Overwatch players, pros, and community members were left baffled when the game’s newest addition, Echo, was banned as part of the April 20 hero pools.
This is the second week where pickrates from high-ELO games in ranked play have determined which heroes are ban-eligible. Of the DPS, Echo, Tracer, and Ashe had a chance of being banned, with the latter managing to remain in rotation.
Despite the hype for Echo and the character not even seeing play in the Overwatch League yet, the 32nd hero will be unavailable in competitive from 2PM EST on April 20 to one week from then.
The ban also carries over to Overwatch’s newest arcade mode, Competitive Open Queue.
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Many in the Overwatch community were furious at Echo’s removal. Prominent content creators such as former Contenders pro Sam ‘Samito’ Dawahare urged Blizzard to reconsider.
“Blizzard, we should not ban Echo less than one week after she came out,” he said. “It is not in the game’s best interest to ban it less than a week. It’s crazy! It’s actually unfathomable.”
Please reconsider banning echo at 2 PM EST tomorrow for the week!
It makes zero sense to ban A BRAND NEW PRODUCT that has brought tons of hype and content to the game. This hurts @Blizzard_Ent more than anyone else, DONT KILL YOUR OWN HYPE TRAIN!!! pic.twitter.com/l1tIzvbEYj
— Samito (@SamitoFPS) April 20, 2020
Samito made a few notable observations, stating that Echo’s playtime would be artificially high because she’s the newest hero in the game and people are going to want to play her. Additionally, Blizzard needs more stats to be able to better tune her.
“This time is very important to figure out how to balance the character!” he exclaimed, and suggested she get a bye from the hero pool system.
The complaints were echoed in the r/CompetitiveOverwatch subreddit too where many users voiced concerns.
“This week's hero bans do not make sense. The system itself is deeply flawed,” wrote user darklord12121.
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“The hype around playing a fun high skill ceiling hero after just having a big tournament centered around her would be massive and would incite people to want to play her. But then she is banned for the entirety of the following week,” the confused fan stated.
Others took issue with the fact Echo wasn’t even played in Overwatch League yet. “This new system is a disaster because no matter what combo of eligible heroes, the DPS in OWL will rarely, if EVER, change because there's so many DPS options,” Apexe blasted.
It feels pretty nonsensical to ban a hero upon its release (even in ladder play). https://t.co/cyQT7d89fG
— harsha (@ggHarsha) April 20, 2020
Houston Outlaws coach Harsha Bandi called the Echo ban in both ladder and pro play “nonsensical.”
On the official forums, Game Director Jeff Kaplan anticipated the backlash and noted in an April 14 comment that the team, “debated this but did not want to interfere with the algorithm.”
“Worst case, if she is removed from the pool, she’ll be back a week later. Plus there are always plenty of ways to play a hero outside of comp,” he added.
Hopefully, the developers reconsider their approach to the algorithm and adjust accordingly with reworks and new heroes in mind when Overwatch 2 is finally released.