Overwatch League is going through some changes at the moment. Developers are keen to try and shake up the balance of heroes. This has been clear from a lot of their movements recently, like adding role queues into the normal game to address balance. The biggest change to the Overwatch League so far has been Hero Pools. This is a pretty drastic measure to shake things up, and the effects have been pretty controversial.
Hero Pools is going to whittle down the choices available to players. On top of the already instituted role queue system of evenly balancing a team, this stands to make competitive Overwatch choices more restrictive than ever. With some games now played under the new rules, it is clear they have been divisive. Opinion seems to be split fairly down the middle, with the disapproving side mainly consisting of those whose favourite heroes were disqualified. The move keeps things fresh, but it does raise some problems for certain teams. The main issue at the moment appears to be the random selection of effected heroes.
How Does Hero Pools Work in Overwatch League?
Hero Pools is a new addition to the competitive game which bans particular heroes for short periods of time. Four heroes are being taken out of circulation every week. After they’re announced, players and teams only have a few days to react to the change. Which heroes are cut depends on a few things. Those that have a 10+% usage rate in competative are eligible for trimming. Out of this pool, heroes are selected at random to cut. These heroes will only be out of circulation a short while, but competitive players don’t get an awful lot of notice.
Some players dislike this element that has been thrown in, forcing a complete re-evaluation of the game just a few days before big fixtures. While developers considered a pick-ban system similar to League of Legends, this was vetoed as it wasn’t as guaranteed to be balanced. This has left a system which is a bit unpredictable and isn’t even necessarily tied to removing equally from tank, damage, and healer.
The reaction to this change has been mixed, and many are wondering just how fair hero pools are.
How Does the Overwatch League Play with Hero Pools?
The first games under this new system have now been played and they’ve produced some interesting reactions. For the most part, players seem fairly supportive of the change if sceptical about the amount of extra prep. There is one big group of players who don’t seem particularly happy though, those who relied on now banned heroes. Speaking to ESPN, the Florida Mayhem coach described it as ‘hellish’. This has been a similar reaction across teams with many describing the grind required to master the hero pools as a rough ordeal. Organizing and mastering a new set of rules and balancing changes every single week of the season does increase the workload on players.
Hero pools might be keeping the metagame fresh for viewers. However, for players, it is forcing them to relearn everything each week. This isn’t the best news for those who like to completely master some mechanics and elevate them. There is an argument that Hero Pools force players to focus on more shallow strategies. An advanced metagame has to come from practice with a consistent set of tools and mechanics. However, this is difficult if you don’t know the hero roster ahead of time.
It’ll be interesting to watch how the season develops, but the random choice of heroes and heavy workload has a lot of players questioning just how fair or productive hero pools is to Overwatch League.
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