Overwatch Tier list and Hero Meta Report #20: the 7 Day meta

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Opening Thoughts

What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present the Overwatch Hero Tier List and Meta Report #20: The 7 Day Meta. What a wild and crazy week we’ve had! This week was supposed to be the dawn of a new Meta, but Blizzard was fast to respond to complaints at the upper level of Overwatch play regarding McCree’s Left Click damage. As of the writing of this Report, Blizzard had already “nerfed” McCree* by reducing his Peacemaker’s effective full-damage range by 10 meters and also gave Ana’s Biotic Rifle some love by increasing its fire rate and clip size. Blizzard did not stop there, however: also increasing the fire rate of McCree’s Fan the Hammer and reducing the Recovery Time after using Stun Grenade. This final change was presumably to return McCree to their vision of "The Anti-Flanker Specialist” by giving him more consistency in nailing the Flash + Fan the Hammer combo. Now, targets like Genji, Tracer, and Reaper -- who previously were able to escape by saving their Deflect, Rewind, and Wraith Form abilities respectively -- can be melted with ease. According to a Blizzard Developer, you can now get off 5 Fan the Hammer shots, possibly 6 if you’re quick, over the duration of an entire stun -- more than enough to take out anything short of a Tank trying to breach your Teams back lines.

McCree was already this week’s only S Tier Hero, and this improvement to his consistency at the cost of an admittedly overpowered long-range capability may turn out to be a net Buff, rather than a Nerf. Ana’s changes also came quickly: Overwatch’s Developers decided they were not seeing enough of their shiny new Hero and thus increased her fire rate and clip size barely a week after her official release. This leaves this Report’s Meta as an intermediary Meta -- a stepping stone on the way to what may come in this Post-Ana world. I’m getting too far ahead of myself though: let’s see what this 7 Day Meta looked like with this Week’s Tiers:

*up for interpretation

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As always, Raw Data for this and subsequent charts can be found HERE . The data is now presented as separate sheets for each Map, for better and more detailed tracking. A Summary Sheet can also be found HERE but its much less pretty. REMINDER: This Data was collected from the GosuGamers EU side, and Eleague Qualifiers (NA + EU), where 1 Hero Limit, and Stopwatch Format was used for Payload Maps

The Tiers

S Tier (>=95% Usage Rate*): McCree

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

B Tier (>40% Usage Rate): Genji

C Tier (>20% Usage Rate):  Winston, Zarya, Reaper, Reinhardt, D.Va

D Tier (>5% Usage Rate): Tracer, Mercy, Ana, Soldier 76, Roadhog

F Tier (<5 % Usage Rate): Widowmaker, Symmetra, Junkrat, Bastion, Mei, Pharah, Hanzo, Torbjorn

*What is Usage Rate? For every match, I record the time spent on each Hero and divide it by that match's total time duration. Each of these Data points (a number from 0-1) are then summed across all sides of all matches, then divided by the total number of sides and converted to a percentage to produce a Hero's overall Usage Rate.

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, Map Pool consisting of Dorado, King's Row, Numbani, Watchpoint: Gibraltar, and Lijiang Tower, and Stopwatch Scoring for successful attacks on Payload Maps.

S Tier: Last week -- after the McCree fall-off Damage buff escaped the PTR -- I predicted McCree would be a guaranteed S Tier Hero and boy did I get that one right. Naively, I suspected Mercy had the potential to reach the S Tier after her dominance in the Pre-McCree Meta, but her lineup slot was almost entirely taken by Zenyatta, who missed the S Tier by less than 1%. This Tier is meant to highlight Heroes who may potentially be Overpowered -- those Heroes that are used for >95% of all Match Time in all Matches. McCree has already received a reactionaary Balance Change prior to the writing of this Report, but it could end up being a Buff Rather than a Nerf. Will McCree reach the S Tier next week? How about Zenyatta? Tune in next week on Meta Report Z!

