Blizzard held the first hero pool draw of the Season, banning Reinhardt, Moira, McCree and Widowmaker for a week.
Last month, Blizzard announced in a new developer update the arrival of the "Hero Pool", a new feature allowing to create a rotation of heroes every week for competitive games. Jeff Kaplan, Overwatch director, said the banned heroes will be selected by Blizzard every week, in order to "prevent players from stagnating on any one meta too long."
The rules of the Hero Pool Draw are as follows:
- All heroes with 10% playtime or more in the past two weeks of league play will be eligible for the draw;
- The heroes removed from the pool will be randomly selected;
- The heroes removed will return to play in the next week and will be immune from being removed in the next week’s draw;
- 1 tank, 2 damage, and 1 support hero will be banned from play in Week 5 of Overwatch League.
Today marks the first hero pool of the Overwatch League Season. The Talent Team from Watchpoint, the Overwatch League’s official cast crew, drew the names of the heroes banned for the upcoming games in Washington. Week 5 of Overwatch League will not see Reinhardt, Moira, McCree and Widowmaker.
While the heroes drawn this week are not staple in Overwatch League games, they are the ones with the biggest impact so far and induce many of the OWL highlights.
Impacted Games in the Overwatch League
As the hero pool rotates each week, only the Washington homestand games are affected. A total of six game are scheduled this week, and will have to deal without McCree, Widowmaker, Reinhardt and Moira :
- Toronto Defiant vs. Florida Mayhem
- Paris Eternal vs. Houston Outlaws
- Boston Uprising vs. Washington Justice
- Paris Eternal vs. Philadelphia Fusion
- New York Excelsior vs. Washington Justice
- Boston Uprising vs. Atlanta Reign
Which team is most affected by this hero pool?
Among the teams playing in Overwatch League Week 5, some are more impacted than others by the hero pool.
The Houston Outlaws can count on Dante "Danteh" Cruz and Jeffrey "blasé" Tsang to play their comfort picks without their main counters. Danteh mainly plays Sombra and Tracer, while blasé excels on Doomfist. Austin "Muma" Wilmot, Houston Outlaws’ main tank, is also lucky this week. Reinhardt is his least favorite tank, so it doesn’t impact him. Houston Outlaws benefit from all hero bans, which could give them an edge in their upcoming match against a weaker Paris Eternal.
Paris Eternal is probably the team which will struggle the most, as Ki-hyo "Xzi" Jung can't play Mcree or Widowmaker and Benjamin "BenBest" Dieulafait can't play Reinhardt. The team will have to face both Houston Outlaws and Philadelphia Fusion, who are less impacted by the hero pool. Moreover, the entire team is ill, giving them less time to practice on heroes other than their comfort picks.
My whole team is ill I’m the one of the last standing, gonna be keeping my distance especially from Greyy
— Kruise (@KruiseOW) March 1, 2020
For Washington Justice, the host of the week, only Corey “Corey” Nigra is affected by the hero ban. He is mainly known for his McCree and Widowmaker plays, which he will not be able to play this week. However, he is capable on Hanzo, so it shouldn’t impact the team as much as Paris.
Florida Mayhem could have a bad time against Toronto Defiant on Saturday. Jung-woo "Sayaplayer" Ha will most likely be on the bench, as his two main heroes are out of the hero pool this week. Sangbum “BQB” Lee will also not be able to pull off his McCree to secure team fights.
This first hero pool of the Season will be the opportunity to see how teams adapt to change - if they do.
Possible team compositions for OWL Week 5
The dive meta might be back this week with Winston, D.Va, Sombra, Doomfist, Lucio and Mercy. Even if Moira is banned, the lack of hitscans and Reinhardt gives more space for a dive team.
Mei is, as always, one of the best hero to pick this week. Her survivability as well as both offensive and defensive abilities make her one of the best heroes in the Overwatch League so far. If the dive composition is back, you can be sure Mei will be there as well - even without a Reinhardt to protect her.
This week is also good for Pharah. She has always been a strong pick, but Pharah has too many hitscan counters - especially in the right hands - to perform to the best of her ability. As both McCree and Widowmaker won’t be here this week, this gives more space for the flying projectile hero.
Another possible composition can include Orisa for her shield and D.Va for her bombs and peeling ability. Mei and Pharah can both stop the opponents and deal damage to the entire team. On the support line, Mercy forms the Pharmercy duo with Pharah, while Lucio increases the fight speed. Ana is also a good pick to keep everyone alive while stopping enemies with her sleep dart and anti-healing bionades.
This hero pool is only available for the Overwatch League, and does not affect the regular competitive season. The Competitive Season 21 Hero Pool for Week 1 will be revealed on Thursday.