Overwatch Tier list and Hero Meta Report #13: 1 Hero Limit and you

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Opening Thoughts

Whats up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report #13: 1 Hero Limit and You. This week, the Gosugamers NA and EU weekly tournaments stormed back -- with a vengeance. Both Tournament's Finals exceeded 25,000 concurrent viewers -- eclipsing Blizzard’s own Heroes of the Storm LAN broadcasts by several times over without the appearance of the world’s number one team, Cloud 9. If you needed any more evidence to get hyped about the future of Esports in Overwatch look no further. 

Lately, some of you may have begun to notice a lot of Eggplants floating around the Competitive scene and in this Report I intend to spill the beans. Before it escaped into the verbal melee that is Twitch chat to blossom into a meme of its own, the Eggplant emote meant much more to the Competitive Overwatch "Old Guard" than simply being a vegetable to spam in Discord. Many an argument was had between Pros trying to solve the issues of Hero stacking and Cancer Comps that plagued the scene in Beta 1 and 2, and the same three conclusions were always reached as the best way to "Save Overwatch." These three rules embody a Tournament Format, and they are as follows:  Ban all 2CP Maps, implement a 1 Hero Limit, and use True Stopwatch as the scoring system. This got a little wordy to keep repeating, so Pros opted to use the Eggplant emote as its symbol.  It’s this rule format that GosuGamers rolled out with in their Tournaments this week, and its this rule format that I will be analyzing -- seeking to answer the question of "What happens when you give Pros exactly what they want?". This is the Overwatch Hero Meta Report: 1 Hero Limit and You

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As always, Raw Data for this and subsequent charts can be found HERE. REMINDER: This Data was collected from the GosuGamers weekly NA and EU tourneys, where they used 1 Hero Limit, no 2CP Maps, and True Stopwatch format

The Tiers

S Tier (>=100% Usage Rate**): No one!

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

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

C Tier (>20% Usage Rate): Zarya, Genji, Reaper, Junkrat, Soldier 76, Pharah, Symmetra, Tracer

D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): Roadhog 

F Tier (<5 % Usage Rate): Hanzo, Torbjorn, Mei, Bastion, Zenyatta, D.Va

**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 1 Hero Limit, 2 CP Maps Banned, Stopwatch Scoring.

The beauty of 1 Hero Limits is that its actually impossible for a Hero to reach the S Tier, unless they’re used on every single map by every single team on both Offense and Defense, as well as by both teams simultaneously on all King of the Hill Maps. As you may have guessed, this didn’t happen (although, Mercy came close, at 96.43%).

The A Tier Heroes are what I'm dubbing the Non-Negotiable Core Heroes, which you should try to always include in your lineup under 1 Hero Limit restrictions. Mercy has seen a crazy rise in popularity not only just because of the format change, but also because of a recent shift in the Map-Selection Meta. Without having to worry about 2CP Maps like Hanamura, Volskaya, and Anubis, Teams have been opting more and more to ban King of the Hill Maps instead. This put Lucio, the darling of King of the Hill Maps, out high and dry -- he was still used often on Payload Maps, just not nearly as often as King of the Hill. Moving on, it doesn't matter what format you implement: as of June 7th, 2016 McCree is still the best DPS in Overwatch so it’s no surprise seeing him make an appearance in the highest possible Tier this week. The same argument goes for Reinhardt and his position as Top Tank of the any and all formats -- save a King of the Hill-only Map Pool. 

Traditionally I’ve referred to the B Tier Heroes as the “Balanced Heroes” but under 1 Hero Limit rules, they better fit the description of “Negotiable Core Heroes”. These Heroes are the first Heroes that get subbed out whenever a Team needs to bring in a Specialist, but for the most part still get used in most situations of most Maps. For example, Lucio is often subbed for Symmetra on Defense, Winston can be subbed for Flanking Heroes on Offense, and Widowmaker shares lineup space with Pharah, Junkrat, Reaper, Soldier 76, and many other DPS depending on what part of the Map the Teams currently find themselves.

This week, the truly “Balanced” Tier is the C Tier. Under 1 Hero Limit Restrictions, the C Tier was populated by Heroes being used in the manner Blizzard seemed to have in mind for Overwatch: Heroes that were close in power level but diverse in skill-set that were constantly being subbed in and out in lineups depending on Map position or Opponent Team Composition. It comes as no surprise that the C Tier is the most highly populated Tier -- providing an example of what a "healthy” for Overwatch Competitive Scene might look like. 

