What the new hero pools mean for the Overwatch League
The Overwatch League has announced the first hero pool which will affect matches taking place in Week 5. For all those matches, players will not be able to play as McCree, Widowmaker, Reinhardt, or Moira.
Hero pools are a new introduction for the 2020 season, to increase the variety of compositions played in the league and to prevent a dominant meta-strategy from developing.
There is a full explainer of hero pools on the Overwatch League website. To summarize, every week four heroes (two damage, one tank, one support) will not be available for teams to use in-game. Only heroes played for more than 10% of the total game time in the last two weeks are eligible, provided that they were not banned in the previous week.
How will the hero pools affect each role, and which teams will likely do better or worse as a result?
All statistics used in this article are from the Overwatch League Stats Lab.
The greatest change caused by the bans will be on the tank role. Teams run Reinhardt more than any other main tank at 87% playtime with Winston second at only 10%. Banning Reinhardt will have a major impact on the compositions that can be played. Expect to see much more Orisa played, along with Roadhog or Sigma as these heroes work well together. Dive compositions featuring Winston and Wrecking Ball could also make a comeback.
One team whose tank line may struggle without Reinhardt is the Paris Eternal. Benjamin “BenBest” Dieulafait has so far only shown us his Reinhardt play this season. Watch to see if Da-un “NoSmite” Jeong comes off the bench to play Orisa again.
Another key hero for the current meta who is unplayable in Week 5 is McCree. All of the top 10 players by final blows per 10 minutes have played mostly McCree. Widowmaker, who was a situational alternative to McCree is also banned, so that swap is not possible either.
Without Widowmaker, the best replacement for McCree is probably Hanzo. The only issue is that as a projectile damage hero, not all McCree players can play him at such a high level. Only three players have played more than ten minutes of Hanzo this season. Luckily for Paris Eternal, Philadelphia Fusion, and Washington Justice, all three of these players will be playing this weekend on those teams.
Lucio and Ana are the most played support heroes, with 90.8% and 88.47% respectively. However, Moira (only played 12% of the team) is the banned hero.
The support hero picks likely won’t change much in Week 5, unless a change to the tank or damage lineups makes a different hero more viable in certain compositions. One example of this could be more Mercy played, as Mercy pairs well with Pharah, who could see more playtime with the lack of key hitscan heroes.
The matches will be our first chance to see if the new hero pools can shake up the meta and bring some more variety into the Overwatch League.