Retired Overwatch League pro Jacob ‘Jake’ Lyon hit out at Blizzard developers for their approach to balancing the hero shooter for casual audience and not the professionals.
On December 10, the Junkrat player expressed how hero bans were the unfortunate yet “natural conclusion” for the development team due to their “refusal” to balance for pro play.
Hero bans are a widely popular concept within the Overwatch community, especially as it pertains to organized play. While tournaments have experimented with the idea of bans, Blizzard has never introduced the mechanic in any of their official competitive environments.
The general concept of hero bans is that one team would ban one or two heroes per map resulting in more diversity in the game and a ever-changing meta as opposed to teams figuring out the best hero composition and mirror matching throughout a series.
“If you won’t balance for pro play then pro play needs a balance for itself,” Jake explained. “Like, I get that this is a game and it’s popular and there’s a lot of different people with different skills playing it, but there’s also s*it tonnes of people watching professional players play and for pro players it’s literally your job to win. I do think pro players should have a higher status than the individual player at a lower level because a pro player puts their whole f**king life into it and a casual player does not - by definition.”
After going into more details about hero bans and how they would bring more diversity to the game instead of just having teams scrim to produce the highest level mirror match possible, the retired Outlaws DPS player took a shot at the devs.
“The biggest problem is the devs don’t give a f**k about us. Not pro players at least. That’s how I feel. We’ve had patches that last in a super stagnant meta for like eight months in ranked,” he went on. “We had GOATS (triple tank and triple support) for f**king three stages! GOATS was like eighty percent play time for like three stages. That’s like what? Four, five months? Like, come on guys. That’s so bad.”
According to Jake, the meta should be changing every couple of months with major patches to shift what works and what doesn’t creating an element of freshness. He contends that the problems lie in where the developers get their data.
“They’re looking at f**king quick play data!” the pro turned commentator went on. “We’re not even having a conversation if you’re talking about quick play win rates. I thought Overwatch was being balanced for this rule set, you mean we’re balancing for two rule sets at the same time? Two different games? If you change the time limit, the game changes, you know?”
He further expressed how the developers were balancing for console because of how large the console player base is despite pro-play being all PC.
“It’s not that they’re (the developers) are incompotent, I just think they don’t care. That’s my conclusion.”
For Jake, balancing the game for pro play through bans or other means would be the best way to introduce more excitement to Overwatch at the highest level.
So far, Overwatch League Season 3 has no plans to introduce hero bans, but anything is possible. After all, more than halfway through season 2, the league and game both implemented role lock.