A Tier: The Core Heroes. Again, I totally whiffed on Mercy and underestimated how strong Zenyatta would become with his increased survivability. Much like Lucio, Zenyatta can do it all -- all at once. Zenyatta can DPS, Heal, Buff, and Debuff whereas Mercy and Ana have to pick and choose between the respective sides of their kits. Discord Orb was and still is the strongest Debuff in the game -- and it seems like Zenyatta’s glass-cannon status in the Pre-Release Meta was the only thing holding him back. This was more than enough to catapult the Robo-Monk directly into Mercy’s former position as Overwatch’s premier Hero. Try him out, before Blizzard turns their all-seeing Nerf-Eye towards Discord Orb.

B Tier: The Favorites. The B Tier is now an All-Ninja Tier! Genji was the only Hero who reached the B Tier in the 7 Day Meta, although Zarya was close behind. Genji’s prominence as the only Hero with between 50 and 80% Usage was due at least in part to the Zenyatta Usage boom: Genji is one of the strongest flankers with an Orb of Harmony on him, and his Ultimate is one of the most devastating in Overwatch. Combine this with Discord Orbs flying across the Map constantly, and you've got a squishy-killing machine. I originally expected him to see a boost in Usage alongside Ana’s release because of Dragonblade’s perfect synergy with Nanoboost, but given Ana’s low (6%) Usage this week this was all Zenyatta’s doing. Genji’s success in the 7 Day Meta has immense implications for the coming weeks especially given Ana’s new buff, expect many more boosted Dragonblade play of the games in the immediate future.

C Tier: The Balanced Heroes.  Last week, I described the C Tier as “filled with a pool of Heroes that appear in many if not most games, but are usually not used for more than specific parts of Maps”. This description held quite true this week, and demonstrated how closely Balanced most of the Tanks in Overwatch were during the 7 Day Meta. Zarya, D.Va, Reinhardt, and Winston all fell within 7% Usage of each other and all had high Swap rates, indicating that each of these Tanks were being swapped among each other depending on the current Map location or to respond to an Opponent’s Team composition.  It appears that D.Va ate most of Roadhog’s Usage from last week (down to 8% from 31%) with the multitude of Buffs she received in the new Patch. Reaper rounded out this Tier as the “Most Situational, but still very Viable” DPS. Overwatch’s Edgelord will always be a premium choice for closed-in brawler areas of Maps and seems to be a constant feature of the C Tier. 

D Tier: The “Meta Dependent” Heroes. These Heroes have the potential to reach the Balanced Usage Tiers but are crowded out by popular Meta Heroes, Map trends, or strategies. Like most 1 Hero Limit Metas, Tracer’s Usage was a prime example of a Meta Dependent Hero. She saw respectable usage on King of the Hill Maps (22%), but barely anywhere else outside of last-point Defenses, which now count for much less in Time-based Usage Rate Data. The rest of the Heroes in this Tier were strictly victims of the Ana Release Patch. Mercy and Ana have no place in a Meta where the top two Healing Supports can heal and DPS at the same time -- not to mention the premium Lucio’s Speed Boost has in what’s turning out to be a Rush Strategy-based Meta. Roadhog lost almost all of his lineup slots to D.Va as previously mentioned, and Soldier 76 got hit with the double whammy of McCree’s buffs and his own slight nerf.

F Tier: I would like to take some time to mourn two Heroes: Widowmaker and Hanzo. Last week, Hanzo escaped the F Tier for the first time in recent memory -- but this appears to have been a last gasp before succumbing to forces outside his control. Both Hanzo and Widowmaker saw exactly 0 picks out of 1431, and while I like to let my readers come to their own conclusions that’s pretty damn telling. Pharah’s Post-Ana Patch free-fall (64% to 2% Usage) was far more impressive, but more easily explainable: in a Meta with Discord Orb and Sniper McCrees running around the skies were no longer safe. The rest of the F Tier was filled with the typical, uninspiring Defense Heroes -- who seem to only exist in the game as skill/strategy-based barriers for lower MMR players to aspire to overcome with practice. 


