Overwatch Tier list and Hero Meta Report #12: The payload report

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Opening Thoughts

Whats up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report #12: The Payload Report. The Meta Report is late this week! But this was for quite a good reason -- last weekend I attended and competed in the largest Overwatch LAN to date: the $10,000 prize pool Agents Rising, hosted by EsportsArena in Southern California. I had an amazing time at Agents Rising -- getting to meet many of players and personalities from the Competitive Scene, and it has only made me more hyped for the future of Competitive Overwatch. It seems like the rest of the community was hyped as well! Agents Rising was only one of several Overwatch "Launch Week" Tournaments, joining ranks with TaKeTV’s $5,000 prize pool TaKeOver LAN and Alienware’s $3,000 prize pool, 64-team Monthly Melee open Tournament. It’s the latter of these two Tournaments that this week’s Meta Analysis will cover, but a little bit of explanation is needed for this week's Report in particular.  Specifically: Why isn't there any King of the Hill Data?

A 5 Minute Explanation of the Weirdness of this Week's Data

The Alienware Monthly Melee tried to do something a little different than previous Tournaments, testing some interesting rules regarding its Point System, Map bans, and Hero Limits. You can find the nitty-gritty rules here: (http://www.gamepedia.com/news/1100-sign-ups-to-alienwares-monthly-melee-start-today) but what emerged in terms of actual Data was surprising for a couple of reasons. 

The first problem, was that King of the Hill Maps were to be played with the “1 Hero Limit” rule that many Pros have been clamoring for for some time now, which actually made me excited to do a comparison of Metas with and without 1 Hero Limits. Unfortunately, the Tournament’s other rules got in the way.

The second problem, was that in an effort to save time and complete the Tournament in two days, King of the Hill matches were used in Best of 1 Matches in the Loser’s Bracket and as the third map in Best of 3 matches in the Winners Bracket for all of Day 1. The problem is, none of the Loser’s Bracket matches were streamed on Day 1, and all of the Day 2 matches that were streamed played Zero King of the Hill matches (save one series of EnvyUs vs. Cloud9 in the Finals). This means that without any VODs, I have no meaningful 1 Hero Limit King of the Hill Match Data to present this week! Luckily, there are still interesting comparisons to be made: namely “What does an Overwatch Meta look like without King of the Hill Maps...at all?” This Meta Report will center around that question and seek to answer which Heroes are inordinately represented by their dominance on King of the Hill Maps.

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As always, Raw Data for this and subsequent charts can be found HERE. REMINDER: This Data was collected from the Alienware Monthly Melee Tournament, where no King of the Hill Map Data was available

The Tiers

S Tier (>100% Usage Rate**): McCree, Mercy

A Tier (>80% Usage Rate): Lucio, Reinhardt

B Tier (>40% Usage Rate): Widowmaker, Winston, Tracer

C Tier (>20% Usage Rate): Zarya, Genji, Junkrat, Soldier 76, Roadhog, Pharah, D.Va

D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): Symmetra, Reaper, Bastion, Zenyatta

F Tier (<5 % Usage Rate): Hanzo, Torbjorn, Mei

**What is Usage Rate? It is NOT the percent chance of seeing a particular Hero in a Match, it’s actually a little different than that! Please see this glossary page explaining the term. 

The Tier Ranges I’ve chosen*** reflect different states of “Balance” in the Meta. This week, the Meta that is being analyzed is the Meta of Payload Maps only: Route 66, Watchpoint: Gibraltar, Dorado, King's Row, Numbani, and Hollywood. 

S-Tier Heroes are Heroes with greater than 100% Usage Rate, which means that one can expect greater than 1.00 of these Heroes to appear on a given lineup over the course of a game, which hints that these Heroes may perhaps be a bit overtuned. McCree and Mercy made the S Tier this week, the former deservedly and the latter perhaps not so. McCree has been the center of the Competitive Meta for quite some time and is already being eyed by Blizzard for some re-tuning, but Mercy barely scraped into the >100% Usage Rate conversation with a rate of 101%. All this means is that,  by and large, Mercy is used in every lineup on both Offense and Defense on the aforementioned six Payload Maps. Mercy's usage on King of the Hill Maps helps Balance her Overall Usage, as you seen in the comparison chart below. McCree's Payload Usage is enough to give him a greater than 100% Overall Usage even with <70% Usage Rate on King of the Hill Maps, so I feel quite safe in saying that it's High (Noon)Time for a McCree nerf.

A-Tier Heroes have a Usage Rate of greater than 80%, which indicates that they’re “Core” Heroes. On Payload Maps, the two "Core", but not "Overpowered" Heroes are Reinhardt and Lucio. These Heroes are used in most lineups on most maps, but will sometimes concede their lineup slot for specific Heroes on specific areas of maps. For example: when running a Symmetra on Defense Pros often swap out the Lucio instead of the Mercy as their second Support -- which also further explains Mercy's high Usage Rate. Reinhardt's less than 100% usage can be attributed to Defending Teams swapping to Double Winstons in an attempt to stave off a final push, or for even more niche strategies involving Double Winston and a Zarya on Attack. 

