Article 7: Overwatch Hero Meta Report #4: Domo Arigat(a), Mr. Zenyatta



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Look at this Infographic, isn't it pretty? If you don't think so, let me know exactly why in the comments of the Reddit thread

What’s up guys and gals, CaptainPlanet here to present Overwatch Hero Meta Report #4: Domo Arigat(a), Mr. Zenyatta. For some time now, Overwatch’s developer team has been playing fast and loose with balance tweaks to Heroes, and this week was no exception. Just like last week, Blizzard dropped a new Balance/Content Patch shortly after I released Report #3,  ensuring that -- if anything -- the Meta was sure to change. Before I dive into the analysis of this weekend’s Tournaments, let’s take a look at the changes:

This week, Blizzard quickly reverted the Health Nerf to Lucio -- possibly responding to community complaints -- opting to instead Nerf Lucio’s Offensive capability and Ultimate. This change reduces Lucio's potential as a straight-up duelist, but still gives him enough tankiness to be in the thick of things to make the most use of his Healing Aura. We’ll see later that players were quite pleased with these changes...but perhaps too pleased.

Mei -- who received huge buffs but still failed to escape Tier D in last week’s Meta Report -- got yet another round of powerful buffs to her Alt-Fire. If Mei gets any more buff, she’ll have to try out for Ms. Olympia! Mei now has plenty of damage to supplement her unique, Map-controlling kit, and as a result Pros and Casual players alike have flocked to her. 

Last week, a particular strategy involving two Zenyattas, Genji, Tracer, Symmetra, and a Flex spot took the Meta by storm and Blizzard was quick to respond with the Nerfbat. In this strategy (which was dubbed “Orb-ital Destruction” by Twich chat), the run-and-gunning Genji and Tracer were nigh unkillable with Healing Orbs and could blow up any double-Discorded target in seconds. Will the nerfs to Orb-stacking alone be enough to break Orb-ital Destruction? Let’s find out!

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Week 4's Tiering Results, with CaptainPlanet and Icarus Tiering (for the extensive Map-by-map, Offense/Defense/KotH Raw data, Click HERE)

Now, you may notice that two different Tiering Systems are being presented. This inclusion of a separate Tiering System is part of an announcement I would like to make: I am teaming up with YouTuber and fellow Meta-Analyst, Icarus, of IcarusGamers! Icarus does an excellent YouTube-based Hero Meta Report based on his own Tiering System, complete with Hero-by-Hero breakdowns and popular Team Composition strategies. If you’d like to listen to his sexy Aussie voice tell you facts about Overwatch, subscribe to his channel and check out his video below! My own Analysis follows. 


“CaptainPlanet, why are you naming this Report after Zenyatta, when Lucio has taken S Tier again?” Excellent question, to which I respond with my own: remember how Blizzard wanted to curb Orb-ital Destruction’s strength? Despite specifically disabling one of the keystones of Orb-ital Destruction's strategy, the Team Composition lives on and thrived in the past weekend’s Tournaments. Zenyatta continues to shine because of the power of his Orbs -- their "fire and forget" behavior allows Zenyatta to heal, debuff, and deal damage all at the same time. His Discord Orb in particular presents a difficult situation: it allows Zenyatta to effectively neuter his main counters. Due to his low health pool, run and gun Heroes like Tracer and Genji are poised to get the jump on a defenseless Zenyatta, however if he puts up a Discord Orb on his would-be assassins he can keep easy tabs on their location -- ruining the surprise. Now, not only do these Heroes no longer sneak up on Zenyatta, but they're often out-dueled due to Zenyatta's high damage auto-attack and the Orb's debuff. These elements of just a small part of Zenyatta's total package makes Orb-ital Destruction's rise seem inevitable. Orb-ital Destruction was so dominant, in fact, that NA’s best team, EnVyUs, spent all of their efforts trying to counter it, rather than simply using it themselves:

It is actually amazing is that Zenyatta was so close to Lucio's pick rate, despite several non-Zenyatta-based strategies popping up to counter him. If a Team Composition in Overwatch becomes too dominant, the entire Meta warps around it. Left unchecked, the best Teams will begin to either only play the "Broken Lineup", or develop extremely specific hard counters to it which get destroyed by more traditional Lineups. This phenomenon is not unique to Overwatch, in fact it is quite common in Competitive gaming. Just look at another Blizzard title, Hearthstone, and the hellish Metas of un-Nerfed Grim Patron Warrior or pre-Standard format Druid decks. I believe that Zenyatta is absolutely the root cause of this warping Meta, and players from Competitive Teams have been venting their frustration for quite some time: 

Luckily for us, Overwatch’s developers have shown a willingness to learn from Blizzard’s other titles to apply their best practices. Also luckily for us, Overwatch is still in Closed Beta, and the Devs are much more willing to swing the Nerfbat with impunity. Jeff Kaplan and Co. will not stand by and allow the Meta to devolve into the equivalent of a Rock-Paper-Scissors game. A nerf to Zenyatta must surely be coming. 


