinhardt, McCree, and Lucio -- all four of which were quite evenly used on both Offense and Defense. Zarya, the number 5 Hero for King’s Row, is where things start to get interesting. Zarya was used almost twice as much on Offense than Defense, and is joined by Pharah in as King's Row's Offensive standouts. This is primarily due to their extremely powerful Ultimates which can help break through tough Defensive setups from their Polar Opposites -- Junkrat and Symmetra. An early Teleporter from Symmetra can provide Defending Teams with the sustaining bodies they need to push back Attackers, and Junkrat’s Grenade-spam is particularly effective at blocking off the main Attacking chokepoint at King’s Row’s opening area. 

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Widowmaker takes the prize for highest usage on Numbani, balancing her popularity between Offense and Defense evenly. This demonstrates the adage that “The best way to kill a Widowmaker is with another Widowmaker." It's also worth mentioning that Numbani’s long, straight roads have many side areas for peeking around corners -- essential Map elements for Snipers. 

Speaking of long roads and corners to peek around, Lucio enjoys a "boost" to his Offensive popularity on Numbani because of his Speed Boosts.  This unique movement-altering ability give Lucio's Team a surprise factor that is often needed to flank around behind Defenses through the rooms and passageways which lie parallel to the escort path. Winston and Genji are also both preferred on Offense for their ability to jump ahead of the main Attack and harass would-be Defenders from their perches surrounding the Capture Points. 

For those who are more Defense-minded, Tracer’s bias is a bit of an outlier due to Teams panic-swapping to her on the final point, or to shave some seconds off the Stopwatch Timer on the second point. Symmetra enjoys a similar boost as King’s Row because of Numbani’s long respawn path, and Soldier 76 works as a good high-ground Defender who can actually hold his own and fight back against harassers like Genji and Winston. 

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Hollywood’s Hero Usage paints a similar picture as Numbani, but with a twist. Just like King's Row, the most-used Heroes are simply solid picks, with little variation on Offense or Defense while Defense-busting Heroes like Pharah and Zarya are used much more on Offense than Defense (in fact, Zarya is almost exclusively used on Offense). Howver, if we move lower on the chart we can see that many of the subsequent Heroes have an extreme Defensive Bias. Symmetra and Junkrat fulfill their usual "First Point" Defense Roles, but the rest are due to the emergence of a particular phenomenon on Hollywood. Hollywood's first point is much easier to Defend than its second, so after failing to Defend Hollywood’s first point,  many teams switch up their lineups in a rush to slow down the Attacking Team's momentum leading into the escort phase of the map. Not many teams have solved this problem though, so Defensive lineups for this section of Hollywood remain somewhat up in the air. Finally, Tracer sees another deceiving Defensive boost to her Defensive bias due to panic-swaps to prevent final pushes. 

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Starting to see a pattern yet? Like most maps, the first four spots on a lineup are occupied by the four seemingly “Core” Heroes: McCree, Lucio, Mercy, and Reinhardt. On Dorado in particular, McCree will often fill two lineup slots on both Offense and Defense, leading to a Usage Rate that significantly exceeds 100%. Like Numbani, Dorado will sometimes feature Widowmaker duels -- leading to her #5 spot and balanced Usage Rate -- its many Sniper spots providing excellent cover for the French Femme-Fatale. Finally, we have the usual Offensively-favored Pharah and Zarya -- the former excelling for her ability to hop over the tops of buildings, and Defensively favored Symmetra and Junkrat, both of which are essential for a first point, Courtyard stand. 


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Route 66

Route 66 is the most interesting Map of the six Escort Maps, possibly because it’s the newest. The first two legs of the Payload Escort are a Sniper’s dream -- although Teams tend Widowmaker far more often on Offense than Defense. The Defensive Widowmakers may have been chased out of their lineup slots by the prevalence of Widow-jumping Winston’s used on Offense, disrupting their Widow vs. Widow duels. Furthermore, Defensive Widowmakers will often have their line of sight blocked by either buildings or a Reinhardt’s Shield, compared to Offensive Widowmakers who can take any position and let the Defenders come to the Payload to contest their push. 

Both Soldier 76 and Tracer were Defensive standouts on Route 66, the former for his ability to hold high ground areas against harassers, and the latter for her usage on the final escort leg. The final escort leg of Route 66 takes place within a large, indoor area with side areas and a short Defensive respawn run -- making it a prime location for Tracers to operate and create a nearly-unstoppable Defensive stall simply by tagging the Payload endlessly. 

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Watchpoint: Gibraltar

Watchpoint: Gibraltar stands out for its extremely balanced Usage on both Offense and Defense -- for nearly every Hero. Seriously -- there’s almost no bias for any Hero on Offense or Defense for any Hero whatsoever. Winston ended up being a strange stand-out as the Second-most used Hero on Gibraltar because of Gibraltar’s first and second Payload legs being split into two distinct levels, an upper and a lower level. Winston’s ability to jump between the two allows him to operate effectively on both levels depending on the situation -- making him an incredibly effective choice on both sides of the game. 

Reddit vs. the Pros

Now for a little bit of fun: after the Open Beta ended, Reddit user /u/plith created a survey for Overwatch fans to fill out to describe their experience with the game as a whole. I thought it would be interesting and fun to compare the results of this survey with the data I've collected from the Competitive Scene throughout the Beta about the current state of the game -- it was fairly interesting to see where these two sources agreed and disagreed. The data presented is simply Absolute Hero Rankings: I've included my own data as well as the Rankings generated by three of the Survey's questions -- Which Heroes do you believe were most Overpowered?, Which Heroes did you think were used the most? and Which Hero did you use the most? Let me know what you think!

Final Thoughts and Shout-Outs

What a long, crazy Beta it's been! PlanetOverwatch has been an incredibly fun project and I'm looking forward to continuing my coverage after Overwatch's official release. Thanks to the community's amazing support, I feel like I've been able to grow this Report into something truly informative and helpful for new and advanced players alike. Of course, none of this Data could exist without the help of the Competitive Overwatch Community -- so I have one final gift to present to my readers. Over the past couple of weeks I have also been compiling a Competitive Overwatch Beta Twitch Directory! This Directory features all of the Twitch Streams and Social Media of as many of the people who helped make the Beta Competitive Scene great as I could find. Get out there and give these people a Follow -- without them there would be no Competitive Scene, no Opening Day Alienware Tournament, no huge EsportsArena and TakeTV LAN tournaments the first weekend after launch, and no Overwatch Hero Meta Report. These are the streamers and personalities who will be producing the best live content Day 1 of Overwatch's release, so if you're looking to learn -- look no further. 

Until next time,


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