Former Overwatch pro Brandon ‘Seagull’ Larned has explained the hidden reason for the rise of the GOATS meta.
The prevalence of the GOATS meta has been one of the primary sources of criticism levelled against Overwatch in recent months, but Seagull thinks that many fans and players may not be assigning the blame accurately.
If you’ve watched professional Overwatch any time since the end of Overwatch League’s Season One, you’ve almost certainly come across the GOATS composition, or at least a variant of it.
GOATS is a triple-tank, triple-support line-up named for the Overwatch Contenders team that popularized it, and has been the dominant strategy in professional play for more than half a year. The composition most commonly features Reinhardt, Zarya, and D.Va as the tanks, and Brigitte, Lúcio, and either Moira or Zenyatta as supports.
While it may no longer be the only viable strategy, as it seemingly was at the peak of its dominance, GOATS remains a strong composition, particularly on certain maps, and is still frequently seen in professional play.
The GOATS meta appeared in Overwatch Contenders after the end of OWL Season One, and has remained the most prevalent strategy in both Contenders and now the Overwatch League itself ever since.
The rise of GOATS is most commonly attributed to (or blamed on) the release of Brigitte, who acts as one of the key pillars of the composition.
While Brigitte might be necessary to the line-up, however, former Dallas Fuel player Seagull thinks there might be more to the supremacy of the composition than meets the eye.
During a recent stream, Seagull suggested that it wasn’t the release of Brigitte that immediately empowered the GOATS composition, as Brigitte was played in Stage 4 of the Overwatch League without a variation on the three-three squad being so prevalent.
Seagull argues that this was due to Mercy still being quite powerful at that time, and it was only after she’d been nerfed that GOATS became the game’s dominant composition.
Many fans and players have been hoping for the GOATS composition to disappear for good, but despite several attempts by Blizzard to directly nerf the strategy, it has remained viable.
The GOATS meta has also survived the addition of two new heroes in Ashe and Baptiste, and if a new addition is to disrupt the composition it won’t appear until the next hero release slot in July.
Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan has previously talked about the difficulties of balancing a game in which there is so much variation in the possible combinations of heroes, and this is one of the reasons Blizzard are now considering implementing a role-restricted mode that would likely limit teams to two tanks, two supports and two DPS.
If the GOATS meta has been able to endure for so long despite direct attempts to knock it from its pedestal, perhaps the addition of a role-restricted mode and its adoption as the competitive standard – two outcomes that are by no means assured – could be what it takes to finally dethrone the composition.