Article 5: Ovewatch Hero Meta Report #2: The Rise of the Rat


What's up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here and this week the Overwatch Hero Meta Report returns bigger and better than ever! As a reminder, this weekly Report will be a work-in-progress, so please remember to leave me feedback in the comments of the accompanying reddit thread. Before I get to the interesting trends, the Tier List, and conclusions we can take from it, let's go through system I used to collect the data and the Report Changelog to see what has changed from the first week:


Because I'm only one person, I have implemented a set of rules to effectively count Hero Picks without going insane. To cut down on time but still paint an accurate picture of the state of Competitive Overwatch, these are the rules I followed while tallying Hero Picks for both Offense and Defense during this weekend's tournaments:

  • At the beginning of the game, tally each Hero on each Team
  • At the end of the game, tally any Hero change that has occurred from the beginning of the Match
  • Do not count obvious, opening cheeses (the only time this came into play was the 6-Hanzo Cheese on King's Row)

Now some of you may notice, there are some obvious limitations and outliers that will occur from these rules. I will discuss them line-by-line:

At the beginning of the game, tally each Hero on each Team: This rule is obvious, and generally accurately portrays a team's overall strategy for the first leg of a Payload or Checkpoint Map. 

At the end of the game, tally any Hero change that has occurred from the beginning of the Match: This rule also seems obvious, and would capture each team's final Push, or Defending strategies. Occasionally, this results in strange outliers as teams try various desperation-Hero Swaps in order to tag the payload either on Offense or Defense, rarely with any success. Finally, by only tallying Hero picks at the beginning and end of games instead of cataloging every Hero-swap that occurred throughout the match, I miss out on second-leg or other mid-map strategic picks. However, I teams generally didn't switch up their lineup too much in the middle of most maps (Gibraltar's Hangar section being the obvious exception), and I would lose my mind trying to keep up with every Hero swap throughout a game.  

Do not count Obvious, opening cheeses (the only time this came into play was the 6-Hanzo Cheese on King's Row): I decided that 6-Hero, single-action Cheese like the Hanzo Scatter Arrow strategy on King's Row were not worth counting, and this was the only such strategy that teams used anyway. I take initial counts for these teams only after they have all swapped off of Hanzo.


-Removed King of the Hill omission

King of the Hill maps are now counted and also count towards the overall Total of Hero Picks. For King of the Hill maps, Heroes are counted for both teams at the beginning of the match, and just before the capture point is captured. I wanted to include these maps because they are legitimate picks in Tournament play as well as to represent the few Heroes that are much better suited to these maps than others. King of the Hill Maps now have their own breakdown section in the Datasheet. 

-Added Map-by-Map breakdown

Thanks to a helpful redditor, Dthehunter, I was able to add Map-by-Map breakdowns for each Hero. 

-Duplicate Heroes are now counted

In the inaugural Meta Report, Team EnVyUs utilized a now well-known 2/2/2 Hero composition consisting of duplicates of Winston, Reaper, and Lucio. To better encompass the probability that a team picks a certain Hero at some point during a match, I now count duplicate Heroes when they occur. 

-Added Tiering Lists for each Map/Offense/Defense/KotH breakdown Tab

These lists allow for better visualization of where / what situations certain Heroes shine compared to their overall ranking.


1000+ Data Points, just for you

This data was collected from both GosuGamers weekly tournaments (NA and EU) which run on Saturdays and Sundays. I was able to collect data from nearly every single GosuGamers EU tournament match thanks to four channels simultaneously streaming the matches (, /gamersoriginow, /Bryak8888, /esl_alphacast), so major thanks to them for doing so. I was only able to catch about half of the matches for the GosuGamers NA tournament (thanks to AskJoshy and Fishtix for streaming part of the other matches), but the data was still meaningful. If you're a stats nerd and wish to see all of the Raw data, click here.



With 21 Heroes, I decided to split them into D,C,B,A and S tiers, with a single Hero filling the S spot. Here's how that looks:

S "The sometimes you need two of them" Tier: LUCIO

Lucio is the healer you should always have at least one of...and if you're playing King of the Hill you should probably run two. This is the second week in a row that Lucio has run away with the S classification: across all maps there was a greater than 90% chance that a team used a Lucio in their lineup. The question remains: Is Lucio too strong? Or are other Supports too weak?

A "The fits almost every strategy" Tier: ZENYATTA, REINHARDT, REAPER, MCCREE, WINSTON

All five of these Heroes are surprisingly unchanged from Meta Report #1, even accounting for King of the Hill maps. In fact, it appears as though they've cemented their place in this Tier -- last week Genji was nipping on  their heels but the cyborg ninja has regressed somewhat. All of these Heroes stand out because they fit strongly into both Defensive and Offensive strategies -- Zenyatta is the de-facto sceond-best Healer in a two-Support Meta, Winston and Reinhardt are the top Tanks in the game, and Reaper and McCree fulfill the current "Best Defense is a good Offense" philosophy that most teams abide by. 


