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OVERWATCH HERO META REPORT #6: SPRING BALANCING
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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 #6: Spring Balancing. Last week, just as Spring came upon world, Blizzard nerfed Zenyatta and saved the Meta of Overwatch. I initially speculated that this change to Zenyatta’s Orbs (see right) would prove to be too severe, however my fears were quickly put to rest by the data collected I collected this weekend.
For two weeks, the popular Orb-ital Destruction lineup dominated the Meta: warping Defensive schemes and edging out all other Offensive compositions. This Zenyatta change could not have come soon enough. Despite fears within the community that re-balancing a Hero due to multiple-stacking could harm the solo potential of the Hero, it seems like the Devs were just stringent enough to reduce the effectiveness of double-Zenyatta lineups while still preserving Zenyatta’s solo viability. In fact, this move by the Blizzard proved to be an effective solution that opened up the Meta for other Heroes and more varied strategies. This brings me to this week’s question: Has Overwatch reached the Balanced Land?
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Week 6's Tiering Results, with CaptainPlanet and Icarus Tiering (for the extensive Map-by-map, Offense/Defense/King of the Hill Raw data, Click HERE)
A History Lesson
Orbital Destruction, bane of Overwatch lineups everwhere
A long time ago, in an FPS galaxy far, far away, the 21 Heroes lived in harmony. But all of that changed when the Orb nation attacked. Star Wars and Avatar references aside, all it took was a simple change to Shields in Overwatch and a troll strategy in a scrim from Cloud9 that accidentally worked, and soon the Double-Zenyatta, Double-Flanker strategy was born. These Meta-defining Shield changes occurred way back in early February, but it took until early March -- Week 2 of the Meta Report -- for the Orb lineup to begin to take off. It managed to run under the radar until the 2/2/2, Winston/Reaper/Lucio strategy was nerfed in Week 3. For the next two weeks, we enjoyed some of the most “Balanced” Metas of the Closed Beta, with a glut of Heroes falling into the 15-60% usage, Tier B range. Unfortunately, in Week 5 IDDQD and EnVyUs got good -- really good -- at the Orb-ital Destruction lineup and other Teams were quick to emulate them. This had a cascading effect: forcing many Heroes out of Tier A and B into C and D, a stark contrast to the prior two weeks (see above). Myself and pros alike predicted a nerf to Zenyatta had to be coming, and we got our wish this week.
This weekend heralded in a new Meta with a huge variety in viable strategies. The results are immediately apparent from both the crowded B Tier and absence of any Tier D Heroes -- a sign of a very healthy scene! This week, no Hero had less than a 6% pick rate, and no Hero besides Lucio exceeded 72%. That sounds like we’re getting pretty darn balanced to me. Lucio appears to be an issue once more, but his high pick rate is simply a symptom of there being four true Support Heroes existing in Overwatch -- only three of which can actually heal. Lucio is simply the best of the three, and will fill the valuable main Healer spot as long as this is true. The solution is simple: add more Supports, Blizzard!
The Monkey in the Room
There are two big names that were missing from a lot of this week’s games: EnVyUs and IDDQD. Where these two teams go, the Meta follows -- just as we saw with the prior weeks and Orb-ital Destruction. IDDQD did play in the Gosugamers EU cup, but in typical IDDQD fashion only played three games and didn't drop a single match -- preferring to play a modified Zenyatta/Flanker lineup in spite of the nerf. This begs the question: is the Meta truly balanced, or is it just waiting for EnVyUs and IDDQD’s lead? The last time we had a huge balance change come through (nerfing Genji and Lucio’s Health -- which has since been reverted), the Meta seemed to reach an equilibrium of diversity until these top teams popularized the next Uber-Team-Composition. We’ll just have to sit tight and see what crazy lineup rises to the top -- and hope that it at least has a few counters.
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Every week brings seems to bring new surprises to the Offense/Defense Bias Report! Consulting the chart, the first thing that stands out is the huge bias towards Offense for Roadhog and an even larger Defensive bias for D.Va. Roadhog’s emergence is the result of several teams subbing him in in place of their second Zenyatta in Orb-based Flanker lineups -- creating a Roadhog, Zenyatta, Symmetra, Torbjorn, Tracer, Lucio composition which was featured primarily by IDDQD and Reunited on Numbani. D.Va, on the other hand, was usually a panic-pick like previous weeks but saw some “serious” consideration for short bursts of time on Dorado.
Bastion’s Offensive bias, however, is the most surprising result of them all; he was picked 200% more often on Offense than Defense. Unfortunately for all of the aggressve Bastion players out there, this was only due to his low pick rate. Reaper and Junkrat shined on Defense this week in Hollywood and King's Row maps -- making use of their close-quarters combat areas favoring their style of damage output. The most flexible Heroes this week were Widowmaker, Hanzo, Mercy, and Winston -- all of which had very little bias towards either side of the game.
MAP SPOTLIGHT: WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD!