Strangely enough, the D Tier was populated by only one hero -- Roadhog -- whose 10.71% Usage Rate stands as the only Hero who falls in the 5-20% range. Roadhog was used seriously in a few situations (notably by Reunited on Route 66), just not quite at the same rate as other Tanks. He’s a deadly pick-generator, but unfortunately he lives by the picks as much as he dies by the picks. Without getting push-initiating kills, Roadhog is simply an Ultimate-generating battery for the enemy team, so his Cons often outweigh the Pros.

Finally, the F Tier. Unfortunately for D.Va, Hanzo, Bastion, and Mei -- not even 1 Hero Limit rules were enough to make them usable. An interesting thing to note though, is that Zenyatta is absolutely TERRIBLE, and was only picked once in all of the 168 sides I recorded this weekend. Someone put out a milk carton ad for our missing Robot Monk! 

*** 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. 

1 Hero limit and you

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I have some good news and some bad news

The Full Eggplant format -- Banning all 2 CP Maps, implementing 1 Hero Limit, and utilizing True Stopwatch scoring -- was what many in the Pro Scene believe would save Competitive Overwatch. With Blizzard's own "Competitive Mode" patch still several weeks away, many Tournament Organizations and Players alike have been on several month's long journey attempting to develop the best format for Overwatch moving forward: balancing factors like fairness to players, watchability, maintaining a dynamic Meta, and generally being fun to compete in. For many in the scene, the Eggplant Format was the best idea they had -- and now its time to put that idea to the test. For those who have championed the Eggplant Format: I have some good news and some bad news. 

1 hero limit saved competitive overwatch

Under 1 Hero Limit, Hero Diversity is Much Higher

One of the main emergent phenomena from implementing a 1 Hero lineup restriction was the coalescing of several distinct Tiers of Heroes. I'm not usually a fan of Tier lists, but this Week's Usage Rates (see top of the page) paint an explicit picture. First, there are two "Flavors" of Core Heroes -- the Negotiable and the Non-Negotiable. The Non-Negotiable are hardly a surprise -- they already lead the Usage charts in Unrestricted Formats, but the Negotiable Heroes represent a Hero-switching phenomenon which is happening at a much more accelerated rate than ever before, all thanks to the Format. Look no further than the next tier of Heroes, the "Balanced" C Tier, for evidence of this. These Heroes comprise a Pool of Flexibility, so named due to these Heroes having a high diversity in skills that compliment lineups in very different ways. These are the Heroes who, under Unrestricted Formats, would lose their spot to either a second McCree or another stackable Hero. With Hero restrictions in place, there's finally room for this cohort to shine. 

1 Hero Limit Rewards Specialist Heroes, and Punishes Heroes that are too "Special"

Examining the Heroes in the infographic above who gained ground in Usage under 1 Hero Limit, you'll find four in particular that stand out for their huge gain in usage on either Offense or Defense: Junkrat, Symmetra, Zarya, and Pharah. While Zarya and Pharah were already known for their Offensive leaning -- and Symmetra and Junkrat for their Defense -- Hero restrictions pushed these Heroes' bias to new heights. Zarya and Pharah grew from the mid 30’s in usage rate to high 50’s on Offense, demonstrating the powerful synergy of pairing their two Team-wiping Ultimates together on a tough Capture Point. It's interesting to note, however, that Zarya's gain in Offensive usage was almost completely offset by a loss in Defensive Usage, a phenomenon whose explanation still eludes me. Symmetra and Junkrat’s boost in usage under 1 Hero Limit was even more staggering, gaining 39% and 43% usage respectively. Junkrat had already been climbing the usage charts prior to this but a boost this significant is unprecedented.

On the flip side, forcing teams to remove duplicates left behind a cast of Heroes who simply do not fit. For some, the problem is Meta in nature: Zenyatta will continue to never see play as long as Widowmaker is at least somewhat used competitively. For others, the problem is stepping on other, better, Heroes toes: there’s almost no reason to bring a Hanzo when you can just bring a Widowmaker instead (hmm...her again…). For Mei and D.Va, it’s more a problem of overall power level. They’ve seen buffs and nerfs in the past which have brought them into and out of Meta play -- similar buffs could easily vault them back into viability. Unfortunately for Bastion and Torbjorn, the problem seems to be Design-based: Turret classes by their nature are far too susceptible to a game filled with Heroes who have long-range abilities that can be safely spammed to destroy fixed-place threats. 