The B Tier has the widest range (40% to 80% Usage Rate), and is meant to indicate Heroes that are well-balanced by having a good compliment of pros and cons to their Hero kit, or by finding a niche lineup slot in a decent amount of scenarios. In Payload Maps this Tier is occupied by Widowmaker, Winston, and Tracer. Widowmaker falls into this Tier because of the strength of running her on specific portions of specific Maps -- Widowmaker is actually one of the few Heroes which can steal a lineup slot from a second McCree on areas like Hollywood's second point. Winston is the most commonly used Off-Tank, but as the Meta does not currently favor the constant use of a second Tank, he's relegated to similar usage patterns as Widowmaker. Tracer rounds out the B Tier primarily for her special ability to stall on final point pushes -- outside of these specific scenario she's usually a liability to McCree's Stun Grenade. 

The C Tier generally contains the true “Specialists” -- Heroes who only work in very specific situations -- and Heroes who do similar things “almost” as good as Heroes in the S,A, and B Tiers but not well enough to take their lineup slots. This week, perhaps because I'm only looking at Payload Map Data, this is the most crowded of the six Tiers -- despite the B Tier having twice the range of Usage. Interestingly enough, only one true "Specialist", Genji, appears in this Tier as Symmetra just barely missed the cut at 19.35% Usage Rate. The rest of these Heroes -- Junkrat, Soldier 76, Roadhog, D.Va, Zarya, and even Pharah to some extent -- are simply outclassed in their roles as DPS or Off-Tanks by the Heroes occupying the Tiers above. Why bring a Soldier 76 when you can just bring a second McCree? Why bring Roadhog when you can bring a Winston or a Reinhardt?

The D Tier is where the current position of its denizens in the Meta begins to seem troubling. These Heroes tend to be specialists who simply are “Too Special” for the current Meta, or Heroes whose power level is just not up to par. On Payload Maps, the Heroes which occupy the D Tier this week are Symmetra, Reaper, Bastion, and Zenyatta -- all of which are simply too niche at the moment. As I stated before, Symmetra just barely missed out on the C Tier, but she's only really used on the first point Defense of Dorado, Hollywood, and King's Row. Reaper is yet example of a Hero whose job is almost always better accomplished by higher Tier Heroes (see: McCree)  -- Zenyatta joins him in this aspect. Bastion fits moreso with the theme of the Defensively-oriented Heroes of the F Tier, but his immense damage potential saved him from wasting away this week on Payload Maps.

Heroes that routinely find themselves in the F Tier may be ripe for either total Hero Reworks or significant buffs, and are generally Heroes who have a blatant focus on Defensive rather than Offensive strength. Unfortunately for Hanzo, Mei, and Torbjorn, the current Meta of Competitive Overwatch abides by the saying "The Best Defense is a good Offense," and thus are very rarely picked except as a joke.  These Heroes will need much more work to save them than Heroes in the S Tier -- who need only minor changes to drop their power level -- since they usually have many “almost good enough” Heroes sitting in A and B tiers waiting to take their thrones. 

*** I do not chose the placement of Heroes in a Tier, only the Range which defines the Tier. By determining Usage Rate directly from Hero Picks in Tournament Matches, my data is Objectively determined, and not subjective at all. 

Removing king of the hill and its Effect on the meta


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Maybe Lucio isn't overpowered after all?

Lucio has been a staple of the S Tier so consistently in my Meta Reports that over time, I’ve simply ceased analyzing the Hero because there’s nothing more to say. Much to my surprise, it appears that if you remove King of the Hill Maps from the Data pool, Lucio does not appear nearly as dominant as he seems. This week -- unlike my prior, King of the Hill-including Reports -- Lucio fell to A Tier and 3rd place in Overall Usage Rate and finally was surpassed by Mercy as “Top Overwatch Healer”. 

Mercy’s higher usage rate on Payload Maps -- and thus Lucio’s lower rate -- can be explained by how these Maps are designed. On King of the Hill Maps, both teams try to Attack and Defend a singular Capture Point which gives the Point a certain kind of “Gravity”. While you can try to flank in and around the Point, both Teams will utlimately find themselves collapsing onto a single, central area -- meaning that the Defending Team can always just let the Offense come to them. This means there’s far less creativity to the strategies that Teams can use to take over the Capture Point, perhaps the reason why Hero stacking tends to rear its head more often on these Maps than others.

All of this adds up to Lucio dominating lineup slots due to the strength of his various Aura-based abilities. Teams on Offense and Defense will both be constantly collapsing on the Point, so his Speed, Healing, and Sound Barrier Auras will be hitting all of his teammates almost 100% of the time. Combine this with the “Ring Out” potential of most King of the Hill Maps and Lucio’s Alt Fire, and you have a recipe for Imbalance. 