Mei has arrived. This CC-heavy Support Hero has finally received enough buffs over the past two weeks to force Competitive Teams consider her place in a roster slot. Mei previously struggled to find her way -- while her debuffs and control over movement represent valuable additions to a potential team, her lack of supporting damage made her a liability. Teams would rather prefer to give her spot to a more traditional Fragger instead. Increasing the damage on her Alt-Fire seems to have been the tipping point on the usability see-saw, and Mei’s popularity jumped instantly out of Tier D all the way to Tier B (with ~24% chance to be picked!). Our little Snow Angel has finally grown up, and here’s why:


As Talespin hinted above, many Teams attempted to solve the Orb-ital Destruction problem -- rolling out several different lineups with limited success. One common Hero appeared in the few successful Lineups that did occur: Mei. Realizing this, Teams rushed to develop Defensive strategies centered around her, even using Double-Mei Lineups to counter the Hyper-Offense of Orb-ital Destruction. Increasing Mei’s damage may have made her viable, but what made her possibly the most powerful counter to Orb-ital Destruction was not her new-found damage, but her Support abilities. Mei is one of few Heroes in Overwatch that can actually slow Heroes or even freeze them in place: a death sentence for the run-and-gun Genjis and Tracers who make up much of Orb-ital Destruction’s Offense. Orb-ital Destruction Ultimately won the majority of its face-offs with Mei Lineups, but these Mei-based Team Compositions were the only ones which were able to effectively challenge it. Look for Teams to get more comfortable using Mei’s kit in the coming weeks, and potentially running Orb-ital Destruction out of town. 

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Since some of you asked for it, I have begun analyzing of Offense vs. Defense preference bias for each Hero. As you can see in the chart above, there were some surprises this week! Hanzo, who’s currently labeled as a “Defense” Hero by the Developers of Overwatch themselves, stunningly had the largest bias towards Offense. However, this was primarily due to Hanzo's low pick rate and teams utilizing him primarily to  Attack the first leg of King’s Row, in a non-cheese manner no less. 

On the other hand, it comes as no surprise that the members (Tracer, Genji, Zenyatta, and sometimes Lucio) of the Offensive Juggernaut Composition, Orb-ital Destruction, all find themselves picked more often on Offense than Defense. For all its strengths, Orb-ital Destruction simply isn't a popular Defensive strategy with its lack of Tank Heroes. The only core part of Orb-ital Destruction who ended up favored on Defense, Symmetra, earned her spot due to her flexibility. Maps like King’s Row, Watchpoint: Gibraltar, and Hollywood all present opportunities for a quick Defensive Teleporter to turn the tide of a game  -- making her a quite popular choice for Defense. Finally, the main counter to Orb-ital Destruction -- Mei -- unsurprisingly found herself much more popular on Defense opposite of the Uber-Lineup's Offensive Assault. Bastion and Torbjorn earn honorable mentions: while they were picked quite sparingly, they were exclusively picked on Defense. 


  1. Mei IS Bae: I’ll be the first to say I’m a D.Va fanboy, but I'm finally happy to be able to say that Mei is viable. Mei may even be the savior of this Meta, if teams can find a way to utilize her with more skill and practice in the coming weeks. Overwatch is going to get just a little bit cooler with more Meis running around.
  2. The GosuGamers NA Weekly Tournament was STACKED: This weekend saw Cloud9, EnVyUs, IDDQD, Mix^, and FlatEarth all vying for the top prize in the NA Cup, making for one of the most competitive Tournaments we’ve seen this entire Beta. Despite a surprise upset of Prime taking out FlatEarth, the story of the Tournament was IDDQD remaining undefeated in Tournament play, defeating formerly "de facto World's best" EnVyUs in the Semis before demolishing Cloud9 in the Finals. “What organization will pick up IDDQD?” seems to be the burning question hanging over this young Esports scene. 
  3. The Warping of the Meta:  Zenyatta is simply too strong. He’s my favorite Healer by far, but it’s pretty apparent Zenyatta-based strategies have begun to run out of control, and further Nerfs are required to bring them in-line. I think Blizzard should continue their experimentation with Hero Balance, and try different ways to reduce Zenyatta’s effectiveness -- either by reducing Zenyatta’s Left Click or Discord Orb’s damage debuff. 


This week has been quite an interesting one for the Report, especially on the back end. A lot of work went into improving the Ubersheet’s formulas and integrating readers' suggestions and comments into new, informative, and hopefully appealing content. Once again I’m happy that Icarus was nice enough to join me in doing these Reports, without his help these would take a lot longer for me to produce. As always, if you do have any comments or feedback, please let me know in my Reddit thread which accompanies each report! Finally, please keep submitting your Plays of the Game for my future Top 5 POTG series featuring you, the community! Submissions must be sent to my email, with the subject line "POTG" and recommendations for social media shoutouts. 


Until next time,




-Introducing the Hero Offense/Defense Bias Infographic

This was a community suggestion and I had a lot of fun developing it. If you’re a fan of this infographic, please feel free to share it on social media with your friends and other fans of Overwatch! If you didn’t like it, let me know what you didn’t like and I’ll be sure to incorporate valuable feedback.

-Introducing Icarus Tiering Tracking

I have integrated Icarus’ Tiering into my Ubersheet for use in his videos and for his viewers to examine as well. His tiers are as follows:

Uber: >100% (Green)

Overused: 100%>, >80% (Dark Blue)

Fairly Used: 80%>, >50% (Light Blue)

Underused: 50%>, >20% (Yellow)

Rarely Used: 20%>, >1% (Orange)

Never Used: <1% (Red)

-Updated several back-end formulas in the Ubersheet

I noticed a minor error in previous versions of the Ubersheet’s formulas which were affecting the summary data percentages. This error only affected the percentages themselves, not the tiering. 

-Added Ilios Map Tracking

Blizzard added a new King of the Hill Map, Ilios, which will now be tracked in the Ubersheet. 

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