** 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 Time Played  in Tournament Matches, my data is Objectively determined, and not subjective at all. 

The 7 Day Meta

*I suggest highlighting Zenyatta, McCree, Pharah, or Soldier 76 -- they're the most interesting


The MEta's movement

Reading the Ana Release Notes and hearing stories from the Public Test Realm, I could tell that the writing was on the wall for some Heroes. McCree was obviously going to be a monster in the correct hands (see: IDDQD, Taimou, Surefour et. al.) with the changes to his effective range. Similarly, it was not hard to guess that D.Va would see a boost in Usage, given that every change she received was an objective Buff to her Hero Kit. This brings me to Zenyatta, and what seems to be a strange phenomenon: in a single week, due to a single patch, there were IMMENSE changes in Hero Usage. Zenyatta straight up murdered Mercy and stole her spot in the Meta, nearly reaching McCree’s S Tier, probably Overpowered Usage Rate. The same Zenyatta had previously been the topic of many a Reddit thread or podcast topic for accounting for 0 picks out of nearly 1000 in weeks before. Heroes like Soldier 76 and Pharah also saw similar, immense changes in their Usage but in the opposite direction, in only 7 days. How could the the Meta have shifted so quickly? 

The Meta's Movement: Unusually fast?

Artist's rendition of an intermediate step

Along with the release of new content in the form of Ana and powerful Balance Changes, one could expect a certain amount of upheaval in Hero Usage but not so much, so fast. Outside of McCree -- who I tend to excuse due to certain icons in the scene deciding to exclusively master his kit -- it was not a crazy idea to think that Heroes like Zenyatta would rise to the highest Tiers….eventually. On the flip side, it seemed reasonable to expect a gradual reduction in Pharah and Soldier 76 Usage over time, not such a sudden free-fall. Originally, I expected all of these Meta Changes to come somewhat gradually -- and this was based at least in part to my own past Data. As you can see in my Historical Tracking Sheet above, I chronicled the Meta’s reaction to the Widowmaker and McCree nerfs, where there was at least one week of “intermediary” Meta Usage of these two Heroes before their eventual cratering. Compare that to this week’s skyrocketing of Zenyatta, McCree, and crash of Soldier 76, Mercy, and Pharah over the course of just 7 days. What happened to the intermediate step? 

The meta's movement: peeling back the curtain

Artist's interpretation of Bromas' reaction to Soldier's Meta Position

In truth, the Competitive Scene already had its intermediate step: the PTR prior to Ana’s release. During this two-week PTR, Pros realized just how powerful McCree was -- during the many high level scrimmages  that nearly always featured lineups with McCree, Zenyatta, and D.Va at minimum. These same Pros realized that Disord Orb combined with McCree’s range and D.Va’s new Defense Matrix essentially invalidated Pharah’s reason to exist, causing the sharp drop in Usage Rate Pre-Patch vs. Post-Patch that we see today. Similarly, McCree’s damage output and Pharah-killing skills have always directly competed with Soldier 76’s for lineup spots, so Bromas’ favorite Pulse Rifle-based Hero also took quite a hit during PTR testing.

After two weeks of plinking people from across the Map with McCree, tossing Discord Orb on everything that moved, and generally being annoying as hell as D.Va in general under their belts, the Pros had already solidified the 7 Day Meta before Ana had even been released. Unfortunately for poor Bromas, Soldier 76, Pharah, and Mercy had to go to make room for the new kids in town: McCree, Zenyatta, and D.Va. The case of the quickly shifting Meta can now be closed: the Meta moved at the same rate -- just behind the scenes. 

Now, what does this mean for the Post 7 Day Meta? For McCree, probably not much. Most Pros consider the Fan the Hammer Buff much stronger than the damage falloff nerf, so it is still quite unlikely for Soldier 76 to recover at all. Ana's new Buff has implications for other DPS not named McCree as well, as it now seems more likely that we're on the cusp of a Tri-Support Meta, rather than the typical 2 Tank, 2 DPS, 2 Support Meta that has become the norm. 

