Overwatch League commentator Christopher ‘MonteCristo’ Mykles explained why he believes a role lock is the only way to break the dominance of triple-tank, triple-support compositions like GOATS.
The reign of GOATS has continued as Season Two of the Overwatch League moves into its third stage, and may Overwatch fans and players are increasingly supporting more drastic measures to force a change in meta.
One such measure is the idea of enforcing a ‘2-2-2’ role lock that would prevent compositions from featuring more than two heroes of each role, and according to MonteCristo, this might be the only way of addressing the problem.
MonteCristo argues that the very nature of Overwatch forces teams to build compositions that are designed for team-fighting, unlike traditional MOBAs in which a greater variety of approaches can be taken, and therefore Overwatch has a “sustain problem” that cannot be fixed without a role lock.
The sustain problem is the issue that, because Overwatch teams are typically fighting over the same objective, the side that can sustain a presence for longest is usually victorious. This promotes compositions like GOATS, which benefit from the large health pools of multiple tanks and healing power of multiple supports.
“At its core, the issue is that there’s one objective that both teams are fighting for at all times. And because you have one objective, the team that can stay on that objective longer is the one that’s going to win, hence the sustain problem. I actually don’t think from a game design perspective there’s a way to fix the sustain problem without role lock.”
MonteCristo’s assessment would certainly seem to be backed up by Blizzard’s failed attempts to address the power of GOATS with balance changes alone, despite several targeted nerfs to the composition’s key heroes.
Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan has also stated that the lack of a role lock makes balancing heroes difficult, as Blizzard often cannot target a hero with nerfs based on their power in a 3-3 composition like GOATS, for instance, without making them entirely unviable in any other scenario.
Reports earlier in the season suggested that the Overwatch League was set to implement a role lock for Stage 3, but those rumors were later shut down by further reports suggesting that the OWL had vetoed the idea.
More recently, rumors have also suggested that the change is being considered for Stage 4 of the league, but nothing has yet been confirmed and many fans are skeptical that such a significant change would be made so late in the season.
Jeff Kaplan has also expressed an interest in exploring a role lock for Overwatch competitive play in general, which would have benefits like promoting more viable compositions in online play, enabling players to ensure they can play the roles they want without compromising their team, and allowing the ranked system to differentiate between a player’s ability in different roles.
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