On January 30, Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan announced that “Hero Pools” would be introduced to Competitive play beginning with Season 21. While Blizzard seemed optimistic about this change, some in the community have their doubts and have made their frustrations known.
“Hero Pools” will limit the amount of heroes available to pick from in an effort to drastically change the meta. At the end of the week, different characters will be added to the pool as determined by the game’s developers.
The feedback thus far on the official forums has not been all pleasant. Countless threads asking Blizzard to reconsider have popped up with titles such as “Don’t add hero pools,” Please NO hero pool,” and “Everyone hates hero pools.”
Here's the big issue with Hero Pools. Let's assume you're a mercy onetrick. If mercy is banned for a week, you will either just not play to sit on your sr (no decay so no issue) or you queue up, your team will flame you while you feed on ana or something else. (1/howmany I need)
— Metro (@Metro_OW) January 30, 2020
Metro, who leaked Overwatch 2 before BlizzCon 2019, raised a point about how the quality of games could suffer. “Let's assume you're a Mercy onetrick. If Mercy is banned for a week, you will either just not play to sit on your sr (no decay so no issue) or you queue up, your team will flame you while you feed on Ana or something else," they said.
Another issue raised is that the game will have frequent balance patches alongside hero pools, which appears to be somewhat counter-productive.
Overwatch League will implement a similar structure where the characters will change each week based on their pick-rate, with no hero being banned two weeks in a row. However, the fact that teams will only get one week to prepare has some pros livid.
The first "aggressive and frequent" change the Overwatch team can make is reverting hero pools in the Overwatch League until further notice. This is anti-competition.
Test it on the ladder or in the experimental card, but for the love of god do not add this to the league.
— Joseph Franco (@Volamel) January 30, 2020
Overwatch writer Volamel called the change “anti-competition” and urged the league to revert the change immediately.
Seoul Dynasty’s COO pointed out that Asian-based teams will have one less day of practice because of the time difference with when it will be announced.
French off-tank Gael ‘Poko’ Gouzerch suggested that the pools will add additional stress for players and coaches.
Hero pools: Sunday PST = Monday KST = 1 less day of practice for Asia (btw calling Asia the biggest esports market in the world the Pacific “East” division is kinda weird). At the very least I hope they release Sunday 12AM so we can pick up a day. Bi-weekly makes more sense imo.
— Arnold [COO @Gen.G / @Seoul Dynasty] (@arnoldwh) January 31, 2020
Not sure how i feel about: "Teams will be informed of each week’s Hero Pool approximately one week in advance of matches. "
and: "The heroes will be randomly selected"
Seems like a lot more additional stress for players and coaches 😬
— Poko (@poko) January 30, 2020
Not everyone is against the change though. Toronto Defiant DPS Lane ‘Surefour’ Roberts said the feature won’t change who the best teams are and adaptable players who talk things out will be “strong.”
This change won't change who the best teams are, the good teams are the ones with confidence in their play and trust between their teammates. Adaptable players and teams that are able to talk things out together will still be strong. It will only effect "our meta" teams.
— Lane (@Surefour) January 31, 2020
Retired pro turned full-time streamer Daniel ‘Dafran’ Francesca praised the changes for “spicing it up.”
Hero pools every week? Faster patches? Yes plz. Spicing it up way more
— dafran (@dafran) January 30, 2020
With hero pools still a month or so away, it will be interesting to see how Blizzard applies the feedback. They have stated that they’re willing to change how it is applied from weekly to daily or even match-to-match.
Jeff Kaplan even suggested that it may not even last a full season, so anything is possible. For now, however, we can only theorize at how things will play out.