Game Director of Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, introduced one of the biggest shake ups to the game since Role Lock. In a developer update today, Kaplan revealed a number of concepts including Hero Pools for competitive play.
One of the major criticisms of Overwatch of the past few months is how slowly the meta changes in the game. Elements of the Overwatch community claimed that hero bans, a system that League of Legends uses to great effect, would help the state of the game. However, in a post to the official Overwatch forums, Kaplan stated that bringing that system to Overwatch would just create a “ban meta”. Essentially, making it so there would be heroes you never see because they are strong and a new meta would emerge anyway. Hero Pools is a way the Overwatch team is meeting the community halfway.
Hero Pools will ban out one tank, two damage, and one support hero per week. This is done at the discretion of the Overwatch team and not in the hands of the players. According to Kaplan, this will stop players from getting too comfortable in one particular meta or team composition. The Hero Pool system is also coming to the Overwatch League for the 2020 season, ensuring that every weekend we see a different hero pool.
Also, in the update Kaplan introduced the Experimental mode for the main game. Changes in Overwatch are traditionally brought to the Public Test Realm. The PTR, as its called, is a separate server where players and test out changes and report bugs before they are introduced to the game proper. With the Experimental mode, players in the main game (not on the PTR) will be able to test out new modes or changes that might come to the game. Not every change will go live in the game but this is a great way to involve players in the development process.
The Hero Pool system goes live in Season 21 of Competitive Play mode in March and will be implemented into OWL starting March 7th.