Using Data Analysis to Understand Competitive Overwatch

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March 27, 2017

Top Ten Hero Mains for Season 4 (Console)

The biggest decision that Overwatch competitive ladder players have to make is which hero to play. Knowing the meta game and which heroes fit well is the big determining factor when it comes to deciding which hero to play. In this article, we analyze the popularity of hero mains. A player has a "main" hero when that player plays more than 50% of all games with that hero. Using the data for hero usage collected in Season 4 for Console, we break down the most popular hero mains for each tier.

See the Top Ten Hero Mains for PC
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Top Ten Hero Mains (Console)

The figure above ranks the top 10 most popular hero mains this season. Due to their popularity, these heroes are perceived to be the strongest in the game at each respective tier and can generally fit into most competitive ladder team compositions. Overall, we see some big differences between the Hero Usage Meta Report and hero main popularity. Instead of many heroes competing for top usage, we find that typically two heroes are extremely popular to main at each tier, with the #3-#10 not being near as popular. In other words, the top two heroes (exception: only #1 at Bronze) to main at each tier are considered the most solid picks when considering a main. (Note: that the raw hero main popularity data is found at the end of this report in the appendix.)

The most popular heroes to main (heads and tails above other heroes) are D.Va, Mercy, and Reinhardt. Ana is most popular at Diamond through Grandmaster tiers, and there she is incredibly popular as a main. Mercy mains are extremely popular at all tiers, representing 27% of all mains at Grandmaster, 29% at Master, and 23% at Diamond. In practice that means that 1 in 15 Grandmasters and Masters players are Mercy mains. She is the strongest healer on Console, can effectively pocket incredibly strong DPS heroes such as Pharah (Mercy's damage boost is also strong), and her resurrect ultimately ability has become even more strong with her recent invincibility buff. Reinhardt is the only "main tank" currently in the game and central to many team compositions due to his huge shield, while having an ultimate ability which can stun and combo with many other heroes. At lower tiers, effectively replaces Reinhardt as the most popular tank hero. Her  high health pool, ult and damage eating Defense Matrix, boost ability for harassing and retreating, and the ability to de-mech and re-mech make her a solid pick.

The other heroes currently being mained consistently across tiers are Lucio, Soldier:76, Pharah, Roadhog, Zarya, and Zenyatta. Lucio has a strong defensive ult and is the only hero offering speed boost and consistent aura healing. Soldier and Pharah are the top picks for Offensive heroes, which reflects them being played strongly in the meta. Zarya is a surprisingly popular pick at low tiers as she not nearly as popular in general hero usage. Her alternate fire and managing her projected barriers requires significant skill to be effective. Roadhog is an incredibly strong hero highly dependent on skill; his hook and right-click alternate fire can kill most heroes in the game provided accurate aim. However, his right click is very effective in close quarters against high-health heroes (e.g. tanks) and requires less dependence on aim. Zenyatta is clearly more of a niche main but is a frequent pick for strong in dive compositions with his high DPS and discord orb.

Other heroes' popularity depends on the skill tier. Tracer and Ana are more preferred at high tiers due to their skill cap. Tracer's glass cannon kit requires precise management and positioning for blinks, recall, and pulse bombs. Ana is definitely at high skill hero; while she technically has the highest heal rate in the game and the ability to shut down enemy ultimates with sleep dart, her kit requires precise aim. Genji's dash/reflect/projectiles considerable skill to use effectively. Bastion makes the top ten at lower tiers. His reworked kit is a substantial improvement overall, but his presence in the top ten is likely due to the overpowered nature of the Ironclad passive that was recently nerfed. Mei barely makes the top ten at Bronze.

Hero Main Prevalence and Category

The above chart breaks down the prevalence of hero mains by tier and by hero category. Roughly 25% of all players have a "main", a hero played more that 50% of the time in Season 4. Of these players that are hero mains, 40% are support mains and 35% are Tank mains on average. This means that a meager 25% of players that "main" heroes focus on offense or defense. This likely means that more "DPS" players have a pool of heroes that they play from.


In case you'd like to see the raw data for "main" popularity (percent/share of main popularity):

  1. D.Va 19%  1. D.Va 15%  1. Mercy 18%   1. Mercy 21%  1. Mercy 23%   1. Mercy 29%  1. Mercy 27%
  2. Mercy 15%  2. Mercy 15%  2. Rein 14%  2. Rein 14%  2. Rein 14%  2. Rein 16%  2. Rein 9%
  3. Soldier 12%  3. Lucio 13%  3. Lucio 12%  3. Lucio 12%  3. Zarya 11%  3. Zarya 10%  3. Lucio 9%
  4. Lucio 10%  4. Soldier 11%  4. D.Va 12%  4. Zarya 9%  4. Lucio 11%  4. Lucio 9%  4. Zarya 8%
  5. Rein 6%  5. Rein 10%  5. Soldier 8%  5. D.Va 8%  5. Soldier 8%  5. Soldier 7%  5. Soldier 8%
  6. Roadhog 6%  6. Zarya 7%  6. Zarya 8%  6. Soldier 8%  6. Roadhog 6%  6. Roadhog 6%  6. Roadhog 8%
  7. Pharah 5%  7. Roadhog 5%  7. Roadhog 4%  7. Roadhog 5%  7. D.Va 5%  7. Pharah 5%  7. Pharah 6%
  8. Bastion 5%  8. Zenyatta 4%  8. Zenyatta 4%  8. Pharah 4%  8. Pharah 4%  8. Tracer 4%  8. Tracer 5%
  9. Zarya 5%  9. Pharah 4%  9. Pharah 3%  9. Zenyatta 3%  9. Ana 4%  9. Zenyatta 3%  9. Ana 4%
10. Mei 4%10. Bastion 3%10. Ana 3%10. Bastion 3%10. Zenyatta 3%10. Ana 3%10. Genji 3%