The Great Debate #1: Hero Banning

This is the first part of a series that I will be writing called "The Great Debate," where we will discuss trivial topics in the esports world. In this first one, we will discuss the possibility of hero banning in competitive Overwatch.

*DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece.*

Are hero bans something that Blizzard may implement into the game at some point? Is this something that people actually want to see get added to the game or should Blizzard focus more on other things? In a post on the Blizzard forums, Jeff Kaplan seems to make a statement about the future of such options. 

“If the meta settles down into static picks always, we have other solutions, but picks and bans cause a lot of issues that we’d like to avoid, issues like adding a ton of extra time to each round,” Kaplan said. “I’m not saying we’ll never do picks and bans, but what I am saying is that we would rather explore other options first.”

I must agree in the fact that adding this feature will take up a lot of time in getting games going and slow down the flow of events. It takes a lot of time and thinking to be able to pick the right heroes to ban that the other team may do well with. Let’s take a look at the format for competitive play on Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Before each map, players had to go through and ban or protect weapons, killstreaks, and perks. This took up a huge chunk of time that players could be using to play instead. Players sitting idle for this amount of time between games could possibly effect performance.

Momentum is a major factor in esports most of the time. Once a player gets “hot,” they want to continue to stay in that zone and continue that level of play. Teams will want to use that time as effectively as possible while that player is playing well. Having to take time in between matches to pick and ban heroes will definitely make a team or player lose the momentum that they may have earned from the last game. While this seems fair, since both teams will start off fresh again on a level playing field, it’s also not fair to the player who did well and wants to capitalize on it. 

Another big part of hero banning is the amount of heroes available. Once again, let’s use a different game as a comparison. League of Legends has over 100 champions to choose from. Banning a few champions will not really hurt the team composition too much, unless there is a player that literally only does well with one champ. You won’t see that on a pro level though. Meanwhile, even after the recent addition of Sombra, Overwatch only has 23 heroes to choose from right now. You could potentially be hurting the game more than helping with that small list of heroes. 

Overwatch is a game that heavily relies on the fact that you can switch heroes mid battle to compensate for the opposing team’s composition. Imagine trying to work around a team composition and going to change heroes only to realize the one hero you need was banned pre-game. This would make the game less exciting knowing that there is literally nothing that this team can now do to stop the opposing team. I definitely think the hero count needs to increase before banning of heroes is even considered. One thing that was suggested by REUNITED’s Overwatch player Thomas “Morte” Kerbusch was that when the game gets up to about 40-50 heroes, a system where each team gets one ban would be reasonable. “That would make sure everyone needs to stay versatile [and] would add a lot of depth to the strategy before the game even started,” Morte said.

Overwatch is a new game with a lot of buzz right now. Limiting what players can do may cause the game to turn “stale,” says Team Dignitas’ Overwatch player Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin.

Hero picks and bans work so well in a game like LoL due to the high number of champions available. All of the games also take place on the same map. This makes it easier to form strategies because you know what heroes work well on that map since it never changes. 

But, Overwatch is still in its early stages, and 23 heroes is a very low amount so far. Map bans are currently implemented and seem to be keeping matches pretty interesting as of now. Certain heroes do not do well on certain maps, so this still pushes for some variety. Game patches with nerfs and buffs have also made sure that the meta changes every now and then to keep the game interesting as well.

I believe that hero bans would just make things uninteresting when playing and/or watching competitive Overwatch play. There just is not enough meat to the game yet for this to get pushed out. Let Blizzard establish a stable meta, add more heroes, and fix certain smaller aspects of the game that players may want done first. Once these changes are made, I believe that hero banning may be an interesting twist to what is already a pretty solid game when it comes to competitive play.

I would love to hear what you guys think on the topic of banning heroes and how it would help or destroy the meta of Overwatch. Do you have an opinion on it? Comment below or tweet your answer to us @GAMURScom.

Maurice Barton is a writer for GAMURS and can be reached in the following ways:

Twitter @PmL_Molicious

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