Brief Map Summary
This week I'm kicking off my Map Spotlight Series, where I choose one map from Overwatch and feature map-specific Hero usage for the current state of the Meta. This week, I’m analyzing Hollywood! Hollywood is a payload-escort map similar to King’s Row, where attackers must first take control of the payload’s location before escorting it through two checkpoints to win the match. This map's first checkpoint can often be won if a Defending team gets a fast Teleporter out, but is by and large won by the Attacking team as soon as they charge their first round of Ultimates. Hollywood’s second escort leg features narrow streets and alleys with high rooftops -- providing an arena where Heroes who dominate vertical space (and their counters) can shine. Hollywood’s final leg runs through an enclosed sound stage with only a few chokepoints, so Heroes with AOE-based Ultimates and Snipers have the most success here.
Individual Hero stats
Reinhardt takes the prize as most valuable Hero for Hollywood. Already a strong tank, Reinhardt shines during both payload escort legs by providing cover for Heroes on the payload due to his shield stretching to nearly the width escort path. McCree is a close second because of his high damage hitscan Revolver-- allowing him to both snipe Heroes from the air above the rooftops and brawl with players on the ground. His Ultimate ability, Deadeye, also provides excellent area denial to push the payload along, making him the premier Offensive threat on Hollywood. Mercy sees an uptick in popularity compared to her overall pick rate, potentially due to line-of-sight issues affecting Lucio’s aura healing and Zenyatta’s (new) Harmony Orb mechanics.
On Offense, McCree is an obvious choice along with Reinhardt but Lucio also makes an appearance for his strong Ultimate and speed boost aura. Zarya was also used by many attacking teams on both the first and last control points -- both of which in order to snag a team wipe with Graviton Surge to make a final push. On Defense, Junkrat, Symmetra, and Torbjorn stand out -- however these Heroes were primarily used for the first control point only.
Team Composition stats
For each control point of the Map, I tallied the varying compositions that teams used on Offense and Defense. I then constructed an “uber comp” for each leg, based on these data as well as some weighting to compositions which succeeded in either Attacking or Defending. As you may notice, the optimal Offensive lineup did not change too much from point to point; this was mostly due to teams subscribing to a mentality of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This makes the emergence of Offensive Widowmaker on the final control point that much more impressive: her ability to deny choke-points from afar often proved vital for an Attacking team to gain the upper hand.
Defense on the other hand had a bit more variability. Lineups which utilized Torbjorn and Symmetra -- the former for his Turrets and Molten Core and the latter for an early Teleporter -- tended to have the most success Defending the first control point. After (presumably) failing to Defend, teams would swap to a Defensive Widowmaker to deny the rooftops from Flankers, paired with a Pharah and Mercy to preserve their dominance of vertical space. Once the final leg of the Map was reached, teams were often in panic-mode on Defense -- leading to an increase in Zarya picks to pull off big team wipes. Unfortunately, I did not witness a single match where the payload reached the second checkpoint where the attacking team was successfully stopped.
THINGS I LIKE AND DISLIKE
1. Zenyatta nerf -- not too little, not too much...just right: This Zenyatta nerf initially seemed far too severe, but seems to actually have been just the cure for what ailed the Meta. Zen dropped to a respectable pick rate of 41% this week, putting him squarely in Tier B...B for Balanced.
2. Team EnVyUs's mysterious absence: EnVyUs sat out this weekend’s tournaments because they hadn’t had time to explore the new changes yet -- sadly denying the epicly stacked tournaments we witnessed last week. I guess it’s ok though, since IDDQD didn’t play in the NA tourney either. I hope to see them back at it next week!
3. Mix^ acquired by Luminosity Gaming: It’s always great to see more teams enter the Overwatch scene, and Mix^ has been a favorite of mine after having discovered A_Seagull’s awesome stream. Congrats to them!
4. IDDQD still hasn’t been picked up by a team: Seriously people, IDDQD is unreal. Throw money at them already.
5. Code7’s breakout performance: Code7, also an un-affiliated team (hint, hint), had an amazing tournament run in the NA weekly, surprising Luminosity with a 2-0 sweep before falling in the finals to Cloud9. Perhaps this team also has sponsorship in the future?
6. Overwatch will be balanced separately on Console vs. PC: YouTuber Th3Jez did an extremely in-depth interview (see here) where Jeff Kaplan confirmed that console and PC versions of Overwatch will be balanced separately. This is a breath of fresh air for players of both platforms, as neither wants their experience to be adulterated by something unbalanced in the other. Kudos to Jeff!
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 every Wednesday of the week! It's Wednesday, so here's his latest report:
Check it out, you'll love it :)
I hope you all enjoy my new Map Breakdown Infographic! I plan to do further Map Breakdowns in the future, hopefully I don't run out too soon though since the pro scene seems to favor just a few maps total, out of the currently released ones. The Report was much more fun to compile this week than previous weeks because I could see the change and the freshness in the Meta unfolding in front of my own two eyes! I hope that this is the beginning of a dynamic, intriguing, and most of all fun Meta going forward. 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, firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "POTG" and recommendations for social media shoutouts.
Until next time,
-Added Route 66 Map Tracking
-Introduced Map Spotlight series and infographic
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