Meta Predictions: Revisited

Last week, I attempted to predict what Heroes would end up in which Tier. This week, I’ll revisit these predictions and Analyze what I got right, and what I got wrong. Does CaptainPlanet actually understand what the hell he’s talking about? Let’s find out….

Ana: C Tier. The Pro community is completely split on the idea of Ana. The more conservative players seem to lean towards sticking with a traditional (read: Mercy + Lucio) Support setup in their lineups, while the more creative Teams have jumped on the Ana - Zenyatta bandwagon. On the other side of the gun, McCree mains maintain that McCree's buff and Ana's lack of mobility gives her a ticket straight to the dumpster, but Nanoboosted Genji mains beg to differ. 
Off to a good start! In fact, Ana reached the C Tier this week by the skin of her teeth -- reaching a usage rate of 6% to fall into the 5-20% established range. This was mainly due to just a few players on successful Teams (Nevix, for example) insisting on playing her on Maps like Dorado and Route 66. I expect Ana to skyrocket in the coming week to at least B Tier, possibly A Tier due to the increase in her firing rate. 

Bastion: F Tier. No significant changes occurred to everyone's favorite Songbird-controlled Murderbot, and no new synergies have come to the surface that could drag the poor bastard out of the F Tier. Try again next time, Bastion. 

No surprises here -- Defense Heroes are still in the gutter unfortunately. 

D.Va: B Tier. D.Va is BACK IN THE FIGHT! After many weeks of languishing in the D and F Tiers, D.Va received some very significant buffs to her Ultimate and a partial Hero Redesign to boot. Her Ultimate now costs 15% less, explodes 1 second faster, and no longer kills Hana Song in her human form. Furthermore, D.Va's Defense Matrix is now a Toggle-able ability with a 1 second cooldown between Toggles and recharge meter, allowing smart players to selectively delete single projectiles or entire Ultimates. D.Va could even reach the A Tier, but I believe unfamiliarity with the Hero will hold her back slightly. 

Whiffed just by a little bit with D.Va on my prediction -- she missed out on the B Tier by less than 4 % Usage Rate. Don’t get me wrong, D.Va is still amazing in the current Meta with her bevvy of Buffs, but the high Swap Rate between the top Tanks in the Meta kept all of them out of the B Tier for the time being. If we were to look at Pick Rate alone, all four Tanks not named Roadhog would have reached the B Tier this week as well. 

Genji: C Tier. Genji's Usage in the Post-Ana Meta will be entirely dependent on the strength of the Ana - Genji Ultimate combo, and if its Team wiping ability is consistent enough to justify including Ana in a Lineup in a Meta that's sure to be filled with her natural predator: McCree.

I could not have been more wrong with my reasoning on this prediction, although I was only one Tier off with Genji’s eventual Tier. Genji’s position in the B Tier seems to be much more Zenyatta-based than Ana-based, but if we see Genji in the S Tier solely on the back of Zenyatta-Ana comps in the coming week I would not be surprised. 

McCree: S Tier. Speaking of which, McCree. McCree received what seems to be a small change -- a reduction in his falloff damage. Unfortunately, Overwatch is home to some absolutely dirty McCree mains: I'll let iddqd's PTR McCree clips speak for themselves:

Called it! McCree will likely be staying in the S Tier too -- he’s received an objective nerf to his long range capabilities but gained much more consistency in his midrange damage output in return. This consistency in the hands of Pro-level players will prove to be quite deadly. so I don’t see everyone’s favorite cowboy going to any other Tier soon. 

Pharah: D Tier. McCree makes Pharah's life a living hell, and adding a new Sniper Hero in Ana doesn't help Pharah's situation either. Sorry Pharah, it's Mother's Meta now. 

Close, but no cigar. I underestimated players’ ability to determine that yes, Pharah cannot exist in a Discord Orb/McCree centric Meta during the PTR time period, so I missed on calling Pharah’s fall to the F Tier. 

