Overwatch

Will Overwatch's hero pools move to monthly ban rotations?

by Michael Gwilliam
Blizzard Entertainment

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Overwatch’s hero pools have proven to be a controversial addition to the game since being introduced. Despite many modifications to the bans to appease top players, retirements and burnout are at new highs. This has lead to speculation that another change could be coming soon.

Hero pools were introduced to keep the meta from stagnating with the most-played characters (two DPS, one support, and one tank) getting removed from rotation every week.

While the intention was good and makes for hero diversity in pro and organized play, with the meta changing so frequently, coaches and players have been forced to work long hours in order to crack the meta before their matches.

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Blizzard Entertainment
Mei is a character frequently eligible for a ban.

Discussion surged on social media after Houston Outlaws assistant coach Chris ‘Dream’ Myrick took to Twitter to voice his frustration with how weekly pools have made coaches lives “hell.”

“I've never been more frustrated with the community and their separation from the competitive scene than when I read the Reddit thread about how hero pools are great,” he wrote. “Hero pools are the worst thing ever to happen to Overwatch.”

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According to Dream, the system makes improvement extremely difficult. “You can't watch film of yourself or your opponent because it'll never be the same meta again,” he wrote.

He added that hero pools will lead to more retirements unless they fundamentally change.

One popular idea gaining momentum is an increase in hero rotation length to allow the meta to develop further.

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“Without hero pools or a pick ban system we end up in a situation where we’re stuck in a meta for a year and teams are are still abysmal with no recourse,” streamer and commentator Connor ‘Avast’ Prince stated.

“I think Hero Pool durations need to be increased or we go to a pick ban.”

With OWL now moving towards a monthly tournament format with the weeks leading up to it serving as qualifying matches, this could be an ideal time to introduce extended bans that last the duration of the month.

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Blizzard Entertainment
McCree is often one of the two DPS banned.

Currently, the Overwatch League pick rates dictate which heroes will be eligible for bans. Previously, bans varied from OWL to live with Blizzard themselves curating the bans for the live version of the game. This was later changed for only high ELO games determining bans for OWL and the rest of the playerbase.

Now, bans are only a factor in games where the average SR between both teams is 3,500 (Masters) and above with pick rates exclusively determining which heroes are removed from play. This will revert back to being high ELO games once the OWL season concludes.

It will be interesting to see how Blizzard further approaches hero pools now and if they decide extending the bans will be the right approach. The only question will be how the Masters-and-above crowd will take to not being able to play a certain hero for an entire month.