Genji, despite the community's complaints, once again falls to the B tier due to his lack of popularity on Defense (Genji was picked twice as much on Offense). Soldier 76 remains in his B tier home as the lesser option to McCree and Reaper as a Fragger, played mainly in some Defensive setups. Joining Soldier and Genji, however, are some new arrivals. Remember last week's Team EnVyUs 2/2/2 Winston/Lucio/Reaper strategy which took the NA tourneys by storm? Turns out that insane composition was solved mere days after its arrival, by the simple inclusion of Junkrat in a team's lineup. Buoyed by this success, teams  this weekend loved to use Junkrat, Symmetra, and Mercy at specific points on a more than a few maps, boosting their popularity an vaulting them to tier B. Finally, Tracer's appearance in The Specialist tier is no accident: after counting King of the Hill maps towards the total for this Report, Tracer's numbers exploded. Many teams choose to run a single Tracer to harass Supports, prevent caps, and prolong Overtime on Nepal and Lijang Tower. 

C "The Single Map Area Heroes, Panic-Picks, and Player-Favorite" Tier: WIDOWMAKER, D.VA, ROADHOG, ZARYA, PHARAH, HANZO, TORBJÖRN

Widowmaker once again escapes the D tier thanks to teams like IDDQD putting their Fragging Ringer (Pluppie) on her on specific map points to destroy their Opponent's assault singlehandedly. Roadhog and surprisingly Hanzo both climbed ranks thanks to the play of single players who stubbornly tried (with some success, even) to make these Heroes work. More than once, a valiant Roadhog on Hollywood's defense stymied attackers with his Whole Hog Ultimate down a narrow street.  Teams also finally found ways to properly utilize Torbjörn in certain situations -- King's Row offense surprisingly one of them -- but not quite enough to join Symmetra in her Turret-building fun in tier B. Zarya and Pharah are interesting for their drop in popularity -- the former due to the strength in other Tank options and the latter due to her vulnerability to increasingly popular Hitscan Heroes. Finally, poor D.Va's appearance in the C tier is primarily due to teams choosing her as a last-ditch effort to defend a final Checkpoint...not because of her strength as a Tank. 

D "The Highly Suscpicious, possibly BM-pick" Tier: BASTION, MEI

It's the second Meta Repot, and these Heroes still just straight up stink. Out of 1096 total picks, poor Mei was picked twice, and one of those times I'm 95% sure was just to taunt the other team. One week later and there's still just no place for a peaceful robot or a Chinese meteorologist in Overwatch :(


Defense-Oriented Heroes Stink Round 2: Electric Boogaloo

The main conclusion I drew from my first Meta Report was that Defense Heroes are terrible in Overwatch -- but now that the teams are one week wiser it seems like I may have spoken too soon. Only some Defense Heroes stink, not all of them. I made the observation that Symmetra seemed well-balanced for her role, and teams this week agreed with me: her usage was extremely high on certain maps which propelled her to the A tier when on Defense. 

Defense - only Tiering

Our Turret-building friend, Torbjörn, sees a similar tier bump when examining solely Defensive setups, showing that Teams are willing to experiment with Heroes that have more niche roles if their abilities and the situation are worth it. Unfortunately, while Torbjörn and Symmetra have obviously made the cut, Mei and Bastion have not yet been deemed roster-worthy. I predict a buff in their future. 

EU vs. NA Differences

For the second week in a row, EU players have demonstrated that they really, really love McCree on Offense -- choosing the gunslinger almost twice as much as their NA counterparts. It is difficult to explain this phenomenon: is EU ahead of the Meta in some way? Or do they simply have more talented Fraggers currently in the Beta? This will be an interesting delineation to keep track of when Overwatch exits Beta and more players enter the pool.  EU players also seem to have responded to Team EnVyUs' Lucio/Reinhardt/Reaper lineup from last week by fully embracing the way of the Rat -- they now utilize Junkrat in several Defensive and Offensive strategies (much moreso than NA players). Further indication of the EU region's flexibility is their willingness to adopt Torbjörn on Defense -- picking him twice as much as NA players -- which accounted for his step up in tier this week. The only thing that stands out from the NA region is their insistence on using Offensive Widowmakers and Defensive Soldier 76s. I have no idea why Soldier 76 is so popular on Defense with NA players (maybe they saw Pluppie dominate Hollywood with him last week?), and perhaps the popularity of Offensive Widowmakers is a symptom of playing too many pub games. 

King of the Hill has its own Meta, which is rapidly becoming Stale

The two King of the Hill maps are exciting arenas which give some specific Heroes like Tracer a place to shine in Competitive Overwatch, but they represent a bit of a problem in Hero balancing. Due to the attack-centric focus of King of the Hill maps, some Heroes simply aren't viable. The data backs this up:

King of the Hill Total Breakdown. Statistically, you should pick more than 1 Lucio and Winston over the course of a Match

It's pretty egregious: 9 out of the 21 Heroes in Overwatch simply were not picked during any of the King of the Hill matches on either map. That seems like a problem to me. Blizzard will need to introduce more King of the Hill maps which favor a wider array of Hero lineups, otherwise the King of the Hill Meta is going to become stale very quickly. This does not bode well for other, future game modes if they support similar Hero-restricting strategies (Capture the Flag comes to mind). I see Nepal and Lijang Tower as an important experiment that Kaplan and friends have designed whose results will directly impact future game modes, and unfortunately the results do not seem that promising. 



This report has grown quite a bit in just a week since starting! Special thanks to Dthehunter for the upgrade to my Google sheet, and to the great discussion that was had on Reddit. As before, I will be travelling the next three weekends and the reports may be delayed as a result. As always, if you think I need to change anything about my methodology I would be glad to implement any ideas you might come up with, provided it's still time-efficient for me to do. Please let me know in my reddit posthere