Knocking down One Hero to Boost Two

The basis of the 1 Hero Limit is that in many situations, reducing the effectiveness of stacking one Hero actually allows two Heroes to move up in Usage. For example, Junkrat and Symmetra gained significant ground this week under 1 Hero Limit rules, but why? The answer lies in their role on Defense, and a Hero Stacking strategy that counters it. When it comes to roles, Junkrat and Symmetra are chokepoint specialists. Symmetra can transform an entire line of attack into a Death Zone with well-placed Turrets -- all while spamming high-damage, Shield-bypassing Right-Click Orbs into the main chokepoint. Similarly, Junkrat can deny routes of Attack with  his Traps while spamming the main chokepoint from safety by bouncing his Grenades around corners. How do you break through a chokepoint that’s being bombarded in such a way? In a match with no Hero Restrictions, the solution is Winston -- Double Winston.

Stacking Winston counters these chokepoint specialists in two ways. First, two Winstons can “skip” a chokepoint simply by leaping over it -- jumping on the Symmetra or Junkrat in the backline and focus-firing them down. Second, two Winston Shields dropped at the chokepoint itself effectively negates Junkrat’s spam in particular, allowing your team to move through in relative safety to take better positions of Attack. Under 1 Hero Limit, this strategy falls apart: a single Winston cannot complete either of the aforementioned tasks: a solo Jump results in near instant focus fire upon crossing into the Opponent’s backline, and a single Winston Shield doesn’t have nearly enough Health to stand up to a Junkrat’s barrage. Without their natural, Double-Winston predator lurking in the pockets of Attacking Opponents, Teams wishing to make the best Defensive stand have rushed to set up their Junkrat Symmetra combo, to great effect.

1 hero limit is destroying competitive overwatch

Team Composition Diversity is Much Lower

We've only seen one tournament of 1 Hero Limit, and Pros are already complaining. Grego has a point here though: while Individual Hero usage has increased in variety, the actual Team Compositions being used in Competition has decreased substantially. Without the ability to stack Heroes, most of the areas of Overwatch's Maps have been "solved". The coalescing of distinct Tiers demonstrates this: Pros know precisely what lineup to bring to what part of the current Map at whatever time. Even the newly minted "Balanced but Specialist" C Tier, seems misleading now: while these Heroes were getting used more often, it's actually because Pros are forced to use these Heroes on specific areas due to lack of flexibility. First Point Defense on King's Row or Hollywood? Better bring a Symmetra. Attacking the same First Point? Zarya's your girl. If I had a nickel for each time a Defending Team swapped to a Widowmaker - Winston combo on Hollywood's second escort leg....you get the idea. 

"Cheese" Strategies were the most Innovative Lineups in Overwatch, and 1 Hero Limit has Killed Them

What ever happened to the days of the D.Va-spam Defense? Protect the President? The Orb-ital Destruction "God Comp"? The Crossfire Defense? We can debate the definition of a "Cheese" strategy until High Noon, but it was these lineups that exemplified the innovation and creativity that is possible in an Overwatch without Restrictions. Even though some of these Lineups were the definition of unfair, there's something to say for the entertainment value of seeing two Reinhardts protecting two Widowmakers, a Bastion, and a Mercy on a moving Payload. Under 1 Hero Limit, no one's making up fun names to describe the McCree/Reinhardt/Mercy/Lucio/Widowmaker/Winston "Standard" Lineup except for exactly that: The "Standard." There's not enough room for Lineup creativity in the 1 Hero Limit Format, and games will quickly become stale without a little bit of cheesey help. 

There simply aren't enough Heroes for a 1 Hero Limit

Borrowing once more from our friend Grego, there's simply not enough Heroes currently in Overwatch for a 1 Hero Limit to work. I stated above that without the ability to stack Heroes, Teams don't have the flexibility they need to create interesting Lineups and counters -- and the reason is that they don't have a large enough pool to pull from. In any competitive game, you're going to have Core Heroes, Flex Heroes, and Garbage Heroes depending on the state of the game's Meta, but with only 21 Heroes we can already see that the choices are just too limited. As the current Meta stands, three of the 21 are Non-Negotiable inclusions to a Team's Lineup, three are "usually" included, and five are almost completely unusable. Overwatch needs a Hero pool of much greater than 21 to fill the ranks of all Tiers of Heroes, which will result in enough flexibility in Lineup choices for a proper 1 Hero Limit Format to have a healthy, dynamic Meta. 

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! Icarus was travelling this week sadly, so no video T_T

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 and no Overwatch Hero Meta Report. I'd also like to thank the admins of the GosuGamer Weekly Tournaments for having the cojones to actually test out the 1 Hero Limit Format which has given me quite a bit of stuff to write about. Looking forward to the coming weekend's tournaments, where we'll get to see if the Meta really is as stale as everyone fears!

Until next time,


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