Reaper: C Tier. McCree's usage is about to skyrocket, which will force Soldier 76 and Pharah out of their lineup slots. Reaper, on the other hand, should be relatively unaffected due to his specialist role as a close-range brawler. 

Right on the money with Reaper -- it seems like he’ll continue to be a Map-dependent brawler who does not care about the Meta around him in the slightest. 

Soldier 76: D Tier. Soldier 76 received a "minor" change similar to McCree's, but his will push his usage in the opposite direction. McCree and Soldier 76 are always locked in a battle for Top Hitscan DPS, and for now the duel was won by the Six Gun Killer.

Nailed it with Soldier 76 here. Soldier 76 and McCree fill too similar of roles in Overwatch, so their Usage Rates are always inversely related to each other. 

Tracer: D Tier. Tracer has not received any buffs that could help her escape the D Tier, and she's one flashbang + Headshot away from a McCree kill at all times. No change to her Tier can be expected. 

Like Reaper, I hit it right on the money with Tracer as well. Both of these Heroes had no reason to be affected by the Balance changes one way or the other, and so stayed stagnant.

Junkrat: F Tier. Junkrat, like many Defense-oriented Heroes, has been losing more and more ground lately to Offense-oriented Heroes who can be effective on both sides of Payload. Junkrat received no Balance Changes or new Synergies and thus seems unlikely to improve his standing.

Defense Hero = F Tier, no surprises there...

Hanzo: F Tier. Hanzo had a brief moment in the sun outside of the F Tier this week due to the limited Map Pool favoring Maps he shines on, but the update to the "Around the corner" hit detection netcode should be the nail in the coffin for this Hero. I see no hope of escape from the F Tier without a significant Balance Change.

The only surprise for Hanzo was that he got 0 Picks at all, but in a Meta as Top Heavy as the 7 Day Meta no one wanted to mess around and shoot arrows and stuff. 

Mei: F Tier. Mei will see increased usage because of a stealth nerf to Self-Healing: all Self Healing effects now count towards Ultimate Charge. Most Heroes received an increase in Ultimate Charge cost in response, but not Mei! This slight increase in usage should not be enough to help her escape the F Tier, however.

Strangely enough, Mei saw some extended Usage in one specific scenario this week: Talespin brought her out as a surprise Offensive lineup to disrupt TSM’s King’s Row Defense by walling off specific Heroes to be focused down in a 6v2 slaughter. I’m not entirely convinced this was a viable strategy, but if we see a noticeable uptick in Mei Usage you can thank Mr. Spin for the idea. 

Torbjorn: F Tier. There's no place in the Meta for Builder, Turret, or Defense Heroes  -- so why would a Hero who's all three be anything other than F Tier at the Pro level?

Hey look, another Defense Hero. *Barfs*

Widowmaker: F Tier. Teams in the new Meta already have a sniper, and his name is McCree. Or Ana. But certainly not Widowmaker. Does this mean Widow is obsolete? Only time will tell.

Time certainly told, and Widowmaker got 0 Picks just like Hanzo. Buffs to Ana certainly won’t help Widowmaker’s situation, but what can Blizzard do to help out Widowmaker without making her entirely broken?

Reinhardt: C Tier. Reinhardt was already on the decline prior to the crazy buffs D.Va received, and the return of shield-busting McCrees should hasten his freefall. Reinhardt will still be a good include on Payload Maps, but perhaps only for certain areas and only on Attack instead of for both sides of the Escort. However, I could be underestimating the synergy he shares with Ana's Nanoboost -- I'm prepared to take a loss on this one. 

Strangely nailed this one, for completely the wrong reasons. I underestimated the usage Ana would get in what is now the 7 Day Meta, but this could change in the coming weeks with her new Buff.

Roadhog: C Tier. Roadhog should see some swapping around with Reinhardt and Winston on Attack to pair with D.Va, and also has good synergy with Ana. Not enough to reach B Tier though.

Wrong! D.Va ate all of Roadhog’s Usage, although Roadhog’s justification serves well for Winston. 

Winston: C Tier. See Roadhog.

See Roadhog.

