Is hero pools bad for the competitive health of Overwatch?

Bring back the old Overwatch

Blizzard introduced us to the idea of hero pools and map pools in order to keep the competitive meta of Overwatch ever-evolving.

Along the way Blizzard just completely removed map pools from competitive Overwatch. After that, they also made some questionable changes regarding hero pools. All this was done in order to keep the core meta of Overwatch to be ever-evolving. Nothing feels worse than a stale competitive scene in an online multiplayer game.

At first, many players in the high ELO welcomed this change with open arms. As more time passed, almost all of them found cracks in Blizzard’s approach to these aggressive meta shifting policies. Players are now asking for an end to this hero pools to bring back the old Overwatch.

Overwatch fan Money-Folder expressed his/her concern over Blizzard’s handling of meta shifting to keep the game fresh. Some of the points made by this fan are worth taking a serious look.

Why hero pools is bad for Overwatch?

No meta mastery allowed

A meta shouldn’t be a 6-month ordeal like Dive or GOATs. There also shouldn’t be a 1-week clown fiesta where you have to literally guess the meta. If there was one thing these previous metas had over the current system, the better team shined no matter what. When everyone knows what is the optimal composition and tries to refine it, you’ll know who’s the best team without a doubt. However, in 2020 they made a promise to balance and patch aggressively. Obviously this backfired.

Forced hero diversity is bad

No one wants to play a game where the less popular heroes are meta every other week because of someone who is actually fun to play with just got banned. While this was added to combat the staleness in a competitive meta, it might not be a good fit for Overwatch.

Hero pools make balancing impossible

Making an objective judgment on a hero when 3-4 other heroes are out of the rotation is just not that effective. Therefore making balancing changes while there are hero pools is much harder. If there’s an actual meta, you’ll know who needs to be tuned with no second guess. Hero pools actually make balancing harder because you don’t have a full picture. Since pros don’t have time to study what truly are the most OP strategies/heroes, it makes everything just worse than it needs to be.

Overall quality of play has reduced

With no meta to guide high ranked gameplay, there’s nothing left for normal players to follow or form counter-strategies against. The level of play in Grand Master has deteriorated and it’s become a mechanics fest. It sometimes feels like actually thinking becomes a punishment as opposed to just “clicking heads“. This effect is even worse for Contenders and OWL players who have screeched for the end of hero pools.

The games are a lot more RNG based and the overall refinement of meta and strategy is so low. More so than ever, OWL teams look about as competent and skillful as unsigned Contenders teams.

Freedom of choice

At the end of the day, it all comes down to player choice and what competitive players really want. Restricting some heroes to aggressively shift meta might work with other games. But in Overwatch forcing players to play other heroes that they are not that proficient might actually not be a good idea.

Overwatch saw a very successful launch in 2016. It had a very healthy competitive scene back in 2017-2018. With all the current changes Blizzard brought to the table to keep the game ever-evolving might not have landed the way they intended in the first place. Therefore turning some of these changes down a little bit might be the way to go into the future until Overwatch 2 hits the market.

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