Overwatch Anniversary 2019 - Photo: Overwatch / Blizzard

Image: Blizzard

The Overwatch League is now firmly in its 3rd season, and while the homestands have proven to be exciting affairs there’s been a cloud looming over the coming weeks. Hero pools are finally coming to the OWL and will take root next week during the Washington Justice’s homestand.

At the end of the OWL broadcast in Houston the desk team back in Los Angeles drew the names of the banned heroes at random based on their pick rate. So only the most picked heroes over the previous two weeks (10% or more pick rate) had their names up for ban. Host Mitch “Uber” Leslie, revealed that heroes would never be banned for two weeks in a row and that hero pools would not come into effect for the mid-season tournament, the play-in tournament or the post season. Leslie also said that pools would be announced from Blizzard as opposed to the quite old-school, bingo drum they used on the broadcast this week.

The first heroes banned in Overwatch League history are Reinhardt (Tank), McCree (Damage), Widowmaker (Damage), and Moira (Support). These bans should change the style of play drastically next week. Reinhardt, in particular, was virtually omni-present over the first weeks of the season with an 87% pick rate. The damage heroes are both “hitscan”, specializing in long range engagements. This takes a massive feather out of the cap of players like Houston Outlaws’ Linkzr and Carpe of the Philly Fusion. Moira wasn’t used as frequently as other supports like Ana and we should still see some quick engagements with the support, Lucio, still available.

In the run up to the season openers in New York/Dallas, the OWL announced that they would be introducing the concept of hero pools. The decision would randomly omit one tank, two damage and one support hero from selection every week. Game Director, Jeff Kaplan, originally announced the change in February citing that the community wanted a more fluid meta along with more frequent game balancing.