Using Data Analysis to Understand Competitive Overwatch
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March 20, 2017
Overwatch Hero Meta Report: PC (Season 4 Week 3)
This week's data demonstrates the stabilizing meta of Overwatch... just in time for the possible big shake up to happen with the many buffs and nerfs hitting Tuesday (March 21).
The main trends: Mercy continues to grow in usage while Ana declines, Bastion's nerf (after his S4 buff) continues to see his usage sharply decline, Winston is seeing solid grow in usage for the second week in a row, and Pharah continues to be really strong, likely due to prevalence of Mercy.
this report is: A report and tier list of Overwatch hero usage and
player trends across competitive ladder tiers (Grandmaster ->
Bronze), covering usage for a single week of S4.
divided into tiers by their current SR at time of data capture.We want
to answer the questions "What are people playing at each tier? What are
the big changes from the prior week?".
this report is not: We do not report any data from professional or
Esports tournaments, only competitive ladder within the game of
above chart breaks down average usage of a hero by tier, grouped into
the same categories (Offense, Defense, Tank, Support) as found in the
game. Generally speaking, higher tiers prefer higher skill cap
characters that can reward them for their play, while lower tiers prefer heroes that are easier to learn and be productive with.
Let's take a deeper look at each hero category:
Offensive heroes seeing play continue to be influenced by dive compositions. Despite declining usage in prior weeks, Soldier remains the most picked offensive hero. Pharah's popularity continues to grow even at Grandmaster players (+6% usage), at least partially due to the growth in usage of Mercy. Genji and Tracer remain frequent picks at higher tiers, demonstrating their effectiveness in the currently popular dive team composition. Sombra and Reaper continue to be extremely niche picks.On the v1.9 patch likely coming this Tuesday, Sombra is getting a significant buffs: cooldown reduction on her Translocator (from 6 to 4 seconds), Hacked health packs visible to allies through walls, and a reduction in the distance her voiceline for exiting stealth (e.g. "Here I am") can be heard by enemies (to 15 meters). Time will tell if these patches are enough for people at all tiers to begin playing her.
Defense heroes continue to be the least popular (and probably most situational) hero category. The biggest mover this week is Bastion, who for two weeks straight has dropped in popularity. After peaking from well above 30% usage across tiers, he has fallen an average of 4% usage from last week (now only 10% usage at Master and Grandmaster). While he still can be very strong against uncoordinated teams, it's clear that the Ironclad passive nerf drastically affected his play. Junkrat continues to be an interesting anomaly who is
extremely popular at low tiers. The 1.9 patch is a net buff to Junkrat; the patch removes self-damage from explosions, which opens up possibilities for close range fighting and ults. However, the buffs seem fairly minor and may not affect usage much if at all. Widowmaker's popularity at Grandmaster tier bounces back from last week, as she is incredibly deadly in the right hands. Note that Widowmaker has starting seeing minor play in professional matches as well... another possible reason for her increased popularity on ladder. Hanzo, Mei, and Torb continue to be niche picks, strong on some modes such as Assault.
Tanks continue to dominate as the most popular be a big part of the meta at all tiers of play. Reinhardt remains the most popular tank and one of the most highly played heroes in
Overwatch. Similar trends to past weeks continue, with D.Va continuing to be popular at low tiers, while Zarya and Roadhog remain very popular at high tiers. Zarya's ult in particular remains incredibly strong and able to combo with many other heroes in the game. However, a shake up in tank play is likely in the works. With the 1.9 patch hitting on Tuesday, Orisa (delayed one week)and a buffed Winston will be competing for playing time. Orisa is being presented by Blizzard as an alternative main tank, with a utility kit rivaling Ana for the "swiss army knife" award in Overwatch. She will likely fight for playing time with D.Va, Reinhardt, and Zarya depending on where players think she fits in team compositions (or if she even does). Winston is getting a huge buff to his shield, as the cooldown starts immediately after deployment, rather that after destruction or expiration. These changes should make Winston much more resilient and likely enable dive compositions to be even stronger. I for one can't wait to see what happens with these tank changes.
Support usage continues to shift. Mercy's growth in play has slowed, but is the solid #2 or #3 support even at high tiers of play. She is essentially the most popular hero overall in Bronze and Silver tiers. Ana's fall has slowed a bit this, but still is incredibly strong; she is the only hero this week making Tier 1 rating in the hero rankings. Ana's upcoming 1.9 patch nerf reduces her primary fire damage by 25%; this is an interesting change given that Zenyatta will also be receiving a buff which removes spread and recovery from his secondary fire. With these changes, Blizzard may be sending a message here that Zenyatta is meant to be the DPS support hero, which may enable him to see more play. Lucio is still very popular, as aura healing and speed boost is quite strong. Symmetra sees a bump in low tier play likely due to her ability to deal with low HP heroes effectively, but remains a niche pick in other tiers.