On Payload Maps, the Map Design is an entirely different story. These Maps are linear and require Teams to escort a moving Payload, so they always have multiple lines of Flanking and Sniping to employ depending on the position of the Payload. The roles of Attackers and Defenders also switch somewhat: when escorting the Payload, the “Attackers” can let the Defenders come to them, rather than the opposite in the case of King of the Hill Point Defenders. 

What does this all mean? First, on Payload Maps a Team is not always going to be stacked up on a singular Point nearly as often as on King of the Hill Maps. Enemy strategies will also focus more on scoring single Hero pick-offs before making pushes to control the flow of the game. On Defense in particular, Teams will occasionally need a slot to fit in a Symmetra -- a Support Hero whose abilities have almost no use whatsoever on King of the Hill Maps. All of this adds up to a need for a stronger, single-target Healer like Mercy instead of Lucio. It bears mentioning, however, that Lucio is still heavily picked and most common Payload Map strategies include both Mercy and Lucio -- but when the time calls for choosing between one or the other, Mercy makes the cut more often than Lucio. 

The wider picture: what heroes are used the most on Payload maps?

At the top of this section, you can see an Infographic that I created to compare Hero Usage Rates from Alienware’s “Non-King of the Hill” Dataset to Data from my Grand Beta Review Report which encompassed several weeks worth of End-of-Beta Data. Besides the aforementioned Mercy vs. Lucio phenomenon, we can see several Heroes who stand out on one or the other type of Maps in Overwatch.**** For example, Heroes who can function better as “Lone Wolves” like McCree and Widowmaker saw a an increased bias in Hero Usage towards Payload Maps. These two were joined by Reinhardt whose Shield -- while immensely strong for pushing Payloads in a single direction and providing cover -- was not so useful on King of the Hill Maps where attacks can come from all sides at all times. 

Tracer and Winston exhibited the opposite phenomenon. Tracer’s ability to tag the point in Overtime situations, build Ultimate charge extremely quickly, and heal herself to full in a pinch with her Rewind ability made her the pesky-est of pests in King of the Hill Matchups, but McCree’s (well, Flash Grenade’s) dominance in Payload Maps shuts her down. Winston’s use on King of the Hill Maps is generally tied to his Tesla Cannon’s ability to hit multiple enemies at a time if stacked close together, as well as chaining Double Winston Ultimates together to score easy kills and secure Points (or, knock players off an edge). 

As we move down the list, many of these biases are mainly just “white noise” from comparing two different Tournaments to each other and low sample size, although it is quite interesting to see Roadhog being used so often in the Alienware Monthly Melee in general. 

****It's worth nothing that the Alienware Monthly Melee also blanket banned all 2 Capture Point Maps (Hanamura, Volskaya Industries, and Temple of Anubis)

the semi-regular strategy segment!

My Semi-regular Strategy Segment is a new series where I will be featuring a particular “Pro Strat” for various parts of Overwatch’s Maps. This week’s strategy is one that my PUG Team (#TeamEggplant) used on Hollywood Defense, dubbed “The Kill Zone” by our shot-caller, Rastsy.

Setup: The key elements of this strategy involve three elements: a Symmetra, a Reinhardt, and a squad of Lucios to Speed-boost the Symmetra out to place turrets early in the game. The rest of your team should be filled with a typical lineup: a Mercy or a Lucio as your second Support, and your choice of DPS Heroes or Zarya Offtank. 

Execution: Chain your Lucio Speed Boosts as soon as the game begins to rush your Symmetra to the Control Point. Your Symmetra will then place four turrets in the corner shown below, while your Lucios run back to spawn and swap to their final Heroes:

This corner is the so-called Kill Zone

So pretty! Feel free to place your remaining two Turrets in other places

Place your Turrets as high as you can, by Jumping

As you can see, even while high up on the wall these Turrets have plenty of range

The goal of this strategy is to wait until the Enemy team makes a push through the main chokepoint (the Archway), which then lines them up for your Reinhardt to make a Leeroy Jenkins-esque charge into their center of mass. Normally, this would be suicide for your Reinhardt, but this charge will push several of your Opponents straight back -- into the Kill Zone


Any enemies caught in the four Symmetra Turret beams will instantly melt, allowing your Team to follow up and pick off any stragglers. Your Symmetra will easily get a 4+ player multi-kill, allowing her to set up an early Teleporter and sealing your Defensive stand on the first point. 

Icarus' corner

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! 

Final Thoughts and Shout-Outs

As always, none of this Data could exist without the help of the Competitive Overwatch Community -- so remember to check out my 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. I'd also like to especially thank Tifa (@TifaPls), the amazing Tournament organizer who was instrumental in setting up and running AgentsRising, as well as each of my #TeamEggplant Teammates: Carnage (@carnmode), foobz (@foobz), Sukinta (@sukinta12), Enryu (@EnryuOW), Rastsy (@Rastsy), and TKQ (@TKQ1H). All of these people made my very first LAN an amazing experience, and I can't wait to see them again. 

Until next time,


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