Blizzard takes first crack at banning heroes from Overwatch competitive play

Blizzard revealed the first batch of heroes who will be temporarily removed from the Overwatch roster during competitive play.

Overwatch directors introduced the idea of hero pools earlier this year, with the aim of forcing competitive players out of their comfort zones to “keep the meta fluid.” In addition to the game’s competitive mode, hero pools will also be added to the Overwatch League.

Overwatch hero pools will make one tank, one support, and two damage heroes unavailable for matches every week. With the launch of competitive mode’s season 21, the first of heroes who will be removed from the roster are Orisa, Baptiste, Hanzo, and Mei. Meanwhile, for week 5 of the Overwatch League, the temporarily banned heroes are Reinhardt, Moira, McCree, and Widowmaker.

A constantly shifting meta

Overwatch’s principal game designer Scott Mercer said that creating changes in the Overwatch meta remained difficult even after the decision to switch to the 2-2-2 team composition and to be more aggressive with hero balancing. “Hero Pools are part of a solution to address players’ desire to have a constantly shifting meta,” he explained.

Mercer, however, said that heroes will not be out of the rotation for more than two weeks in a row. In addition, whenever significant balance changes are applied to heroes, they will be available to allow players to experience the nerfs or buffs.

Mercer also explained that the Overwatch development team went with the hero pools system, instead of allowing players to ban heroes before the start of each match, as they did not want the pre-match phase to devolve into arguments on which characters they should or should not pick.

The idea of hero pools initially drew controversy, including among Overwatch League teams who will be stressed with the extra preparations that they will need to make each week. However, some players applauded the initiative, as it will reward teams who are more flexible with their game plans.

Meanwhile, in season 21 of Overwatch’s competitive mode, hero pools may force one-trick players to sit out weeks when their mastered hero is unavailable. The limitations, however, may also make players learn different heroes, which will expand their horizons and make them more valuable for their teams.

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