Zarya: B Tier. Zarya is built to hard-counter many of Ana's abilities, and also is a good annoyance to McCree. Combine her shield abilities with her Combo-enabling Graviton Surge and you've got a recipe for the B Tier. 

SO CLOSE! Zarya missed out on B Tier by less than 1%, so I’m calling this prediction basically correct. Zarya should also see a boost in usage with the Buff to Ana for the same reasons I gave above.

Lucio: A Tier. Whenever a significant change occurs, everyone likes to go back to their old favorites. For this reason I believe Lucio and Mercy will continue to hold down the A Tier as the most "familiar" of the four Healing Supports. 

The importance of Lucio’s Speed Boost alone is enough to guarantee his A Tier position -- at least until another Hero can provide a similar service. Ana’s Buff probably won’t eat too much into Lucio’s spot either -- we may be looking at the dawn of a new Tri-Support Meta.

Mercy: A Tier. I don't think Mercy has quite the potential to exceed 95% Usage this week, but her Usage Rate should remain easily high enough to reach the A Tier for her status as Overwatch's best Main Healer. Her Damage Boost will also be a staple of McCree-laden lineups, enabling the gunslingers to score easy picks consistently.

Swing, and a miss. Mercy was completely replaced by Zenyatta for his many Discord Orb synergies and the loss of her partner in crime, Pharah.

Symmetra: F Tier. Similarly to Junkrat, there's simply no room for a Defense-Oriented Hero in the coming Meta. Symmetra's status as a non-Healing Support also seems confusing with the release of Ana and the assumption that Zenyatta will be viable now. Symmetra...what would you say you...do here?

I stand by my pretty negative opinion of Defense Heroes in general. The current Meta is focused around fast, Rush-based pushes which care not for entrenched Defenses like Symmetra. Also, D.Va can make quick work of any and all of her Turrets.

Zenyatta: B Tier. Zenyatta was the second recipient of immense buffs along with the release of this patch, and I think this should be enough to propel him all the way to the B Tier. His health has (finally) been increased from 150 to 200, and his Transcendence Ultimate now gives him double movement speed so that it can be used as a super-initiation move. 

Off by one tier with Zenyatta -- I underestimated how strong Discord Orb was paired with McCree. 

Let's Talk Swaps - round 3

This week’s Swaps Data painted a pretty accurate picture of the overall procession of matches for the most part. Teams would often roll out with a Team composition they felt was either safe and able to respond to any attack, or a Rush-Based strategy meant to quickly overrun a Defense that would be tailor-made for attacking the first point only. You’ll notice that Winston, D.Va, and Reaper all had relatively high Swap rates both “To” and “From” -- demonstrating that these Heroes both had a high Pick Rate and worked on specific Map Areas suited to their abilities. For D.Va and Winston in particular, this makes sense given the similarities in their kits: both can easily chase down vertically-placed enemies but D.Va tends to have a bit more of an Offensive lean than Winston.

Despite these two Tanks high Swap Rates on both ends of the spectrum, it was Tracer who led the way for Swaps “To”, due to the obvious choice of using her to force last-ditch Overtime countdowns. Additionally, Genji had 10 more swaps “To” than “From” while Roadhog had roughly the same in the opposite direction. This could be a product of Teams starting with Roadhogs until they see the enemy Team’s lineup, then swapping to a more favorable Genji pick. Speaking of Rush Strats, Zarya had a high bias towards being swapped "From", as her kit fits the Rush Strat Meta perfectly. She can toss out shields on speed-boosted flankers to escort them to the back line, shield herself to establish a forward position, and bust heavy Defenses with her Ultimate. Following a successful first point push, teams would then swap off Zarya for the more mobile D.Va and Winston to keep the momentum in vertically-designed maps like King's Row and Hollywood.

Final Thoughts and Shoutouts

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 that 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. This week it was my birthday so I'd like to thank the community for giving me something to be happy about -- providing vital data to the scene :3

Until next time,



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 is on break this week, but check out his channel for great content!

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