With Overwatch League kicking off, players often lament the way pros affect the meta. If professional Overwatch players pick one hero more often, are we going to see more of that hero in regular competitive play? This is a question many players ask, but until recently we’ve only had unofficial and incomplete data to look into it. Jeff Kaplan has now posted a list of the top 10 most picked Overwatch heroes, broken down by rank, and it provides some interesting insights.
In this Play of the Fortnight, we’re going to talk about the most played Overwatch heroes and what this means for the meta.
Most Played Tanks
The first thing we notice is that D.Va is the most played hero overall at almost every rank. The only change is in Platinum and Diamond, where she is 2nd most played, replaced by Moira. There are also three tanks in the most played heroes at all ranks.
D.Va is mechanically quite an easy hero to play. She has no ammo limit and doesn’t need to reload. Her shield allows for some survivability, and she can boost away to escape harm. This makes her an ideal pick for tank for newer players and players lower in the competitive ladder. That, coupled with the fact that she can absorb ultimates and prevent damage to the rest of her team for a short time makes her a strong pick. She’s also highly mobile, making for a potential flanking opportunity if needed.
However, she is also picked a lot at higher end play, including in Overwatch League. This is because she’s an excellent dive tank and the dive comp is still incredibly strong. This is also perhaps why we see Winston reappearing in Master and Grandmaster’s top 10. These two work incredibly well together for an aggressive dive comp.
Most Played Supports
Despite her nerfs, Mercy still remains a top pick at all ranks. It’s worth noting, though, that she starts to fall out of favor in Grandmaster. She’s still in the top 10 but is definitely starting to be replaced by higher skill cap heroes such as Moira and Zenyatta. Mercy has, however, always been a strong pick. The nerfs stopped her from being a necessary pick, but she still has a solid place in teams. Anecdotally, I haven’t had any hate from teams in competitive at Platinum rank when I’ve picked Mercy recently. Most of that seems to have died down.
Moira is soaring ahead and hits top 2 and even top pick for Platinum and Diamond. She excels with team comps where her team is grouped up, as she can AoE heal fairly rapidly. She’s also an incredibly good all-rounder, whereas Mercy is a much more focused healer. Moira struggles a little with more mobile or squishy comps, but does incredibly well when paired with pretty much any healer. I personally love her with a Zenyatta. It’s worth keeping in mind that Moira is a very new hero. With that in mind, she’ll still have a bit of a honeymoon phase where players are picking her because of that. It’ll be interesting to see if she drops off a bit in a few months.
Interestingly, Symmetra doesn’t feature at all on the top 10 most picked Overwatch heroes list. This is odd because according to Overbuff, Symmetra has the highest win rate in competitive. This is, of course, not data provided by Blizzard (though it is pulled automatically) so it may not be completely up to date.
Most Played Offensive Heroes
In lower ranks, there are only two offensive heroes in the top 10. These are Soldier-76 and Genji. Soldier is a solid pick at most levels of play due to his consistent damage, and the simplicity of his kit. He’s a strong hitscan to take out a Pharah, or a flying Mercy. He also has an AoE heal which is obviously helpful for topping off teammates or yourself. Genji is highly mobile, and he’s an excellent counter to a Bastion or a sniper, or to take out your enemy’s backline (such as squishy supports).
Genji’s higher skill cap is reflected in the fact that he only becomes more popular the higher up the ranks we look. He goes from 8th pick to 3rd at Diamond, then settles at 5th for Grandmaster. Soldier is replaced and we see Tracer and McCree moving into the top 10 as we climb the ranks.
Tracer is an easy hero to play, but a difficult hero to actually have an impact with. We see her soar to 2nd most picked hero in Grandmaster. She can have a huge influence on how a game goes, but it’s difficult to make her useful.
Most Played Defensive Heroes
If your favorite heroes are defensive ones, you are not represented much in the top 10 most picked heroes list. Junkrat is the only one to feature at all, and even then only up until Gold. He’s often picked because, as the hero himself jokes, “Aiming’s overrated.” You can rain bombs down on the enemy without worrying about accuracy, and still be highly disruptive.
However, that is his biggest downfall. He doesn’t always have a place higher up the ladder. This isn’t necessarily because he’s a bad pick, but more because there would be other heroes that might be more useful in a particular situation.
The dreaded Hanzo pick isn’t actually as common as people on the forum make it out to be. We also don’t see the other defensive heroes at all, despite Torbjorn also having a very high winrate in competitive.
What Does This Mean?
We can see which heroes are most picked, but that doesn’t mean other heroes don’t have their place. Especially at the lower end of the competitive ladder, playing a hero that you enjoy and feel most comfortable on is far more important than picking what fits the meta. If it’s someone you’re already good with, you’ll find much more success than trying to pick a hero you don’t understand how to play effectively. As you climb the ladder, though, you may start to find you need to worry about the team comp a lot more.
As the thread on the forum stated, “Trickle down meta isn’t real”. In other words, just because the pros are playing it, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will become a thing in regular competitive. A lot of players get worried when they see a hero being picked a lot in OWL. They think it will become a regular pick in normal play, often by players who don’t really know what they’re doing. Luckily, it doesn’t seem to be as common as that.
Redditor jeffreysgraphs made a really excellent graph representation of this data, if you’re interested in seeing it more visually. You can check it out on the Reddit thread here.
A game’s meta will always shift and change throughout its lifetime. Even a small change to one or two heroes can shift the entire meta around to incorporate new team comps. Players then start to try and fit heroes that weren’t played as much before.
Will we see D.Va dethroned though? That is a question many players are asking right now, with her being so strong across the ladder. For now, we’ll have to wait and see if she gets nerfed in a coming patch.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, First Person Shooter, FPS, Overwatch, Play of the Fortnight, Shooter